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BILL AS INTRODUCED 2007-2008

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H.755

Introduced by Representatives Potter of Clarendon, Helm of Castleton, Bray of New Haven, Copeland-Hanzas of Bradford, Leriche of Hardwick, Marcotte of Coventry, Botzow of Pownal, Clarkson of Woodstock, Evans of Essex, Fisher of Lincoln, Haas of Rochester, Jewett of Ripton, Malcolm of Pawlet, McCullough of Williston, Mook of Bennington, Peltz of Woodbury, Perry of Richford, Randall of Troy, Sharpe of Bristol and Stevens of Shoreham

Referred to Committee on

Date:

Subject:  Conservation; economic development; forestry enhancement program

Statement of purpose:  This bill proposes to enact a Vermont forestry and forest products viability enhancement program.  The bill would also require the department of forests, parks and recreation to report to the general assembly regarding the feasibility of certifying state forest lands under sustainable harvesting and material sourcing standards.

AN ACT RELATING TO ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT OF THE FORESTRY AND FOREST PRODUCTS INDUSTRIES

It is hereby enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont:

Sec. 1.  FINDINGS

The general assembly finds that:

(1)  The forests of Vermont are integral to the economy, culture, beauty, and appeal of the state.

(2)  The annual contributions of forest-based manufacturing and

forest-related recreation and tourism contribute $1.5 billion to the Vermont economy annually.

(3)  Revenues from forest-related recreation and tourism activities totaled $485 million in 2005.

(4)  Forest-based manufacturing contributes approximately 10 percent of Vermont’s total manufacturing sales.

(5)  The forest-based manufacturing industry provides employment for 6,379 people and generates a payroll of over $207.4 million.

(6)  Forest-based recreation and tourism provide employment for over 6,300 people and generate payrolls of $93.0 million.

(7)  Each 1,000 acres of forest land in Vermont supports 1.4 forest-based manufacturing, forestry, and logging jobs and 1.4 forest-related tourism and recreation jobs.

(8)  Wood provides the energy for approximately six percent of electrical and heating use in Vermont.

(9)  The forests of Vermont also help maintain the environment and health of Vermont by aiding the filtering of clean water and clean air and by providing wildlife habitat to a diversity of animals.

(10)  Many members of the Vermont forestry and forest products industries lack access to technical and financial assistance that would allow them to improve the viability of each industry by assessing resources and potential, diversifying, adopting new technologies, improving product quality, developing value-added products, and lowering costs of production.

(11)  Despite the significant, unparalled contributions of the forests, forest-based manufacturing, and forest-related recreation and tourism to the state’s economy, jobs, energy, and environment, the forestry and forest products industries receive considerably less support and financial assistance than those afforded other Vermont industries, such as agriculture.

(12)  The Vermont general assembly should strive to support the forests and forest products industries and to provide additional state funding and assistance to the forestry and forest products industries in order to ensure that they remain strong assets to the state.

(13)  To support Vermont’s forestry and forest products industries, the general assembly should authorize the establishment of a Vermont forestry and forest products viability enhancement program.


Sec. 2.  10 V.S.A. chapter 85 is added to read:

CHAPTER 85.  VALUE-ADDED FORESTRY AND FOREST PRODUCTS

Subchapter 1.  General Provisions

§ 2701.  POLICY

It is the policy of the state to encourage the sustainable management and use of its forests and woodlands; to preserve the natural beauty of the state’s forests and woodlands; to protect its wildlife; to preserve and protect the forest environment and health; and to promote, foster, and encourage the forestry and forest products industries of the state.  To achieve these goals, the general assembly declares it to be in the best interests of the state to promote opportunities and markets for value-added forest products.  Fostering and enhancing the value-added forestry markers will help the state retain and expand the state’s forest products manufacturing sector, will retain manufacturing jobs within the state, and will protect the health and viability of the forest environment.

Subchapter 2.  Forestry and Forest Products Viability Enhancement Program

§ 2721.  VERMONT FORESTRY AND FOREST PRODUCTS VIABILITY

               ENHANCEMENT PROGRAM

(a)  The Vermont forestry and forest products viability enhancement program is a voluntary program established at the Vermont housing and conservation board to provide assistance to Vermont timber harvesters, foresters, and forest products manufacturers to enhance the financial success and long-term viability of the Vermont forest products industry.  In administering the program, the commissioner shall:

(1)  Collaborate with the department of forests, parks and recreation, state and federal agencies, private entities, and service groups to develop, coordinate, and provide technical and financial assistance to Vermont timber harvesters, foresters, and forest products manufacturers.

(2)  Include teams of experts to assist timber harvesters, foresters, and forest products manufacturers in areas such as assessing business resources and potential; diversifying; researching, developing, and adopting new technologies; improving product quality; developing value-added products; finding and reaching new markets; improving and refining existing markets; and lowering costs of production for Vermont's forest products sector.

(3)  Encourage economic development through investing in improvements to essential infrastructure and the promotion of timber harvesters, foresters, and forest products manufacturers in Vermont.

(4)  Enter into agreements with private organizations or individuals or with any agency or instrumentality of the United States or of this state and employ technical experts to carry out the purposes of this section.

(b)  The Vermont forestry and forest products viability enhancement program shall be assisted by an advisory board consisting of ten members who shall include:

(1)  The commissioner of forests, parks and recreation or his or her designee.  The commissioner shall serve as chair of the board.

(2)  The secretary of commerce or his or her designee.

(3)  The manager of the Vermont economic development authority or his or her designee.

(4)  The director of the University of Vermont extension service or his or her designee.

(5)  The executive director of the Vermont housing and conservation board or his or her designee.

(6)  Two Vermont timber harvesters appointed by the commissioner of forests, parks and recreation.  The two harvesters shall serve a two-year term, except for the first year, one harvester chosen by the chair shall serve a

one-year term.

(7)  Two Vermont forest products manufacturers appointed by the commissioner of forests and parks.  The two manufacturers shall serve

two-year terms, except for the first year, one manufacturer chosen by the chair shall serve a one-year term.

(8)  A person who has expertise in silvicultural economics, financing, or business planning appointed by the commissioner of forests, parks and recreation.

(c)  Members of the advisory board established in subsection (b) of this section other than ex officio members shall be entitled to per diem expenses pursuant to section 1010 of Title 32 for each day spent in the performance of their duties, and each of these members shall be reimbursed from the fund created by this section for his or her reasonable expenses incurred in carrying out his or her duties under this section.

(d)  In consultation with the advisory board, the commissioner of forests, parks and recreation, and the Vermont housing and conservation board shall establish grant criteria, performance goals, evaluative measures, and other criteria to implement the program.  The grant criteria shall include at least the following requirements:

(1)  the application is developed in consultation with the timber harvesters, foresters, or forest products manufacturers who use or would use the program;

(2)  the use of the funds is likely to succeed in improving the economic viability of a timber harvester, forester, or forest products manufacturer;

(3)  the timber harvester, forester, or forest products manufacturer is committed to participating in the program; and

(4)  an evaluation shall be completed by enrolled timber harvesters, foresters, or forest products manufacturers in conjunction with the terms.

(e)(1)  The forestry and forest products viability enhancement program special fund is established in the state treasury and shall be administered by the commissioner of forests, parks and recreation in accordance with the provisions of subchapter 5 of chapter 7 of Title 32, except that interest earned on the fund shall be retained in the fund.  The fund shall be used only for the purpose of implementing and effectuating the forestry and forest products viability enhancement program established by this section.  There shall be deposited in such fund any monies appropriated by the general assembly to or received by the commissioner of forests, parks and recreation from any other source, public or private.  The fund shall be used only for the purposes of:

(A)  providing funds for the forestry and forest products viability enhancement program as established in this section;

(B)  providing funds to enrolled timber harvesters, foresters, or forest products manufacturers;

(C)  providing funds to service providers for administrative expenses of the program; and

(D)  leveraging other competitive public and private funds, grants, and contributions for the forestry and forest products viability enhancement program.

(2)  The commissioner of forests, parks and recreation and the Vermont housing and conservation board, separately or cooperatively, may solicit federal funds, grants, and private contributions for the forestry and forest products viability enhancement program, but any Vermont housing and conservation board funds used for the forestry and forest products viability enhancement program shall be administered in accordance with section 312 of Title 10.

(f)(1)  In collaboration with the Vermont housing and conservation board, the commissioner of forests, parks and recreation shall report in writing to the senate and house committees on agriculture and the senate and house committees on natural resources and energy on or before January 31 of each year with a report on the activities and performance of the forestry and forest products viability enhancement program.  At a minimum, the report shall include:

(A)  an evaluation of the program utilizing the performance goals and evaluative measures established in consultation with the advisory board pursuant to subsection (b) of this section;

(B)  a summary of the money received in the fund and expended from the fund;

(C)  an estimate of the financial impact of the Vermont forestry and forest products viability enhancement program on the forestry and forest products industries; and

(D)  an assessment of the potential demand for the program over the succeeding three years.

(2)  The department of forests, parks and recreation and the Vermont housing and conservation board shall describe in their annual budget submissions plans to develop adequate state, federal, and private funds to carry out this initiative.

Sec. 3.  DEPARTMENT OF FORESTS, PARKS AND RECREATION

             REPORT ON SUSTAINABLE CERTIFICATION OF STATE

             FOREST LANDS

(a)  On or before January 15, 2009, the commissioner of forests, parks and recreation shall report to the house and senate committees on agriculture, and the house and senate committees on natural resources and the environment regarding the feasibility of certifying the management of and sourcing of materials from state forests under both the forest stewardship council chain of custody standard and the sustainable forestry initiative standard.  The report shall include:

(1)  A summary of the requirements for certification under the forest stewardship council chain of custody standard and the sustainable forestry initiative standard;

(2)  An estimate of the economic value to the Vermont forestry and forest products industries of certification;

(3)  An estimate of the financial cost to the department of forests, parks and recreation to conduct certification of all state forest land;

(4)  A recommendation as to whether the department of forests, parks and recreation should certify Vermont state forest land under the forest stewardship council chain of custody standard and the sustainable forestry initiative standard; and

(5)  A recommendation as to whether the department should establish a program under which a certain percentage of timber sales from state forest lands will be reserved for sale to value-added forest products manufacturers in Vermont.

Sec. 4.  APPROPRIATIONS

There is appropriated from the general fund to the Vermont housing and conservation board $300,000.00 to implement the forestry and forest products viability program under 10 V.S.A. § 2721. 



Published by:

The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street
Montpelier, Vermont


www.leg.state.vt.us