Tree Frog Forestry News

Region Archives: US West

Business & Politics

Trial to begin in $1.4B Oregon forestry management lawsuit

Herald and News
October 20, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: United States, US West

ALBANY, Ore. — A trial in a $1.4 billion breach-of-contract lawsuit brought against the state of Oregon by 150 counties and other taxing districts over the issue of forest management is scheduled to begin Thursday. The lawsuit, filed nearly four years ago, claims the state has not managed forests for the most long-term, sustainable income as required in a decades-old contract, the Albany Democrat-Herald reported. “Your Honor, the state still believes this case is about state statute, but it’s not,” said attorney John DiLorenzo of the Portland law firm Davis Wright Tremaine at a recent hearing in Linn County Circuit Court. “It has always been about a breach of contract, pure and simple.” Attorney Scott Kaplan of the Oregon Department of Justice has said repeatedly that the state has the right and obligation to amend management of the state’s forests, especially when the environment and wildlife are at stake.

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Ex-Weyerhaeuser finance manager charged with fraud, theft

The Associated Press in the Seattle Times
October 17, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: United States, US West

PORTLAND, Oregon — Federal prosecutors have filed criminal charges against an ex-finance manager from Weyerhaeuser who is accused of stealing at least $4.5 million from the timber business. 60-year-old Susan Tranberg is charged with mail fraud and aggravated identity theft. …Tranberg also faces a temporary restraining order in federal court, barred from liquidating or transferring any of her assets at Weyerhaeuser’s request. …“Tranberg offered to give up her 12 weeks of banked vacation pay, retirement and 401K to try to make things right. Weyerhaeuser in February referred the fraud case to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for criminal prosecution. Assistant U.S. Attorney Gavin W. Bruce says Tranberg defrauded the company for about 15 years.

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NewLife Forest Products hosts official ground breaking for Windfall Mill

By Wendy Howell
Williams News
October 15, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: United States, US West

WILLIAMS, Ariz. — NewLife Forest Products, LLC held an official ground breaking ceremony for Windfall Sawmill, a new mill on Garland Prairie Road. According to officials with NewLife, the mill … will be one of the most technologically advanced mills in the Southwest. … Jason Rosamond, Adam Cooley, Tom Loushin and other New Life Forest Products employees gave an overview of the sawmill and answered questions from the attendees. …Cooley said the company wants to get the forest restoration moving along, but until the sawmill project is built the wood can’t be processed. …FEC Logging USA Holdings, LLC, owns NewLife Forest Products and Good Earth Power AZ, LLC. Good Earth Power AZ LLC holds the nation’s largest U.S. Forest Service stewardship contract to treat 300,000 acres as part of the Four Forest Restoration Initiative (4FRI).

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Trump administration proposes expanding logging in Alaska’s Tongass National Forest

By Juliet Eilperin
The Washington Post
October 15, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: United States, US West

The Trump administration Tuesday proposed allowing logging on more than half of Alaska’s 16.7 million-acre Tongass National Forest, the largest intact temperate rainforest in North America. President Trump instructed federal officials to reverse long-standing limits on tree cutting at the request of Alaska’s top elected officials, on the grounds that it will boost the local economy. But critics say that protections under the “roadless rule,” finalized just before President Bill Clinton left office in 2001, are critical to protecting the region’s lucrative salmon fishery and tourism operations. …The Forest Service had initially planned to make more-modest changes to nearly 9.5 million acres where roads are prohibited. Under the administration’s “preferred alternative,” that entire area would be open for development. Congress has designated another 5.7 million acres of the forest as wilderness, which must remain off limits to such activities under any circumstances.

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White House moves to undo ban on logging in Alaska forest

By Tim Ryan
The Missoula Current
October 15, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: United States, US West

WASHINGTON – Aiming to open up the country’s largest national forest to logging operations, the Trump administration on Tuesday announced plans to roll back federal protections on Alaska’s Tongass National Forest. …That proposal would designate some 185,000 acres of the Tongass National Forest as suitable for timber production and remove 9.2 million acres in total from the roadless rule’s protections. …Opponents of the rule as it currently exists say it locks off too much valuable land from development, limiting economic growth across a vast swath of the southeastern portion of the state. But environmental groups say the Tongass is a critical natural habitat and bulwark against climate change that must be protected from logging and other forms of development. …The proposal now faces a 60-day public comment period, after which time the administration will revise and publish a final version of the rule, an action.

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Wood, Paper & Green Building

Oregon State University unveils wood products lab

By Bennett Hall
The Corvallis Gazette-Times
October 10, 2019
Category: Wood, Paper & Green Building
Region: United States, US West

Normally, German-built Kuka industrial robots are used for precision machining, high-speed assembly or other automated manufacturing tasks. On Thursday, however, Oregon State University employed one of the $300,000 machines for a more mundane purpose: cutting the cake at the grand opening of the new A.A. “Red” Emmerson Advanced Wood Products Laboratory. …Along with the 80,000-square foot George W. Peavy Forest Science Center under construction nearby, the lab is part of a new Oregon Forest Science Complex that’s intended to nurture and showcase the state’s growing expertise in engineered wood products and mass timber construction. …“Wood is the only primary building material we can grow, and its effective use has to be a cornerstone in mounting an aggressive front in challenging our sustainability and climate crises,” he told the 150 or so people on hand for the event.

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Forestry

Why is the Tongass National Forest so important?

Mother Nature Network
October 21, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

All forests are important, but some play larger roles than others. And for a few reasons, the Tongass National Forest in Southeast Alaska — known as the “crown jewel” of U.S. national forests — casts an especially long shadow. Here’s a closer look at the Tongass, why it’s so important and why you might be hearing more about it in the near future: It’s big. The Tongass National Forest is ancient and enormous, spanning nearly 17 million acres (69,000 square kilometers) of Southeast Alaska. …It’s no ordinary forest. The Tongass includes the largest temperate rainforest left in North America, and holds nearly a third of all the old-growth temperate rainforest left on Earth. Together with British Columbia’s Great Bear Rainforest, just across the Canadian border to the south, it forms the largest intact temperate rainforest on Earth, according to Audubon Alaska.

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Edison International Wildfire Fund Awards National Forest Foundation $500,000 for Forest Health

By the National Forest Foundation
Global Newswire
October 21, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

Missoula, Montana — The National Forest Foundation (NFF) is proud to announce the award of $500,000 from Edison International, parent company of Southern California Edison (SCE).  Through this funding, the NFF will work with the U.S. Forest Service and local partners to remove hazard trees, reduce fuel loads, educate community members and take steps to build resiliency and mitigate the risk of high intensity wildfires in national forests and adjacent communities in Southern California. …The NFF works with the Angeles, Sierra and San Bernardino National Forests to pursue wildfire mitigation and resilience projects that protect communities and infrastructure from future wildfires, enhance preparedness and wildfire response, and improve overall forest health.

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Trump administration right to pursue Tongass exemption from Roadless Rule

By Frank Murkowski, former governor of Alaska
The Anchorage Daily News
October 19, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

Almost two decades have gone by since reasonable development has been allowed in the Tongass National Forest. Environmental groups have long, and successfully, promoted federal blockage of access to most of the 16.9 million-acre Tongass National Forest. …The Clinton administration justified the national 2001 Roadless Rule on the ground that there was a need for a national-level “whole picture” review of all National Forest roadless areas because: “Local management planning efforts may not always recognize the significance of inventoried roadless areas.” …There is a need to retain opportunities for the communities of Southeast Alaska regarding basic access and utility infrastructure. …Most, if not all, of the communities are lacking in at least some of the basic access and infrastructure necessary for reasonable services, economic stability, and growth.

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Failing forestry: Oregon forest management plans forever in the making

By Ted Sickinger
The Oregonian
October 20, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

Gov. Kate Brown is clear about how she believes Oregon should clean up its state forest mess.  She has requested that Oregon Department of Forestry leaders and its oversight board develop an agreement with federal authorities that consultants say will save the agency money, allow for more logging, and promote better, legally defensible conservation.  But the Board of Forestry, agency staff and some of its most important stakeholders have other priorities – namely, a different plan. It’s a politicized dilemma, and it’s unclear the agency has the manpower or money to accomplish both in the near future. Brown’s priority is a habitat conservation plan, a 50-year agreement with the federal government outlining strict wildlife and water protections on state forests. In exchange, the state would get a waiver from prosecution under the Endangered Species Act if its logging inadvertently kills a protected animal or harms its habitat.

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A ‘modest’ impact from a major Tongass rule?

By Marc Heller
E&E News
October 18, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

A Trump administration proposal to lift roadless area restrictions on logging and other activities in Alaska’s Tongass National Forest would have only a “modest” effect on timber harvesting, according to the Forest Service. In a proposed rule published in the Federal Register yesterday, the agency said only 185,000 acres of the 9.2 million acres targeted for eased restrictions would actually be considered for timber harvest. A “modest addition of suitable timber acres” would give forest managers more flexibility in selection and design of future timber sales in the Tongass, the Forest Service said. The proposed rule, followed today by a draft environmental impact statement, elaborates on the Agriculture Department’s recommendation to fully exempt the Tongass from the 2001 Roadless Area Conservation Rule, which restricts the construction of roads, logging and other activities in certain areas.

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Why managing controlled burns is complicated

By Peter Aleshire
Payson Roundup
October 18, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

Not too hot. Not too cool. Not too often. Not too rarely. Turns out, restoring forest health through controlled burns is a lot more complicated than foresters first assumed. That’s the conclusion that emerges from a sweeping review of decades of tinkering with the formula for controlled burns in the ponderosa pine forests of the Southwest, published jointly by a host of fire research centers operated by the Forest Service.The future of the forest and every community in its long shadow hangs on the conclusions emerging from efforts to restore prescribed burns and managed wildfires to their natural role in the forest ecology over the past 20 years.Everyone now agrees that tree densities pose an existential threat to the forest and forested communities, with an ecosystem adapted to 50 trees per acre now smothered under the weight of 1,000 trees per acre.

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Considering the Washington Wildfire Season That Wasn’t

By Don Brunell
The Nisqually Valley News
October 17, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

Don Brunell

The Oregonian characterized the 2019 wildfire season as the “season that wasn’t!” That’s good news for West Coast states; however, it doesn’t mean we are permanently out of the woods. Worldwide, wildfires are down as well. According to the National Interagency Fire Center, there were 6,000 fewer wildfires this year compared with 2018. About 4.4 million acres were burned compared with roughly 10 million acres in 2017. The previous two years featured bad fire seasons in Washington, Oregon and California. …Megafires are polluting our air, endangering our health and safety, and burning a bigger hole in our pocketbooks. By thinning, logging and replanting, we save expenses, create jobs and bring in needed revenue to government.

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How Chaos Will Unfold if Trump Opens the Tongass to Logging

Wired Magazine
October 17, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

The Trump administration this week proposed ending the so-called Roadless Rule, which banned logging, development, and road construction in Alaska’s Tongass, the biggest national forest in the US. …If you’re thinking that opening up the Tongass for road-building and logging might have some environmental consequences, it’s actually far worse than you can imagine. …When logging removes trees, it doesn’t just assault the biodiversity of the local vegetation. …That natural process is supercharged if humans modify the environment. “Once you have a clear cut, then the remaining trees or the edge of the forest becomes much more susceptible to what we think of as windthrow, or wind disturbance,” says Northern Arizona University ecologist Michelle Mack.

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The Roadless Rule is working for Southeast Alaska

By Elsa Sebastian
The Juneau Empire
October 16, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

Last week, U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, published an op-ed in the Washington Post supporting the removal of “Roadless Rule” safeguards for the Tongass. By declaring that “every Alaska state-wide official” is in favor of exempting the Tongass from the Roadless Rule, the senator is using her national platform to offer a deceptive view of where Alaskans stand on the issue. As written and in-person public testimony from the 2018 scoping period make clear, the majority of Southeast Alaskans believe the opposite of Murkowski. …The fact is, the Roadless Rule is working for Southeast Alaska. Exemptions have been consistently granted when needed for community access, mining, and hydro-electric. And despite Murkoski’s eyebrow-raising assertion,” …the commercial fishing industry and tourism interests have made clear that the Roadless Rule is a positive for their businesses. 

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USDA Forest Service Seeks Public Comment on Draft Environmental Impact Statement, Alternatives to a Proposed Alaska Roadless Rule

US Department of Agriculture
October 15, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

JUNEAU, ALASKA – The U.S. Department of Agriculture is seeking public comment on a draft environmental impact statement offering a range of alternatives to roadless management and a proposed Alaska Roadless Rule. If adopted, the proposed rule would exempt the Tongass National Forest from the 2001 Roadless Rule. The USDA Forest Service will publish the documents in the Federal Register this week. The publication will begin a 60-day public comment period on the proposed rule, and on each alternative outlined in the draft environmental impact statement. The draft environmental impact statement, prepared under the National Environmental Policy Act, provides an analysis of six alternatives, which are options, choices, or courses of action related to roadless management in Alaska. The alternatives range from no action to the removal of the Tongass from the 2001 Roadless Rule. The Department has identified Alternative 6, which is a full exemption, as the preferred alternative at this time. 

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Initiative petition rejections puzzling

By the Editorial Board
The Mail Tribune
October 17, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

Bev Clarno

OREGON — Secretary of State Bev Clarno has overstepped her authority in rejecting three initiative petitions seeking to change Oregon’s forestry laws. Sponsors of the petitions have filed suit, and it appears likely the petitions will be reinstated. Whether the changes in forestry practices are wise is beside the point; the initiatives should be allowed to proceed. Backed by environmental groups, Initiative Petitions 35, 36 and 36 seek to ban aerial pesticide spraying of forest land within 500 feet of water bodies, require notification before other spraying, prohibit clearcuts near forest water bodies and prohibit members of the State Board of Forestry who work in the timber industry from voting on rules that affect their companies. …All of this seems unnecessarily secretive for a process that is supposed to allow Oregonians to propose changes in state law.

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California’s deliberate blackouts were outrageous and harmful. They’re going to happen again.

By David Roberts
Vox
October 16, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

What California went through last week was absolutely bonkers. To avoid sparking wildfires during dry, windy weather conditions, Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E)… shut off electrical service … to 2 million people. It was a planned, deliberate blackout unprecedented in the history of the nation’s electrical system. … Residents had little warning, in some cases less than 24 hours. Nursing homes, emergency rooms, police stations, and fire stations scrambled for backup generators. People with powered medical equipment or refrigerated drugs scrambled to find care at understaffed community centers, and 1,370 public schools lost power; 400 of them sent 135,000 students home to parents scrambling to cover jobs they had no way to get to. …As we’ve already seen, PG&E was criticized for not cutting off power before the Camp Fire, but it was also criticized for cutting it off last week. As terrible as PG&E is, there is no winning that game. 

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Conservationists seek protection of California Joshua trees

Associated Press in News 3 Los Vegas
October 16, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

LOS ANGELES — A conservation organization has petitioned for protection of the western Joshua tree under the California Endangered Species Act due to the effects of climate change and habitat destruction. The Center for Biological Diversity filed the petition with the state Fish and Game Commission on Tuesday. The request comes amid rising concern about the future of the distinctive trees with spikey leaves that have come to symbolize the Mojave Desert and draw throngs to Joshua Tree National park. The petition asks that the western Joshua tree be given “threatened” status under the act, meaning it is likely to become an endangered species in the foreseeable future in the absence of the special protection and management efforts. END

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Despite Trump campaign pledge, Oregon logging not increasing

By Michael Kohn
Bend Bulletin
October 12, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

…Donald Trump … promised supporters that if elected president, he’d boost Oregon’s timber industry… What became of Trump’s promise? Was it just Trump being Trump or did he have serious plans to overturn decades-old environmental protections and boost commercial logging in this state’s national forests? A look back shows little has changed since Trump took office. The matter of increased logging in Oregon’s national forests hasn’t surfaced as a serious issue for the White House. The timber harvested from national forests in Oregon is still associated with thinning projects conducted for fuels reduction and wildfire management, as it was under President Barack Obama. …“It is not the case that the Trump administration can simply direct land management agencies to offer more timber for sale and the agencies can snap their fingers and sell more timber,” said James Johnston, at Oregon State University’s College of Forestry.

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Liberty Burn salvage timber sale ecologically destructive

By George Wuerthner
The Missoulian
October 14, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

George Wuerthner

The Lolo National Forest is proposing to “salvage” log a portion of the 28,000-acre Liberty Burn near Seeley Lake. The Forest Service (FS) approved the logging using a categorical exclusion (CE) process. CEs were initially designed to permit the FS to do minor actions like replace an outhouse in a campground or replace signs or other activities that had a minimal environmental impact. Today the FS is increasingly using CE to circumvent and limit public participation, and ecological review.  The Blackfoot Challenge and Southwestern Crown Collaborative timber advocacy groups, and membership organizations like the Montana Timber Association and Pyramid Lumber. also support the Liberty salvage project and use of CE.  There is almost universal agreement among ecologists that logging burned trees is ecologically destructive to forest ecosystems.

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Lawsuit filed over Secretary of State’s unprecedented rejection of Oregon forest ballot measures

By Rob Davis
The Oregonian
October 14, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

Backers of spurned ballot measures to tighten Oregon’s forestry laws sued Monday, saying Oregon Secretary of State Bev Clarno broke with legal precedent and based her rejection on bad advice from political appointees. The lawsuit, filed in Marion County Circuit Court, asks a judge to overturn the rejection and award attorneys’ fees.  The ballot measures — Initiative Petitions 35, 36 and 37 — are each substantially the same. They call for tightening the state’s aerial herbicide spraying laws, which today offer some of the West Coast’s weakest protections for people and fish. They call for more logging restrictions in steep, landslide-prone areas. They would prohibit conflicts of interest for state forestry board appointees, who today can set policies that benefit their own companies. They have been proposed by environmental advocates, including the group Oregon Wild.

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A tiny insect is causing major tree damage in Southeast Alaska. Scientists hope it’s a blip.

By Elizabeth Jenkins
Alaska Public Media News
October 11, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

The hemlock sawfly is native to Southeast Alaska. But for the past few years, the tiny insect has been causing some big problems. Bug scientists think drought conditions played a major role in a recent outbreak. And it’s alarmed some residents who’ve noticed more brown trees in their rainforest backyards. Elizabeth Graham is an entomologist with the U.S. Forest Service. …Graham does this for the public, too: identifying weird insects or insect behavior. And in the summer of 2018, her office received something much more descriptive than a text message: a bag of frass. That’s hemlock sawfly poop. A sandy, green-looking concoction. …Normally, with average rainfall, a type of fungus covers the trees and the sawflies eat the fungus. It can bloom inside them — killing some of the sawflies. “Because of [the recent drought], those sawflies that should have been killed weren’t,” Graham said. “And we just ended up with a huge population.”

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Bitterroot Forest’s largest project in recent memory takes major step forward

By Perry Backus
Ravalli Republic
October 11, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

The Bitterroot National Forest’s largest timber harvest, forest thinning and prescribed fire project in recent memory took a step forward Friday when it was published in the Federal Register.That move establishes a 30-day time frame before Gold Butterfly Project becomes final with the signature of Bitterroot Forest supervisor Matt Anderson.Located east of Corvallis in the Sapphire Mountains, the proposed project area spans a 10-mile reach between St. Clair Creek on its southern border to Burnt Fork Creek to the north. The project area included 55,147 acres. Of that, the proposal calls for commercial timber harvest on 5,621 acres that would provide an estimated 34 million board-feet to timber. Another 1,766 acres are slated for non-commercial treatment that would include thinning and prescribed fire.The plan calls for splitting the area selected for commercial harvest into three segments. The timber harvest could take up to eight years to complete.

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Groups ask U.S. Forest Service to wait on logging project near Petersburg, Wrangell

By Joe Viechnicki
KFSK
October 11, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

Environmental groups are asking the U.S. Forest Service to shelve a Tongass National Forest timber sale it’s working on, while a legal challenge to a similar project plays out in court. A federal judge granted a preliminary injunction against a massive project on Prince of Wales Island last month. The Forest Service is taking a similar approach to its environmental review of the Central Tongass project. It’s a bundle that includes logging, road building and other work near Petersburg and Wrangell.  “Given that similarity, in order to avoid risking, squandering significant agency resources and time on a project that would be challenged in court that they ought to just wait until the lawsuit challenging the Prince of Wales is completed,” said Southeast Alaska Conservation Council attorney Buck Lindekugel.

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California’s clear-cutting project in the Rim fire area is setting up the region for another tragedy

By Chad Hanson, forest ecologist, John Muir Project & James Hansen, directer, Climate Science, Awareness and Solutions, Columbia University.
Los Angeles Times
October 14, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

During hot, dry and windy conditions last November, the Camp fire devastated the towns of Paradise and Concow in the northern Sierra Nevada, ultimately claiming at least 85 lives and destroying thousands of homes. The tragedy was a wake-up call regarding the increasing risks to vulnerable communities stemming from the human-caused climate crisis.  But forest fire behavior is complex, and multiple factors affect fire severity. In addition to high regional temperatures and aridity, the Camp fire was fueled by persistent forest mismanagement. After the Butte Complex fire of 2008 that burned the forest just east of Paradise, there were years of extensive post-fire clear-cutting and artificial planting of dense tree farms on private and public lands. The Camp fire burned rapidly and intensely through these heavily post-fire logged areas as it spread toward Paradise, consistent with the findings of scientific research establishing that such post-fire management tends to increase future fire intensity. 

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Judge declines to halt Helena-area forestry project

By Tom Kuglin
Helena Independent Record
October 11, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

A federal judge has denied the request of two environmental groups to temporarily halt logging near Helena as the court considers a lawsuit challenging a major forestry project.U.S. District Judge Dana Christensen denied Wednesday the request from Alliance for the Wild Rockies and Native Ecosystems Council to issue a preliminary injunction against the U.S. Forest Service’s Ten Mile-South Helena Project. The 17,500-acre project’s goals center on wildfire mitigation including fuel breaks where firefighters may be safely inserted if a wildfire were to threaten Helena and houses south and west of the city. Contractors began logging on two federal timber sales this spring as part of the project, and the Forest Service plans to use extensive prescribed burning both in and off of areas of timber harvest.

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Fuels don’t drive wildfires; climate and weather are the dominant factor

By George Wuerthner
Statesman Journal
October 11, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

The Wildfire Council set up by Oregon Gov. Kate Brown has many good recommendations including the need to reduce the flammability of communities, implementation of more effective evacuation routes, and other measures that will undoubtedly contribute to a safer and healthier environment for Oregon citizens. However, the council puts a lot of emphasis on ramping up the logging of our forests as a means of precluding large wildfires. The underlying assumption of the recommendations is that fuels drive wildfires. Yet according to the Oregon Department of Forestry in 2019 only 16,868 acres burned in the state, compared to 846,411 acres burned last year. Why the big difference? Is there that much less fuel? If fuel is the reason, we are seeing large acreages burn, then why so little this past year?

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How Sacramento’s urban forest divides the city — and some neighborhoods are left behind

By Michael Finch
Sacramento Bee
October 10, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

…Communities with a higher-than-average number of trees …also have the largest concentrations of high-income households. …For many urban foresters and city planners, that’s troubling not only because under-planted places are more exposed to hot temperatures but because tree-lined streets are associated with better overall health. …As climate change rises in the pecking order of urban priorities, some major cities around the country have turned to trees as a solution. …There could be more at stake for treeless communities than a little heat exhaustion. Evidence has been mounting for years about the underlying benefits a hearty canopy affords to individual health. …“Trees are going to play a huge role in capturing carbon and reducing the urban heat island effect,” said Stacy Springer, chief executive of Breathe California for the Sacramento region. “It serves as a relatively inexpensive solution — one of many — to some of the issues that we’re facing in our communities.”

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Tongass timber history a reminder of history’s contradictions

By Steve Haycox
The Anchorage Daily News
October 10, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

Taxpayers for Common Sense just announced that the U.S. Forest Service has lost $30 million annually for the last 20 years on timber sales in the Tongass National Forest. That forest has a checkered history, as do the Alaska politicians associated with it. In 1947, Congress passed the Tongass Timber Act, legislation that authorized 50-year leases from the U.S. Forest Service to timber companies for harvesting pulp timber, a guarantee that planned pulp mills would have a secure wood supply. …In 1947, the Tlingit and Haida Indians of Southeast Alaska filed a suit in the U.S. Court of Claims asserting their ownership of virtually all of the land in Southeast Alaska…including all of the Tongass National Forest. …For Gov. Gruening and Heintzleman [chief forester for Alaska], Alaska’s economic development took precedence over Native land rights, whatever those might be. These same arguments would be made later, during debate over the 1971 comprehensive Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act.

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Oregon was lucky this year, but it’s fire season somewhere

The Albany Democrat-Herald
October 10, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

You might be familiar with that classic drinking song “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere,” made famous in a recording by Alan Jackson and Jimmy Buffett. That song kept popping into our heads as we reflected on the mid-valley’s lighter-than-expected fire season this year. The state’s firefighting agencies recently officially declared the end of Oregon’s 2019 fire season, and it was considerably quieter than what we’ve experienced in previous summers. …All told, wildfires burned only 67,795 acres during this year’s season, less than a tenth of the 883,405 acres that burned last year. The cost of fighting those fires took a commensurate plunge, dropping to about $58 million this year compared with a record $530 million in 2018. …The weather was cooperative: Thanks to generally cooler temperatures and greater humidity, especially in the state’s mountains, Oregon’s forests didn’t dry out to the extent they had in previous years. 

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Owl killings spur moral questions about human intervention

By Phuong Le
The Associated Press in KATU News
October 10, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

CORVALLIS, Oregon — As he stood amid the thick old-growth forests in the coastal range of Oregon, Dave Wiens was nervous. Before he trained to shoot his first barred owl, he had never fired a gun. …More than 2,400 barred owls killed so far in a controversial experiment by the U.S. government to test whether the northern spotted owl’s rapid decline in the Pacific Northwest can be stopped by killing its aggressive East Coast cousin. …”It’s a little distasteful, I think, to go out killing owls to save another owl species,” said Wiens. “Nonetheless… We knew that barred owls were outcompeting spotted owls and their populations were going haywire.” …The federal government has been trying for decades to save the northern spotted owl, a native bird that sparked an intense battle over logging across Washington, Oregon and California decades ago.

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Does Forest Thinning Work?

By James MacDonald
JSTOR Daily
October 10, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

As the climate warms and catastrophic wildfires become more common, land managers are seeking ways to reduce the risk of forest fires while maintaining forest health. A new pilot plan in Arizona hopes to accomplish this goal by selectively cutting some of the trees in the forest—a strategy known as thinning—and selling the felled timber as wood chips to South Korean buyers. …Besides climate change, the general consensus…is that the growth in catastrophic fires stems from decades of overzealous fire suppression. … The conclusion is that at least in the short term, proper forest thinning has the potential to drastically reduce not only fire danger but other threats as well. Hood and colleagues note that while thinning is highly effective in the short term, in the long term, forest health requires the restoration of a normal fire regime. If tree density isn’t maintained at a natural level, the whole process will need to be repeated.

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Up to 2.5m Californians face days of power shutoffs amid wildfire fears

By Vivian Ho
The Guardian
October 10, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

Schools are closed. Traffic lights down. Businesses unopened. Hospitals running on generators. Much of northern California is facing life without electricity or gas for as many as five to seven days, after the country’s largest utility company cut power to an unprecedented swath of the state as a preventive measure against wildfires. The power shutoffs by Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) may affect up to 2.5 million people by the end of the week. …PG&E was expected to shut off power to 10 more later in the day. …Swaths of wine country north of San Francisco, hit hard by wildfires in 2017 , sat in the dark for most of Wednesday …PG&E began practicing preventive shutoffs this year during red flag fire weather conditions – high winds and low humidity – after investigators found it at fault in two of the deadliest wildfires in California’s history, both within the past two years.

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Wildfire causes 80% fish loss in Colorado river, survey finds

CBC News
October 7, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

The fish in Colorado’s Animas River river have depleted about 80 per cent since last year due to the aftermath of a major wildfire, a new survey of the area has found. Toxic ash from the June 2018 blaze came down on waterways such as the Animas River and suffocated oxygen supply for the fish. “You’ve got this floating black ash and debris and chunks of charcoal … to add insult to injury, so to speak,” Jim White, Colorado Parks and Wildlife aquatic biologist, told As it Happens host Carol Off.  The ash spread was aggravated by the subsequent monsoon season from July to September 2018, which caused heavy rainfall and flooding, he said. While wildfires are common in Colorado, the 416 fire that raged through southwestern Colorado in June 2018 swept through approximately 219 square kilometres of mainly U.S. Forest Service land in the Hermosa Creek watershed, which include tributaries such as the Animas River, north of Durango.

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Timber industry an integral part of our local economy

By Nate Nehring – Snohomish County Council
North County Outlook
October 9, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

Snohomish County Council

The timber industry has long been an integral part of our local economy and community in Snohomish County. The timber trust lands managed by the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) were committed many years ago to support local infrastructure projects. Counties, schools, fire departments, and hospitals have all benefited from these harvests as they provide important funding for capital projects each year. But this funding is increasingly at risk as political pressure continues to stall timber sales in our region. …This is why the Washington State Association of Counties (WSAC) is teaming up with local districts to fund its own study on the economic impact of increased restrictions on timberlands. Local economies, including here in North Snohomish County, still rely on timber sales and harvests for local jobs. In addition, many local school and fire districts rely on the revenues from these sales to fund important education and public safety services. 

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New restoration approach could save White Mountains industry

By Peter Aleshire
Payson Roundup
October 8, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

Brad Worsley

…the Four Forest Restoration Initiative (4FRI) … might really work out well for the struggling wood products industry in the White Mountains. At least, Novo Power President Brad Worsley says he’s feeling optimistic the 28 megawatt biomass-burning power plant in Snowflake may stay in business, now that the Forest Service has released its request for proposals (RFP) on some 800,000 acres in dire need of thinning. …The wood products industry spawned by the decade-long White Mountain Stewardship Project accounts for hundreds of jobs in an area beset by unemployment and low growth rates. The shutdown of coal-fired power plants combined with the earlier shutdown of mills has thinned the job supply further. But if things go just right — the Forest Service’s new flexibility and emphasis on getting rid of the biomass Novo Power handles could prove an economic boon to the White Mountains.

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Carbon, Climate & Bioenergy

Innovations in Biochar

By Tracy Robillard, NRCS Oregon
Oregon Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDA)
October 20, 2019
Category: Carbon, Climate & Bioenergy
Region: United States, US West

New Conservation Stewardship Program enhancement helps forest owners convert tree debris to soil-friendly, carbon-storing biochar. It started as a backyard hobby fueled by curiosity in rural Southwest Oregon….and just three years later, it transformed into a new conservation approach that forest owners all over the country can use with financial assistance from USDA. The benefits of this new approach are incredible—improved soil health, enhanced soil water holding capacity, increased plant growth and vigor, cleaner air quality, and perhaps most importantly, locals say, the ability to sequester carbon forever. The secret lies in a substance called biochar. Biochar is a modern technology that returns carbon to the soil in the form of long-lasting charcoal. It’s made by baking biomass (such as tree wood, plants, manure, and other organic materials) without the oxygen that could cause it to burn completely to ash.

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Trees That Survived California Drought May Hold Clue To Climate Resilience

By Lauren Sommer
National Public Radio
October 16, 2019
Category: Carbon, Climate & Bioenergy
Region: United States, US West

When California’s historic five-year drought finally relented a few years ago the tally of dead trees in the Sierra Nevada was higher than almost anyone expected: 129 million. …But some trees did survive the test of heat and drought. Now, scientists are racing to collect them, and other species around the globe, in the hope that these “climate survivors” have a natural advantage that will allow them to better cope with a warming world. On the north shore of Lake Tahoe, Patricia Maloney, a UC Davis forest and conservation biologist, hunts for these survivors. …Maloney studies sugar pines, a tree John Muir once called the “king” of conifers. …Inside a greenhouse at her Tahoe City field station, Maloney shows off a sea of young green trees in their own containers. …Over the next year, these young trees will be replanted around Lake Tahoe, both on national forest and private land.

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Forest Fires

Deadly Los Angeles wildfire burns with subdued fury after change in weather

By Steve Gorman
Reuters
October 13, 2019
Category: Forest Fires
Region: United States, US West

LOS ANGELES – Firefighters have tightened their grip on a deadly Los Angeles wildfire burning with subdued fury on Sunday after extremely dry desert winds that had stoked the flames gave way to moister, gentler breezes blowing in from the Pacific. The so-called Saddleridge fire, which erupted Thursday night and raced across the northern edge of L.A.’s San Fernando Valley, had scorched nearly 8,000 acres (3,237 hectares) by Sunday but was mostly confined to foothills and canyons away from populated areas, fire officials said. As of Sunday morning, firefighters had managed to carve containment lines around 41% of the fire’s perimeter, more than double the containment level reported a day earlier as authorities lifted all remaining evacuation notices. At the height of the blaze on Friday, authorities had ordered the evacuation of some 23,000 homes, comprising about 100,000 people, as flames invaded several communities in northern Los Angeles.

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