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Farm Bill affecting forest issues

RHINELANDER, Wis. (WXPR) -- Most of the recently signed Farm Bill resolved issues concerning farming, food programs, subsidies and crop insurance.  It also affected the nation's forest industry.

Executive Director of the Great Lakes Timber Professionals Association, Henry Schienebeck, says it clarifies some issues concerning federal forests.  He says there was a question concerning whether loggers would need to file for permits for non-point pollution run-off on forest roads.  Schienebeck says that's not part of the bill.  "It's been very difficult to get clarification as to what direction that was going to go, if we were going to be required to have permits or not be required to have permits. The Farm Bill solidifies that we won't have to do that extra paper work and change the way we've been doing business in regard to how we've been doing road maintenance."

The bill also permanently extends stewardship contracting authority which was set to expire.

Schienebeck says loggers and contractors were concerned that a change in the program could disrupt their work.  The bill makes the program permanent.  It also enables the Secretary of Agriculture to designate treatment areas for forestlands that have been hit by insect infestation and disease.

The bill also allows U.S. Forest Service to delegate state foresters with the implementation of certain forestry projects, including watershed and wildfire efforts in the national forests.

The Great Lakes Timber Professionals Association is based in Rhinelander.