Tree Frog Forestry News

Region Archives: US West

Business & Politics

Housing slowdown to affect 2019 timber markets

By Christine Souza
Ag Alert
March 13, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: United States, US West

After timber operators experienced record earnings last summer, they say a slowdown in new home construction and an oversupply of lumber going into this season points to likely lower prices for harvested logs and lumber products. But many say they remain hopeful the market for harvested logs and timber will stabilize during the spring. …New housing construction represents a major indicator in domestic lumber prices, and California Forestry Association Vice President Steven Brink said housing starts declined last fall and early winter. That contributed to a declining lumber price, although housing has rebounded slightly. …Now that the demand and price for harvested logs and lumber products has slowed, Webb said, sawmills are being more cautious, uncertain of “whether there’s enough demand out there to absorb higher production levels, or if production levels will drop off and mills decide they cannot sell what they are producing.”

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Wood, Paper & Green Building

CNC machining debut for CLT wood building construction

By Bill Esler
Woodworking Network
March 18, 2019
Category: Wood, Paper & Green Building
Region: United States, US West

PORTLAND, Ore. – At the International Mass Timber Conference, SCM is outlining its state-of-the-art technological solutions, including a new CNC machining center for the timber construction industry. SCM says it has been working within this sector over the past 10 years… This has led to state-of-the-art technological solutions, says SCM, including Oikos X, a new CNC machining center for manufacturing structural beams, X-lam/CLT wall panels, and insulating panels. During that time its technology has matured for wood construction as it gained an in-depth knowledge of industry demands, and carried on intense R&D work. …The technology will be unveiled at the International Mass Timber Conference, which runs March 19-21 in Portland, Oregon to examine the new face of mass timber construction.

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Swinerton Announces New Swinerton Mass Timber Business Group

By Swinterton
PR Newswire in Benzinga
March 18, 2019
Category: Wood, Paper & Green Building
Region: United States, US West

SAN FRANCISCO — Swinerton is proud to announce that it has officially launched Swinerton Mass Timber, a new business unit dedicated to building projects using mass timber technology. The Swinerton Mass Timber team will pursue new projects that are being developed with mass timber, and the team will evaluate other project opportunities to determine mass timber solutions. Swinerton Mass Timber experts will shape the paths for delivering financially-viable mass timber structures, working with project teams and key partners across the nation to develop, design and deliver mass timber buildings. “Swinerton Mass Timber represents our commitment to shaping the future of building. Utilizing this technology, we know mass timber will help us build more quickly, more safely, and deliver the most cost-efficient structures in markets nationwide,” said CEO Jeff Hoopes.

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Study sees potential for area to profit from new type of wood construction

International Falls Journal
March 18, 2019
Category: Wood, Paper & Green Building
Region: United States, US West

Minnesota’s strong commercial market, accessibility to supply chain and opportunities for economic impact are highlighted in a recently completed study, “The Economic Feasibility of Mass Timber Manufacturing in Minnesota.” The study, commissioned by the Area Partnership for Economic Expansion, or APEX, …suggests that Minnesota has great potential to introduce mass timber manufacturing in the Arrowhead region. …The study also examined Minnesota’s capacity to build a mass timber manufacturing facility in the Arrowhead Region. Study results show that building a mid-sized manufacturing facility in northern Minnesota would bring: 50 new (direct) jobs, $11.7M in industry sales, $6.2M in labor income, 45 new (indirect) jobs, Total Output: $20.3M. Every mass timber manufacturing job in the state of Minnesota would support 0.9 jobs in related industries, potentially creating a total of 45 new jobs.

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Minnesota ‘perfect’ for mass timber manufacturer

By Brooks Johnson
Duluth News Tribune
March 16, 2019
Category: Wood, Paper & Green Building
Region: United States, US West

Minnesota is fertile ground to plant a new kind of timber company, according to a study whose backers hope to lure such a manufacturer to the state. Mass timber, a type of building material big in Europe and gaining in popularity for commercial projects in the U.S., could bring 50 good-paying jobs, more business and stability for sawmills and access to greener construction supplies for the region, according to the Bureau of Business and Economic Research at the University of Minnesota Duluth, which is releasing its study Monday. …In looking at the demand for mass timber, specifically cross-laminated timber or CLT, the report found that while building codes and lack of experience with the material could make it slow to catch on, benefits include “speed and ease of constructing modular systems, durability and strength, lower costs and the opportunity for a green alternative to traditional construction materials.”

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CLT for the masses

By Joseph Gallivan
The Business Tribune
March 14, 2019
Category: Wood, Paper & Green Building
Region: United States, US West

PORTLAND, OR — Billed as the largest gathering of cross-laminated timber and other mass timber experts in the world, the International Mass Timber Conference is coming to Portland next week. With more than 1,200 experts from 22 countries expected to attend the conference (March 19-21). …The keynote speaker on Thursday is Paul Williamson, Managing Director, Modular Housing for Swan Housing in the U.K. …Swan designs modular two-story houses and some apartments which are built in a factory in Basildon, Essex, just east of London. Swan is a housing association, which in the U.K. provides low-cost social housing for people in need of a home.

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Trendy timber at chic Waterfront Vancouver?

By Allan Brettman
The Columbian
March 10, 2019
Category: Wood, Paper & Green Building
Region: United States, US West

In its brief existence, The Waterfront Vancouver has offered an urban development few could have thought possible in Vancouver. … It makes sense then that one of those blocks may one day be the home of a construction style that is the hot new thing. The Trestle, as it’s been named, would be built on the development’s Block 14 with mass timber construction, employing all-wood structural components and rising to a height that would make it the tallest wood building in the United States, at least for now. The apartment house would be the latest in a line of other wood structures built by its Portland-based architecture firm. …As associate director of the Tall Wood Institute at Oregon State University, Iain Macdonald is particularly evangelical about mass timber construction. Before joining the institute in 2016, Macdonald led the Centre for Advanced Wood Products at the University of British Columbia for 10 years.

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Forestry

Gov. Brown convenes Wildfire Response Council

KTVZ.COM
March 18, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

Kate Brown

PORTLAND, Ore. – Governor Kate Brown on Monday launched Oregon’s Wildfire Response Council, which met for the first time in Portland. The council is tasked to review Oregon’s current model for wildfire prevention, preparedness, and response, analyzing whether or not the current model is sustainable given our increasing wildfire risks in the face of changes in climate.  “Every fire season since I first became governor has been a historic fire season, and each season, we’ve seen unprecedented damage to our homes, livelihoods, and Oregon’s natural environment,” Brown said.  “We need to be prepared and proactive to get ahead of this threat, which is why I have convened this council on wildfire response. We need to make sure we are doing everything we can, employing best practices, and investing in new tools, technology, and people power.” 

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Forest Service plans largest sale of Alaska old-growth timber in years

Associated Press in Anchorage Daily News
March 18, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

JUNEAU – The U.S. Forest Service is planning the largest sale of Southeast Alaska old-growth timber in years. The Prince of Wales Island Landscape Level Analysis project will harvest as much as 225 million board feet of old-growth lumber from Prince of Wales Island in Tongass National Forest, KTOO reported Saturday. The service said the process will be gradual because it will not allow more than 100 acres of clear cutting at one time from the region. Owen Graham, executive director of the logging industry group Alaska Forest Association, said young-growth timber might employ seasonal lumberjacks but it’s the older trees that will keep remaining mills open. “The old-growth portion will provide mill jobs and the young-growth portion will almost exclusively end up getting shipped overseas,” Graham said. “But it’s providing jobs, those are good jobs.”

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Starved of timber in a sea of trees

By Matt Hill, Douglas Timber Operators
The News-Review
March 16, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

Matt Hill

OREGON — Citing a lack of federal timber, the Swanson Group recently announced the permanent closure of its sawmill in Glendale, which had operated since 1951. This is yet another economic sacrifice in Douglas County as federal forest management policies fail to deliver their ecological and economic goals. …This artificial log shortage in the middle of the world’s most productive softwood forests is decades in the making. …National Forests in Southern Oregon are producing less than half the volume anticipated under the Clinton Northwest Forest Plan. Meanwhile, the current BLM management plans allow sustained-yield commercial timber harvest on only 20 percent of the lands formerly owned by the Oregon and California Railroad. …Ultimately, the Swanson mill closure is a reminder that forest management policies are choices, and they have consequences shared by us all.

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Feds Investigate Oregon Company’s African Rainforest Hardwood Products

By Tony Schick
Oregon Public Broadcasting
March 18, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

Roseburg Forest Products, one of the country’s leading manufacturers of particleboard and plywood, has ended production and sales of certain lumber products in the midst of a federal investigation into whether the wood came from the illegal logging of African rainforests.  U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement confirmed that its Homeland Security Investigations division has an ongoing investigation into illegal imports of okoumé, a wood used for plywood and veneer siding. The Lacey Act prohibits the trade of plants and wildlife taken, stored or transported illegally. …Okoumé is used in some of Roseburg’s Real Wood Siding products. …Roseburg purchased the okoumé veneer for use in siding products from two importers: Cornerstone Forest Products, based in Eugene, Oregon, and Evergreen Hardwoods, based in Mercer Island, Washington.

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Tongass old growth timber sale gets go-ahead despite habitat concerns

By Jacob Resneck
KTOO Public Media
March 17, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

The U.S. Forest Service is moving ahead with one of the largest old growth timber sales Southeast Alaska has seen in years. The federal agency plans to make its decision official Saturday at a signing ceremony in Craig. The Forest Service announced in 2016 it would largely phase out old growth timber sales in the Tongass over 15 years. But this latest Prince of Wales Island LLA project projects harvesting as much as 225 million board feet of old growth lumber. Alaska Forest Association Executive Director Owen Graham said young growth timber might employ seasonal lumberjacks but it’s the big trees that keep Southeast’s remaining mills open. …Conservationists are alarmed by any new old growth logging.

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Spruce Beetle replaces Mountain Pine Beetle as biggest insect threat to Colorado forests

By Deepan Dutta
Summit Daily
March 14, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

The Colorado State Forest Service released its annual report on the health of the state’s forests last week, and it showed the growing shadow of a lingering threat. The spruce beetle has now replaced the mountain pine beetle as the biggest insect disease threat to Colorado’s forests, as wildfire continues to threaten communities and drain resources. The cover of the report, which encompasses the state’s forest management efforts, features a photo of the Buffalo Mountain Fire last year. Record-high temperatures and record-low precipitation is blamed for the ferocity of that fire and the many others that sprung up across the state. The Buffalo Mountain Fire itself came close to destroying billions in real estate and the Colorado State Forest Service emphasized the economic impact of forests. When the forests are healthy, tourism and recreation are very good for the state economy; when it’s sick, fire and blight puts a major dent in both industries.

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The Alaska Roadless Rule decision is moving along. Some tribal governments say it’s moving too fast.

By Elizabeth Jenkins
Alaska Public Radio
March 14, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

The U.S. Forest Service quietly hit another milestone in its ongoing efforts to consider building new roads in the Tongass National Forest. Last month, it received comments on an important document from cooperating groups. The state has been providing feedback that could shape the outcome of the new rule, and so have Southeast Alaska tribes. But some of the tribal governments say the timeline has felt rushed for a decision that could have a major impact on rural Alaska. Joel Jackson, the tribal president of the Organized Village of Kake, said it’s impossible to separate the Tongass National Forest from the dinner table. “That’s the way I was taught from my father,” Jackson said. “He never liked the word ‘subsistence’ either. He always explained it to me, it’s our way of life.”

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Court temporarily blocks western Montana logging project

Associated Press in NBC Montana
March 14, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

A judge has blocked a project that called for logging and prescribed burning in the Elkhorn Mountains near Townsend. U.S. District Judge Susan Watters on Tuesday ruled in favor of two conservation groups that sued to stop the project to cut conifer trees on 7 square miles and burn another 2 square miles. …The groups say the project includes 2 square miles of logging, building nearly 6 miles of new temporary roads and reopening 16 miles of previously closed roads. They say U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service didn’t properly analyze the project’s potential harm to threatened grizzly bears and the habitat of wolverines and threatened Canada lynx. Attorneys representing the U.S. Forest Service say the project would reduce wildfire threats. A U.S. district judge previously ruled in favor of the project.

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Judge halts Bureau of Land Management project in Elkhorns

By Tom Kuglin
Helena Independent Record
March 14, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

A federal judge has halted a Bureau of Land Management grazing, prescribed fire and juniper removal project in the Elkhorn Mountains. U.S. District Judge Susan P. Watters ruled in favor of Native Ecosystems Council and Alliance for the Wild Rockies on one of their five legal challenges to BLM’s proposed management in the Iron Mask area northwest of Townsend. She ordered both the project halted and that the agency perform additional environmental analysis. BLM signed an environmental assessment for the Iron Mask Planning Area in 2015. The project included planning for a roughly 5,600-acre property the agency acquired through the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. Among the plans were about 1,000 acres of prescribed burning and cutting conifer trees on about 4,200 acres. The plan also called for a “forage reserve” grazing system, which would allow livestock grazing in cases where other grazing allotments were unavailable due to circumstances such as drought or wildfire.

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It’s over: California drought ends after 7 years

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch
March 15, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

For the first time since 2011, California is completely drought free as the wet winter winds down. Abnormally dry conditions linger in less than 7 percent of California, the U.S. Drought Monitor said on Thursday, as storms have filled reservoirs, built snow pack and improved soil moisture. The state had experienced some form of drought for 376 consecutive weeks, according to the National Drought Mitigation Center. …While Newsha Ajami, Stanford University’s Director of Urban Water Policy, described the drought report and this winter’s rain and snow as exciting, she said they are not signs for a wet future. …Above average amounts of rain and snow since have boosted water supplies. …But downpours have also triggered mudslides and flooding, including in areas burned by recent wildfires. 

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Trump says his budget has more money than ever for wildfire prevention. It doesn’t.

By Katie Irby and Emily Cadei
San Luis Obispo Tribune
March 13, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump says in his budget that he’s asking for the highest amount ever for certain wildfire prevention programs. His proposal actually contains less money for wildfire prevention efforts than the current federal spending plan. It’s a small difference, just $6 million out of about $1.4 billion for wildfire prevention programs… But, it would be a cut if Congress approves it. Meanwhile, Trump’s budget would increase money that could contribute to harvesting timber and clearing trees. Trump has encouraged more logging in the past year. He publicly blames California and environmental groups for lax forest management on federal lands, where it is the responsibility of the federal government. …Trump is requesting $450 million — $15 million more than the current budget — for hazardous fuel mitigation under the U.S. Forest Service, according to an analysis by the nonpartisan Taxpayers for Common Sense.

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US moves to lift remaining gray wolf protections

By Matthew Brown and John Flesher
The Associated Press in the Longview Daily News
March 14, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

BILLINGS, Mont. — Gray wolves in the U.S. would be stripped of federal protection and subjected to hunting and trapping in more states under a proposal released Thursday that declares the predators recovered following a decades-long restoration effort. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wants to revoke the wolves’ endangered and threatened species status and put them under authority of state wildlife agencies across the Lower 48 states. …”The facts are clear and indisputable — the gray wolf no longer meets the definition of a threatened or endangered species,” acting Interior Secretary David Bernhardt said. Wildlife advocates and some members of Congress say the move is premature because wolves occupy only a fraction of a historical range that once stretched across most of North America. …Environmentalists and animal advocacy groups have pledged to challenge in court any action to ease or eliminate protections.

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Power lines sparked massive Southern California fire

By Christopher Weber
The Associated Press in the Washington Post
March 13, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

LOS ANGELES — One of the largest fires in California history was sparked by Southern California Edison power lines that came into contact during high winds, investigators said Wednesday. The resulting arc ignited dry brush on Dec. 4, 2017, starting the blaze in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties that resulted in two deaths and blackened more than 440 square miles, according to the investigation headed by the Ventura County Fire Department. …A month after the blaze started, a downpour on the burn scar unleashed a massive debris flow that killed 21 people and destroyed or damaged hundreds of homes in the seaside community of Montecito. Two people have not been found. The investigation was conducted by fire officials in both counties along with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

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Lack of funding, not roadless rule, is bigger factor in Utah forest health

By Harv Forsgren, retired Forester, Utah
The Salt Lake Tribune
March 12, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

Harv Forsgren

In Utah about half of our national forests — over 4 million acres — are designated as “inventoried roadless areas.” When a 2001 federal rule was being drafted to guide management of roadless areas, 73 percent of Utahns who commented supported complete protection of roadless lands. These lands disproportionately contribute to: reliable supplies of water for drinking; agriculture and industry; high-quality habitat for fish and wildlife; recreation opportunities such as hiking, camping, picnicking, wildlife viewing, hunting, fishing, cross-country skiing; and the state’s high scenic values and opportunities for solitude. Keeping roadless areas healthy and intact is vital to the well being of Utahns. Since 2001 the Roadless Area Conservation Rule has prohibited road construction and timber harvest in these areas with exceptions when a road is needed to: protect public health and safety; conduct an environmental response action; honor existing rights; or where road realignment is needed to prevent environmental damage.

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Oregon bill would protect drinking water, ban clear-cuts, chemicals on private forestland

By Tracy Loew
The Statesman Journal
March 12, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

Two Oregon lawmakers want to protect public drinking water sources by banning clear-cuts, pesticide and fertilizer applications, and new logging roads on private forestland in those watersheds. The aim is to prevent disasters such as last year’s Detroit Lake algae bloom. …Supporters of House Bill 2656, dubbed the “Oregon Safe Waters Act,” say those forest activities degrade water supplies with sediments, chemical and thermal pollution and other contaminants, also increasing the risk of wildfires, flooding, and landslides. …Private forests already are regulated under the Oregon Forest Practices Act. But environmental groups say the state’s rules don’t go far enough, and are weaker than those in Washington, California and Idaho. …Some of the state’s largest private timber owners, including Weyerhaeuser, Hampton Lumber, Stimson Lumber and Starker Forests, are fighting the proposal.

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Agency looks to more logging, improved forest health

By Amy Beth Hanson
The Associated Press in the Lewiston Tribune
March 13, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

HELENA, Mont. — Montana’s forestry agency is working with federal, local and private organizations to increase logging on national forests to improve forest health and decrease the risk of disease and catastrophic fires. State lawmakers are supporting a $2.2 million request from the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation to hire people to help implement the Good Neighbor Authority program. Montana’s forestlands are deteriorating because of insects and disease, fire seasons are lasting longer and the numbers of acres burned has increased 15-fold over the past 20 years, Forestry Division Administrator Sonya Germann told a House appropriations subcommittee in January. …The Good Neighbor Authority… has to follow the same federal environmental laws the Forest Service would have to meet in offering sales.

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Official: Trump signs bill creating 30,000-acre Oregon wilderness in public lands deal

By Zach Urness
Statesman Journal
March 12, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

With one stroke of the pen, President Trump brought success to a decades-long effort to protect 30,000 acres of old-growth rainforest in Oregon’s coastal mountains. Trump signed into law a package of 120 public lands bills Tuesday morning that includes creation of a new wilderness area and protection of 250 miles of waterways under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act in Oregon. It was a rare moment of bipartisanship after the package of bills, which impact parks, monuments and forests across the nation, sailed through both the Senate and House. Among the numerous bills in the package, a handful impact Oregon. …“By designating the Devil’s Staircase Wilderness, President Trump follows the proud tradition of Republican presidents like Teddy Roosevelt who have stood up for the environment and done the right thing for the American people,” said Andy Stahl, who has worked toward protecting the area for almost 20 years. 

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Arizona Game and Fish Department program delivers culturally significant wildlife items to Native American tribes

Payson Roundup
March 11, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

Whether it’s the full hide of a fallen bear, an empty tortoise shell, antlers shed onto the forest floor or a found eagle feather, wildlife binds Arizona’s Native American tribes to the world around them. In recognition of that rich cultural history, the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) formalized a repository program that allows wildlife managers and staff to collect, inventory and properly store items found in the field that can be donated to and used by the state’s tribes. “Wildlife plays a critical role in Native American culture and the Arizona Game and Fish Department is pleased to honor these multi-generational traditions by forming the Non-Bird Wildlife Repository,” said Jim deVos, AZGFD assistant director for wildlife management. “This program allows the department to honor our state’s Native American traditions and further the appreciation for Arizona’s wildlife.”

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Making history in the woods: After six decades with Starker Forests, Gary Blanchard is recording the company’s story

By Bennett Hall
Corvallis Gazette-Times
March 11, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

Gary Blanchard

Gary Blanchard could have retired a long time ago. But he’s still on the job at Starker Forests, providing a living link between the company’s past and its future.Blanchard went to work part-time for Starker as a 19-year-old in 1958. Three years later, after earning his degree in forest management at Oregon State University, he became the Philomath timber company’s first full-time employee — and he’s been working there ever since.Now 80, he still goes into the office pretty much every day, although he hasn’t been a full-time employee since 2007. “I really didn’t want to retire, and they didn’t want me to retire, so we came up with a half-time arrangement,” Blanchard said. Founded by OSU forestry professor T. J. Starker in 1936, Starker Forests now holds more than 87,000 acres of timberland in five Western Oregon counties, and Blanchard has lived through much of the company’s history.

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Community forest idea to be explored at public meeting in Forks

Peninsula Daily News
March 11, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

FORKS — The Nature Conservancy is hosting a public meeting to explore the concept of creating a community forest on the West End of Jefferson and Clallam counties. …The Nature Conservancy “believes that a community forest model may be the best long-term solution to ensuring local values and economy,” said Frank Hanson, who is in charge of education and outreach at the ONRC. The public conversation will be facilitated by The Nature Conservancy staff members: Garett Dalan, Washington coast community relations manager; and Catlin Doughty, conservation coordinator at the ONRC. …The Nature Conservancy, which manages the Hoh River Trust lands, initiated several meetings of a community focus group to begin a conversation about a potential community forest on the West End. It now is opening up the discussions to the larger community, Hanson said.

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Fire study shows landscapes such as Bitterroot’s Sapphire Range too hot, dry to restore trees

By Rob Chaney
The Missoulian
March 11, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

Fire-scarred forests like the Sapphire Range of the Bitterroot Valley may become grasslands because the growing seasons have become too hot and dry, according to new research from the University of Montana. “The drier aspects aren’t coming back, especially on north-facing slopes,” said Kim Davis, a UM landscape ecologist and lead investigator on the study. “It’s not soil sterilization. Other vegetation like grasses are re-sprouting. It’s too warm. There’s not enough moisture for the trees.” Davis worked with landscape ecologist Solomon Dobrowski, fire paleoecologist Philip Higuera, biologist Anna Sala and geoscientist Marco Maneta at UM along with colleagues at the U.S. Forest Service and University of Colorado-Boulder to produce the study, which was released Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal. “What’s striking is if you asked scientists two decades ago how climate warming would play out, this is what they expected we’d see,” Higuera said. 

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Timber industry, state blast bill to expand logging deferral option

By Michael Wright
The Bozeman Daily Chronicle
March 12, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

A Bozeman Democrat wants Montana to offer a logging deferral alongside every timber sale it puts out, an idea that drew a cavalcade of opponents during a legislative hearing on Monday.House Bill 627, sponsored by Rep. Jim Hamilton, would force the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation to accept bids for timber conservation licenses on each logging project it proposes. It would also require DNRC to set separate minimum bids for logging and for a logging deferral, meaning the people who want each one would bid different amounts. The winning bid would be whichever is a greater percentage increase over the respective minimum bid. The bill would expand an option some Bozeman residents used to prevent logging on 443 acres of state land south of town for the next 25 years.

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Colorado locked into losing approach of suppressing wildfires rather than boosting forest health, experts say

By Bruce Finley
The Denver Post
March 10, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

Colorado leaders are facing hard facts on the state’s increasingly strained forests: 1,249 wildfires burned a near-record 524,282 acres last year, five times the average. …And money spent trying to suppress wildfires — $40 million by the state and $120 million by the U.S. Forest Service, three times what the feds spent in 2017 — drained coffers. …But Colorado still is locked into what state and federal foresters call a long-term losing approach of trying to suppress wildfires instead of boosting forest health. …“If we don’t start paying attention to the health of our forests, it is not going to get better,” state forester Mike Lester warned. …“People are going to have to invest in the health of our forests.” …That means selectively thinning forests to let in light and revive natural processes, rendering forests more resilient in the face of worse wildfires.

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When Douglas fir burns, SPARKS FLY

By Vickie Aldous
Mail Tribune
March 9, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

New research shows Douglas fir trees produce more flying embers that can spark new fires compared to Ponderosa pines — bad news for Southern Oregon forests that are losing their pines. Airborne embers can travel more than a mile, jumping wildfire containment lines, highways and rivers to start new spot fires among trees and homes. Most past research has focused on how those embers travel and ignite various types of flammable material, according to Oregon State University scientists. In the new study, OSU scientists looked at the trees that are producing embers. They burned different species of trees and counted the number of flying embers produced, and how many of those embers were hot enough to leave char marks on fabric. The char marks revealed which of the sparks could have started new spot fires.

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State agency looks to more logging, improved forest health

By Amy Beth Hanson
Associated Press in Helena Independent Record
March 8, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

HELENA, Mont. — Montana’s forestry agency is working with federal, local and private organizations to increase logging on national forests to improve forest health and decrease the risk of disease and catastrophic fires. State lawmakers are supporting a $2.2 million request from the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation to hire people to help implement the Good Neighbor Authority program. Montana’s forestlands are deteriorating because of insects and disease, fire seasons are lasting longer and the numbers of acres burned has increased 15-fold over the past 20 years, Forestry Division Administrator Sonya Germann told a House appropriations subcommittee in January. Poor forest health impacts drinking and irrigation water, recreational assets, homes, communities and fish and wildlife habitat, she said.

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Remembering US Forest Service’s first female fire lookout on International Women’s Day

Associated Press in Newscenter1.tv
March 7, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

RAPID CITY, S.D. — March 8 is International Women’s Day, an annual event that raises awareness about gender inequality and celebrates strides women have made throughout history to close gender gaps. Hallie Daggett was one of those women. In 1913 she was hired as the first female fire lookout for the U.S. Forest Service. Daggett started work at the Eddy’s Gulch Lookout Station on top of Klamath Peak in Oregon. Many of the other Forest Service men thought that Daggett would be too frightened by the danger and loneliness involved in the work.

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New Oregon rules in place for controlled burns

KTVZ
March 7, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

SALEM, Ore. – Revised rules that are intended to protect air quality in areas of Oregon susceptible to smoke from controlled forest burns have gone into effect just as the spring burning season gets underway, the Oregon Department of Forestry said Thursday. The new rules were adopted in January by the Oregon Board of Forestry and approved by the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, following a multi-year review process by a broad-based committee. The rules call on communities at risk for smoke to voluntarily develop response plans to protect especially vulnerable populations, such as children, the elderly and people with heart and respiratory conditions. ODF and DEQ will collaborate with the Oregon Health Authority to identify communities ready to begin developing a response plan this year.

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Spruce beetle infestation worsens in Colorado forests

Associated Press in San Francisco Chronicle
March 7, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

DENVER — Colorado forestry officials say the state’s spruce beetle infestation worsened in 2018. The Colorado State Forest Service said Thursday the pest was active on 278 square miles of high elevation lands last year. Since 2000, the beetle has damaged about 2,800 square miles. The agency said the roundheaded pine beetle and Douglas fir beetle damaged a combined 64 square miles last year. The agency’s annual report said that wildfires consumed the second-largest area in state history in 2018 but did not say how much land was affected. The report blamed dense, unhealthy forests, drought, and warmer temperatures linked to climate change.

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Carbon, Climate & Bioenergy

Common beetle’s gut microbiome benefits forests, holds promise for bioenergy

By Laurel Kellner
Phys.org
March 11, 2019
Category: Carbon, Climate & Bioenergy
Region: United States, US West

Insects are critical contributors to ecosystem functioning, and like most living organisms their co-evolution with microbes has been essential to support these functions. While many insects are infamous for wreaking havoc wherever they roam, many thousands of species go quietly about their business, providing important services essential to healthy ecosystems using the innovative biochemistry of their microbiomes. New research from the U.S. Department of Energy Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) shows how one such beneficial insect common to the Eastern U.S., the long-horned passalid beetle (Odontotaenius disjunctus), has a hardy digestive tract with microbes to thank for turning its woody diet into energy, food for its young, and nutrients for forest growth. These insights into how the beetle and its distinct microbiome have co-evolved provide a roadmap for the production of affordable, nature-derived fuels and bioproducts.

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Pass Clean Energy Jobs to protect Oregon’s timber industry

By Sarah Deumling, Owner, Zena Forest Products
Statesman Journal
March 8, 2019
Category: Carbon, Climate & Bioenergy
Region: United States, US West

Sarah Deumling

Oregon’s natural resource heritage is a point of pride for our state. What we have is special, and it deserves to be passed on to the generations that follow. … Just outside Salem sits 1,300 acres of our family’s forest, the Zena Forest. …It makes up one of the largest contiguous blocks of mixed conifer forest in the central Willamette Valley. It includes large areas of endangered Oak Savannah and Oak Woodland and contains headwaters of Rickreall, Yamhill, and Spring Valley watersheds. …We strive to be a model of sustainable forestry. That’s why we’re passionate supporters of the Clean Energy Jobs bill, legislation being worked on right now in Salem to cap and price pollution from Oregon’s top emitters. About 100 companies are responsible for between 83 percent and 87 percent of our state’s entire carbon pollution, and this bill aims to reduce that pollution to below 1990 levels.

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Green airplanes? Not on the horizon yet

By John Ryan
KUOW News and Information
March 7, 2019
Category: Carbon, Climate & Bioenergy
Region: United States, US West

Nearly half the planes flying out of Seattle and Portland airports could — some day — run on plant-based fuel made in the Northwest. But don’t expect that day any time soon. Kicking aviation’s climate-harming carbon habit is likely to be a long, slow process. …“The only way, then, to do it is through decarbonizing the fuel,” engineering professor Michael Wolcott with Washington State University said. …Wolcott said, in theory, there’s enough raw material in the Northwest to produce 400 million gallons of renewable jet fuel a year. …For the towering piles of logging “slash” left behind after timber operations around the Northwest, supply isn’t the problem. …Collecting them and processing them into fuel could tackle the smoke problem as well as provide a new source of energy. But building a refinery to process forest residue into fuel can be a risky, billion-dollar venture, according to Wolcott.

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Health & Safety

Preliminary report on helicopter crash expected in two weeks

By Paul Gottlieb
The Peninsula Daily News
March 12, 2019
Category: Health & Safety
Region: United States, US West

OLYMPIC NATIONAL FOREST — A preliminary report on a logging helicopter crash Friday morning that killed a member of a Montana family steeped in the timber industry will be issued in two weeks, a National Transportation Safety Board spokesman said Monday. …The chopper crashed in a rugged area of Olympic National Forest 7 miles west of Lake Crescent while hoisting logs during a logging operation, they said. …Tripp was subcontracted by the timber company Interfor U.S. Inc., to work out of a 193-acre tract in Olympic National Forest, U.S. Forest Service spokeswoman Susan Garner said Monday. Interfor had contracted with the Forest Service to conduct thinning operations, Garner said. “We’re deeply saddened by the death of Josh Tripp, president of Iron Eagle Helicopters,” Andrew Horahan, Interfor vice president of operations, said Monday in a prepared statement.

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Weyerhaeuser Attempts to Suppress Evidence in Severe Workplace Injury Case- Lawsuit Alleges

By Parris Law Firm
Cision Newswire
March 12, 2019
Category: Health & Safety
Region: United States, US West

LOS ANGELES — A lawsuit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court alleges Weyerhaeuser… is guilty of creating an unsafe working environment that led to severe injuries for one truck driver. The proceeding litigation also exposed an alleged attempt by Weyerhaeuser to suppress evidence showing that the company left a hired contractor for dead on its lumber yard. …Weyerhaeuser maintained security cameras on the property, but coincidentally claimed that the cameras did not pick up the incident and further refused to produce any footage. …On January 25, 2019, a Los Angeles Superior Court judge ordered Weyerhaeuser to turn over its investigative incident report among other relevant case materials “within 30 days.” …On March 8, 2019, The Second Appellate District Court for the State of California ruled against Weyerhaeuser’s petition to withhold the incident report.  

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