Timber update

by Rex Storm, Forest Policy Manager
Associated Oregon Loggers

Highway Drivers See New Sign: Highway travelers driving east on US 26 between Portland and the Seaside coast will now see a large sign explaining the salvage harvest and planting of the massive 2007 timber blowdown. Oregon Forest Resources Institute navigated the legal hurdles to secure an approved “exemption” to place the bold sign in a reforested blowdown unit. Installed in cooperation with the landowner, Campbell Group, OFRI has also worked with media to place editorials in north coast newspapers about successful active forest management and the new signage.

Oregon Harvest Statewide 2010: Oregon Dept. of Forestry in June reported that 2010 timber harvest total from all ownerships in 2010 took a modest uptick over the prior years’ Great Depression low. Although Oregon’s forest sector is still caught in the current US housing repression, statewide 2010 harvest rose to 3.2 billion bdft, a rise of 17% from 2009. Improving structural lumber prices and increased log exports fueled the increase. Large private forest landowners increased harvest by 11%, at 2.20 billion bdft. Small private forests increased harvest by 145%, at 0.23 billion bdft.

ODF Forest Practices Program: The 2011 Oregon Legislature budget for the OR Dept of Forestry’s 2011-13 biennium, beginning July 1st. After a decade of budget cuts, the Forest Practices Act, monitoring, and forest health programs will be restored to 2007-2009 levels. ODF has also been instructed by the legislature to hire a contractor to complete an efficiency review, and an FPA compliance study. ODF already has 12 stewardship foresters statewide, and 7 to 10 additional stewardship foresters hired in 3-6 months.

Legislature Passes Redistricting Plan: In June, the Oregon Legislature and Governor Kitzhaber passed a bill to accomplish the once-every-decade redistricting. In what had not been done in sixty years, the Legislature created 30 equal Senate districts and 60 equal House districts. Typically every decade, partisan battles prevent the Legislature from agreeing on how to draw the district lines, and the decision is made by Oregon’s Secretary of State—which in recent decades has been a Democrat advantage in the districting. This time, the result is a fair outcome for both political parties.

State Foresters Ask for More Management: The National Assoc. of State Foresters (NASF) calls for increased practical actions to ensure the future sustainability of the nation’s forests, including: keep forest lands forested; maintain forest health; and enhance their economic output. Forests are under threat from insects, disease, wildfire, and development. These threats could be reversed with more active forest management, especially on public forests.

NW Hardwoods Sold to American Industrial: Weyerhaeuser Co. announced it would sell its hardwoods unit to American Industrial Partners (AIP). AIP announced the agreement in June and said the deal should close in August. The new business will operate under the same name, Northwest Hardwoods Inc., to be based in Tacoma, WA, with operations in the US, Canada, China, Japan and Hong Kong. NW Hardwoods operates Oregon plants at Coos Bay, Eugene, and Garibaldi, plus across the river in Longview, WA.

Longview Biomass Battle: Washington’s largest biomass energy project ever proposed, Longview Fibre Paper is planning a 54-megawatt biomass co-generation expansion at its Longview pulp & paper mill. However, a Seattle-based environmental group is formally opposing the plant, claiming the plant would make “dirty power masquerading as clean energy.” The new boiler actually would reduce air pollution, increase renewable power sales, make the mill more competitive, plus add jobs. The more economical US manufacturing becomes, then the more jobs that would not be exported.

Water Quality Toxics Rule Adopted: The Oregon Environmental Quality Commission adopted an ill-advised new administrative rule, which elevates Oregon water quality standards to require the nation’s smallest human “toxic” chemical threshold. The new standard intends to prevent human health affects on people eating large volumes of fish from Oregon streams. The prohibitive standard has ominous future impacts on water users or activity near water—including forest operations. The forest sector opposed the rule, and is working with other industries to derail this foolhardy rule.

Rare Supportive News Coverage: The Oregonian newspaper published a rare June 25th article, in which timber harvest and forest management were not criticized. The article addressed a Clatsop State Forest timber sale, as an example of “modern” forestry. The 2.8 million bdft sale harvested 41 acres of modified clearcut, and 50 acres of commercial thinning in 68-year-old Douglas fir. The article described cable logging, harvesting again in 35-70 years, protecting streams & wildlife, as well as producing jobs and revenue for schools and county government.

Fires Scorch Southwest: Over 1 million acres burned in Arizona and New Mexico in June, due to flammable overcrowded national forests and dry weather there. Although the NW region has been stuck in cool-wet La Nina weather, a heat wave across the US has sparked a hot fire season in forests and rangelands. As of July 20th, the National Interagency Fire Center reported that 5.9 million acres of wildland fires had scorched the US—exceeding the 10-year average to-date by an alarming 2.5 million acres. The 700,000-acre Wallow Fire became Arizona’s largest on record.

Regional Forester Visits John Day: New US Forest Service Regional Forester Kent Connaughton got an earful from central Oregon residents June 10th, in a roundtable forum that described the urgency needed to correct failing eastside national forest management. Congressman Greg Walden (R-OR) hosted the John Day roundtable to introduce Connaughton to eastside federal forest problems that are damaging the region’s economy. Attended by 200 people, Connaughton heard prepared remarks from a 6-person panel representing forestry, ranching and county government. AOL was one of many others who spoke at the roundtable to ask for improved national forest management.

Walden Leads Reform of Forest Rule: Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR) is leading a bipartisan coalition of congressmen in opposing the US Forest Service proposed National Forest Planning Rule, saying the Rule would lead to more process gridlock, litigation, mismanagement, and waste of Forest Service resources. In February, the agency had issued its terrible proposed Rule, which forest user organizations have uniformly opposed. Walden authored a letter to USDA Secretary Vilsack, which opposed the draconian rule, and was co-signed by 59 Congressman.

Ochoco New Forest Supervisor: US Forest Service has assigned a new supervisor to head the Ochoco National Forest, based in Prineville. Kate Klein in July to replace Jeff Walter, who promoted to Natural Resources Director in the Portland Regional Office. Klein moved from the Umatilla National Forest, and has worked for the Forest Service for 31 years in AZ, NM and MI.

Spotted Owl Recovery Plan Negative: In June, the US Fish & Wildlife Service released its Revised Recovery Plan for the Northern Spotted Owl (NSO). The Plan fails to meaningfully address the NSO threat posed by the barred owl or wildfires, and the Plan will likely lead to further obstacles and reductions in timber harvest from both federal and private lands surrounding rural communities in OR, WA, and northern CA. Unfortunately, the Plan discounts these threats and offers nothing more than additional studies, higher costs, and tougher restrictions on both federal and private lands.

Federal Attorneys Abandon BLM Plan: On July 1st, the Obama Administration’s Justice Department officials filed a federal court response in an environmental lawsuit, which results in the Bureau of Land Management cancelling its 2008 Western Oregon Plan revision, known as the “WOPR.” With the filing, five years of solid BLM planning is destroyed and that agency has no clear forest management direction going forward. This is an example of an Administration unfriendly to good forestry and rural America making a political decision to pull a good forest plan.

Before the BLM Plan was Abandoned: Earlier in 2011, American Forest Resource Council (AOL is a member) and the Carpenters Industrial Council Union prevailed in a federal lawsuit, which had challenged US Secretary of Interior Salazar’s 2009 illegal withdrawal of the WOPR without the required plan amendment. As a result of the successful industry suit, in May the court had reinstated the WOPR. Adopted under President Bush, the 2008 WOPR plan had directed the BLM to increase timber harvest on 2.4 million acres of O&C BLM forests—from prior 204 to 480 million bdft/year.

2012 Presidential Campaign Republicans: By July 1st eight pro-business candidates had formally announced their candidacy for the May 2012 Republican presidential primary election. The field of challengers to President Barack Obama includes: former MA Gov. Mitt Romney, former MN Gov. Tim Pawlenty, former UT Governor Jon Huntsman, former US House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Congresswoman Michele Bachmann (R-MN), Congressman Ron Paul (R-TX), business executive Herman Cain, and former PA US Senator Rick Santorum.

Report on Sustainable Forests: The US has more forest acreage and forests have remained stable over the last 50 years, according to the US Forest Service 2010 National Report on Sustainable Forests. The report illustrates current conditions and trends in the nation’s forests, forest industries and forest communities. Other observations:
• US forest area stable for 30 years (751 million acres)
• Net growth in timber largely exceeds harvest in all US regions
• 91% of the nation’s wood output is now produced on private lands
• Forest health substantially declined… on public forests

Salazar Plans to Add Wilderness: US Interior Secretary Salazar wrote to members of Congress in June, promoting a pending bill to identify Bureau of Land Management land that should be designated as Wilderness in October. He says his plans are similar to the 2009 omnibus public lands bill that was jammed through the former super-majority Democrat Congress, which designated 2 million acres of new BLM Wilderness across the western US. Off-road recreation, energy, grazing and timber interests already oppose Salazar’s draconian scheme.

Disclaimer: Articles featured on Oregon Report are the creation, responsibility and opinion of the authoring individual or organization which is featured at the top of every article.