Tree Frog Forestry News

Region Archives: United States

Business & Politics

The US Court of International Trade Finds Commerce’s Ruling on Canadian Lumber Unlawful

Law360.com
November 13, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, United States

The U.S. Court of International Trade on Wednesday ordered the U.S. Department of Commerce to rethink its conclusion that certain cedar shakes and shingles made by Canada producers are subject to countermeasure tariffs on Canadian softwood lumber imports, saying that the determination is unlawful. Judge Jennifer Choe-Groves said that when the Commerce Department makes a determination on Whether an importer’s product is included in the scope of an anti-dumping or countervails duty order, the department must consider previous duty determinations made by Commerce and the US International Trade Commission, as  well as past scope rulings. [a Law360 subscription is required to access the full story]

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Sappi halts dividends as trade wars hurt prices of key pulp

By John Bowker
Bloomberg Business
November 13, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: United States, International

Sappi Ltd. halted dividend payments after the impact of the U.S. trade war with China triggered a collapse in the price of dissolving wood pulp — the South African company’s main product. Depressed prices of the substance used in a range of items … with declines extending into the final quarter of the calendar year, Sappi said in a statement on Thursday. The Johannesburg-based company is the world’s biggest producer of the pulp, with about 16% of the global market. The shares fell as much as 5.4.% to 34.22 rand as of 10:32 a.m. in Johannesburg, and are close to 5 1/2 year lows. …Sappi has invested heavily in the pulp, which it makes in South Africa and North America. …A weaker Chinese textile market, excess capacity of viscose staple fiber and a weaker renminbi exchange rate all helped drive prices to historic lows.

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U.S. Raises Prospect of Blocking Passage of WTO Budget

By Bryce Blaschuk
Bloomberg Economics
November 12, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: United States, International

The Trump administration ratcheted up its pressure on the World Trade Organization by raising the possibility of blocking the approval of the institution’s biennial budget and effectively halting its work starting next year. …The U.S. also expressed its concerns about funding being diverted to a proxy dispute settlement system recently championed by the European Union, Canada and Norway, the people said. …If the U.S. unilaterally kills off funding, it could imperil the future of the WTO’s work and force countries to fundamentally rethink their reliance on it to negotiate trade deals and settle the surging number of disputes. …About a dozen appeal cases are pending, including… a pair of U.S.-Canadian disputes over paper and softwood lumber. Canada, the EU and Norway have already agreed to set up an alternate channel for settling trade disputes in order to sidestep the looming deadlock.

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Hardwood industry pleads with Washington for trade war relief

By Robert Dalheim
Woodworking Network
November 12, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: United States

WASHINGTON – Made up of 28 U.S. trade and hardwood associations, the Hardwood Federation says the industry has seen a dramatic impact since the start of the trade war, and it plans to amp up pressure on lawmakers. Nathan Jeppson, CEO of Northwest Hardwoods, will meet this week with the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative to push for relief, reports The Hill. …The Hardwood Federation has sent a proposal for a relief package to the administration in October but has not heard back. …The Federation says the hardwood industry employs about 2 million people in the U.S. Sawmills tend to be family-owned and located near timberlands in the Northeast, Pacific Northwest, and South. …The export council says the value of U.S. hardwood lumber exports have dropped 57 percent since the start of the trade war to $54 million as of August.

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Trade war sees double-digit drops in U.S. furniture imports from China; both countries see losses

By Robert Dalheim
Woodworking Network
November 11, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: United States, International

WASHINGTON – The trade war is having a major effect – causing a $53 billion decline in U.S. imports from China and a $14.5 billion decline in exports to China, according to recently released trade data. Both drops are just looking at the first nine months of the year. The numbers appear to be drastically in the favor of the United States. But because the U.S. exports much less to China than it imports, the smaller drop is actually a bigger percentage drop (15.5 percent from last year) – compared to a 13.5 percent decline for Chinese imports. Chinese furniture exports to the U.S. fell in miscellaneous wood furniture (down 19 percent), wood seats (down 21 percent), and upholstered wood chairs (down 13 percent). China’s fall has led to the rise of other countries, particularly Taiwan, Vietnam and Malaysia, who all saw huge gains. …There currently isn’t a plan to rollback any tariffs.

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Alaskan Tribal Leaders to Testify Before Congress in Battle to Stop Trump Administration Lifting Logging Restrictions in America’s Largest National Forest

By Aristos Grergiou
Newsweek
November 12, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: United States, US West

On Wednesday, Alaskan tribal leaders, environmentalists and fishermen will testify at a hearing, voicing their concerns over the potential lifting of environmental restrictions in the Tongass National Forest. The Tongass is the largest national forest in the U.S.—covering an area of around 16.7 million acres—and, indeed, one of the largest intact temperate forests in the world. The hearing on Wednesday—held by the Natural Resources Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Land—revolves around the so-called “Roadless Rule,” which was introduced in 2001. Native American groups who live in the area and rely on the forest say its removal could have potentially devastating consequences for their way of life. …Aside from the impact on local tribes and the fact that there may be little economic benefit as a result of the Roadless Rule exemption, critics say there could be severe environmental consequences if the forest is opened up to further logging.

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Oregon council predicts wildfire costs to hit tens of billions

KTVZ Oregon
November 12, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: United States, US West

Kate Brown

The Governor’s Council on Wildfire Response released its report Tuesday, predicting the overall cost of extended wildfire seasons will exceed tens of billions of dollars over the next 20 years. Studies suggest the comprehensive costs of wildfire are, on average, 11 times greater than the immediate costs of firefighting. With firefighting costs exceeding $500 million during high-fire seasons, comprehensive costs to Oregonians can total several billion dollars in a single year. The indirect costs of wildfires are high, too—according to another report, the health costs caused by wildfire smoke in Oregon in 2012 was over $2 billion. Governor Brown… created the council through executive order in January, tasking them to compile comprehensive recommendations and a cohesive strategy to deal with the increasing difficulties posed by wildfires and smoke, tailored specifically to the challenges faced in Oregon.

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Resolute Forest Products closing its doors

Fox 54 News
November 14, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: US East, United States

AUGUSTA, GEORGIA – Another manufacturing facility is closing its doors. This time, it’s in South Augusta. Resolute Forest Products announced Thursday, Nov. 14, that they will be idling their facility on Doug Bernard Pkwy, indefinitely. The facility employs 160 people. Resolute Forest Products said the decision was based on “continued challenging market conditions” in the newsprint industry. They said this decision comes after the mill saw “several weeks of production downtime” this year. …”We understand the impact this decision will have on our employees, their families and the local community. The company will work with employees and community representatives to mitigate the impacts of the decision.” …A representative said they will be working to provide benefits and outplacement services to the employees.

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Irving Tissue Officially Opens $470 Million Tissue Production Plant in Macon, Georgia

By J.D. Irving, Limited
Paper Age
November 14, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: US East, United States

Irving Tissue’s newest $470 million tissue plant is officially open in Macon, Georgia and based on a new, additional $400 million investment, will soon double its capacity. The announcement was made at the new plant where Irving Tissue President Robert K. Irving was joined by Georgia Lieutenant-Governor Geoff Duncan, Macon- Bibb-County Mayor Robert Reichert, MCBIA Chairman Robert Fountain Jr. and other dignitaries to celebrate both the official opening of the plant and yet another major investment by Irving Tissue in the community. “It is a great day for Macon, the state of Georgia and Irving Tissue. We’re pleased to be expanding our business in the United States. …Our customers’ enthusiastic support of its state-of-the-art technology has meant that our new plant is already at capacity, so we’re thrilled to announce the second phase of this expansion project,” said Robert K. Irving, President of Irving Tissue. 

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Ron DeSantis: USDA Helping Florida Timber Industry Recover From Hurricane Michael

Florida Daily
November 12, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: US East, United States

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is sending $800 million to Alabama, Florida and Georgia and almost of those funds will be used to help the timber industry in the Panhandle which was devastated by Hurricane Michael last year. At the end of last week, Gov. Ron DeSantis said the USDA has awarded $380 million in grant funding for Florida’s timber industry which is still recovering from Hurricane Michael. The Florida Division of Emergency Management (FDEM) and the Executive Office of the Governor will oversee the funds. “This is a great day for our timber farmers who were devastated by Hurricane Michael,” said DeSantis. “Since January, I’ve worked closely with President Trump and Secretary Purdue to ensure that our farmers were receiving as much assistance as possible. …Now that this funding has been awarded, we look forward to helping these farmers recover, replant and rebuild.”

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Verso agrees to sell Jay mill as part of $400 million deal

By Lori Valigra
Bangor Daily News in Maine Public
November 12, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: US East, United States

Just three months after saying it planned to invest $120 million into three mills, Verso Corp. said Tuesday that it will sell two of those mills, including the Androscoggin Mill in Jay. The company said it has a definitive agreement to sell the Jay mill and its Stevens Point mill in Wisconsin to Pixelle Specialty Solutions LLC for $400 million. The sale is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2020. The sale, which has been unanimously approved by the company’s board of directors, is subject to approval from the company’s stockholders and certain regulatory and other customary approvals. “We have undergone a thorough and comprehensive strategic process and firmly believe that the sale of these two mills at the agreed-upon terms and conditions is in the best interests of the company and our stockholders,” Gene Davis, co-chairman of the board, said in a statement.

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Finance & Economics

Benchmark softwood lumber prices flat, some specialty items soar

By Keta Kosman
Madison’s Lumber Reporter
November 13, 2019
Category: Finance & Economics
Region: Canada, United States

Remaining flat after recent climbs, the price of benchmark lumber commodity Western Spruce-Pine-Fir KD 2×4 #2&Btr stayed flat last week at U.S. $396 mfbm. Last week’s price is +$28, or +8%, more than it was one month ago. Compared to one year ago, when prices were at the beginning of a terrible slide, this price is up +74% or +23%.

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Wood, Paper & Green Building

What Exactly is “Mass Timber” and Why Should We Care?

By Jann Swanson
Mortgage News Daily
November 14, 2019
Category: Wood, Paper & Green Building
Region: United States

Look closely and you will see that a lack of new home construction is behind almost every problem facing housing today.  Residential construction has simply not recovered from the financial crisis and the experts see it only growing worse.  Freddie Mac’s economists estimated the long-term shortfall between the supply of homes and the demand could be 2.5 to 4.0 million units each year. The National Association of Homebuilders’ (NAHB’s) Paul Emrath says since 2006 builders have never matched the average of 1.5 million homes they built each year from 1961 to 2000. While there are many reasons builders aren’t building, two of them are the costs of construction making it risky for builders to assume they can make a profit, and the lack of appropriate skilled labor. One type of building that is attracting a lot of attention with its ability to help with both is the use of mass timber. …There are a ton of environmental benefits to mass timber.  

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2018 AF&PA Sustainability Award Winners Announced

The American Forest & Paper Association
WhatTheyThink
November 13, 2019
Category: Wood, Paper & Green Building
Region: United States

WASHINGTON – The American Forest & Paper Association presented its 2018 Better Practices, Better Planet 2020 Sustainability Awards at AF&PA’s annual meeting in Bluffton, South Carolina. …AF&PA’s annual awards are designed to recognize exemplary sustainability programs and initiatives in the paper and wood products manufacturing industry and are given based on the merit of entries received across multiple categories:

  • Leadership in Sustainability – Energy Efficiency/Greenhouse Gas Reduction
    Resolute Forest ProductsSeaman Paper Company
  • Leadership in Sustainability – Safety
    WestRock: Hopewell Recovery Boiler Elimination Project
  • Leadership in Sustainability – Sustainable Forest Management
    Domtar: Promoting Sustainable Forest Management for Landowners
  • Leadership in Sustainability – Water
    Green Bay Packaging: Water Reduction Achievements at Green Bay Mill
  • Innovation in Sustainability
    WestRock: EnShield® Natural Kraft

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Mississippi could lead the region and country in applications of mass timber building technologies

By Becky Gillette
Mississippi Business Journal
November 14, 2019
Category: Wood, Paper & Green Building
Region: US East, United States

Mississippi is a timber state. …Right now, there is a collaborative effort to get even more from the state’s 18.6 million acres of timber assets with innovative mass timber building technologies. …Mississippi Forestry Association and partners such as the City of Quitman could expand the use of these products potentially creating more markets and more economic impact from one of the state’s most important natural resources. “Mass timber products are an opportunity to develop a new market sector in innovative mass timber building technologies,” said Jacob A. Gines, School of Architecture, Mississippi State University (MSU). …The design studio at the School of Architecture is looking at the application of these wood products and how to encourage their use in new and innovative ways within architecture. The School also works closely with the MSU Department of Sustainable Bioproducts, formerly known as the Forest Products Group, which works to develop new wood products.

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Plastics Alternative Receives $2M Deal, Got Start at Purdue

By Wes Mills
Inside Indiana Business
November 13, 2019
Category: Wood, Paper & Green Building
Region: US East, United States

WEST LAFAYETTE — One possible solution to the global problem of plastic found in the ocean and the mountains of plastic in landfills may come from a recyclable product developed at Purdue University. California-based Spero Renewables LLC has signed a $2 million agreement with the U.S. Department of Energy to advance ‘wood-based’ plastic technology. The SperoSet technology is designed for the manufacture of high-tech plastics produced from fiber-reinforced polymers that are biodegradable. The company, which got its start through the Purdue Research Foundation, utilizes its proprietary technology to unlock the resources of readily available biomass. The goal is to reduce the dependence on oil-based plastics. …Spero’s form of plastic can be easily molded. The company says the material strengthens when heated, provides strong insulation and is also resistant to corrosion and chemicals.

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Large Mass-Timber Building Opens at University of Arkansas

By Kara Mavros
Architectural Record
November 12, 2019
Category: Wood, Paper & Green Building
Region: US East, United States

Gone are the days of cramped, concrete cell–style dorm living. At the beginning of the fall 2019 semester, University of Arkansas students moved into Adohi Hall, a new, $79 million, 200,000 square-foot residence hall, designed by Boston-based Leers Weinzapfel Associates in collaboration with St. Louis–based Mackey Mitchell Architects, Philadelphia’s OLIN, and the local Arkansian Modus Studio. …“The mass timber design reimagines the traditional notion of campus housing as a building on a quad lawn,” Leers Weinzapfel Associates principal Tom Chung tells RECORD, instead channeling “a cabin in the woods, where building and landscape are woven together.” The architects used timber, a renewable resource with low embodied carbon, as “an example of a new sustainable way of building our campuses,” says Chung. Sustainably-sourced European spruce, pine, and fir trees make up the structure, with local cypress bringing warmth to interior detailing.

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Forestry

One Man’s Opinion: There Are Good Forest Fires

By Bill Crane
Atlanta’s News and Talk
November 13, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States

With apologies to Smokey the Bear, and my many friends in California, some reading this in darkened homes with no power, there really ARE good forest fires, purposefully set by people, which could have and likely would have saved them this current nightmare. “Controlled or prescribed burnings” are a key forestry and timberland management tool, largely begun and standardized as an industry best practice in the state of Georgia since the 1950s. …So imagine thousands of acre of that tinder, piled up from decades of non-forest management…and you have the makings for massive fires, aided and abetted by the infamous Santa Anna Winds … now annually visiting northern and southern California. …Controlled and prescribed burns fell out of favor in the western states a few decades ago, as these fires do release carbon into the atmosphere, and can add to smog and air pollution. …ONLY YOU California can prevent your own forest fires.

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Fluid dynamics provides insight into wildfire behavior

By American Institute of Physics
Phys.org
November 13, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States

The Kincade Fire has been burning through Sonoma County, California… is a stark reminder of the increasingly pressing need for a better understanding of how fires begin and spread. This is where Rodman Linn and his research come in. He develops and uses computational models of the coupled interaction between the wildfires and surrounding atmosphere at Los Alamos National Laboratory. In the November 2019 issue of Physics Today, Linn describes a few of the many ways that fluid dynamics controls the behavior of fires. It’s incorrect to view wildfires as advancing walls of flame, as they often are conceptualized. The movement and behavior of fires are far more complex. “The buoyancy caused by the energy release of the fire itself interacts with the ambient winds to produce complex patterns of air movement that dictate the fire’s behavior,” said Linn, a senior scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

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Staffed lookout towers are an effective tool for firefighters

By Michael Guerin, public safety and emergency management specialist
Wildfire Today
November 8, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States

Even in our technologically advanced age, most reports of fires are called in by observant folks, often using cellphones. The ubiquity of these devices means an increased ability to detect wildfire more quickly. But a fair portion of California still has poor or no cellular coverage. Utilities that shut down power as a wildfire-prevention measure in fire-danger zones also render cellphones in many areas unusable as cell towers lose power. And as crowded as California can seem, large areas of the state are relatively unpopulated, not dense with residents or hikers who might quickly report a fire. Yet a key firefighting tool that existed in the pre-cellphone era is missing — watchers who were paid to scan the horizon for fires. At one point, there were more than 9,000 lookout towers in the United States, placed atop hills and mountains where individuals — also referred to as lookouts — worked alone each summer to watch for and report fires. 

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US forest chief, New Mexico governor sign stewardship pact

Associated Press News
November 14, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

Michelle Lujan Grisham

SANTA FE, N.M. — The chief of the U.S. Forest Service and New Mexico’s governor signed an agreement on Thursday aimed at strengthening relations as they work to represent diverse interests concerning natural resources on public forest lands. New Mexico became the ninth state to sign a so-called shared stewardship agreement, as Forest Service Chief Vicki Christiansen and Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham met at the base of a mountain basin that safeguards urban water supplies for the state capital. The agreement urges more collaborative planning and highlights concerns about wildfire, invasive species, drought and forest insects and disease — describing the increasing severity of wildfires. No specific funding is part of the agreement. …The U.S. Forest Service is asking a judge to reconsider an order that has halted commercial tree-cutting across five national forests in New Mexico and one in Arizona.

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How would lifting the Roadless Rule change Tongass logging? Not much, both sides say

By Liz Ruskin
Alaska Public Media
November 13, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

WASHINGTON – The Trump Administration has proposed to exempt the Tongass National Forest from the Roadless Rule. That rule is despised by supporters of the Tongass logging industry. But at a U.S. House hearing Wednesday, people for and against the rule agreed that removing the roadless restrictions won’t make much difference for an industry that’s already a shadow of its former self. Joel Jackson of Kake was a logger, back when the industry thrived a few decades ago. He built logging roads. And when they’d logged the last of the stands around his village, Jackson says they realized the damaged they’d done. “We’ve lived with the effects of logging. Full-scale industrial logging. We’ve experienced many different changes to our forests,” Jackson told the Natural Resources Subcommittee on Public Lands. Local salmon streams turned silty, he says. Fish and deer became scarce. Jackson, now Kake’s tribal president, doesn’t want the Roadless Rule lifted.

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Missoula County backs 14,000-acre Lolo Trails Landmark acquisition

By Martin Kidston
The Missoula Current
November 13, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

The Lolo National Forest and The Trust for Public Land on Wednesday sought renewed support from Missoula County for the acquisition of nearly 15,000 acres near Lolo prized for its habitat, recreation and historic values. Commissioners agreed and signed a letter to Regional Forester Leanne Marten and Lolo Forest Supervisor Carolyn Upton, backing their effort to secure an additional $6 million from the Land and Water Conservation Fund to complete the purchase. Catherine Schmidt, a field representative for The Trust for Public Land, said the funding would secure the second phase of the Lolo Trails Landmark Project. That phase of the project would acquire roughly 8,500 acres of former industrial timber land from Weyerhaeuser Co., the property’s current owner. The two phases together represent around 14,800 acres.

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Idaho forest restoration projects are already well underway

By Rick Tholen (SAF) and Kari Kostka (Nature Conservancy)
The Idaho Statesman
November 12, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

We wish to thank Idaho Statesman opinion editor Scott McIntosh for his recent four-part series on the condition and management of Idaho’s forests. …We agree a forest health crisis exists in Idaho. We agree climate change is further contributing to problems on the ground and that there is no single or short-term solution. …We do not agree, however, that the state’s new Shared Stewardship Initiative is just the start of cooperative forest management in Idaho. Grassroots collaborative organizations, each with unique membership and geographic focus, began forming all around the state more than a decade ago to address the health of Idaho’s forests. These groups of various stakeholders, which include loggers and environmentalists alike, have moved beyond long-standing disputes and weathered the hard road of building consensus agreements around forest management.

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The impact of wildfires on fishing, streams

By Jim Strogen
Payson Roundup
November 12, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

There have been several stories in the Roundup recently on the extreme danger that our communities face because of unhealthy forest conditions. Quite honestly, there are too many young trees. These trees are a readily combustible fuel source that can cause a fire to climb into the crowns of larger trees and lead to catastrophic destruction of the forest, and possibly our communities. We need to do all we can to marshal action to address this problem with the U.S. Forest Service (USFS), our state legislators, county and community leaders and the Arizona Corporation Commission. …When a fire destroys a forest, it also destroys the streams and lakes in its path. That includes streams below a fire-damaged area. When ash, mud and debris rush down a stream, it can wipe out entire aquatic populations. That includes the bug life fish depend on, native fish and any trout.

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Gianforte, forestry officials confront forest management in Missoula

By Madison Doner
NBC Montana
November 8, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

Greg Gianforte & Jim Hubbard

Montana business leaders and forestry officials discussed management of federal forest lands in western Montana at the Missoula Smokejumper Center. U.S. Rep. Greg Gianforte, along with USDA Undersecretary Jim Hubbard, heard from officials on Thursday.  A smokejumper showed Hubbard and Gianforte things like how their gear is made to how they prepare to fight wildfires. They also talked about what can be done to keep our forests alive. “We have a forest health crisis which is affecting wildlife, it’s affecting conservation, it’s affecting our communities,” said Gianforte. Loggers, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and timber community leaders told Gianforte that Montana’s forests need to be more actively managed to protect what forest we have left. …Hubbard says the forest is overgrown and is at the age where it needs to regenerate, but that’s not the only concern.

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Forest health is a delicate dance of life and death, experts say

By Lex Talamo
Yakima Herald Republic
November 10, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

On state-owned land in the Elk View timber sale, an area about 12 miles northwest of Naches, a cluster of pines stands together on the edge of a dirt road.  …To elk hunters or hikers who frequent the serpentine, gravel roads leading through the forest off State Route 410 and Nile Road, the densely packed trees might offer cover or a beautiful contrast to the swaths of meadow interspersed with the trees.But to Chris Brandon and Brendan Cockrum, foresters with the Washington State Department of Natural Resources, the close-knit trees portend disaster. Limited nutrients in the soil dispersed to the dense trees yield weaker adult trees that are more susceptible to insect infestation, disease and, ultimately, death. Trees also become more susceptible to “ladder” fires — wildfires that start on the ground, travel up a tree, then spread to that tree’s neighbors.

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Oregon among world’s fastest tree growing areas

By Oregon Employment Department
Oregon Natural Resources Report
November 11, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

Oregon is one of the world’s great tree-growing areas. The state’s soils and climate provide ideal conditions to grow such commercially viable species as Douglas fir and ponderosa pine. Forests cover more than 30 million of Oregon’s 62 million acres – almost half of the state’s landmass.  Firms in the forestry and logging sector grow and harvest timber on a long production cycle, generally of 10 years or more. Timber production requires natural forests or suitably large areas of land that are available long term. Oregon’s often mountainous and remote terrain, in both public and private ownership, provides that land base. … According to the Oregon Employment Department’s covered employment statistics, the subsector’s 755 firms employed 9,009 people statewide and added $546 million in payroll to Oregon’s economy in 2018. Employment was in slow decline between 2005 and 2009 and has since leveled off. It is currently varying seasonally in a band between 8,000 and 10,000 jobs. 

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‘We depend on the Tongass’: Alaskans fight to save US’s largest national forest

By Nina Lakhani
The Guardian
November 12, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

Tribal leaders, fishermen and environmentalists from Alaska will testify before Congress on Wednesday in a bid to save America’s biggest national forest – the latest battle against the Trump administration’s assault on environmental protections.  The Tongass national forest, one of the world’s last intact temperate rainforests which plays a crucial role in fighting the climate crisis, is under threat of logging as Alaska seeks exemption from the Roadless Rule, which protects millions of acres of pristine forests across the US. …The Roadless Rule prevents mass clearcutting of trees in undeveloped forested areas and is seen as one of the most broadly supported environmental protections in the US. …Wednesday’s hearing by the Natural Resources Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Land (NPFPL) will hear evidence on the potentially devastating consequences for the Tongass and its people.

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California has 33 million acres of forest. This company is training artificial intelligence to scour it all for wildfire

By Peter Holley
The Washington Post
November 6, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

Multiple factors often align to make California wildfires unusually hard to contain: hurricane-force winds that sweep toward the coastline, steep and often rough terrain, drought conditions exacerbated by climate change and finite resources spread thin by a vast landscape covered in wilderness. …California has 33 million acres of forest, far too much land for state agencies to monitor simultaneously. By the time reports of fires reach authorities and resources are mobilized, many hours, and sometimes days, can pass. …A San Francisco-based technology company called Chooch AI is trying to narrow that gap with the help of artificial intelligence, reducing the time between a fire’s eruption and the moment it’s spotted by people. The company, which is working with state agencies, researchers and technologists, is working to develop an AI tool that would scour hyper-detailed imagery from satellites for evidence of wildfires largely invisible to the naked eye. 

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Voters could be asked to decide future of Oregon’s forestry practices

By Sam Stites
Capital Press
November 10, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

SALEM — A political fight over how Oregon manages its forests and timber activity could resolved by voters next fall. Two separate sets of ballot initiatives with contrary views of forestry in Oregon have been filed with the state Elections Division. One side seeks to insulate current practices from change and the other aims to create new regulations that prohibit certain techniques they feel are harmful to the environment and Oregonians. This week, Jim James and his fellow chief petitioners filed initiatives they’re calling the “Health Forests and Wildfire Reduction Plan.” They would keep the regulation of forest and timber practices on all state and privately owned lands in the hands of professional foresters, scientists and the Oregon Board of Forestry. The plan would require the state Forestry Department to report new forestry regulations to the state board for review.

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Salvage logging approved near Seeley Lake

By Eve Byron
The Missoulian
November 8, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

The Seeley Lake Ranger District plans to move forward with a second salvage sale for trees on lands burned during the 2017 Liberty fire.Initial salvage harvests took place on 186 acres shortly after the fire was contained. The new project, called Liberty II Fire Salvage, targets insect-infested trees, but also will remove dead, dying and diseased trees on 484 additional acres about 13 miles southwest of Seeley Lake. Existing roads will be used to access the timber, with the work taking place in winter when the ground is frozen. District Ranger Quinn Carver said he expects the work will begin in December and wrap up within a year. …“This decision reflects an important step forward on the Seeley Lake Ranger District as we continue to address and respond to the impacts of the 2017 fire season,” Carver said.

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Timber interests propose three pro-logging ballot measures

By Ted Sickinger
The Oregonian
November 8, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

A group of retired foresters backed by the timber industry filed three initiative petitions this week looking to counter what they say are “radical anti-forestry ballot initiatives being pursued by environmental extremists.” The measures would give Oregon counties and the wood products industry more control over how members of the state Board of Forestry are selected. They would amend the state constitution, requiring the state to fully compensate woodland owners for any new regulations that eliminate their ability to log, such as expanded no-touch stream buffers. And they would require that the forestry board use “non-biased” and “peer reviewed science” to come up with consensus-based policies.  Jim James, a forestry consultant and executive director of the Oregon Small Woodlands Association, is one of the chief petitioners. He said he was not acting on behalf of the association, though it is mentioned in the initiative petitions. 

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‘How is climate change affecting autumn?’

By Sara Peach
Yale Climate Connections
November 14, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: US East, United States

…As the climate has warmed during the past few decades, the onset of fall colors across much of the Northern Hemisphere has been delayed. In the eastern United States, fall foliage arrives an average of two weeks late compared to the 1980s and 1990s, said Yingying Xie, an ecologist at Northwestern University. …But extreme weather also plays a role. Droughts can cause abnormally early leaf drop and strong winds can cause leaves to die suddenly, cutting fall foliage season short. But abundant moisture can cause delayed leaf coloring. Even summer heat stress can influence when fall colors arrive. The upshot is that researchers are still investigating the variables that influence how trees will respond to climate change during the fall, Xie said: “This is kind of still a black box.”

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Should Ohioans Care About Keeping Wild Places Wild?

By Mary Kuhlman
Cleveland Scene
November 14, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: US East, United States

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Alaska may be thousands of miles away from the Buckeye State, but Ohioans still could feel the impact of a Trump administration plan to reverse roadless protections for the country’s largest national forest. A U.S. House committee holds a hearing today on a proposal to fully exempt the Tongass National Forest in southeastern Alaska from the 2001 Roadless Rule. Lexi Hackett has lived in the area all her life and, as a commercial fisher, said she’s concerned that opening the Tongass land for development would hurt crucial salmon habitat and the local fishing industry. “It’s a really breathtaking and special place that deserves to be protected,” she said, “not just out of the philosophy that we should keep some things in their beautiful, natural state in our world, but also because it does provide an abundance of resources.” …Mike Dombeck, former chief of the U.S. Forest Service, said he thinks the timber industry simply is trying to gain more access than other interests. 

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Forest Service Mulls Weakening National Land Protections

Public News Service – NC
November 14, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: US East, United States

RALEIGH, N.C. – A 2001 federal rule banning tree harvesting and road construction in national forests is under threat. Developers and the U.S. Forest Service are seeking permission to open Tongass National Forest – more than 16 million acres of old growth forest in Alaska – to development. Former Forest Service chief Mike Dombeck says managing national forests requires a careful balancing of several industries’ interests, not allowing one to lobby for changes that solely benefit it. “And what we have here is, we have a small segment of that interest in largely the timber industry in Alaska, which really wants access to more old-growth timber,” Dombeck states. Experts say that if Congress votes to terminate the 2001 Roadless Rule, national forest land in other states, including 172,000 acres in North Carolina, may be left vulnerable to development. The Forest Service will take up the issue of making changes to the Roadless Rule in a series of public hearings this week.

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Carbon, Climate & Bioenergy

Rebuilding the forest economy

By Mike Leonard – consulting forester, North Quabbin Forestry, Petersham
Greenfield Reporter
November 13, 2019
Category: Carbon, Climate & Bioenergy
Region: US East, United States

Recent meetings by state legislators and state government agencies have looked at ways to improve the rural economy in Franklin County and the North Quabbin region. …Millions of dollars of taxpayer money have already been spent on numerous studies and failed programs. More state funding is needed to fully fund the PILOT program which compensates towns that have tax-exempt state-owned land. …But despite the fact we have hundreds of thousands of mostly unmanaged or mismanaged forest land in this area, forestry and the forest products industry were never mentioned by our state legislators and state agencies. Over the past few decades, there have been efforts to support forestry all of which failed… The “New Forestry Deal” will rebuild our forest economy and create thousands of new jobs in forest industry while improving our forests. It will be a win-win for everybody.

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Whither biomass? Michigan wood-fired power plants face uncertain future

By Andy Balaskovitz
The Energy News Network
November 12, 2019
Category: Carbon, Climate & Bioenergy
Region: US East, United States

Without policy support, plant operators in Michigan say they can’t compete with wind, solar and natural gas. Wood-fired power plants across Michigan’s Lower Peninsula will continue operating through the 2020s, but their life beyond that is uncertain amid declining wind and solar prices. A September ruling by Michigan regulators created a competitive bidding process for one of the state’s largest utilities, Consumers Energy, that will force biomass producers to compete directly with wind and solar once their contracts expire over the coming decade. Consumers has argued in recent years that contracts with independent producers under the federal Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act (PURPA) are too expensive. This includes wood-fired power plants as well as small hydropower and waste-to-energy.  Recent cases at the Michigan Public Service Commission involving PURPA largely focused on prices paid to new solar development, which is expected to scale up quickly in Michigan.

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Health & Safety

Smoke has a serious impact on human health

By Peter Aleshire
Payson Roundup
November 12, 2019
Category: Health & Safety
Region: United States, US West

Bad news: Wildfire smoke contributes to 15,000 premature deaths every year, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Worse news: Expect 40,000 premature deaths per year by century’s end thanks to rising temperatures and bigger wildfires. Wildfire smoke can cause heart attacks, asthma and lung disease, contributing to the toll of cigarettes, auto exhaust and emissions from coal-fired power plants. …So does that mean the Forest Service’s plan to both repeatedly burn a million acres in Rim Country and the White Mountains will take a toll on human health? …Will controlled burns have less impact on human health than wildfires? Answer: Wildfires are definitely worse, according to the EIS and multiple studies. Can we reduce the impact of prescribed burns? Definitely. But more on that at the end of this latest series on the 4FRI environmental analysis. …But can we do something about the smoke from prescribed burns as well? That brings us back to burning biomass.

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Forest Fires

Fire management in southwestern Oregon

By Rich Fairbanks, former USFS Fire Sevice employee
Mail Tribune
November 10, 2019
Category: Forest Fires
Region: United States, US West

The following is a proposal for changes in how we deal with fire in southwestern Oregon. Stop reacting to wildfire ignitions and take the initiative to actively manage fire. Fuel treatments must greatly increase. Controlled burn, chip, masticate, thin-pile-burn, all of it. Staff both fire suppression and fuels treatment with well-trained, well-paid crews, with meteorologists and other specialists. Burn understories in mixed conifer forests. It has worked for millennia. Do it on days when unstable atmospheric conditions lift the smoke away. Do it in strategic locations that will actually meet wildfire where it is most likely to occur. Do it to restore forest resilience. But do it. Zoning must be based on science. Building codes must be based on science. Funding for fire research must be stable and plentiful. We need answers.

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