Call to Order and Roll Call
The5th meeting of the Interim Joint Committee on Natural Resources and Environment was held on Thursday, October 6, 2016, at 10:30 AM, at BPM Lumber, LLC, 24 Seeley Road, London, KY. Senator Jared Carpenter, Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.
Members:Senator Jared Carpenter, Co-Chair; Representative Fitz Steele, Co-Chair; Senators C.B. Embry Jr., Ray S. Jones II, John Schickel, Brandon Smith, Johnny Ray Turner, Robin L. Webb, and Whitney Westerfield; Representatives Hubert Collins, Tim Couch, Daniel Elliott, Chris Harris, Reginald Meeks, Tim Moore, Rick G. Nelson, Lewis Nicholls, John Short, Jim Stewart III, and Jill York.
Guests: Chris Zinkhan, Chief Executive Officer, The Forestland Group; David Samford, Partner Goss Samford, PLLC; and Bob Bauer, Executive Director, Kentucky Forest Industries Association.
Upon motion made by Co-Chair Steele and seconded by Senator Schickel, the September 1, 2016 minutes were approved by voice vote and without objection.
The Case for Kentucky Forests
Chris Zinkhan, Chief Executive Officer, The Forestland Group, discussed his organization and the economic value of Kentucky’s forestlands. The Forestland Group is the third largest private landowner by acreage in the United States. There are more than 12.4 million acres of forest in Kentucky with over 1,200 logging firms and 700 wood-processing facilities. The direct economic impact of Kentucky’s timber and hardwood industry is over $9 billion and more than 28,000 jobs. Mr. Zinkhan explained the role of U.S. hardwood lumber in the global markets and his company’s practical research of bat species in Kentucky.
Responding to Senator Webb, Mr. Zinkhan stated that 90 percent of the largest timberland owners in the U.S. are not vertically integrated corporations. The Forestland Group has purchased over 4.5 million acres since 1995 and sold about 1 million acres. The Forestland Group generally buys land during volatile times and manages the forestlands sustainably over time in order to sell them for profit at a later date. The Forestland Group owns some wildlife management areas that can be publically accessed.
In response to Co-Chair Steele, Mr. Zinkhan said The Forestland Group identifies bat roosting trees and avoids those areas while harvesting for timber. The University of Kentucky is two years into a three-year study on the Indiana bat.
Responding to Representative Nicholls, Mr. Zinkhan stated that secondary processors are processors of cabinets, furniture, pulp, and paper.
Kentucky’s Energy Mix…Going Forward
David Samford, Partner, Goss Samford, PLLC, discussed the state of the energy industry in Kentucky. With regard to regulation of utilities, Kentucky law has been generally stable and coherent over the last 80 or 90 years. Mr. Samford explained the importance of using biomass as a carbon-neutral energy feedstock, which does not count against proposed carbon dioxide limits in the state. He encouraged members to continue to be champions of biomass and to recognize that it has an important role in the future of Kentucky’s energy mix.
Senator Carpenter commented on the small amounts of biomass waste seen at BPM Lumber and how the sawmill is a good demonstration of how biomass is used. Senator Carpenter stated that biomass is a diverse energy provider and thanked David Samford for his testimony.
Senator Smith thanked Richard Sturgill for his work in the lumber industry and for hosting the meeting.
Timber Theft Update
Bob Bauer, Executive Director, Kentucky Forest Industries Association, gave an update on the state of timber theft in the Commonwealth. He explained a recent Kentucky Supreme Court ruling regarding timber theft that he believes should be addressed by legislative action from the General Assembly.
In response to Representative Nicholls, Mr. Bauer explained that two-thirds of stolen timber cases deal with property issues between landowners and loggers.
Senator Jones requested a copy of a study mentioned by Mr. Bauer that discussed fines and penalties associated with timber theft. Mr. Bauer said that staff would be given a copy of the study.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned. The documents distributed during the meeting are available in the LRC Library.