Aug, 2001

 

 

 

 

In The News 

Signs of Improvement
The shut down of the Boise Cascade mill in Emmett,
Idaho, felt to some like another nail in the timber industry's
coffin. But things are looking up a bit. Boise is
adding a second shift to their Elgin, Ore., mill and bringing
Idaho mill workers over to fill some of the spots.
Boise Cascade human resources manager, Dave
Salmon, says that one of the benefits of hiring Idaho
workers is that they already have a knowledge of the
company and its philosophy.
The Elgin mill probably won't experience a shut down
any time soon, as they have no shortage of logs. "We have
200,00 acres of timber in Idaho and will be bringing in
logs from there," says Salmon. "That's cost effective, and
we'll be doing it long term."
With the changes completed, Salmon doesn't foresee
any layoffs in the immediate future. "Employment is stable.
Even though we're always looking for efficiencies,"
says Salmon. "We are at or near budget level, the level at
which we need to run in order to remain economically
feasible over the long run."

Plum Creek Land Exchange
The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and
Plum Creek Timber are discussing a 12,000-acre land
exchange. The DNR would give Plum Creek approximately
3,790 acres of land located in King, Pierce and
Skamania counties in exchange for 8,550 acres in those
same counties as well as in Clark and Cowlitz counties.
The hope is that the exchange will "block up" state trust
land and improve land management.
Bales of Energy
Timberjack has received funding from the European
Union (EU) to research and develop new processes in forest
biomass technology.
The challenge is to develop a production system that
makes biomass harvesting practical, efficient and costeffective.
Experts believe that the successful application of
biomass as an energy source will ultimately hinge on its
ability to be "packaged" for delivery. The biomass product
has to be bundled in a manageable form that's easily
collected, transported, stored and utilized. Timberjack
has already adapted several of its harvesting machines
and methods to enhance biomass production.
The bundling machine produces "slash logs" that are
more than 9 feet long and 3 feet in diameter. Currently,
three test machines are in operation in Finland, working
for the country's largest biomass power plant. The building
system produces an hourly average of 20-30 bundles,
at a weight of between .4 and .7 tons. The bundles are
forwarded with standard forwarders, with each bundle
containing about 1 MW of energy when combusted,
which equals approximately 16 to 21 gallons of oil fuel.
The bundles have a number of positive features. They
can be stacked or stored indefinitely, are less combustible
than loose slash, can be transported on standard over-theroad
trucks and crushing or chipping can be done at the
plant.

Ugly Win For Eco-terrorists
The Eagle Creek timber sales have been a target of
environmentalists for quite some time. And the Eagle
Creek activists recently scored a victory - an ugly one.
Some Oregon sawmills, though in need of logs, are
declining to buy and process wood form the Eagle Creek
sales for fear they will be at risk of terrorist violence. This
came after a fire bombing that destroyed three logging
trucks on June 1. Despite the fact that federal investigators
are aggressively pursuing the bombers, mills don't want
to be a possible target.
"It's sad. They're winning the battle, and I don't like
that," said Jeff Lampa, a log buyer at RSG Forest Products
of Molalla, a company that cancelled their purchase order
for wood for the Eagle sales. "But we have to go on and
try to purchase logs that we can handle safely.

Funds For Thinning
The Baker Ranger District received a grant from the
National Fire Plan to expand a buffer by 250 acres. This
buffer is designed to help protect a 10,000-acre watershed
from any fire moving north from the Elk Creek area.
Workers started the project last summer and the grant
should help them continue their efforts for keeping future
fires at bay. But even efforts such as these are sometimes
not enough. "When Mother Nature decides to come after
you there's not much you're going to do about it," said
Dick Fleming, the Baker City's public works director. "But
it gives you a fighting chance when you have these
breaks. It takes some of the steam out of the fire."
The Baker district hadn't expected the funds so soon;
but the fires experienced last summer generated the interest
and the quick response.

U.S. Duty Imposed on Canadian Softwood
On August 10, the U.S. Department of Commerce
issued a preliminary ruling that Canada subsidizes softwood
lumber, distorting the U.S. softwood lumber market
and injuring U.S. sawmills and their employees. The
Department set preliminary duties at 19.31 percent, effective
immediately and applied retroactively for 90 days.
"With this ruling, there can be no remaining
doubts that Canadian lumber mills, subsidized by
their government, benefit from pricing policies
which hurt our U.S. producers and workers," says
Coalition chairman Rusty Wood, president of
Tolleson Lumber Company of Perry, GA. "While we
appreciate our government's action against the
unfair trade, we believe the Commerce Department
still underestimated the scale of Canada's subsidies.
Final duties should be higher to offset fully the
unfair trade and the widespread injury subsidized
imports have inflicted on our industry."
Peter Strader, Legislative Director of the Paper, Allied-
Industrial, Chemical and Energy Works International
Union (PACE), said: "Although the ruling is of no comfort
to the thousands of workers who have already lost their jobs, the union is hopeful it will help create a level playing
field for the future."
It comes as no surprise that the BC Lumber Trade
Council was unhappy with the ruling. They felt that the
methods used to determined the duty were biased
toward U.S. producers - using first quarter of 2001 as
the base period for comparison of lumber shipments with
the second quarter of 2001.
"It is Canada's position that the only fair comparison
of shipments should be between the second quarter of
2000 and the second quarter of 2001," said John Allan,
president of the BC Lumber Trade Council. "When you
compare the same period in different years, factors such
as weather and market demand are more alike. Softwood
lumber is primarily used for new home construction. Of
course lumber imports are higher in spring than in winter;
people don't build houses in the winter."
The Canadian lumber industry will be damaged by
the duty - almost $2 billion of the $10 billion Canadian
industry will be going directly to the U.S.
"The duty imposed today continues a battle that will
be a long and costly one," says Allen.

Testing Certification Programs
The Oregon State forestry board tentatively approved
the testing of two leading forest certification programs in
state forests - The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and
the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI). The test would be
both for information gathering and for assessing the two
certification programs. The two forests most likely to be
used will be Elliot State Forest and Sun Pass State Forest.
The board has been hesitant to adopt standards for forest
certification because they don't want to appear partisan to a
particular system. (There are approximately 40 certification
systems presently competing for a piece of the action.) "I'm
concerned that it could get in conflict with our charter as a
board," said board member Howard Sohn.
If the pilot is a success and the two forests are certified, it
could lead to more state forests being certified in the future.

Spying for Beetles
The U2, a high-altitude spy plane, used in the 60's for
gathering information on Soviet missile sites, has different
mission these days - trace spruce bark beetles.
NASA is sending the plane up to take infrared photos of
a mixed birth and spruce forest just north of Kenai, Alaska.
The hope is that the infrared energy captured on the film
will allow experts to pick out stands are in danger. "The
experts will spot trees still alive but stressed out by the
gnawing bugs, says Marve Rude, head of the mapping for
the Kenai Peninsula's spruce bark beetle mitigation project
The experiment comes with a hefty price tag - $271,00
- and will be funded by a $3.5 million congressionally
mandated NASA grant. The spruce beetle tracking is only
one of eight experiments NASA will be conducting in
Alaska.

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