Media mistakes, FEMA reneges, Judges rules for timber damamges

Forest Policy Briefs
by Rex Storm
Associated Oregon Loggers

False Media Reports of Rule Change: Early January’s news media reports erroneously stated that, “…the Oregon Board of Forestry decided to strengthen the state’s logging regulations to better protect water quality in streams. The board voted to revise the state Forest Practices Act to make sure streams on private timberland have enough tree cover to stay cold for fish.” More accurately, the board approved beginning an analysis to determine whether or not rule updates may be needed—rather than authorizing any specific rule change. Reporters naively parroted environmentalist lies.

Murrelet Lawsuit Threatens State Forest: Three environmental groups filed notice of intent to sue the Oregon Dept. of Forestry, for proposed harvest in coastal state forests. The groups wrongly allege that logging is killing or displacing marbled murrelets, a robin-sized seabird listed under the federal Endangered Species Act. Even though the murrelet spends 90% of its life over the ocean, it has become a forest protection icon, similar to the n. spotted owl and salmon, which is abused by anti-forestry groups trying to obstruct coastal logging though lawsuits.

FEMA Reneges on Forest Restoration Grant: The federal government FEMA agency wants Deschutes County to return $328,000 in federal funds, citing lack of proper environmental compliance for already-completed forest thinning projects, located between La Pine and Sunriver. The project reduced federal & private forest fuel loads, which would protect rural homes and communities from future wildfires. The US Forest Service says all environmental analysis was complete, as required.

Judge Rules for Timber Damages: Springfield-based Timber Products Co. won a timber sale damage claim in US Court of Federal Claims, where the US Forest Service was found to be liable to pay TP for damages, after a Klamath Nat. Forest timber contract was enjoined in 1999 under a green lawsuit. The agency breached its contract “by awarding the timber sale knowing of the risk of an injunction and suspension, but never telling TP.” Timber Products was later allowed to resume logging in 2003. TP seeks $1.3 million in timber replacement costs, lost profits and expenses.

Northwest Timber Mills Source Further Away: With Northwest timber mills unable to secure adequate public timber supply from within the region, their wood fiber sourcing circle has expanded into the Intermountain West. For example, the Boise Inc. paper mill in Wallula, WA will soon begin receiving chips by railcar from Montana. Following the shutdown of several MT sawmills and that region’s last pulp mill in the 2000’s, Boise has begun purchasing whole log chips from once-idled chip plants in the Missoula area—where markets have been destroyed by mill closures.

Forest Service Delays Planning Rule Release: The US Forest Service in January was widely expected to release a comprehensive new Rule package governing national forest planning, but at the last-minute cancelled plans to release the long-awaited Rule. Although natural resource user organizations nationwide in early 2011 had roundly criticized the unworkable draft Rule, FS officials have stubbornly defended their damaging proposal. It’s unclear how to interpret the unexplained delay of the new Rule release during an election year.

Industry Urges Feds to Seek Road Review: Several forest industry associations met in Washington, DC with USDA and USDI attorneys to discuss the potential Supreme Court case on forest roads. The industry urged federal attorneys to recommend that the US Supreme Court review the Ninth Circuit Court’s 2011 wrong-headed ruling that subjects forest roads to federal EPA stormwater permits. Oregon loggers were represented at the meeting through participation of the Federal Forest Resources Coalition, and AOL’s affiliation with American Forest Resources Council.

Wallowa Mill Site Purchased: The newly-formed Wallowa County Land Acquisition LLC acquired the former Wallowa FP sawmill bare land from D.R. Johnson Co. for $600,000. The LLC will rent the property to Integrated Biomass Resources, who plans to relocate its fiber merchandising outfit from Wallowa. Integrated plans to build facilities to process posts, poles, chips, fuel, firewood, logs and co-gen. The LLC borrowed $500,000 from the county, plus $100,000 from OR Business Development Dept. Furthermore, Integrated received a $500,000 US Dept. of Energy grant.

Nicholson Producing Madill Machines: In April, the Victoria, BC-based Nicholson Manufacturing began building Madill log loaders, after acquiring the Madill brand earlier in the year. Nicholson, founded in 1948, aims to produce four Madill loaders, yarders or bunchers monthly, while keeping its de-barker machinery production. Founded by Sam Madill, the 100-year old Madill was a leading equipment producer, until its 2008 bankruptcy. Modern Machinery bought the assets in ’08 to run a Madill parts business, before Nicholson moved production to its seven-acre plant in North Saanich.

Harvest at Rediscovery Forest: The “Rediscovery Forest,” offered in partnership with the Oregon Forest Resources Institute, is a dynamic demonstration forest, located in the regional tourist destination Oregon Garden in Silverton, OR. To promote growth and long-term health of the 40-year old forest, a commercial thinning operation was recently conducted. Logging contractor, Ziglinski Cutting, used a cut-to-length system to fell, delimb, buck and forward the logs. Watch the YouTube video at:

Furtwangler on OFRI Board: David Furtwangler, president of Cascade Timber Co. in Sweet Home, joins 13-member board of directors of the Oregon Forest Resources Institute. Furtwangler replaces retiring two-term board member Jake Gibbs of Roseburg’s Lone Rock Timber. Wade Mosby of The Collins Companies and Steven Zika of Hampton Affiliates, both from Portland, were reappointed to their second three-year terms. OFRI is the important state agency charged with public education about forestry and the forest sector, which is wholly funded by the timber harvest tax.

Malheur Forest Proposal “Approved”: A proposal, backed by the Blue Mountain Forest Partners and the Harney County Collaborative, was ranked second among the 26 proposals considered by the USFS Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program. If funded by Congress, the Malheur National Forest would receive an additional $2.5 million annually for a decade, to accomplish “restoration” thinning and fuels reduction on a landscape scale. However, Congress and the USDA has not yet appropriated the $40 million for the nationwide collaborative program.

Two Federal Forest Restoration Projects: In January, US Rep. Walden (R-OR) organized a letter to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack (and signed by the rest of Oregon’s congressional delegation), which strongly supported funding two large-scale forest restoration projects—one in Lake County, and one in Grant & Harney counties. The 150,000-acre Lakeview Stewardship Landscape proposal, and 271,980-acre Southern Blues Restoration proposal, are subject to Secretary funding approval under the collaborative forest landscape restoration program (CFLRP).

Forestry Board Begins Rule Analysis: At its January 4th meeting, the Oregon Board of Forestry voted 5-2 to begin a “rule analysis” process, which might in future years lead to increased tree/shade retention along medium and small fish streams. The decision follows research that found in some cases the minimum Riparian Management Area stream buffers could increase water temperature by 0.7 degrees C. The analysis process will examine whether or not this small variance from state water quality temperature metrics warrants any actionable change to the Forest Practices Rules.

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