March 9, 2004
BENEFITS OF THE FOREST PRACTICES ACT
By: Paul Frisman, Associate Analyst
You asked about the benefits of the Forest Practices Act and the status of Forest Practices regulations.
The Forest Practices Act, enacted in 1991, requires mandatory certification of all commercial foresters and loggers operating in the state (CGS § 23-65f et seq.). The act establishes three levels of certification: forester, supervising forest products harvester, and forest products harvester. Each type of practitioner must pass a test. Foresters, for example, must demonstrate adequate knowledge of proper forest management techniques, ecological and environmental consequences of harvesting, and mitigation measures for reducing adverse environmental effects. The regulations that govern certification require all certified foresters to participate biennially in a relevant program of professional education to improve and maintain professional forestry skills (Conn. Agencies Regs. § 23-65h-1(o)).
According to the Department of Environmental Protection's (DEP), Doug Emmerthal, the act has raised the level of professionalism and improved accountability among foresters, and raised awareness of forestry issues among landowners. Emmerthal said the program also has led to closer ties between the department and state prosecutors and the attorney general, helping the department crack down on fraudulent forestry practices.
A 2000 Connecticut Farm Bureau survey of forest practices found that 38% of the 86 responding towns believed that the state certification program improved the overall quality and professionalism for forestry and logging operations in their towns. Twenty-seven percent of respondents said there was no improvement and 35% did not know, had no logging in their community, or did not respond.
The Farm Bureau analysis reported that the towns responding favorably to the program used such phrases as “higher accountability,” “better communication,” “consistency,” “fewer problems,” “Best Management Practices (BMPs) improved,” and “improved quality,” to describe the program's benefits.
DEP held a hearing on proposed regulations in 2002. According to the department, the hearing officer assigned to the matter has not yet issued a hearing report because she was temporarily reassigned to other matters. DEP's legislative liaison, Tom Tyler, says the report should be completed in the next month or two and be before the regulations review committee in the next six months. We have attached OLR Report 2002-R-0881, which contains more information about the proposed forestry regulations.