By American Loggers Council Executive Vice President – Danny Dructor
On August 17, 2010, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals determined that forest roads and their stormwater runoff gathering systems (ditches, culverts) are point sources subject to National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits.
Shortly after passage of the Clean Water Act (CWA) in 1972, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) concluded that forestry activities are nonpoint sources most effectively managed through best management practices (BMP’s) established through the states rather than through federal government. The EPA was right. After 35 years, forestry, including timber harvesting activities, contributes to impairment in just 4% of the nation’s river and stream miles as determined in the U.S. EPA National Water Quality Inventory Report to Congress.
If the Ninth Circuit’s decision remains unchecked, thousands of projects on both public and private lands would be subject to the NPDES permitting process and citizen’s lawsuits. Delays could lead to mill closures, loss of jobs, and conversion of the forestlands for other uses. At a time when our industry is reeling under the devastation caused by poor housing markets, high unemployment, and continued loss of mill infrastructure, to add additional regulatory burdens that could further weaken our ability to access both public and private timberlands and the ability of a private landowner to harvest timber from their property makes absolutely no sense.
In recent months, The American Loggers Council, working with many other organizations such as the National Alliance of Forest Owners and the Forest Landowners Association, has been working to secure support from members of Congress for the passage of the Silviculture Regulatory Consistency Act, H.R. 2541 in the US House of Representatives and S. 1369 in the U.S. Senate. This legislation, if passed, would amend the CWA to allow for silvicultural exemptions from the NPDES permitting requirements administered by the EPA, but we need your help in making that happen.
Members of Congress need to hear from all of us. We are the grassroots that can make things happen. While the staff and board members of the American Loggers Council are weighing in on the issue, members of Congress may not listen unless they hear from the thousands of us that are out in woods making our living. Now is the time for you to get active on this issue as Congress is back in session from the August recess. Please call, fax, or email your representatives in both the U.S. House and the U. S. Senate and ask that they support and vote for The Silviculture Regulatory Consistency Act. A few minutes of your time today could save hours or even days of delays in the future. Let’s work together to eliminate a potentially costly and job threatening regulatory burden. Call now.
Danny Dructor is the Executive Vice President of the American Loggers Council, which represents logging professionals in 30 States. For more information please contact the American Loggers Council at 409-625-0206 or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.