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IN THE NEWS
Protesting Logging May Become a Crime
The Associated Press reported that one Oregon legislator would like to see tougher penalties for logging protestors.
“There’s been a 30-year reign of terror by these people having no respect for the rights of others,” said Rep. Wayne Krieger, R-Gold Beach, a former state trooper and also a former member of the Oregon Board of Forestry. “If they want to do civil disobedience, they can do that. It’s part of the Oregon Constitution, and the federal. But when they go beyond that and start chaining themselves to trees, locking themselves to equipment, and laying down in the road, and in any way they impede access, then they have gone over the line.”
Krieger’s bill (HB 2995) would make interfering with state forestland management a felony. If found guilty, the offender could receive up to five years in prison and a $25,000 fine. In a companion bill (HB 2596), loggers could sue protesters for lost income plus $10,000 up to six years after a protest.
The bill probably won’t pass the house, though, until it is rewritten to ensure it doesn’t impair people’s constitutional right to protest.
More Fires Burn
Forest fires are expensive. Last season, the USFS went $400 million over budget fighting fires around the region.
CBC news reported that the U.S. Forest Service is altering its approach and may let more fires burn instead of attacking every one.
“The move, made by Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell, brings the agency more in line with the National Parks Service and back to what it had done until last year. It also answers critics who said the agency wasted money and endangered firefighters by battling fires in remote areas that posed little or no danger to property or critical habitat,” reported CBC.
Tidwell said that it’s an “evolution of the science and the expertise” that has led to a focus on managed burns.
“We have to be able to structure (fire management) this way to help all of us,” Tidwell told the Associated Press, “so that we’re thinking about the right things when we make these decisions.”
Asia May Look to Montana for Wood
China is the number one importer of wood but, to date, has not purchased lumber from Montana. That could change soon.
“People have a high interest in purchasing the product from the Montana companies, given the quality, given the different species, given the availabilities of the Montana product,” explained Chinese Trade Organization representative Xu Feng.
Potential buyers are looking for Douglas Fir and other types of wood to meet the escalating building demand in China, and two buyers say they’ve already made deals with prominent mills in western Montana, reported Robin O’Day of KPAX News.
“Actually right now, I’ve collected a lot of contacts. A lot of Montana companies have shown a strong interest in working with Chinese companies,” Feng said.
M2Green President Ray Stillwell says he was approached by several eager buyers, and that could mean big things for his area. “Missoula is a great place to do business, and we’re looking forward to doing some neat things this year.”
USFS May Let Grant for Biomass Projects
Turning forest waste products into marketable goods would be a boost for the forest industry. The Oregon Department of Forestry announced it wants to be part of this movement.
It announced it would be investing a total of $57,250 in four separate biomass projects in northeastern Oregon, with two of those projects located in Wallowa County.
Rising Lumber Demand Helps Industry
The rising lumber demand has reinvigorated U.S. timber towns, creating jobs for the sawmills — jobs that were particularly hard hit throughout the recession.
The Wall Street Journal reported that the Eugene, Ore., area is a typical example. Swanson Group Inc. has rehired 200 people out of the 720 positions it eliminated at its area mills during the recession and expects to add an additional 50 by late spring, bringing total employment to 800 compared with 550 in 2009.
Another big producer, Seneca Sawmill Co., has restored hours for its 375 employees in the Eugene area, who are now almost back to the five-day workweeks they had before the recession.
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