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IN THE NEWS
Keeping Track of Wildfires
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Oregon Lawmakers Ask for Closer Look at China’s Timber Industry
Lawmakers like U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio are asking U.S. trade officials to call a halt to China’s illegal selling of more hardwood plywood and paper products to the U.S.
It’s alleged that China is making their products artificially cheaper to best other timber-related industries.
NRToday.com reported that “A coalition of U.S. companies, including Roseburg Forest Products, last week requested the investigation by U.S. trade officials. According to the coalition, Chinese manufacturers have been able to undercut U.S. domestic suppliers by up to 50 percent and capture about half of the U.S. plywood market.”
Housing Market Continues to Improve
Reuters reported that home re-sales rose in August to their highest rate in more than two years and groundbreaking on new homes also climbed — signs that a budding housing market recovery is gaining traction.
The National Association of Realtors reported that home sales of previously-owned homes increased 7.8 percent last month to an annual rate of 4.82 million units.
U.S. housing starts also rose 2.3 percent in August. This was below expectations, but many economists believe construction of new homes will contribute to economic growth this year — the first time since 2005.
In addition, home sales have been inching up.
Timber Faller Dies at Washington Wildfire
The U.S. Fire Administration reported that firefighter Chris Seelye, from Darby, Mont., under contract with the USDA Forest Service, suffered a medical emergency while battling the Wenatchee Complex Fire. He was treated by incident medical personnel and rushed to a nearby hospital, where he passed away later that evening.
In Idaho, an 18-year-old volunteer firefighter, Nathaniel Bartholomew, was charged with setting the Karney Fire, the Idaho Statesman reported. Bartholomew may have started the fire to get his father’s (a fireman) attention.
U.S. Timber REIT Post Great Results in Third Quarter
The improving housing market is producing some winners says Fox Business.
Overall, real-estate investment trusts, or REITs, trailed the broader stock market in the third quarter; the Dow Jones Equity All REIT index posted a total return of just 0.95%.
While the overall results were subpar, says Fox Business, “REITs related to home-building activity had strong results, led by timber companies” and posted gains over 10 percent in the third quarter. Weyerhaeuser led with 17.6%, while Potlatch Corp. and Plum Creek Timber Co. came in with gains of 18% and 11.6%, respectively.
Kitzhaber to Create Panel to Increase Harvests
The Oregonian reported that Oregon’s Governor, John Kitzhaber, plans to assemble a panel of “timber industry executives, conservation groups, and hard-hit county representatives.” Together they will find a way to create more harvesting on the 2.6 million acres of federal land, while still protecting the environment.
Kitzhaber believes the current proposal to revise the Oregon & California Railroad timberlands is doomed by opposition from conservation groups. Alternatively, his plan would bring a dozen people together to draft a proposal through October and November and be ready to present it to the state’s congressional delegation in December.
“I think there’s a larger narrative here about the future of rural America and Oregon,” Kitzhaber said.
Malheur Lumber Mill to Stay Open
In September, the U.S. Forest Service committed enough timber to keep the Malheur Lumber mill open in John Day, Ore.
The mill had previously announced in August that it would close November 1 because of the dwindling supply of timber from nearby national forests.
Although private landowners pledged timber, it would have only been enough to keep the mill open an additional six weeks. Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley announced in mid-September that the Forest Service would accelerate timber sales and speed up forest restoration work to supply local mills. This was fabulous news for the 90 people whose jobs hung in the balance.
The bipartisan tone of the response to the mill’s raw material crisis is worth noting. According to the Oregonian, Republican Rep. Greg Walden has joined with Democratic Representatives Peter DeFazio and Kurt Schrader to support legislation to give Oregon more control over the O&C Lands (managed under federal authority), and Rep. Walden hopes to open dialogue with the federal government about similar arrangements for other federally controlled lands.
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