Kitzhaber biomass predicament, Metal theft law, Salazar visit, More…

Kitzhaber biomass predicament, Metal theft law, Salazar visit, More…
by Rex Storm, Forest Policy Manager
Associated Oregon Loggers

Metal Theft Law Working: Police report that a law passed by the 2009 Oregon Legislature, intended to prevent thieves profiting from stolen scrap metal, has helped reduce metal theft. The new law requires scrap metal sellers to be paid by a check mailed to a street address, and requires salvage recyclers to keep a one-year record of metal sellers. Two indicators of reduced metal theft— fewer metal theft reports and lower rates of police recovery—show that the new law has deterred the crime.

Interior’s Salazar in Roseburg: US Dept. of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar made a stop in Roseburg on Oct. 25th, to talk forest policy with major stakeholders—including a few mill and timberland representatives. It’s yet another attempt by the Secretary to offer political cover, while locking-up more of Oregon’s BLM forest land. Salazar’s visit came a one year after he had unilaterally threw-out the Western Oregon Plan Revision (WOPR). The WOPR called for called for increasing BLM timber sale from 204 million bdft/year to about 580 million bdft/year from Western Oregon’s forests.

Biomass Incentives in Kitzhaber’s Jobs Strategy: After Governor-elect John Kitzhaber’s(D) general election victory over Chris Dudley(R), he announced five teams of business leaders tasked with Oregon job creation: economic development; work force development; manufacturing; school energy efficiency; and biomass energy. The biomass energy team will seek ways to foster growth of the woody biomass industry for “bioenergy production.” The group is led by Russ Hoeflich, Nature Conservancy; Matt Donegan, Forest Capital Partners; and John Shelk, Ochoco Lumber Co.

Biomass Over Sawlogs? Governor-elect John Kitzhaber during his campaign made an egregious claim that creating energy by burning chips from thinning national forests would help make Oregon’s forest industry less dependent on new home construction. He claimed that more non-commercial “biomass thinning” would fund continued federal payments to timber county governments. Most stand-alone biomass harvests have been loss leaders, subsidized by other revenues. Gov. Kitzhaber fails to see that increased federal sawlog harvest is needed to boost byproducts for biomass energy.

State Forester Resigns: Oregon State Forester Marvin Brown tendered his resignation in October, at the request of the OR Board of Forestry. Board Chair John Blackwell accepted Brown’s resignation after the seven-member board determined that OR Dept. of Forestry (ODF) needed fresh leadership to reverse an “erosion of confidence” amid some of the toughest budget times the state has seen. Since 2003, Brown’s tenure coincided with the term of Governor Kulongoski (D)—who’s not known as a forest sector proponent. State Forest Division Chief, Nancy Hirsch, will serve as acting State Forester until a permanent selection is made in early-2011. ODF’s responsibilities include fire protection on 15.8 million acres, enforcing non-federal forest practices laws, managing 848,000 acres of state forestlands, and guiding public forest policy.

Dallas Site for Potential Biomass Plant: Willamette Valley Renewable Energy and Clear Lake Capital LLC have proposed a 32-megawatt biomass gasification plant located in Dallas. The proposed $130 million plant would generate power from hogg fuel and agricultural byproducts. The plant would create 60 jobs in the biomass supply chain and another 25 at the plant. Once investors decide to proceed, construction would take 18 months, with startup tentatively scheduled for December 2013.

Elliott Begins Forest Plan Approval: The state Department of Forestry proposed a new plan Monday that would boost timber harvest from 25 million bdft/year to 40 million. The draft management plan for the Elliott State Forest in the Coast Range near Reedsport is part of the State Land Board’s effort to increase revenue for the Common School Fund. Public comments and final plan revisions will be completed over the next year, with implementation by the end of 2011.

Comment Extended on Owl Plan: The US Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) issued a Draft Revised Recovery Plan for the northern spotted owl in September. Because the proposed plan represents a radical and obstructive departure from the federal approach required over the last 15 years, the forest sector succeeded in getting the FWS to extend the comment period to December 15th. Among the several proposed burdensome actions, the recovery plan would require larger owl site buffers and more habitat restrictions—including possible encumbrance of private forestlands.

EPA’s Assault on Business: The federal Environmental Protection Agency has aggressively proposed new high-cost industry regulation. During the past 18 months, the agency proposed 42 “significant” regulations that each has an annual impact on the US economy of over $100 million. Industry coalitions are fighting the many onerous new rules to prevent enacting destructive burdens on the US economy. Proposed regulations assault about every aspect of already-clean businesses, with limits on: carbon emissions, ozone, coal ash, mercury, and even runoff from every forest road.

Large Fire Retardant Planes to Stay: Previous reports about retirement of “large” multi-engine retardant airplanes contracted to US Forest Service are inaccurate. Although the USFS has required large air tanker contractors to institute new airworthiness inspection & maintenance programs, the fleet of multi-engine air tankers is expected to remain airworthy for at least another 10-12 years of service. And discussions have already begun with federal agencies to identify the next-generation of aerial air tanker, to assure that this valuable forest firefighting tool remains in the arsenal.

USFS New Associate Chief: Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell announced that Northwest Regional Forester Mary Wagner has been named to replace the retiring Associate Chief Hank Kashdan. Mary has been USFS Regional Forester in Portland since fall, 2008. She will take to the Washington Office her experience with problems of declining federal forestry and loss of eastside logging and milling infrastructure. The naming of an acting and permanent NW Regional Forester is pending.

Barron New BLM Manager: Dayne Barron was appointed the District Manager for the BLM’s 886,000 acre Medford District, replacing Tim Reuwsaat who retired after 33 years with the agency. Barron, who has worked for the BLM for 20 years, has worked in several states and holds two forest management degrees from U. of MT and Colorado St. U.

Fremont-Winema Supervisor: Frederick Way, a district ranger on the Colville National Forest, in June was named as the new forest supervisor of the Fremont-Winema National Forest in southern Oregon. Fred is a 40-year wildlife biologist with the US Forest Service and BLM, who has worked for the agencies in Klamath, Black Hills, Rogue River, Wallowa-Whitman, Bitterroot, Boise, Monongahela, and Colville national forests. Way replaces Karen Shimamoto, forest supervisor from 2003 to 2009.

Carbon Market Flops: The only national carbon market in the US—the Chicago Climate Exchange (CCX)—will close by year-end, a setback for environmentalist attempts to regulate so-called greenhouse gases. The CCX cannot find sufficient US carbon buyers to pay for credits in the absence of a US “cap and tax” law that would have limited industrial carbon dioxide emissions. European markets for carbon credits do still operate, supported by European laws limiting & taxing industrial carbon. The Democrat super-majority US House last year passed a harmful “cap and tax” bill, which would have limited US industrial emissions by 2020. That bill fortunately failed in the US Senate.

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