Congress is currently negotiating the fiscal year 2019 Department of Homeland Security (DHS) appropriations bill. The forest industry and allied groups are working to include the Tillis/Harris H-2B package in the final bill.

The legislation will likely be completed by December 7. Please contact your congressional representative about this important matter now!
Specifically, the legislation would permanently double the H-2B cap from 66,000 to 132,000 and allow employers of forestry workers to access the uncapped H-2A program. It would require H-2B employers to participate in the E-Verify program within a year. It would also eliminate the costly newspaper advertising requirement and replace it with a requirement to list jobs through an online Department of Labor job registry.
Ask your federal representative and senator to include the Tillis/Harris H-2B package in the final DHS appropriations bill. You can reach your elected officials through the Capitol Switchboard at 202.225.3121. Once connected to your legislator’s office, ask to speak to the person who handles H-2B issues.  

Please make these calls today.
Key Message: Please include the Tillis/Harris H-2B Package in the DHS appropriations package. This legislation ensures that enough guestworker visas are available for nonimmigrant workers to replant forestlands. This work is critical for the regeneration of our nation’s public and private forestlands following timber harvests or catastrophic events such as hurricanes, wildfire or insect/disease outbreaks.
The Florida Forest Service has requested supplemental funds on the federal level to assist the recovery of tree farmers, producers and manufacturers after Hurricane Michael.

Please share this information with your congressional representatives for consideration when work begins on a hurricane supplemental package. It is believed the request would most likely be addressed in a possible extension of last years's Wildfires and Hurricanes Indemnity Program (WHIP) that helped fund citrus damage recovery efforts after Hurricane Irma.

Key Message: Please support funding for Florida's Emergency Hurricane Supplemental Request. Those in the forest industry affected by Hurricane Michael have few resources for recovery. Reforestation of the damaged and destroyed acres is vital for the industry as well as the state's economy and environment.

Find your  House  or  Senate  member.
Due to the massive amounts of tree debris on the ground throughout the area affected by Hurricane Michael, Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam and the Florida Forest Service (FFS) released new requirements for open burning, effective November 2, 2018, in the following counties: Bay, Calhoun, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Jackson, Liberty and Washington.

FFS created two geographical zones, primary and secondary, to identify hurricane-impacted areas with specific open burning requirements. Burning within the heavy impact zone will require pile burner certification.


Timber or landscape trees destroyed by fires, hurricanes or other storms are “casualty losses” that may allow the property owners to take a deduction on their federal income tax returns.

To help timberland owners who suffered timber damages with their tax reporting, the United States Forest Service is hosting a webinar on  December 7, 2018, at 1 PM Eastern,  focusing on the new tax law changes that Congress passed in 2017 that affect the casualty loss deductions starting in the 2018 tax year.

This week, the Supreme Court by unanimous decision vacated the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals’ ruling allowing the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) to designate land owned and managed by Weyerhaeuser Company as “critical habitat” for the dusky gopher frog under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

The USFWS acknowledged in its designation that the frog does not currently inhabit the Weyerhaeuser land and had admitted that the land could not support a frog population without significant changes. Focusing on the ESA's plain language and the law’s lack of a clear definition of “habitat,” the decision, authored by Chief Justice Roberts, states that land is "eligible for designation as critical habitat... only if it is habitat for the species." The decision leaves the interpretation of "habitat" to the Fifth Circuit and returns the case to that court for further action, including whether the Weyerhaeuser land meets the definition of habitat the Fifth Circuit ultimately applies. 
The Court also ruled that determinations by the USFWS not to exclude certain geographic areas from the designation are subject to judicial review under the Administrative Procedure Act.

The Florida Forestry Association hosted the 2018 Southeastern Forestry Association Executives meeting at Rayonier's headquarters in Yulee, FL, this week.

The annual event gives association executives and communicators the opportunity to share information and ideas.

"While each state is unique," said Florida Forestry Association Executive Vice President Alan Shelby, "we also face some common challenges. Meeting each year gives us a chance to get a heads up on what's headed our way and to work together effectively." 

Many thanks to Rayonier and its amazing team members for their gracious hospitality and help making this meeting such a success!

Partnering with Outdoor Underwriters, Inc., the Association offers our members special reduced rates for liability insurance for hunting leases and timberland.
Click here for details  or contact Mike Branch (850.222.5646 or ).
December 6, 2018
8 AM*
Lake City, FL

December 13, 2018
8 AM*
Blountstown, FL

January 22, 2019
10 AM*
Executive Committee Meeting
Location TBD

March 6-7, 2019
Forestry at the Capitol Events & Board Meeting
Tallahassee, FL

April 30, 2019
10 AM*
Executive Committee Meeting
Location TBD

August 20-22, 2019
Annual Meeting
Sheraton Bay Point Resort
Panama City Beach, FL

*Local times