BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                  AB 904
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          ASSEMBLY THIRD READING
          AB 904 (Chesbro)
          As Amended  April 22, 2013
          Majority vote 

           NATURAL RESOURCES   8-0         APPROPRIATIONS      17-0        
           
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          |Ayes:|Chesbro, Grove, Bigelow,  |Ayes:|Gatto, Harkey, Bigelow,   |
          |     |Garcia, Muratsuchi,       |     |Bocanegra, Bradford, Ian  |
          |     |Patterson, Skinner,       |     |Calderon, Campos,         |
          |     |Williams                  |     |Donnelly, Eggman, Gomez,  |
          |     |                          |     |Hall, Ammiano, Linder,    |
          |     |                          |     |Pan, Quirk, Wagner, Weber |
          |     |                          |     |                          |
           ----------------------------------------------------------------- 
           SUMMARY  :  Creates the Working Forest Management Plan (WFMP)  
          program, which is a long-term forest management plan for  
          nonindustrial landowners with less than 15,000 acres of  
          timberlands if the landowner commits to uneven aged management  
          and sustained yield.  Specifically,  this bill  :

          1)Creates the WFMP for nonindustrial timberland owners that  
            commit to uneven aged management and sustained yield.

          2)Allows landowners with Nonindustrial Timber Management Plans  
            (NTMP) to expand total timberland ownership to 2,500 acres or  
            more and transition into an expanded WFMP through an amendment  
            to the plan.

          3)Creates a modified WFMP for landowners with 160 or fewer acres  
            of timberlands in the Coast Forest District and 320 or fewer  
            acres of timberlands in the Northern Forest District or  
            Southern Forest District.

          4)Requires the Board of Forestry (Board) to adopt regulations to  
            tailor the modified WFMP to incentivize small landowners to  
            develop modified small working forest management plans.

          5)Precludes denial of a restoration grant application submitted  
            by a WFMP or NTMP landowner on the sole grounds that the  
            restoration work is a condition of an approved harvesting  
            plan.









                                                                  AB 904
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           EXISTING LAW  :  Pursuant to the Z'Berg-Nejedly Forest Practice  
          Act (Forest Practice Act): 

          1)Establishes Department of Forestry and Fire Protection  
            (CALFIRE), which is responsible for the fire protection, fire  
            prevention, maintenance, and enhancement of the state's  
            forest, range, and brushland resources, contract fire  
            protection, associated emergency services, and assistance in  
            civil disasters and other nonfire emergencies.

          2)Establishes within CALFIRE the Board, which consists of nine  
            members appointed by the Governor.  The Board is required to  
            protect the state's interest in forest resources on private  
            lands, which includes establishing adequate forest policy and  
            determining general policies for CALFIRE.

          3)Authorizes a nonindustrial tree farmer (an owner of timberland  
            with less than 2,500 acres) with the long-term objective of an  
            uneven aged timber stand and sustained yield to file an NTMP  
            with CALFIRE.  An NTMP shall be prepared by a registered  
            professional forester and is considered to be the functional  
            equivalent of an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the  
            purposes of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).

          4)Requires a nonindustrial tree farmer with an NTMP to file a  
            nonindustrial timber harvest notice with CALFIRE when he or  
            she plans to harvest timber.  The notice shall be effective  
            for a maximum of one year and include information that  
            indicates whether the harvesting complies with the Forest  
            Practice Act and Forest Practice Rules and conforms to the  
            approved NTMP.

           FISCAL EFFECT  :  According to the Assembly Appropriations  
          Committee, absorbable costs to CALFIRE and unknown, likely  
          absorbable, inspection costs to the Department of Conservation  
          and the State Water Resources Control Board.

          This bill applies to a small universe of nonindustrial  
          landowners, potentially under 80, who may be interested in this  
          program and are likely currently operating under timber harvest  
          plans (THP).  

           COMMENTS  :  The NTMP (which is what the WFMP is modeled off of)  
          was created by the Legislature in 1990 to allow landowners with  








                                                                  AB 904
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          no more than 2,500 acres to apply for a timber harvesting  
          document that would allow for long-term approval with certain  
          conditions under a known set of forest practice rules. The  
          program requires the use of uneven aged forest management and  
          proof that operations provide for sustained yield.  Through an  
          NTMP, a nonindustrial timberland owner first prepares a  
          management plan that is subject to a multi-agency review process  
          and acts as the functional equivalent of an EIR under CEQA.  The  
          cost of preparing this management plan is about 25% to 50% more  
          than a typical THP, much of which comes from the required  
          sustained yield analysis.  However, unlike a THP, which is good  
          for no more than seven years, an NTMP lasts in perpetuity and  
          the additional cost is recaptured over time because subsequent  
          NTMP harvest entries can be conducted under a much simpler  
          notice to CALFIRE that is tiered off of the NTMP.
           
           By relieving these landowners of some of the costs and burdens  
          of meeting the regulatory requirements designed for industrial  
          timber companies, NTMPs help keep ranches and other  
          non-industrial forest properties economically viable and make  
          them less likely to be subdivided for housing or converted into  
          golf courses or vineyards.  By prohibiting large clear-cuts and  
          requiring a long-term, conservation approach to logging, NTMPs  
          help preserve scenic values, protect water quality, and preserve  
          habitat for fish and wildlife.

          Today, NTMPs cover approximately 333,512 acres of California  
          forests.  Raising the acreage limit to 15,000 acres through the  
          WFMP will make hundreds of thousands of additional timberland  
          acreage eligible for long-term, sustainable management.  A  
          preliminary review of timberland ownership shows that there are  
          at least 81 landowners who would qualify under the new WFMP  
          program.  Of these 81, at least 60 used even aged management  
          (i.e., clear cutting) at some point.  These landowners would  
          have an incentive to commit to long-term uneven aged management  
          under the WFMP.

          Additionally, NTMP landowners who are close to the NTMP's 2,500  
          acreage limit will have an incentive to purchase additional  
          timberlands by transferring to the WFMP.  Several NTMP  
          landowners near the 2,500 acre limit have indicated that they  
          plan to acquire more timberlands if the WFMP program is enacted.

           Benefits to the State  .  In 2003, CALFIRE issued a report on the  








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          NTMP program.  The report explained that the NTMP program  
          provides significant benefits to the state in terms of  
          regulatory cost savings and societal and economic benefits.
           
           The report states that "[a]lthough more time may be invested by  
          the agencies in the up-front review of the NTMP, this is soon  
          offset by not having to process individual THPs each time the  
          property is entered.  The inspections and enforcement of timber  
          operations do not differ however, and are triggered each time a  
          Notice of Operation is filed."

          As for societal benefits, the report states that "[r]etaining  
          our non-industrial private forest lands in forest use provides  
          tremendous?benefits, including retention of open space,  
          protection of watersheds, water quality and forest soils,  
          maintenance of diverse habitat for fish and wildlife,  
          preservation of important cultural and historical sites, and  
          promotion of recreational opportunities." 

          The "[e]conomic benefits include wood products from sustainable  
          sources, income for timber owners, and jobs for employees and  
          contractors working to harvest, transport, and process forest  
          products.  Sales by local businesses of equipment used for the  
          management of forest lands; and the profits of manufacturers,  
          wholesalers, and retailers of forest products - which are then  
          converted into houses, commercial buildings and consumer  
          products - generate  much additional economic activity."

          "These benefits are all enhanced by the commitment of forest  
          landowners to the long term stewardship and sustainable  
          production requirements of a NTMP.  On the broad statewide  
          scale, the overarching public benefit is in encouraging owners  
          of these small wooded parcels to take advantage of their rich  
          forest soils, to enrich and improve their timber stands, to  
          manage them sustainably into the future, and cumulatively retain  
          that part of the state's rural, working landscape that  
          characterizes California's private timberlands."

          The 2003 report concluded that "the NTMP program is meeting the  
          uneven-aged management requirement of the Forest Practice  
          Act?[and given] sufficient time to implement current NTMP  
          management prescriptions, landowners will also be able to show  
          that they are meeting the sustained yield requirement.   
          Therefore, [CALFIRE] has determined that the NTMP program is  








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          improving California's timberlands and recommends that the  
          program be continued."  Additionally, the report recommended  
          that the NTMP acreage limit be increased to bring more  
          timberlands into the program.  "This change would benefit both  
          landowners and the state by providing an opportunity for these  
          additional timberlands to be placed into a sustained yield and  
          uneven-aged management regime."  This bill essentially  
          implements this recommendation by allowing larger nonindustrial  
          timberland owners to participate in the WFMP program.
           

          Analysis Prepared by  :    Mario DeBernardo / NAT. RES. / (916)  
          319-2092 


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