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Archived 2005 News, Issues & Information

(12/26/05) A Few Holiday Gifts from AU Prof. Dr. David South.

(12/21/05) Forestry Commissioners Struggling with State Forester's Grant Making Policy. Source: Mobile Register, 12/19/05

(12/20/05) Hot off the presses, Tax Tips for Forest Landowners for the 2005 Tax Year (pdf).  The US Forest Service's Larry M. Bishop publishes his last forest tax update before retirement.

(11/25/05) Storm Water Property Tax (a fee, not subject to voter approval) Increase Promoted. Jefferson County's Storm Water Management Authority has been lobbying participating governments (city & county) to raise parcel fees on Class III property (homes, farms and forests) from $5 per parcel to $12 per parcel. Several landowners met recently and decided to write letters to their city officials and local newspapers to question the value of the storm water program and ask local government to give a thumbs-down to the proposed increase. The FEE cannot be increased if city governments refuse to raise it.

(11/23/05) The "16.4 percent import duty to compensate U.S. lumber companies for subsidies given to Canadian producers would fall to 0.8 percent" if U.S. Commerce Department's proposal becomes final. Source: Bloomberg.com

(11/11/05) I told you so...Bowater, Inc. plans to sell 100,000 acres of timberland on the Cumberland Plateau.  In the August 2005 edition of Capital Ideas Live, Matt Bennett of Maryville, Tennessee helps us understand this interesting chain of events with Bowater.

(10/18/05) Post Katrina Forest Recovery. Read testimony given by Gulf Coast foresters who appeared before the House Resources, Forests and Forest Health Subcommittee on October 7, 2005.

(10/17/05) "Modern paper production in China only developed throughout the last decade. Nick Harambasic, manager of the American Penford Products said: 'At first, China had many small factories of low quality, which produced for the domestic market. In the nineties, it started installing paper mills of international standard. The growth has been phenomenal.' The expert predicted that China would become the world’s largest producer of paper, a place now occupied by the United States.
      "Harambasic said that in the last 10 years, around 14 large paper factories were set up every year, each costing between 250 and 500 million US dollars and with a productive capacity of more than 100 million tons per year." Source: AsiaNews 9/28/05

(09/24/05) "From [an] owner's position, it seems to me that eminent domain ... is, in a way, the most attractive way in which to have your property rearranged," said Mayor Eddie A. Perez of Hartford, Connecticut. The mayor noted that the owner is compensated. Source: The Washington Times, 9/21/05.

(09/24/05) Tancredo Wants Federal Land Sold To Fund Relief      (AP) DENVER U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo on Wednesday called for the sale of federal land to fund Hurricane Katrina relief efforts. "The federal government may be cash-poor but it is land rich. There is demand for farm and ranch land, and the federal government should have long ago transferred its massive holdings to the private sector, where it can be put to use," the Colorado Republican said in a statement. Source: http://cbs4denver.com/

(09/17/05) Soil Surveys Now Accessible Online. Check this out. Even if soils maps are not available for your area (they were not available for editor's Chilton County land), playing with the zoom-in maps and photo imagery may prove useful to you.

USDA announced the availability online of National Cooperative Soil Survey maps and data. Three integrated tools help users find and display the soil survey info they're seeking: Define, View and Explore. Once a specific geographic area is selected, the soils map and related information can be printed or saved. Customized reports that include soil suitability info can be created for delivery on CD, DVD or other media.

(09/08/05) Cypress Logging in Southern Louisiana and New Orleans Disaster Related? You may find interesting reading in Conservation, Protection and Utilization of Louisiana’s Coastal Wetland Forests and Gone With The Water.

(09/06/05) A South Alabama landowner had filed a complaint with the sheriff's department alleging that people had been entering his property to ride all terrain vehicles. Evidently, the riders returned to confront the landowner about his complaint to the sheriff. One ATV rider was killed and the other seriously wounded.

(09/01/05) Not-So-Rare Eggert's sunflower removed from List of Endangered and Threatened Plants. The sunflower, which grows to heights of 8 feet, is found in 3 north Alabama counties and seems to flourish following clearcuts.

(08/20/05) Have You Ever Wondered If The Outcomes Of "Stakeholder" Planning Sessions Were Determined Before The Stakeholders Met? Check out this eye-opener from the Magic City Morning Star 8/12/05 (source URL)

(08/15/05) Lower property taxes draw for Alabama:  Source: The Birmingham News 8/14/05
     Having recently moved to Alabama from Indiana, I suggest The News take a look at The Indianapolis Star (www.indystar.com) in Indianapolis to read of the woes caused by out-of-control government spending fueled from property taxes over which Indiana residents have little control.
     Indiana libraries build bigger and better buildings. Towns and cities compete to spend more, and schools are constantly building Taj Mahals that know no limits. All are fueled by property taxes.
     Alabama should not emulate Indiana and other "enlightened" states. Not only are businesses flocking to Alabama, so are the people. I am but one example of what happens when a state or taxing district spends the citizens' money with reckless abandon. I left Indiana because of taxes. I chose Alabama because of taxes.
     Alabama must not follow a path of economic destruction. The citizens of Alabama must resist any call for a change in which the politicians are allowed to rely more heavily on property taxes.
         Jack Little, Shoal Creek

(08/12/05) Linden-Area Landowner Questions Credibility of Pulp Mill Proposal.

(07/28/05) 10 Mill Minimum School Tax Could Raise Property Taxes in 30 School Systems. The vote on a constitutional amendment to raise the millage rate will take place either June 27, 2006 or November 7, 2006. Counties (city systems not listed) that would be affected include:

  • Autauga
  • Barbour
  • Bibb
  • Blount
  • Chilton
  • Conecuh
  • Covington
  • Crenshaw
  • Cullman
  • Dale
  • Elmore
  • Fayette
  • Hale
  • Houston
  • Jackson
  • Lamar
  • Lawrence
  • Limestone
  • Marion
  • Marengo
  • Montgomery
  • Pike
  • Tuscaloosa
  • Walker

(07/21/05) International Paper Company plans to sell some or all of 1.2 million acres in Alabama (6.8 million acres nationwide).

(07/18/05) Tree Growth, Forest Management and Their Implications for Wood Quality by John Punches is an 8 page paper written in Oregon but relevant to Alabama trees as well.

(07/15/05) Some Alabama Lawmakers want to end tax lien bill in Special Session. "When institutional investors bid to buy tax liens, they pay an amount far greater than the tax owed. Any amount above the amount of taxes is held in trust by the county and begins to earn 12 percent simple interest." Source: The Birmingham News, 7/5/05 & 7/15/05.

(07/12/05) Watch Alabama Forestry Commission website for Hurricane Dennis damage assessments. Nothing listed as of 7/12/05, 8:13 AM.

(07/10/05) Link to National Hurricane Center.

(07/08/05) Lawsuit Filed Against Commercial Tree Planters May Affect Tree Planting Work Next Winter.  Claiming abuse of labor laws, the Southern Poverty Law Center, representing Guatemalan and Mexican tree planters, has filed lawsuits against tree planting contractors in Georgia, Louisiana, and Arkansas.

(06/30/05) Poetic Justice. California man wants hotel on justice's New Hampshire land. More links -- same topic: 

(06/28/05) Lawsuit to Protect Bears Threatened. "The Humane Society, Defenders of Wildlife, The Fund for Animals and Sierra Club gave 60-day notice last week that they intend to legally challenge a federal decision not to give the [Florida black] bear protection under the Endangered Species Act. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service twice has refused to list the bear as threatened, most recently in December 2003." Source: Tampa Tribune, 6/27/05

(06/23/05) The U.S. Supreme Court ruled today that private property may be 'taken' for private projects.  In a stinging dissent, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor wrote: 

Any property may now be taken for the benefit of another private party, but the fallout from this decision will not be random. The beneficiaries are likely to be those citizens with disproportionate influence and power in the political process, including large corporations and development firms. As for the victims, the government now has license to transfer property from those with fewer resources to those with more. The Founders cannot have intended this perverse result. "[T]hat alone is a just government," wrote James Madison, "which impartially secures to every man, whatever is his own."  For the National Gazette, Property, (Mar. 29, 1792), reprinted in 14 Papers of James Madison 266 (R. Rutland et al. eds. 1983).  Source:  FindLaw for Legal Professionals.  6/23/2005.  Emphasis Added.

(06/11/05) 2005 List of Portable Sawmills from Independent Sawmill & Woodlot Magazine

(06/03/05) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has published a new National Management Measures to Control Nonpoint Source Pollution from Forestry. We have glanced at the web page but have not read any of the sections. If you read it and find sections particularly useful to forest owners in Alabama, let us know. If you find something that, if adopted into law, might become onerous to forest owners, send AFOA a note.

(06/02/05) UPDATES TO AG HANDBOOK 718. Since Forest Landowners’ Guide to the Federal Income Tax “was written, there have been two significant tax laws passed by Congress and signed into law.” Deborah Gaddis and Stephen Dicke, tax experts at Mississippi State University, have written a 3-page correction sheet that will bring the excellent tax guide up-to-date.  Click here to download a full version of the Handbook.

(05/24/05) Alabama Truck Powered by Wood, Birmingham News, 4/26/05

(05/18/05) "Please co-sponsor and vote for all legislation that permanently eliminates the death tax." Officials with the Forest Landowners Association and the Forest Landowners Tax Council have asked us to pass that simple message on to our U.S. Senators (Sessions and Shelby). Jeff Sessions: (202)224-4124, (205)731-1500. Richard Shelby: (202)224-5744, (205)731-1384.

(04/22/05) Legal Basis for Smooth Transfer of Property -- Dr. Robert Tufts' speaker's notes used at AFOA's 24th Annual Meeting on April 16.

(04/12/05) Death Tax Vote: On Wednesday or Thursday, House Republicans are expected to make their fourth attempt since 2001 to win permanent repeal of the death tax, which under current law is being phased out temporarily. Their earlier efforts have been stymied in a closely divided Senate, but small-business groups, farmers, and the forestry community hope this year will be different. With Senate Republicans boasting an expanded majority and some red-state Democrats reluctant to defend the tax, advocates of repeal see their best chance yet.
     If you so choose, you can ask your Congressman to vote for House Resolution 8, which is scheduled to come to the floor next week. The bill would permanently eliminate the death tax.
     You can click the following web link and enter your zip code to find your House delegate: http://www.congress.org/congressorg/officials/congress/. Then, click the email link under your U.S. Representative’s picture (you only have one Representative) , click “Compose your own letter”, and write (or similar): “Please vote for HR 8, or any similar legislation, whenever you can, to permanently eliminate the death tax; aka estate tax.”
Source: Forest Landowners Association, Inc. Emphasis added. (04/13/05) The House of Representatives passed the resolution 272 (including 42 Democrats) to 162. It is now in the hands of the Senate.

(03/25/05) The Alabama House of Representatives Passed a Bill to Restrain Over Zealous Use of Power of Eminent Domain. Introduced by Rep. Jack Venable, D-Tallassee, HB 186 passed the House 90-1 and is now under consideration by the Senate. Unfortunately, Senator Rodger Smitherman, D-Birmingham, said he plans to tack on an amendment that would exempt the city of Birmingham. This cancer could grow. Smitherman's phone number is (334) 242-7870 and his email address is rodger99@bellsouth.net. You may want to contact your State Senator about this important legislation: Senate Members Contact Information

(03/18/05) The Tuscaloosa City Council has approved a Mandatory Best Management Practices bill (must be passed by the State Legislature and signed by the Governor) for the Lake Tuscaloosa watershed (about 400 square miles). The bill began its four week local advertisement period earlier this week. Ultimately this bill will wrap forest owners up in the disincentives of bureaucracy, permits, fees, etc. You may wish to talk to members of the Tuscaloosa County legislative delegation to explain that working forestland helps clean urban area water. Landowners should be encouraged to foster forest growth on their land. Be sure to listen to and read AFOA's interviews with Dr. Graeme Lockaby and Steve McKinney. Lockaby recommends that forest landowners be paid for the value their "urban area" forests provide and McKinney tells us how much the payment ought to be.

(03/18/05) AFOA's hunting lease price survey is ongoing.  The goal of the survey is to develop an average price per acre for hunting rights in the state of Alabama.  A DRAFT COPY of the results received so far is available in PDF format.  If you are a landowner that has hunting lease liability insurance through AFOA, please give Jason a call at the AFOA office with your lease information.  You can also email your lease information to Jason at AFOA.

(03/11/05) eBay  -- have you ever used it? AFOA is selling a computer monitor (click here), but you may be more interested in a tractor or a chainsaw.

(03/09/05) Could Georgia/Alabama/Florida Water Wars ever lead to forced timber harvests? Read "More water, fewer trees?" in Casper, Wyoming's Star Tribune. More open spaces and fewer trees can help increase water yields on national forest lands in Wyoming, a U.S. Forest Service official told a state legislative committee [January 27, 2005].

(03/04/05) "It’s a bunch of bureaucratic crap." That's what Hubbard County (Minnesota) Commissioner Lyle Robinson said about forest certification. The County Commission was asked recently to approve the costly certification process of county forestland. Timber sales on Hubbard County forestland brought in almost $2.5 million in 2004.

(03/04/05) U.S. Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ) Has Introduced a Bill to ‘Kill the Death Tax’

(03/04/05) Property Rights Activists in Missouri Making Attempt to Reverse a Water Quality Law Passed Last Year. Can Alabama and its EPA funded "Basin Projects" be far behind?

(02/22/05) Would you like to send some organized comments to Auburn University President Ed Richardson on the value of the Forestry & Wildlife Extension Program or the School of Forestry & Wildlife Sciences (SF&WS)? Dr. Richardson has been quoted in the news as considering merging the SF&WS into the College of Agriculture. A webpage has been set up for you to comment on a variety of topics. The web address is http://www.auburnag.org. To log in, your I. D. is auburnag and your password is pride. Editor's note: AFOA estimates that Auburn's forestry & wildlife extension program spends about 2% of the overall $50 million budget of the entire Alabama Cooperative Extension System (estimate based on numbers 2 or 3 years old). While forestry & wildlife extension costs Alabama taxpayers quite a lot, it is a very small portion of overall extension spending. We hope your comments will reflect the quality and quantity of information you receive from the forestry & wildlife extension program and the proportion of the overall extension budget spent on forestry & wildlife. More than two-thirds of all the land in Alabama is forested.

(02/19/05) Could a Ginseng/Deer Combination Become an Eastern Spotted Owl? Jim Beers presents an interesting scenario.

(02/16/05) Wall Street Turns To Timber is a headline today on CNBC-TV. "Money management firms see money in trees, perhaps more money than stocks will return over the next few years."

(02/14/05) "Please help us stop or rewrite home rule bill in Alabama House." urges Alabamians for Real Reform spokeswoman Ellen Williams (251-246-9850). She asks that forest owners attend a Wednesday, February 16 Hearing of the Constitution and Elections Committee on HB-40 (SB-129) at 9:00 AM in the State House, Montgomery. Following the hearing, the critics of HB-40 plan to eat lunch and plan strategy. They invite forest owners to join them. (02/19/05) Here is a follow-up comment sent to AFOA from someone in attendance at the above Public Hearing. ALABAMA CITIZENS TREATED LIKE DIRT: At the public hearing in Montgomery, on HB40 (Home Rule Bill) we had over 70 people in attendance, many of these citizens had driven three to four hours to testify. Ken Guin crammed the hearing into a very small room (on purpose I am told) so that only 30 people, plus the committee, could get into the room or hear the testimony. All the others, mostly retired folks, were left to stand outside in the hall and were unable to hear or take part. Then Guin only allowed a total of twenty minutes (20 minutes) testimony for our entire group. After only five of our speakers were allowed to make very short statements, Guin cut off testimony and closed the hearing. (true democracy in action) However, because of public outcry Guin was forced to put off a vote and carry the issue over for two weeks.

(02/12/05) National League of Cities Argues It is OK to Take Property for the Purpose of Increasing Taxes.

(02/10/05) The EPA has issued an interpretive statement and a proposed rule in response to questions raised about Clean Water Act (CWA) permitting requirements in regard to the application of pesticides on or over waters of the United States.  In certain situations, the application of pesticides in accordance with all relevant requirements of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) would not require pesticide applicators to obtain an NPDES (National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System) permit under the CWA.

(02/03/05) Southern Pine Beetles, like wildfire, can become a serious problem for you, if they find your land and pine timber meet their special needs. Click here to visit the Southern Pine Beetle Internet Control Center.

(02/01/05) The Alabama Forestry Commission voted recently to close the E. A. Hauss Tree Nursery near Atmore. Seedlings currently in the ground will be harvested before closure. Source: Email note from an AFC Commissioner, 2/1/05. Numerous private forestry nurseries provide seedling needs for private forest owners.

(01/31/05) This list of bills was pre-filed in the Alabama Senate and House and may be of some interest to landowners. For a complete list of pre-filed bills from the January 30, 2005 Montgomery Advertiser, click here.

  • SB18: Sen. Curt Lee, R-Jasper. Relating to eminent domain proceedings in the probate court, to increase the time within which the probate court is required to conduct a hearing after a complaint has been filed.
  • SB21: Sen. Bradley Byrne, R-Fairhope. Relating to the reappraisal of property in Alabama, to provide property in Alabama would not be subject to reappraisal less than every four years.
  • SB42: Sen. Phil Poole, D-Moundville. To provide further for qualification procedure for current use value of certain taxable property.
  • SB60: Sen. Hank Sanders, D-Selma. Relating to the levy of a local tax for public school purposes, to provide that up to 25 percent of the proceeds from the tax may, at the discretion of the county commission, be distributed to the county general fund for county purposes with a portion distributed to the municipal general fund of any municipality within the county which endorses the additional tax.
  • HB27: Rep. Steve Hurst, D-Munford. Relating to eminent domain proceedings in the probate court, to increase the time within which the probate court is required to conduct a hearing after a complaint has been filed. Committee on County and Municipal Government.
  • HB31 (constitutional amendment): Rep. Linda Coleman, D-Birmingham. Amend state constitution to remove the requirement that a local constitutional amendment be subject to a statewide vote in the event of a dissenting vote in the Legislature; and to provide that a proposed local constitutional amendment or other proposition or referendum relating to a political subdivision shall be subject to the vote of all electors of the county or counties in which the political subdivision is located. Committee on Constitution and Elections.

(01/28/05) Alabama Woodlands Discovery Field Trips "offer interactive hands-on activities and provide students lessons about the importance of woodlands and other natural resources." If you would like to volunteer to help with this project at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens, please call Audrey Ann Wilson at (205) 414-3951. The program is sponsored by Vulcan Materials Company, a producer of construction materials. Thousands of Birmingham area school children will participate and will benefit from the participation of forest owners. It would be fair to remind the children that the Eastern U.S. is blanketed with forests that have been increasing in area and wood volume for many decades. Private forestland, while uncommon in much of the rest of the U.S. and the World, is very common in Alabama and the Eastern U.S.

(01/21/05) Hydrogen From Renewable Resources To Replace Gasoline -- Just Over Horizon -- See January 14 Article at http://www.businessweek.com/

(01/06/05) U.S. Falls out of the Index of Economic Freedom's Top 10 -- but still ranks high in property rights. Listen to O'Grady Interview on Capital Ideas -- Live! , January 2004.

(01/04/05) American Land Rights Association urges landowners to oppose Bush appointment of John Turner for Under Secretary of Interior.

Archived News, Issues & Information from 2004