Tree Frog Forestry News

Region Archives: US West

Business & Politics

Mills Are Being Closed by National Economic Trends, Not Environmental Regulations

By George Wuerthner
Counter Punch
January 17, 2020
Category: Business & Politics
Region: United States, US West

The recent announcement of the Townsend RY Lumber Mill closure in Townsend, Montana continues a trend seen throughout the country. Although RY Lumber suggests this is due to environmental regulations or lawsuits, a broader context demonstrates this is a flawed argument. The timber industry has been going through a transition for decades. The bulk of all wood production has been moving to the Southeastern states for a variety of economic reasons. Consider that in some parts of Montana, it might take up to 60-100 years to grow a tree to 12 inches diameter, but you can produce a similar-sized tree in Georgia or Mississippi in ten years. All the time you are waiting for trees to grow to merchantable size in Montana, they are exposed to insects, drought, fires, and other sources of mortality.

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Oregon secretary of state rejects another ballot measure, this one a timber industry favorite

By Ted Sickinger
The Oregonian
January 16, 2020
Category: Business & Politics
Region: United States, US West

Bev Clarno

Secretary of State Bev Clarno hinted this week that she is an equal opportunity rejector of ballot measures, not the partisan hack that critics have suggested. Clarno, the Republican selected by the governor to serve out the term of late Secretary of State Dennis Richardson, said one of three pro-forestry initiatives filed for the November ballot violated a constitutional clause that says ballot measures can only deal with a single subject. Initiative Petition 54 would have allowed the Board of Forestry to block new forestry regulations enacted by lawmakers or voters before they took effect. It would have required the board to ensure that all forest practice regulations were supported by science. And it would have permitted only land or timber owners to challenge board determinations. Clarno apparently felt that was an overreach, violating the single subject requirement in the Oregon constitution.

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New Leader Appointed to Flathead National Forest

By Tristan Scott
Flathead Beacon
January 15, 2020
Category: Business & Politics
Region: United States, US West

Kurt Steele

There’s a new supervisor at the helm of the Flathead National Forest. On Jan. 10, following on the heels of longtime Forest Supervisor Chip Weber’s retirement, Kurt Steele was named as the top brass overseeing 2.4 million forested acres in Northwest Montana. Steele has served as deputy forest supervisor for the Nez-Perce Clearwater National Forests in Idaho for the past three years, and is slated to begin work in his new role in mid-February. “I am very pleased to welcome Kurt to the Flathead National Forest,” Regional Forester Leanne Marten said. “Kurt is a proven leader who welcomes new voices and diverse perspectives, and has dedicated his career to public service.” The Flathead National Forest’s sprawling footprint spans the Whitefish Range, the Swan Range and the Mission Mountains, and agency officials are engaged in a constant juggling act to balance priorities like recreation, timber, fire, resource conservation, safety, and education.

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Log exporter wants out of Port

By Edward Stratton
The Daily Astorian
January 15, 2020
Category: Business & Politics
Region: United States, US West

Dennis Murphy, left

Astoria Forest Products is trying to get out of leases with the Port of Astoria without termination costs, accusing the agency of elder abuse against its 82-year-old owner, Dennis Murphy. The company’s log exports have evaporated amid a prolonged trade war between the U.S. and China. Prior to the trade war, the owners had been trying to sell the business. Matthew Colley, an attorney for Astoria Forest Products, sent a 120-day notice of termination to the Port in late December notifying the agency the company would not renew any of its leases. …Astoria Forest Products ran into its own troubles last year when the Chinese imposed tariffs on hemlock, the most common species exported from Astoria, along with Douglas fir and spruce, in retaliation for tariffs enacted by President Donald Trump. The tariffs have made buyers hesitant and dried up timber exports…

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Pet travel, flight upgrades, meeting with a conspiracy theorist: How a struggling Oregon county spent federal safety net money

By Rob Davis
The Oregonian
January 15, 2020
Category: Business & Politics
Region: United States, US West

Tim Freeman

They bought first-class and premium airfare. One paid to travel with his dog. They’ve eaten at banquet award dinners. One expensed a $200 meal at a lounge. They’ve attended governing and timber industry conferences around the country, staying in Jackson Hole, Sunriver, Skamania Lodge and Sun Valley. These are examples of how Douglas County commissioners spent $43,000 in federal money meant to help their struggling county over the past five years. The trips were underwritten by the Secure Rural Schools program, which pays jurisdictions like Douglas County that suffered financially after endangered species listings curtailed federal logging. The money was supposed to be spent on firefighting, wildfire planning and search and rescue efforts. Instead it was spent on behalf of leaders in a county so broke that it shut down all its libraries in 2017. Much of their federally funded travel was to lobby Congress against restrictions on federal logging.

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Pope Resources sold to Rayonier

Seattle Times
January 15, 2020
Category: Business & Politics
Region: United States, US West


Pope Resources, the Poulsbo-based timberland company that traces its roots to the founding of Port Gamble in 1853, said Wednesday its assets will be acquired by Florida-based Rayonier for more than $550 million. Pope’s limited partnership units jumped 35% on news of the deal. Owners of the units will get an estimated $126.91 per unit in a combination of cash and Rayonier shares. Pope Resources was created in 1985 by combining several enterprises and properties of its predecessor, Pope & Talbot. It has since specialized in owning and managing timberlands and developing real estate in the Seattle-Tacoma area. In a news release, Rayonier and Pope Resources noted the real estate development opportunities of Pope holdings, including projects in Gig Harbor, Port Gamble, Kingston and Bainbridge Island.

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RY Timber indefinitely closing Townsend mill Helena Independent Record

By Tom Kuglin
Helena Independent Record
January 13, 2020
Category: Business & Politics
Region: United States, US West

R Y Timber will indefinitely suspend operations at its Townsend sawmill, citing chronic timber supply problems. A Monday press release from the company says layoffs are expected to begin in April, and 70 employees will be affected. The Townsend mill will remain intact until the company has adequate timber to bring it back to full production. In the meantime, logs from existing timber sales will go to the company’s Livingston mill and will allow that mill to operate two shifts at full production.  …R Y has owned the Townsend mill for more than two decades and specializes in the production of two-by-four studs. …R Y cited a lack of timber supply due to litigation of Forest Service timber sales as the reason for suspending operations. …Montana Wood Products Association Executive Director Julia Altemus said a number of federal timber sales R Y successfully bid on have been stalled by litigation. 

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Fire hits Klamath Falls Collins Products lumber mill

By Lyle Ahrens
KOBI-TV NBC 5
January 13, 2020
Category: Business & Politics
Region: United States, US West

Klamath Falls, Ore. – Fire fighters were called out to a fire early Monday morning at the Collins Products lumber mill in Klamath Falls. …Keno Fire Protection District Chief John Ketchum explains:  “The fire is involved in an environmental system that scrubs emissions from the plant.” Crews had the fire contained late Monday morning, and were working to fully extinguish it. …There were no injuries as a result of the fire, no dollar estimate of damage has been made. Company officials say the fire is likely to cause some downtime at the hardboard siding plant. The particle board section was not impacted. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

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Lawyer: Weyerhaeuser will sell to Southern Pine

By Eve Byron
The Missoulian
December 22, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: United States, US West

Timber giant Weyerhaeuser’s purchase agreement to sell 630,000 acres in northwest Montana is with Southern Pine Plantations, a timberland investment company, legal counsel for the proposed buyer confirmed Saturday. “In light of fast-developing speculation across the state, Southern Pine Plantations can confirm that we have entered into a purchase and sale agreement with Weyerhaeuser for its existing Montana timberlands,” wrote James Bowditch, president of the Boone Karlberg legal firm, in an email.Speculation was rampant last week over the identity of the “private timberland investment company” that planned to purchase the acres in northwest Montana, with concerns mainly focused on whether the long-standing public access will be retained.

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Wood, Paper & Green Building

Vandals’ New Digs Will Be ‘Game-Changer’ for Athletes

By Lori Lovely
Construction Equipment Guide
January 14, 2020
Category: Wood, Paper & Green Building
Region: United States, US West

After years of planning, the University of Idaho has finally broken ground on a dedicated basketball arena. Scheduled for completion in 2021, the 62,000-sq.-ft. Idaho Central Credit Union Arena will be the new home for Vandals’ basketball, regional tournaments, lectures, as well as “small and mid-size” events, other cultural and special events, concerts and conventions, said Guy Esser, project architect of the University. …When the arena is completed, UI will have the first mass-timber sporting facility in major college athletics. The mass-timber framing style features the use of large, solid wood panels for wall, floor and roof construction, as well as innovative forms of sculptural buildings like the ICCU arena, formed from solid wood panel or framing systems of 6 ft. or more in width or depth. The primary load-bearing structure is made of large pieces of either solid or engineered wood. …Replacing steel with mass timber also reduces carbon dioxide emissions between 15-to-20 percent. 

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Denver Adopts Tall Mass Timber Codes

Mile High CRE
January 6, 2020
Category: Wood, Paper & Green Building
Region: United States, US West

On December 23, the City of Denver voted to adopt the 2019 Denver Building Code, which includes the tall mass timber code provisions approved for the 2021 International Building Code. As part of the adoption of the new code, there will be a four-month period where new projects can use either the 2016 Denver Building Code or the newly-adopted 2019 version. …“We congratulate the City of Denver…” said American Wood Council president & CEO Robert Glowinski. …The 2019 Denver Building Code will now recognize three new types of construction in the 2021 IBC:

Type IV-A – Maximum 18 stories, with gypsum wallboard on all mass timber elements.
Type IV-B – Maximum 12 stories, limited-area of exposed mass timber walls and ceilings allowed.
Type IV-C – Maximum 9 stories, all mass timber designed for a 2-hour fire resistance.

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New to the US: A Home Resilient to Natural Disasters Unveiled by Sekisui House, Woodside Homes, Hanley Wood

Yahoo Finance
January 6, 2020
Category: Wood, Paper & Green Building
Region: United States, US West

LAS VEGAS — Japan’s largest homebuilding company, Sekisui House, its wholly-owned subsidiary U.S. builder Woodside Homes, and construction industry analyst firm Hanley Wood today unveiled the BUILDER Chōwa Concept Home outside Las Vegas to coincide with the start of CES 2020. The project showcases Sekisui House’s proprietary design and construction systems and techniques that are unlike any the U.S. homebuilding industry has ever used. “Innovation in the U.S. homebuilding industry has been stalled for more than 50 years, and that has created an ever-widening gap between what homebuyers want and what the industry can deliver,” explains John McManus, vice president and editorial director of the residential group at Hanley Wood.  …The SHAWOOD post-and-beam style structure undergoes a rigorous, proprietary pre-site engineering, design, and manufacturing process that makes assembly easier, faster and more accurate compared to traditional building processes. 

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Forestry

Will Montana leaders stand up to Weyerhaeuser?

By Ben Long
The Missoulian
January 19, 2020
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

Ben Long

Montanans enjoy the world’s greatest backyard. But much of that heritage is up for grabs.  I am referring to 1,000 square miles now owned by Weyerhaeuser Co. Historically, timber companies — Champion, Plum Creek and Weyerhaeuser — allowed people to use these lands to hunt, fish, pick berries and whatnot.  …The buyer is Georgia-based Southern Pine Plantations. While the company says it has no plans to change access policies, it’s naïve to take that at face value. The company has a track record of selling land to developers and billionaire land hogs who buy up acreages in Idaho and Montana, locking out traditional uses and blocking access to adjacent public land.  There are very good reasons why Montana’s elected officials need to engage. One is the hundreds of good, family-wage timber industry jobs that are at stake. Second is the damage done to our economy and outdoor heritage if these lands are locked behind no-trespassing signs. 

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The Tongass National Forest is a Wilderness on the Chopping Block

By Alex Robinson
Outdoor Life
January 16, 2020
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

It doesn’t take much to get Mark Hieronymus worked up. We’re walking down an old logging road next to a creek outside of Juneau, and the guide is going back and forth on the two hottest topics in Alaska: fishing and logging. …Like most people who spend their lives on a river, his personality shifts from laid-back to intense, depending on the topic of discussion. The Trump Administration and governor Mike Dunleavy have reignited interests in old-growth logging in this region. So eventually I ask Hieronymus about the perspective that it’s mostly outside environmentalists who are hell-bent on fighting logging—not real Alaskans. That’s when I see his fiery side. …He shoots back with some facts about the timber industry supporting less than 1 percent of the jobs in the region.

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Legislators told collaboration will produce answer to Wilderness Study Area deadlock

By Brett French
The Helena Independent Record
January 15, 2020
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

MONTANA – Finding a way to reach a compromise on the long-stalled delisting of Montana Wilderness Study Areas, or conversely the adoption of those lands as wilderness, will take partnerships. “Collaboration is the driving force,” said John Hagengruber, Forest Service liaison to the state. Hagengruber was one of many people who spoke to the Environmental Quality Council, which is tasked under Senate Joint Resolution 20 with formulating “options for Congress to address the disposition” of the 663,000 acres contained in seven Montana WSAs. …While several speakers with wilderness, hunting and logging ties championed collaborative groups as the best means to reach a decision, a few testified that the composition of the group, as well as the information it possessed, could sway decision making. 

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Guest View: Innovation must drive Elliott State Research Forest

By Josh Laughlin, executive director of Cascadia Wildlands
The Register-Guard
January 16, 2020
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

Josh Laughlin

The Register-Guard’s editorial headline “Elliott Forest plan could be a win for everyone in 2020” (Dec. 30) is correct. A change in management of the Elliott State Forest is a tremendous opportunity for Oregonians to protect salmon and wildlife habitat, store carbon to combat runaway climate change and conduct cutting-edge research with a focus on jobs-based, restoration forestry. But Oregon State University’s initial concept for creating an Elliott State Research Forest falls short of these goals. OSU’s College of Forestry has run modeling scenarios that would clearcut tens of thousands of acres of forests, spray the forest with up to three rounds of herbicides after the cut and perform “animal control,” that typically means killing black bears and mountain beavers. Although it’s called “research,” there is little to learn from clearcutting the Elliott. …we need to use older forests … as a refuge for salmon, marbled murrelets, Pacific fishers and other  old-growth dependent species.

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Oregon Governor Proposes New Wildfire Protection Plan

By Cassandra Profita
Oregon Public Broadcasting
January 14, 2020
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown is calling for a major expansion in the state’s wildfire response plans in a new legislative concept lawmakers heard on Tuesday. The draft proposal outlines the governor’s long-term vision for how the state should adapt to wildfire, reduce wildfire risks on forestland and improve fire suppression. The plan echoes a 110-page reportfrom the Governor’s Council On Wildfire Response, which spent about a year developing recommendations for improving the state’s ability to prevent and respond to wildfires. It calls for land-use planning changes, new building codes and requirements for “defensible space” around homes to reduce the risk of wildfires damaging residential areas. It requires new standards for residential smoke filtration systems to protect people from the health risks of wildfire smoke.

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Ninth Circuit allowing Helena-area Forest Service project to proceed

By Tom Kuglin
The Helene Independent Record
January 14, 2020
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

HELENA, Montana — A federal appeals court is allowing a Forest Service project southwest of Helena to proceed while also allowing the agency to reevaluate a portion of its original decision. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the Forest Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over claims brought by Alliance for the Wild Rockies and Native Ecosystems Council that the agencies failed to adequately analyze the impacts of the Telegraph Vegetation Project on threatened grizzly bears and Canadian lynx. The court also agreed to allow the Forest Service to withdraw a portion of the project that it admitted used inaccurate mapping. Under the ruling, the 5,600-acre Telegraph project located 15 miles southwest of Helena will be allowed to proceed. …Last year a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit brought by the groups. 

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Help Us Understand Logging And Timber Practices Across Oregon

By Tony Schick and Rob Davis with Maya Miller
Oregon Public Broadcasting
January 15, 2020
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

For decades, the timber industry drove the economy in Oregon… Today, the industry has changed. Logging in federal forests, once a major source of lumber, is a fraction of what it was before environmental restrictions. Dozens of mills have closed. Stands of trees that once required a crew of loggers to cut can now be felled by one person in a single machine. …Reporters Tony Schick of OPB and Rob Davis of The Oregonian have been tracking forestry topics closely for years. …Now, OPB, The Oregonian and ProPublica are teaming up to better understand the forces that are shaping the modern timber industry and the effects of those changes on the state, communities and timber workers. …Please fill out this questionnaire if you work, or have worked, in the timber industry, …regularly interact with the timber industry, or have been affected by the timber industry because of where you work or live.

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Experts say lands Weyerhaeuser sold likely lack mature timber

By Kianna Gardner
The Daily Inter Lake
January 15, 2020
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

Why does Weyerhaeuser intend to sell its timberlands so cheap? That’s the question still looming after the company announced the pending $145 million cash sale of its 630,000 acres of timberlands in Northwest Montana. …According to leaders in Montana’s forest industry, there’s still only speculation as to why the timberlands sold for only $230 per acre — a number that pales in comparison to other timberlands in the state that recently have sold for as much as $700 per acre. But one possible explanation… is that the sale price is tied to how much timber is actually available for harvest on the lands. “We are all wondering what is happening there with respect to timber volume,” said Peter Kolb, an extension forestry specialist with Montana State University. 

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Forest Service clarifies vital thinning contracts

By Peter Aleshire
Payson Roundup
January 14, 2020
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

Still bedeviled by biomass, the Forest Service has made two key changes in the offered contracts to thin nearly a million acres of forest in the Four Forest Restoration Initiative (4FRI) area that includes much of the Rim Country and the White Mountains. The changes would make it clear any bidders would get a full, 20-year contract and better define how much biomass in the form of branches, saplings and down and dead wood the contracts will have to remove. The 4FRI will therefore postpone until March 3 the deadline for bids — and hopes to award the first round of contracts before the end of the year, according to Acting Regional Forester Elaine Kohrman. The Forest Service received more than 100 technical questions from dozens of potential bidders when it issued its request for proposals from bidders seeking 20-year contracts to thin some of the nearly 1 million acres in four forests included in the request for proposals. 

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Forest Service clarifies vital thinning contracts

By Peter Aleshire
Payson Roundup
January 14, 2020
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

Still bedeviled by biomass, the Forest Service has made two key changes in the offered contracts to thin nearly a million acres of forest in the Four Forest Restoration Initiative (4FRI) area that includes much of the Rim Country and the White Mountains.The changes would make it clear any bidders would get a full, 20-year contract and better define how much biomass in the form of branches, saplings and down and dead wood the contracts will have to remove.The 4FRI will therefore postpone until March 3 the deadline for bids — and hopes to award the first round of contracts before the end of the year, according to Acting Regional Forester Elaine Kohrman.

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Genetically Modified Poplar Trees Emit Fewer Hydrocarbons And Are Just As Hardy

By Jeff Kart
Forbes Magazine
January 13, 2020
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

Trees don’t just emit oxygen as part of photosynthesis. Some, like the poplar tree, also emit gases which can harm air quality. But before you start clear-cutting, know this: Field trials in Oregon and Arizona show that poplars, which emit trace amounts of isoprene gas, can be genetically modified without stunting their growth. That’s according to a research collaboration led by scientists as the University of Arizona, along with the Helmholtz Research Center in Munich, Portland State University and Oregon State University. A lot of trees also emit isoprene and other gases. If you’ve ever smelled a pie forest, you’re smelling a group of complex organic molecules called terpenes, which are stored in the needles to ward off insects. Isoprene is bad because it worsens people’s respiratory health and warms the atmosphere. It’s a hydrocarbon that reacts with gases produced by tailpipe pollution to produce ozone, a greenhouse gas.

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Oregon State University Uses Analytics to Fight Wildfires

The Corvallis Advocate
January 13, 2020
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

New digital tools developed by Oregon State University will enable land managers to better adapt to the new reality of large wildfires through analytics that guide planning and suppression across jurisdictional boundaries that fires typically don’t adhere to.  Led by Chris Dunn, a research associate in the OSU College of Forestry with several years of firefighting experience, scientists have used machine learning algorithms and risk-analysis science to analyze the many factors involved in handling fires. …Using fire-prone landscapes of the Pacific Northwest as their study areas, Dunn and collaborators developed a trio of complementary, risk-based analytics tools – quantitative wildfire risk assessments, mapping of suppression difficulties, and atlases of locations where fires might be controlled. …That picture makes possible a risk-based planning structure that allows for preplanning responses to wildfires, responses that balance risk with the likelihood of success. 

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Forest restoration project could bolster timber industry

By Mary Shinn
The Durango Herald
January 10, 2020
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

A new project to improve the health of 750,000 acres of forest in Southwest Colorado could open new opportunities for the timber industry to harvest more wood and use it in nontraditional ways. The Rocky Mountain Restoration Initiative recently received $50 million in funding to help mitigate wildfire risk and improve the health of the ecosystem through prescribed burning, forest thinning, logging and other strategies, said Reid Armstrong, communications project manager for the initiative. Decades of fire suppression have left the forests across Southwest Colorado and much of the West overgrown and susceptible to catastrophic wildfires and beetles that can kill vast numbers of trees. The project is expected to include all the vegetation on the landscape, including species that aren’t necessarily a focus of mitigation, such as aspen, she said. 

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Response to fire impacts water levels 40 years into future

By Scott Weybright
Washington State University News
January 9, 2020
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

Salvage logging and re-seeding a forest after a wildfire helps reduce flooding and returns water levels to normal faster, according to a new paper from a Washington State University researcher. The paper, just published in the journal Hydrological Processes, shows that water levels are still increased up to 40 years after a fire. “Trees work like straws, pulling water up out of the ground,” said Ryan Niemeyer, an adjunct faculty member in WSU’s Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources (CSANR). “When you remove them, the water has to go somewhere. Flooding is common after a wildfire, as is elevated stream flow in subsequent summers. But seeing that the effect lasts for up to 40 years is a little surprising and certainly a new finding.” Niemeyer wrote the paper with Kevin Bladon at Oregon State University and Richard Woodsmith of Woodsmith Watershed Consulting.

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Oregon Forester says money’s almost gone

My Columbia Basin
January 9, 2020
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

Peter Daugherty

SALEM, Oregon – State Forester Peter Daugherty wants more than $100 million from the Oregon Legislature. Without it, he says he won’t have the resources to fight wildfires. Speaking to the Board of Forestry, Daugherty said his department has spent 80 percent of its budget. “We expect that request will exceed $100 million of the general fund,” he said. Daugherty said that although the Oregon Department of Forestry has had issues with collecting millions of dollars in unpaid invoices, much of that is from the federal government. ODF is using an outside firm to try and get those debts paid. “So while MGO will help us build a more effective finance system, there’s also work happening to get funding in place to sustain the department over the next fire season,” Daugherty said.

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Marbled murrelet plans spark lawsuits

by Rob Ollikainen
Peninsula Daily News
January 10, 2020
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

FORKS — The city of Forks and two Clallam County junior taxing districts have joined a lawsuit challenging newly adopted state Department of Natural Resources forest management plans. Joyce-based Clallam County Fire District No. 4, Quillayute Valley School District and Forks are three of 10 plaintiffs named in a Jan. 2 lawsuit filed against DNR and its governing board. The 38-page complaint alleges that DNR breached its fiduciary duty and violated the state Environmental Policy Act when it removed millions of board feet of timber from the 2015-2024 sustainable harvest calculation and adopted a long-term conservation strategy for the marbled murrelet. Both plans were approved by the state Board of Natural Resources by 4-2 vote Dec. 3, with Clallam County Commissioner and DNR board member Bill Peach voting no.

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California budget seeks more firefighters, fire protection

By Don Thompson
Associated Press in the Idaho Statesman
January 9, 2020
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

California Gov. Gavin Newsom wants to hire more state firefighters and make homes safer from devastating wildfires in the budget he will send to state lawmakers on Friday. The 555 additional full-time firefighters would be hired over five years, his office told The Associated Press, augmenting the 4,800 current permanent firefighters by about 12%. The state also hires about 2,400 seasonal firefighters. Wildfire threats prompted power companies to impose debilitating widespread blackouts last year in an attempt to prevent their equipment from sparking catastrophic blazes. The money to make homes more resistant to wildfires through things like replacing wooden roofs and closing gaps where sparks can enter would be focused on low-income communities with high fire risk.

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Unplanned fire use policy needs review

By Frank Carroll, Professional Forest Management
Daily Herald
January 9, 2020
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

…The alarming new policy of using “catch and release” wildfires to manage public forests is coming under increasing scrutiny in federal courts and resulting in escalating settlements with damaged landowners. Whatever the Forest Service’s intent in allowing these fires to burn, the outcome is increasingly familiar around the West: The new federal wildfire policy is burning our national forests to destruction and harming private lands. …The Utah State forester was firmly opposed to letting the Pole Creek fire burn and said so. State officials could do little to change the federal decision. …Unfortunately, the scenario played out in Pole Creek will repeat itself… Management by wildfire is the last policy that Forest Service land managers can apply at will with no oversight from anyone. The fate of our federal forests and increasingly widespread damage to private, local and state government property should not be left to federal bureaucrats making decisions in the dark of night.

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Ninth Circuit Gives Green Light to Fight Over Owl Killings

By Karina Brown
Courthouse News Service
January 7, 2020
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

The Ninth Circuit Tuesday gave environmentalists another chance to fight a government experiment they say results not only in the intended deaths of barred owls but also in the killing of spotted owls – the very birds it was intended to protect. Friends of Animals sued U.S. Fish & Wildlife in 2017, claiming it illegally lets logging companies such as Weyerhaeuser harass and kill threatened spotted owls that nest in tree farms. The deaths are “incidental,” according to permits the agency issues to logging companies, since they occur after the companies legally kill barred owls. …But killing barred owls clears the way for spotted owls to move into forests formerly occupied by the non-native owls – who have migrated west due to climate change and habitat destruction and often kill smaller owls.

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Montana’s Last Best Chance

By Dave Skinner
The Flathead Beacon
January 8, 2020
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

Weyerhaeuser is selling the vast majority of its remaining acreage in Montana to a little-known Georgia-based real-estate holding company, keeping only about 140,000 acres back from the 770,000 acres or so Plum Creek still held in Montana at the time of Weyco’s 2016 takeover. Clearly, Weyerhaeuser wants to be rid of Montana soonest… at a price the market might actually be able to bear: $230 per acre. Wow – keep in mind the Montana Legacy Project paid Plum Creek an average of $1,580 per acre, or $490 million for just 310,000 thinly treed acres. …Now that there’s 630,000 acres up for grabs, at real-market value, no less, don’t you think Weyerhaeuser should have made an offer to the state of Montana? I do, because Montana forestry deserves a future – and buying these lands is, without question, Montana’s last best chance to ensure that future – our future.

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State should follow example of private forestlands

The Editorial Board
January 7, 2020
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

It’s been 20 years since Washington’s Legislature adopted the Forests and Fish Agreement, a pact among private timberland owners, county, state and federal agencies and tribes that outlined how logging would continue on more than 9.3 million acres of private and state forestlands while protecting salmon habitat on more than 60,000 miles of streams that run through those lands. …Now 20 years on, the Washington Forest Protection Association reports, more than 8,000 culverts and other salmon barriers have been removed, opening up more than 5,200 miles of fish habitat with millions of acres of riparian buffer zones set aside to protect those streams. Unstable slopes have been addressed to limit landslides into habitat, and logging road drainage systems have been improved to cut down on sediments in streams. …“Everybody’s got to do their part…” said Cindy Mitchell, Washington Forest Protection Association.

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Environment groups, logging interests and communities across Washington sue over state’s plans to sell timber

By Evan Bush
The Longview Daily News
January 5, 2020
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

Two more lawsuits have been filed against the Washington Department of Natural Resources over its plans for state-managed timber lands, further clouding the future of the state’s forests and the timber money that helps support rural communities throughout Western Washington. The newly filed lawsuits are led by a timber trade group and an environmental coalition. A previous lawsuit was filed on Monday by Skagit County over the state’s sustainable timber-harvest level. Proceeds from timber sales have historically benefited counties, the public-school system and local taxing agencies in rural areas, such as school, fire, hospital and library districts. The flurry of lawsuits comes a month after DNR approved plans for reduced timber harvest on state lands and a long-term conservation plan for the marbled murrelet.

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Weyerhaeuser selling to timber investment group with Wilks Brothers ties

By Laural Lundquist
The Missoula Current
December 23, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

As speculation started to ramp up regarding the sale of Weyerhaeuser’s forest lands in Montana, the buyer stepped forward to keep rumors in check… Attorney James A. Bowditch… The sale is expected to close in the second quarter of 2020. “While we can’t provide specifics before the deal closes, (Southern Pine Plantations) has no plan to change the long-standing practices of the prior owners related to public access, forest management, grazing, existing outfitting agreements and conservation easements, and other programs. …Weyerhaeuser announced the sale on Dec. 17, saying a “private timberland investment company” had agreed to by the land for $145 million in cash. …But a few concerns remain about why the southern company would want Montana timber. Although most of its property is in Georgia, Florida, Mississippi and South Carolina, it is an investment company that touts its ability to “move fast on acquisition opportunities.”

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Study Finds Not Logging Some Northwest Forests Could Offset Climate Change

By Cassandra Profita
Jefferson Public Radio
December 23, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

A new study finds some Northwest forests have a lot of potential to capture carbon and offset climate change. That is, if they’re preserved and not logged. Researchers at Oregon State University and the University of California-Berkeley looked at which forests in the Western United States should be prioritized for preservation under climate change scenarios. They analyzed which forests have the most potential to sequester carbon, are least vulnerable to drought and fire, and also provide valuable habitat for endangered species. Many of the forests that hit that trifecta are along the Oregon and Washington coast and in the Cascade and Olympic mountains. “The amount of carbon per acre that they take up is as high or higher than tropical forests,” said Beverly Law, a professor of global change biology and terrestrial system sciences at Oregon State University and co-author of the study.

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Oregon Starts Appeals Of $1 Billion Timber Verdict

Oregon Public Broadcasting
December 23, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

The Oregon Department of Justice wants a new trial in the landmark $1 billion Linn County timber case. In November, a jury in Linn County ruled that the state breached its contract with 13 rural counties by failing to generate enough revenue through logging on state-owned forests. Jurors awarded more than $1 billion in damages. But on Friday, state lawyers filed paperwork asking a judge to either reverse the jury’s decision or order a new trial. Attorneys with the Oregon Department of Justice pointed to what they say are dozens of errors made before, during and after the trial. They questioned the court’s decision to allow the case to go to trial in the first place, arguing that the 1941 Forest Acquisition Act did not establish a formal contract between Oregon and its counties. They also contend that Oregon counties cannot sue the state for money.

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Several timber sales sold near Helena

By Tom Kuglin
Helena Independent Record
December 23, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

Timber sales ramping up as part of a major forestry project near Helena are expected to produce nearly 31 million board feet of timber. The Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest’s Ten-Mile South Helena Project got underway last year with logs flowing from one timber sale south of Helena. In the next year the Forest Service sold two additional timber sales and expects a fourth, which will be managed by the state of Montana, to be finalized in the coming months. Late last year, the Forest Service approved the Ten Mile-South Helena Project. Work includes logging, thinning and prescribed burning as well as some trail work and stream restoration on 17,500 acres within a 60,000-acre project area southwest of Helena. The Ten Mile drainage supplies one of two sources of water for the city.

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Forest signs off on Castle Mountains ‘restoration project’

By Brett French
The Missoulian
December 21, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

Logging and prescribed fires across 22,000 acres in the Castle Mountains has been approved by the Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest supervisor.A record of decision authorizing the work that will span the next decade was announced Friday. Work on the plan began eight years ago.“Over the last several decades, forest vegetation in this area has been altered through insect activity and disease, resulting in tree mortality and increased wildfire fuels,” said Carol Hatfield, Belt Creek-White Sulphur Springs District Ranger, in a press release. “We designed the Castle Mountains project to reduce wildfire hazards to the public and to firefighters, bring the landscape in the project area back toward the desired condition described in our Forest Plan, and provide economic benefits and sustainable wood products to local communities. This project will help ensure the sustainability of this landscape into the future.”

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Health & Safety

Exposure to wildfire smoke in West carries long-term health concerns

By Matthew Brown
Associated Press in Statesman Journal
January 9, 2020
Category: Health & Safety
Region: United States, US West

Kelsey Norton

PARADISE, Calif.  — First came the flames, a raging firestorm propelled by 50 mph (80 kph) wind gusts that incinerated Kelsey Norton’s house and killed 85 people in her community. Then came the smoke — not just from the forest but also from some 14,000 houses… generating a thick plume that … left Norton gasping. “I don’t want to have cancer in my 50s because I inhaled smoke in my 30s,” she said. The immediate toll of lives and property lost in 2018 when a fire tore through the Sierra Nevada foothills town of Paradise, California is well documented. Still unknown is the long-term impact of the intense smoke exposure suffered by the tragedy’s survivors and the hundreds of thousands of people living in communities downwind of the blaze. …Dr. Nicholas Kenyon, a pulmonologist, said determining the health effects of smoke is increasingly urgent … “Nobody’s been really inhaling this kind of stuff from structures until now.”

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