© 2016-2019 by Montana Forest Owners Association

Supporting Non-Industrial Private Forest Landowners (NIPFLs)

(Family Forest Owners) in their rightful and responsible use, management and enjoyment of their forestlands.

About

Since 1995 MFOA has been known throughout the State of Montana and neighboring states as a strong, effective, and respected advocate for the non-industrial private forest landowners (NIPFLs).  It is a unique organization in that it represents only NIPFLs.   MFOA earned this respect through hard work and diligence over the years.

Activities

MFOA’s activities are designed to  support non-industrial private forest landowners (NIPFLs).  These primarily include active involvement with legislators and agencies to create policy and regulations supportive of NIPFLs.  There are other activities as well, all supporting NIPFLs and their interests.

 

News/Upcoming Events

NRCS EQIP Funding

We have heard that NRCS is going to distribute its EQIP funding on landscape conservation initiatives. This would appear to be to the detriment of individual forest owners.  See MFOA's letter to the NRCS.

Forestry Mini-College

A  one-day event for family forest landowners and everyone interested in forestry was held at the University of Montana campus in Missoula on March 23, 2019.

Forest Landowner Conference

The landowner conference was held in Butte (at the Copper King Hotel) on April 12, 2019, in conjunction with the annual meeting for the Montana chapter of the Society of American Foresters.  MFOA raffled a Stihl MS271 chain saw, chaps and a helmet system.

The winners were:

Stihl chain saw - Hillary Hutchison

Stihl chaps - Chris Wolstad

Stihl helmet system - Rebecca Hendrix

Forest Stewardship Workshops

Montana State University Extension Forestry has chosen the following dates and locations for its 2019 workshops.

Libby - April 25, 26 and May 3, 2019

Trout Creek - May 16, 17, and 24, 2019

Corvallis - June 6, 7, and 14, 2019

Kalispell - July 11, 12 and 19, 2019

Lewistown - August 8, 9 and 16, 2019

Effects of Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017
The recent tax law has changed the income tax provisions that apply to timber starting in 2018.  See the USDA's Tax Tips for Forest Landowners for the 2018 Tax Year publication by Dr. Linda Wang, National Timber Tax Specialist, USDA Forest Service.

Of particular note is the new tax treatment for forest owners.  "For timber owned as a business, if you are “materially participating” in the business, the timber expenses are fully deductible on Schedule C of Form 1040. These expenses may include fees paid for forester, attorney, or accountant, precommercial thinning, firebreak maintenance, overnight travel, vegetation -competition control, insects, disease, and fire control, and depreciation from equipment used. For timber held as an investment, timber expenses (along with certain other “miscellaneous itemized deduction

s”) are no longer deductible, starting in 2018 through 2025 (Public Law 115-97)."

Good Neighbor Authority

The 2014 Farm Bill authorized the USDA Forest Service to enter into Good Neighbor Authority (GNA) Agreements with Montana and other states for the purpose of increasing restoration of our National Forest Service lands.  The GNA authorizes the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (DNRC) to assist the Forest Service in planning and implementing projects to improve forest health and increase the total National Forest acreage under management.  Authorized forest, rangeland, and watershed restoration services include activities to treat insect and disease-infected trees, activities to reduce hazardous fuels, and other activities to restore or improve forest, rangeland, and watershed health, including fish and wildlife habitat.

Montana’s State Forester Sonya Germann announced that the DNRC is trying to raise $150,000 per year for the next three years from the conservation and business partners to sustain this effort.  Thereafter the GNA funding for the DNRC shall be from the sale of timber products arising from forest management.  This should be a win‑win situation.  If you wish more information on the GNA or wish to donate, you may contact Tim Love at tglove@charter.net or get the donation form on the MFOA website.  Tim is donating substantial time and effort to this cause.

HB34 was introduced to provide spending authority.  The Governor signed it into law.

December 27, 2017 Forests in Focus
Forests in Focus is a program under Governor Steve Bullock which offers cost share assistance for forest management activities on tribal, State and private lands.  Projects include harvest of commercial timber, forest restoration, habitat enhancement, and wildfire risk  You may look for the latest information online at

February 1, 2019 - Forest Plan

It's been thirty-some years since the Custer Gallatin National Forest (CGNF) last took a large-landscape scale look at our local national forest, right in the backyards of many cities and town across southern Montana.  That's about to change... 


Your Questions Answered:

What is the status of Forest Plan Revision on the Custer Gallatin?

The Forest is entering into year three of the four-year Forest Plan Revision process.  The Draft Environmental Impact Statement is forthcoming and will kick off another formal opportunity for comment.  Following the Draft Environmental Impact Statement, comments will be reviewed, changes may occur and a final environmental impact statement is expected early 2020. 

When will the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) be out?  

Given the recent lapse in government funding there is a small delay in the release of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement, however the document and associated appendices are expected out in the near future.

 

When will the comment period begin and how long will it last?

Upon release of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) &notice in the Federal Register - this will kick off a 90-day formal comment period.  Comments are strongly encouraged online at www.fs.usda.gov/custergallatin and navigating to Forest Plan Revision, then commenting once the commenting period opens up.  Exact dates are subject to change and are based upon the publication in the Federal Register.

Does the government shutdown affect the amount of comment time?

No, the government shutdown does not affect the amount of time the document is available for comment.  A 90-day comment period is a general comment length for the Draft Environmental Impact Statement phase and the Forest intends to continue with a 90-day comment opportunity. 

Will public meetings occur during this next comment phase?

The Forest intends to conduct public meetings (dates TBD) in the middle of the comment period to help understand the document and be available to answer questions.

2019 Montana Legislative Session

The 2019 legislature started January 5 and adjourned April 25.  For more information go to the legislative site at

Grants
There are various grants available to NIPFLs for use in maintaining forests.  If you have an interest in applying for such a grant or grants, you might check with your local Extension Agent or the DNRC Service Forester for your area.  Another contact would be the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Ryan Zinke, a Montana native left his Secretary of the Interior position at the end of December 2018.  President Trump nominated David Bernhardt who was confirmed on April 11,2019.

 

Montana Legislation

Fire Preparedness Assessments

HB31 is the result of the Environmental Quality Council's work to revise fire assessment fees.  This bill proposes to expand the assessment to the entire state, rather than primarily the west.  This excludes municipalities, tribal and state lands.  See MFOA's letter to the EQC regarding fire preparedness fees.  MOFA testified before the House Natural Resources Committee on March 20.  The bill was tabled in Committee on March 27, and died.

March 22, June 30, 2018 Environmental Quality Council (EQC) on Prescribed burning

The EQC reviewed Montana's prescribed burning laws and the 2017 effort through HB 587 (see MFOA's full report, below) to allow certain prescribed burns without assuming liability for unintended damage.  MFOA has submitted a letter with a letter from Dr. Peter Kolb commenting on this subject.  In the 2019 legislative session, Rep. Ray Shaw has reserved LC1318 for this bill.  However, no formal bill was introduced.

Timber Conservation License in Lieu of Sale

HB441 was introduced to repeal the option to request a timber conservation license in lieu of sale for State Trust Lands.   MFOA members showed their support to repeal this program.  MFOA testified in support of this in the House on February 20, 2019, and in the Senate on March 20, 2019.  The bill passed the House on a vote of 70 to 29 on February 27.  It passed the Senate on a vote of 30 to 20 on April 13.  Governor Bullock signed it into law on May 9, 2019.

 

HB627 was introduced to require that a timber conservation license in lieu of sale be offered for every such project.    MFOA testified opposing HB627 on March 11, 2019, along with eight other opponents.  The House Natural Resources Committee tabled HB627 on March 13.  The bill was defeated!

2019 Montana Legislative Session

The 2019 legislature is complete.  For more information go to the legislative site at

2017 Montana Legislative Session
During the January to April 2017 Montana Legislative Session, MFOA addressed bills regarding prescribed burning, property taxation, access, rural improvement districts, fire assessments, and noxious weeds.  See 

 

Federal Legislation

December 20, 2018 - Farm Bill of 2018

This is referred to as H.R. 2 in Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018.  The bill was passed by Congress on December 12, 2018, and signed into law by the President on December 20.  It will remain in effect through fiscal year 2023.

 

The House Agriculture Committee is a very abbreviated style said the following regarding the conservative position of the bill:

 

“Within the conservation title, H.R. 2 would repeal the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), which has an enrollment of 70 million acres, and uses some of the savings to increase funding for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). It also raises the acreage enrollment limit under the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). The bill further increases the loan limits for guaranteed farm ownership and operating loans. Bioenergy programs that comprise a separate title in the 2014 farm bill are included in a title on rural infrastructure and economic development. Also, while many of these bioenergy programs are currently authorized for mandatory funding in addition to being authorized for discretionary funds, H.R. 2 authorizes only discretionary funding.”

 

You may access a Side-by-Side Comparison with Current Law of the 2018 farm bill with the prior 2014 bill.  This comparison was prepared by the Congressional Research Service.  Read the entire bill here.

 

How did forestry fare in the bill?  The National Association of State Foresters said it is thankful that Congress finalized a Forestry Title in the bill, but disappointed in the bill’s treatment of the Landscape Scale Restoration (LSR) program.  See NASF Weights In On 2019 Forestry Title.

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