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In the News
The Station Fire in California's Angeles National Forest was one of the most dangerous fires this summer, covering over 160,000 acres. NASA images give an idea of just how far reaching the fire was. http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/NaturalHazards/view.php?id=401
Sorting Wood from the Wood
The USDA Small Business Innovation Research program awarded Forest Concepts with a two-year $350,000 Phase II contract to advance the development of their technologies, which reprocess hog fuel and other chipped woody biomass to create clean streams of wood fiber and bark, while removing dirt, rock, and other contaminants.
Clean wood fiber is the material of choice for most biochemical processes. Bark has higher energy content for thermal energy production, and reportedly produces higher yield in some gasification systems.
The chip beneficiation process (a fancy term for sorting the wood from the wood) being developed by Forest Concepts can be optimized to produce precision feedstocks for bioconversion or thermochemical processing. The organic co-products can then be directed to other solid biofuels, soil amendments, and other uses.
Softwood Lumber Ruling
Finally, a piece of good news for the struggling U.S. timber industry. President Barack Obama's administration has helped secure a ruling allowing the United States to continue collecting a 10 percent duty on Canadian softwood lumber imports. The Seattle PI stated that the United States is collecting the 10 percent duty on imports from four Canadian provinces (Ontario, Quebec, Manitoba and Saskatchewan) until it reaches $68 million (the amount set by arbitrators earlier this year for Canada to remedy violations of the Softwood Lumber Agreement between the two countries). Canada had sought to reduce the total amount to $36.7 million.
Sierra Enters Carbon Trade
Sierra Pacific Industries, California's largest private forest owner in California, entered carbon markets with a deal to preserve redwoods and other trees and sell credits for soaking up greenhouse gases to power companies and investors.
This is one of the first moves by a commercial forest owner to enter the carbon markets and may be a sign that they are beginning to see the financial benefits.
Reuters reported that Sierra Pacific and Equator LLC's Eco Products Fund will develop a 60,000 acre project to sequester 1.5 million tons of carbon dioxide, roughly equivalent to 200,000 to 300,000 cars' pollution in one year.
Accelerated ESA Listings
The Obama Administration is working to accelerate Endangered Species Act (ESA) listing decisions for approximately 250 "candidate species" of plants and animals. Many of the listings have been on the list for years, some as long as 25.
The administration's move to handle this backlog of listings is in response to a lawsuit filed by the Center of Biological Diversity.
The backlog will be handled by implementing an ecosystem-based listing process that evaluates many species at once, and more money will be allocated to the project.
This fall, there were new appointments in the industry. Harris Sherman was nominated by President Obama as Under Secretary for National Resources Conservation Service. He is currently the Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources.
Rowan Gould and Dan Ashe are the new Deputy Directors for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services (FWS).
Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell appointed Leslie Weldon as Regional Forester for the Northern Region. That position oversees 15 national forests and four national grasslands in Montana, Idaho, and North Dakota.
Meg Mitchell is the new Willamette National Forest Supervisor, coming to the position with more than 20 years of service in the agency.
Montana Voter Survey
In late July, Harstad Strategic Research conducted telephone surveys of 503 active registered voters statewide in Montana. Below are some of their key findings:
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