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IN THE NEWS
Forestland Recovery after the Taylor Bridge Fire
The Taylor Bridge fire that started near Cle Elum, Wash., last August covered 37 square miles of grassland, sagebrush and timber. Livestock losses were in the hundreds and 60 homes were destroyed.
On October 13, a program was held to help forest and rangeland owners start to answer questions like, “What’s to be expected now?” The all-day educational program was hosted by Unionville Ranch, sponsored by the WSU Extension, in partnership with the Washington Department of Natural Resources, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, US Forest Service, Kittitas Conservation District, Kittitas County, and The Nature Conservancy
Topics included rangeland impacts, forestland impacts, wildlife habitat impacts, reforestation, working with consulting foresters and the realities of salvaging timber. Other information was available regarding timber casualty loss taxation, noxious weeds, and a variety of technical and financial assistance programs.
The program concluded with a hands-on assessment of tree damage due to flames that scorched the crowns of trees. Utilizing a publication generously provided by the University of Idaho and appropriately titled “After the Burn” participants were able to assess the probability of tree mortality due to the severity of the needle scorch, and the proportion to which the crown was burned.
Some Good News for Oregon Loggers
The Portland Tribune reported that a three-member panel at the Portland Business Alliance’s monthly breakfast agreed that Oregon’s timber industry could expect to see growth in global demand for wood fiber. However, they warned the increase would be slow and irregular.
Panelist Andrew Miller, president and chief executive officer of Portland’s Stimson Lumber, said that Stimson has had trouble getting logging contractors for the past three years. “The whole supply chain shrunk. It will take years in some cases to rebuild capacities.”
In the meantime, Oregon Congress-men Greg Walden (R-Hood River), Peter DeFazio (D-Springfield), and Kurt Schrader (D-Canby) are working on a bill that would give control of 1.4 million acres managed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to the state of Oregon.
Wood Resources International Shows Improved Lumber Demands
Wood Resource Quarterly reports that the improved U.S. housing market over the last four months has resulted in higher lumber production in the US and increased importation of lumber. Because of this, lumber prices rose more than 30 percent last year. However, sawlog prices have remained unchanged.
U.S. housing starts are at a four-year high. They jumped to 894,000 units in October. This was 19 percent higher than in August, and as much as 42 percent more than in October of last year. The trend looks like it will continue upward — not without bumps — for the next 12 months.
Wood Resource Quarterly states that Lumber production has been higher throughout the continent, with an increase of 7.3 percent in August year-over-year in the US, and of 6.3 percent in Canada over the same time period.
For the first time in two years, sawmills in the Western US produced as much lumber as the mills in the US South in August. Typically production levels are higher in the US South than in the West.
The improved US housing market has also resulted in an increase in the importation of lumber. Softwood lumber imports in the 3Q/12 were up nine percent from the previous quarter, which was the highest quarterly import volume since the 2Q/10.
The higher lumber demand has pushed lumber prices up. In November, Southern pine prices were 48 percent higher year-over-year, while Western hemlock prices were up 32 percent over the same period, according to Random Lengths.
Seabird Stops Sales
A federal judge put 11 state forest timber sales on hold to consider a lawsuit that asserts the sales threaten the survival of a protected seabird, the marbled murrelet.
The preliminary injunction was issued in November, and was not good news for the new endangered species conservation policy adopted by the state to produce more timber from state lands.
Besides the 11 timber sales, the order covers all stands occupied by murrelets on the Clatsop, Tillamook and Elliot state forests.
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