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Comments Recieved at Stillwater

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The table below captures the comments collected during the breakout session at the Stillwater public meeting. Comments are grouped by major forces of change. Specific subregions of applicability are listed where provided.

  Comment Subregion
Social
  Consider landowners right to practice forestry, vegetation, prescribed fire, etc
Consider population shifts and lack of management, lack of knowledge and awareness
Evaluate the impacts of certification (SFI, FSC, Tree Farm)
Going “green” provides opportunities for landowners
Evaluate the impacts of a growing population, changes in age/interest—connection to the environment
Evaluate fragmentation of NIPF land
Consider the lack of desire to manage timber, change in social values, change in priorities
Consider social trends. Green is popular but some lack stewardship and want instant gratification
Fire evokes strong opinions—social changes?
Land managers are losing other tools (herbicides, prescribed fire, TSI) due to socially driven value changes
Save a Tree
Consider social implication/social attitudes, more land owned/ less rights perceived to manage, public expects access
Consider lack of ability to manage, can't oversee; lack of knowledge
Forests viewed as recreational opportunity
Consider social values, instant gratification, people cut and sell land, don't replant
Consider the impacts of policy on inherited land—multiple owners
Consider that Native American tribal management has a different emphasis
Consider the availability of hunting leases—lack of public places to hunt (pay to play). This could be a landowner income opportunity
Consider negative views of early forest (planting, harvest)
Evaluate access to forest. There is a perception of reduced access; more roads mean more access
Evaluate watersheds purchased for water
Evaluate the impacts of aAbsentee ownership (1/2 out-of-state), they don't view land as resource, land may not be managed, locals use it too
Consider unrealistic expectations, how fast will it grow
People want short-term investment strategy
Landowner shift less agricultural base, appreciate land—not used as a commodity
Look at disconnect between forest managers and landowners—communication
the class of landowners has changed—different social class
People don't recognize multiple use—all or nothing
Consider educational system – what schools are teaching
People want a forest “easy” button
Remarket forestry. Communication gap—they are customers
Evaluate how population growth in cities impacts forest policy (urban vs rural)
Impacts of decrease in forestry students?
Consider more rules/regs on forests in future. There is a perception that forests need to be preserved
More public education is needed, informational vs emotional, self-appointed experts
Need more land set aside from development, need government programs, NGO efforts
Economics
  Evaluate payment for environmental services, carbon credits, water management—landowners get the money
Evaluate the impact to industry lands of taxation of forest lands (income and property taxes)—tax laws changed over time
Evaluate timber investment trusts/funds
Look into mill closures/lack of markets
Evaluate energy prices—changing markets
Assess diminishing investment in timberlands. How to increase returns?
Evaluate land prices vs stumpage prices. People won't buy lands to plant trees
Consider greater disposable income
Farming is secondary—people have to work off the farm
China is buying U.S. timber products, steel—driving up the prices
Consider the implications of a scarce workforce, manual labor (pulpwood, tree planters, mill workers). Forest managers lose these tools, work ethic shifting away from manual labor, immigration issue
Evaluate impacts of technology/digital world—limit need for paper?
Consider management prices increase due to labor scarcity
Institutional
  Evaluate the decline in cost-share programs, essentially zero now, some in EQIP, constrains landowners with overall management assistance. Landowners ought to sign up even if no funds are available, otherwise NRCS will think demand for these funds is flat. NRCS funds treatments to eradicate red cedar
Red cedar and potential for carbon storage may be useful in western OK
Tax treatment of vertically-integrated forest industry has led to divestiture of lands (TIMOs, REITs)
Examine tax assessments in OK—timberland taxed at the “wasteland” rate. landowners like the low tax rates but communities could use the revenue
Are there potential benefits of a production tax on timber?
If tax rates went up, some landowners might manage their land or manage it better
Look at ownership trends, multigenerational ownership issues, absentee, multiple owners, depends on family situation, policies re/ LLCs, opportunities to simplify ownership might help management-no universal trends here
Examine the impacts of oil and gas industry on OK forests. Each pad takes about 4 acres/one or two pads per 20 ac in TX. Is there any similar standard in OK? This area plus roads, pipelines, all represent removals from production and are undocumented. Oil and gas companies pay for damage, but not required to pay for lost income or productivity from forests. Some consultants have collected on this.
Examine potential for switchgrass as a feedstock, and price supports for switchgrass—puts forests at a disadvantage
Reorganization of the forestry program at OK State University, under and as part of a larger agricultural program dilutes the forestry program, dilutes curriculum and enrollments, may affect professional accreditation
A parallel analogy exists in state government, where forestry is under agriculture rather than under natural resources
Academic reorganization at OK State may ensure sustainability of the program, small audience is a small voice, larger audience brings a larger voice, must be proactive in representing the small voices in the University. Also, must acknowledge multiple values in forest land
Forestry is the 3rd-largest cash crop in Oklahoma, but only prominent in 3 counties
Examine policies re/ taxation of carbon caps. Carbon trading in OK governed by the Oklahoma Conservation Commission. What are the implications of this?
Evaluate carbon balance under management, especially concerning agriculture versus forests. Is switchgrass better? Cellulosic conversion of forests? Policies for utilization of residues vs chips versus primary harvest of trees for energy may be different, could use guidance here
Evaluate CRP programs—helpful or not? Not much in OK (unstable funding). If used, there should be: focus on small landowners who do not have consultants, don't saturate the market
Look at “Made in Oklahoma” program—the best thing for landowners is sustainable OK markets (timber markets, fiber markets, carbon markets?, water, air, wildlife markets?, ecosystem services markets, as new markets are brought into existence, sustainability is a key.
Voluntary BMP program in OK—should BMPs be required in an ecosystem services market?
Evaluate policies re/ energy costs—what if energy process skyrocket? Will people in rural areas move to towns? Will this increase urban use? Will this free up rural lands for production?
How will “Get off the grid" push for alternative energy affect rural and urban populations
Regional planning is overdue! Planning can promote rural development—are people in Oklahoma ready for regional planning?
Evaluate policy re management of red cedar, eliminate cedar? utilize cedar?. The ultimate answer—policies and opportunities that allow a landowner to concurrently utilize, and thereby eliminate, red cedar. Can policy promote this?
Evaluate carbon markets—tax for excessive carbon emissions rather than allow carbon emitters to buy credits. This would dry up carbon markets.
Evaluate OK infrastructure policy especially in regard to transportation and load limits—decreasing weight limits as a protection against overloading roads and bridges is not a stabilizing force for loggers; better to replace bridges and roads to support them.
Evaluate carbon infrastructure—short-term policies for verification and registration, especially utilities, funded by utilities, to lock in at the low rate.
If carbon markets develop, landowners may need to retain standing carbon in biomass, which may reduce timber and fiber supplies
Examine the structure of the carbon markets, will carbon markets promote reforestation.
Examine incentives for bioenergy, this could reduce pulpwood use by mills. Stable mills and markets continue to be important
Regarding stability of the loggers' workforce re/ demographics—where is the labor going to come from for switchgrass harvest? Woods workers or agricultural workers? Equipment?
There will not be enough public money to support all these ideas in new and innovative markets. IMO, a board foot is the only liquid capital asset today in ecosystem services.
Examine water issues. Water quality in upstream versus downstream watersheds could be important over 5 decades. If water is used in town, help pay landowner upstream for it. Upstream vegetation control can promote downstream flow.
Consider wind farms? Huge one in NW OK, and a second big one in western OK near I-40
If there is a major change in US income tax in the future—how will this affect the ability of the govt to support policies?
Will the Farm Bill exist 30 years? If it goes away, the world changes
Include tribal lands which are also a moving target. Increases in area, changes in management, and tribes are buying land.
Land use versus forest use. Fine or penalty versus income or reward—isn't the latter a better incentive?
Consider ownernership patterns in OK. Area of forest owned by the State (very little) and Feds (more), Fed share especially high in terms of commercial timberland
OK is unique in the lack of public interest and perception about forestry—OK citizens don't know about forestry and don't appreciate its importance
Proximity to the 100th meridian drives the importance of water in OK
Politics and politicians in Oklahoma are unusually uninformed about forestry—influential politicians come from urban areas (OKC, TUL) or from western OK ranchers. Legislature doesn't know forestry is important in Oklahoma; which is reflected in their funding for forestry programs and research in OK.
Fire industry and fire conditions in Oklahoma are unique—extremely high percentage of 1-hour fuels
OK has unusual diversity, especially ecological diversity, having both eastern and western forests and grasslands -trees not valuable elsewhere in the South can be extremely valuable in parts of Oklahoma for ecology, shade, wildlife
Consider retention of cross-timbers, aquifer recharge, storm water treatment, urban water quality protection
Land Uses
  Consider cross-timbers threats (fire exclusion, red cedar invasives, development, drought, change in management from cattle & range to urban), general lack of management
Consider that riparian corridors are being lost to agricultural uses and invasives (salt cedar, Russian olive) –Western OK. Consider recreation uses in Eastern OK. Irrigation drops ground water and potable water wells
WUI expanding near lakes in NE OK, this complicates or ends forest management
Consider loss of timber production on lands being purchased for second homes and “farmlets” throughout OK
Look at pressures to use crops/switchgrass for biofuels—not forest species as yet, but incentives could change this
Reservoir construction for water supply threatens timber land (NE TX) and other aquatic habitat (likely in OK, too)
As natural landscapes decline due to urbanization, recreation demand will lead to additions of large scale forest acquisition. Also, water supply demands will increase (reservoir, ground water, land use restrictions for municipal watershed purposes)
Oil and gas leases may increase as prices go up and technology improves complicating management in ways similar to development. Could encourage retaining ownership or improving management
Could oil and gas development reduce forest land (substantially) and cause fragmentation?
Look at tribal ownerships --may be more interested in managing water supply and selling water or managing for other forest products as other lands go out of forest cover
How does privatizing public lands (state/municipal/counties/facilities) affect jobs, loss of habitat, ecosystem impacts, recreation
Evaluate sales/subdividing from REIT/TIMO's
Evaluate parcelization of land to 400-600 acres
What are new opportunities for privately provided recreation?
Evaluate TIMO management concerns; SFI regen is required but not sincere, substandard regen after harvest (200-300 trees per acre), there are consequences for sustainability and timber supply, what are implications for forest products sector, decreased demand, ratcheting down?
Look at lack of revenue from forests, it leads to conversion of land (large nurseries in East OK)
What are the implications of planned timber production from National Forests (timber supply for regional markets), evaluate multiple effects of shift in management/uses with Forest plans, USFS manages a much larger share of forests in this sub region so policy matters much
Consider changes to recreation demand from parks to forests (Private vs public forests), especially ORV management on NF
Consider shifts in perspective, shift toward short-term with change toward ag sector and other trends (public perspective—TIMO's/REITS), shift toward an aesthetics regarding forests, shifting public perspective regarding preservation vs conservation
Consider lack of markets within the subregion (e.g., SE OK, NE OK)
Consider lack of interest in exploring alternative forest products—needs a kick start; incentives?
Biological
  Consider the impact of invasives MS
Forest health issues of the West may soon affect this sub-region MS
Consider increasing risks to forest health (age, maturity, susceptibility to insects and diseases)
Consider interaction of biological and physical factors
Consider change in species composition of forests due to insects, diseases, pathogens, include complete ecosystems, animals, etc. Because of the unique geographical location of OK & parts of TX, could have a more significant affect on this sub-region
Examine how change in ownership affects caring for land and results in lack of management of Eastern Red Cedar
Consider environmental monitoring infrastructure see Oklahoma's Mesonet
Consider the loss of riparian vegetation in riparian areas of western OK (cottonwoods)
Look at species transition (shortleaf or hardwood to loblolly). Loss of native pine stands
Do the majority of small landowners understand the benefits of biodiversity?
What are the effects of additional T&E impacts to private landowners. How will they be compensated? Attach value of biodiversity and ecosystem services?
What species of tree/grass will accommodate predicted climate shifts?
Consider propagating forests to maintain water quality
Consider that more small landowners, esp. baby boomers retiring, could result in less management of land; increasing susceptibility to insects and diseases
How will forest industries be affected by insects and diseases (e.g. Emerald Ash Borer)?
Consider lack of riparian areas in agricultural and residential lands
Ice storms may be biggest climate change effect. Greater deviations from normal and more frequent
Consider the synergistic effects of biological and physical factors combined
Physical
  Consider land use changes
Consider water quality/quantity issues
Evaluate effects of cropland irrigation on riparian ecosystems (e.g. cottonwood)
Consider extreme weather events (ice) affecting hardwoods and pines. Could result in increased fuel loads and fire intensity
Consider how increasing temperatures evaporates water in reservoirs faster
Examine owners values--looking at short-term benefits. As lands are logged over, they are passed down or acquired
Examine potential use and sale of water off of SE OK
There is not enough fire on the landscape in part due to urbanization/sub-divisions
As population increases the number of wildfires will increase
Consider the increase of irrigation causing aquifers to drop, decreasing flow of rivers
How does gas and oil exploration/extraction affect water quality
Examine effects of increased surface mining in SE OK
Protection of the ability by private/any land owners to use prescribed fire, consider smoke issues; educational issues
Consider whether transition zone may exacerbate effects of climate change
Consider the synergistic effects of biological and physical factors combined
Timber
  Evaluate the use of woody biomass for bioenergy, what impact will it have on traditional timber markets?, will more small material be utilized? will we see use of residues—woods residues (waste wood) and energy plantations. Will the cost of production be effective?
What will the effects of biofuels be on pulpwood? On sustainability? There is a big push for switchgrass (in OK esp). What will the effects be? Would trees be needed? Need to be more proactive in biofuels—not just switchgrass
Utilize waste material! We need to develop technology, markets to extend the use of wood waste. For energy efficiency—replace concrete, steel, etc., with wood
We will need to utilize non-traditional sources for energy. Some lower quality biomass could possibly be used (red cedar)
Evaluate the global effects of developing bioenergy. Make connection to what happens to forests here and elsewhere
The viability of forest products industry is a concern. Pine pulpwood is not overabundant
Consider weather patterns: two major ice storms have made a major impact
What are economic issues/opportunities of more landowners, smaller acres—small operations not as viable as 50 years ago, 80% of landowners in OK own < 100 acres
Consider that the aging of America includes landowners
Consider that in 50 years people will be working via computer, living on the land, increasing land prices, forest products are becoming secondary
Consider that because there is a decline in enrollment in forestry schools, foresters to manage forest land may be scarce
Consider the management of lands in Coops. This might develop and provide a partial solution
Evaluate changes in Technology—utilization of small twigs, etc., we need changes in transportation to haul low density materials
Loss in cost share has reduced forest management capabilities. It's a challenge to reach landowners
Evaluate a new situation – Urban/rural mixing. No longer traditional pulp, lumber product markets, clearing land for real estate development, power line clearing (material could be utilized)
Consider that forests are not thought of as a valuable resource to contribute to solutions
Composting operations could utilize waste woodchips
Conservation easements—tax credits allow ag, forestry uses to continue
Consider the need for new approaches to deal with forest management issues that are cost effective. Traditional economic scales are not effective
Evaluate Outreach—address land user – what to do when acquiring land—how to manage
Forest management issues are more than just timber: water, biodiversity, environmental services. Some of these services are well defined, others are not so well defined (like carbon credits
Evaluate global markets—products from other countries use cheap labor and produce timber cheaply
Consider changes in management resulting from changes in ownership, fragmentation
Management of forests has urban aspect/real estate developments. What if 25% of forests have people living on them? How will they be managed?
What is the future role of National Forests? They are important in this subregion
Look at urban forests. Ice storms, woody biomass waste used for energy? Ongoing pruning, etc. Issues of water quality, biodiversity, etc. This can be a positive force
Consider that the demand for traditional forest managers in increasing
Fire cuts across all issues: prescribed burning practices are limited Homes need to be Fire Wise: need to inform realtors
Consider that non commercial forests are changing, exclusion of fire etc. Need tools to manage these lands— they are different from other lands. Ecosystem Services—watershed management. Sell services to people who use
How do we maintain viable markets? Sustainable markets are needed to maintain the ability to practice forestry
Consider transportation issues—limited hauling distances (also effects bioenergy)
What is the future for pulp mills in the U.S.?
Evaluate concerns regarding water quality from forests
Evaluate over-utilization (limbs, leaves)—nutrients could be depleted