Forestry Board’s new face, Kitzhaber protester, More…

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Forest Policy Briefs
by Rex Storm, Forest Policy Manager
Associated Oregon loggers

New Forestry Board Members: In February, the Oregon Senate approved three new members to the Oregon Board of Forestry. The board oversees the State Forester and Oregon Dept. of Forestry operations, including private forest regulation, state forest management, and fire protection of half Oregon’s forests. Two new eastside members are Tom Insko, inland regional manager for Boise Cascade in La Grande; and Nils Christoffersen, executive director of Wallowa Resources in Enterprise. Cindy Williams is a Medford consulting fisheries biologist, with a history of environmental work. Williams’ 19-11 vote confirmation came despite objections from several natural resources organizations. The three replace Jennifer Phillippi, Cal Mukumoto, and Peter Hayes—who Governor Kitzhaber chose not to reseat.

Late Christmas at Governor’s Mansion: Police arrested one person Feb. 3rd, when a group of protesters dumped dead Christmas trees in front of the Oregon governor’s Salem mansion. A 23-year-old was charged with criminal mischief and offensive littering. The Cascadia Forest Defenders claimed responsibility for the demonstration, protesting what they said was Gov. John Kitzhaber’s “support for increased logging.” The protestors apparently disagreed with the State Land Board’s rather minor 13 mmbf/year increase of planned timber sale from the Elliott State Forest.

USDA $40 Million to Forest Restoration Projects: On February 2nd, Agriculture Secretary Vilsack announced that $40 million would be spent nationwide on 20 new federal Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration projects—intended to raise forest health, reduce fires, boost timber sales, and create jobs over the next three years. The landscape-scale restoration projects include two in Oregon: $3.5 million for the Lakeview County Stewardship Project (150,000 acres); and $2.5 million for the Southern Blues Restoration Project, across 271,980 acres (Grant & Harney counties).

Humboldt Marten ESA Listing Possible: In January, the US Fish & Wildlife Service announced that it would consider listing the Humboldt marten as threatened or endangered under the federal Endangered Species Act. Located in southern OR and northern CA coastal forests, this marten is a subspecies thought to be extinct until 1996, until a trail camera photographed one in the Six Rivers National Forest. Since then, two other populations have been found in coastal mountains in Southern Oregon. Public comments will be taken on the proposed listing until March 12.

First Forest Plans Skip Northwest: The US Forest Service announced that the first eight national forests to revise their land management plans under the new National Forest Planning Rule would lie outside the Northwest Region. The chosen forests are: Nez Perce-Clearwater in ID; Chugach in AK; Inyo-Sequoia-Sierra in CA; Cibola in NM; and the El Yunque in Puerto Rico. The announcement follows Ag Secretary Vilsack’s release of the agency’s final national forest planning rule, scheduled to be affective March 2012.

Fire Committee to Propose Fund Changes: With the goal of reducing wildfire costs, Oregon’s Board of Forestry directed the Dept. of Forestry to form a Fire Protection Funding Committee in November. The 18-member stakeholder panel, which includes AOL, will report its recommendations at the March 7th Board meeting. The panel’s key objectives were three-fold: first, to increase initial attack investment; secondly, to reduce fire protection costs & rates for lower site forests; and lastly, to reaffirm state general fund contribution to its 50% share of fire protection costs.

Congress Hears Bill to Reform National Forests: In February, HR 4019, the Federal Forests County Revenue, Schools, and Jobs Act was introduced by House Natural Resources Chair Rep. Doc Hastings (R-WA). The bill would require Forest Service “trust projects,” which increase annual revenue to 60% of the receipts produced from 1980 to 2000. Of these revenues, counties receive 65%, and the Forest Service 35%. Each forest would sell at least 50% of the sawlog volume sold during that 20-year period. The bill quickly passed Committee, and is headed to the House floor.

New Forest Service Planning Rule: The US Forest Service in January released its Final National Forest Planning Rule, governing future forest plans nationwide—including 11 Oregon national forests. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell said the new regulation would emphasize science, multiple uses, and withstand court challenges. However, forest industry representatives roundly criticized the draft Rule released February 2011, and user groups are currently reviewing the final Rule to assure it follows the many economic and multiple-use laws governing national forests.

Eagle Point Logger Tackles BLM Project: AOL member, Ed Hanscom of HM Inc., has been contracted by Boise Building Products to cable log the Pilot Joe “demonstration” timber sale, located in the Applegate Valley south of Medford. Pilot Joe is one of three much-publicized Oregon timber sales intended to demonstrate an ecological scheme of patch clearcuts & leave trees on Bureau of Land Management forests. Hanscom was quoted in the Medford news saying, “The agency and society are going to have to get back to accepting risks like I do every day.”

Dahlman New OFS Executive: Scott Dahlman has been named the new Executive Director of Oregonians for Food & Shelter (OFS), replacing the retiring Terry Witt, OFS executive for 25 years. A graduate of Western Oregon University, Scott was a public policy analyst and national affairs director for the Washington Farm Bureau before joining OFS. The OFS trade association was founded in 1980 to give Oregon farmers and foresters a policymaking voice concerning farm and forestry chemical use. Reach OFS online at: www.ofsonline.org

Umpqua New Forest Supervisor: US Forest Service has assigned a new supervisor Alice Carlton, to head the Umpqua National Forest, based in Roseburg. Carlton in August replaced Cliff Dils, who promoted to SW Region Resources Director in New Mexico. Carlton was previously supervisor of the Plumas Nat. Forest in California, and has worked for the Forest Service for 33 years in CA, UT and OR. An Oregon St. U. graduate, Carlton began her career on the Siuslaw Nat. Forest.

Tree Farmer of the Year: Jim & Phyllis Dahm of Klamath Falls were named Oregon’s 2011 ‘Outstanding Tree Farmer of the Year,’ by the Oregon Tree Farm System (OTFS). The Dahms own and manage 1,900 acres of forest in Klamath and Lake Counties, and were honored for their effective management of timber, wildlife habitat, water quality, and local school & civic tours. OTFS is a chapter of the American Tree Farm System, a nation-leading forest certification, with over 90,000 acres certified in Oregon.

Deschutes Forest New Office: The Deschutes National Forest supervisor’s office and Bend-Fort Rock District moved into a newly-built Bend office. The $8.5 million palace—mostly paid by the 2009 ARRA federal stimulus law—is the first owned by the Deschutes, as prior offices were leased. The Forest Service touts the “green” facility for its wood pellet heat, electric car chargers, and other features. If only the FS could increase merchantable timber sale volume to harvest annual tree growth & mortality, then it might honestly be “green.”

Forest Service Streamlines Appeal Process: A recent change in the US Forest Service decisionmaking requires project opponents to argue their points much earlier in the process. A little-noticed change in the Forest Service 2012 budget bill eliminated the old appeals process, and replaced “appeals” with an “objection” procedure for any environmental assessment. In order to litigate a decision, a party must first have participated in project planning, then filed an objection, and had the objection denied by the USFS. The change should reduce lawsuits and bring faster decisions.

USFS and BLM Receive Budgets: In December, Congress passed an Omnibus Appropriations bill to fund the US Forest Service and BLM programs for fiscal 2011-’12. Both agencies were successful in receiving budgets similar to the prior year. The regional budgets were allocated in January and each forest received its budget in March—just seven months before fiscal year-end. National forest timber held flat at $336 million, and the Forest Service timber sale target was increased 8%, to 2.6 billion bdft/year. The BLM receives small increase to $112 million.

Boardman Biorefinery Expands: ZeaChem is constructing an expansion of its small demonstration biorefinery in Boardman, OR. The new $390 million plant would produce 25 million gallons/year of biolfuel, or 100 times its current output, beginning in 2014. The plant plans to convert a mix of 70% wood biomass and 30% waste into cellulosic biofuel and bio-chemicals (acetic acid and ethyl acetate). The US Dept. of Agriculture provided a $232.5 million grant. Proposed feedstock would be procured from nearby hybrid poplar fiber, wheat straw and corn stover.