February, 2001

 

 

 

 

In The News 

Bush to Undo Forest Preservation? 
Everyone is waiting and watching. Will President-elect George W. Bush take action on the road less initiative Clinton pushed through prior to leaving office? In an interview at his ranch in Crawford, Texas, Bush said that chief among the steps he would review were regulations putting nearly 60 million acres of the nation's forests off limits to development. "I understand the Western mentality, and I want the Western mentality represented in this administration," said Bush. "We've got lawyers looking at every single issue, every single opportunity to reverse actions taken by Clinton in the waning weeks of his presidency ." 

According to Robert H. Nelson, Senior Fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, "Setting aside this vast area of forest will, ironically, also be bad for the forest environment. After a century of fire suppression, many western forests - including many in western road less areas - are a torch ready to blow. When the fires of 2000 are repeated, there soon will be more environmental damage all around - the oldest trees destroyed, runoff of sediment, 'sterilization' of forest soils, and air pollution hanging over much of the west ." Time will tell what results the new President will be able to achieve.

21st Century Truck Program 
A major new multi-agency and industry partnership, 21st Century Truck Program, released a "technology roadmap ." It outlined 21st Century's plan for developing commercially viable technologies to increase energy efficiency, reduce pollution and improve safety in the nation's trucking industry. They've set targets for as early as 2010. "The innovations resulting from this partnership will reduce our dependence on oil, improve the nation's air quality, and enhance the competitiveness of the U.S. truck and bus industry," said Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson. "At the same time, it will ensure safe and affordable freight and bus transportation for the nation's economy ." The partnership between the industry and federal agencies will focus on cutting fuel use and emissions by buses and trucks, while enhancing their safety, affordability and performance. Already being studied are a number of truck platforms, transit buses and military vehicles.

1,100 year old Trees Hold Up Sewers 
A main arterial in Pierce County, Wash., will be closed for several months, after sewer construction crews uncovered part of an ancient forest that a Mount Rainier mud flow buried more than a thousand years ago. Crews from Tydico Corp. of Renton were surprised to uncover the buried, well preserved and saturated logs. Some trees were still standing upright, others leaning, and some lying horizontal. The crews also uncovered hard, claylike soils formed when volcanic ash trapped unexpected amounts of water, said project manager Kathleen Wilcox of Tydico. The trees are well preserved because of the large amounts of water in them and the soils around them, says Pat Pringle, a geologist for the State Department of Natural Resources. He has obtained samples and will car Oregon State Police investigators, caused more than $400,000 in damage. 

The fire is the latest in a string of arsons the ELF has taken credit for in recent years, including a Christmas day fire that destroyed a $1 million Boise Cascade Corp. office in Monmouth, and a blaze that gutted the two-story Medford headquarters of U.S. Forest Industries in December. That fire caused $500,000 in damages. The ELF is an international underground organization that uses economic sabotage to stop alleged environmental destruction. Luckily, the fire didn't stop business at the Superior Lumber Co. "Employees haven't missed a beat," said Steve Swanson, president of Superior. But he added that two dozen people employed in the office weren't able to return to work until Wednesday. "Our computer systems are salvageable and our records - although smoke and water damaged - are salvageable," Swanson said. "We are working to salvage them now ."

Service Softens on Old Growth 
On January 8, U.S. Forest Service Chief Michael Dombeck announced an end to commercial logging of old growth timber in national forests. From now on, the Forest Service "will manage old growth forests specifically to maintain and enhance old growth values and characteristics," Dombeck said during a conference at Duke University in North Carolina. On January 9, Dombeck softened his statement a bit by saying the new policy would take several years to carry out and would involve public input. 

He also said decisions about how to safeguard the largest and oldest trees left in national forests after more than a century of logging would be left to forest supervisors around the country. "First, the Forest Service would complete an inventory to identify old growth areas that should be protected," Dombeck said in a statement to agency employees. "Second, through the local planning process - which affords extensive public and stakeholder involvement - each national forest would determine how much and how best to protect the dwindling old growth resource ." 

Though only a miniscule amount of the trees left standing in most of the U.S. consist of old growth, that is not necessarily the case in the Northwest. Forest Service spokesperson Rex Holloway said that while the logging of large, old timber has virtually ceased on the east side of the Cascade Range to protect wildlife, old growth trees still make up roughly half of all timber now logged on the west side of the Cascades.

2000 Was a Good Year For Partek's Tractor Operations 
Partek subsidiary Valtra, which today celebrates its 50th anniversary, will be announcing preliminary figures for 2000 at a press conference. Valtra's net sales rose to EUR 670 million, which is approximately 13percent higher than in 1999. Valtra sold about 15,900 tractors, compared with some 15,000 in the previous year. Latin America in particular experienced growth. 

Valtra's sales and market shares increased on the main European markets although overall tractor sales went down by about 7 percent. For the first time Valtra's market share rose above 50 percent in Finland and above 30 percent in Scandinavia. Valtra's subsidiary Sisu Diesel Inc. produced a record number of 20,729 diesel engines, i.e. 842 more than in the year before.

Arson Responsible For Blaze 
The shadowy group known as ELF claimed responsibility for a Jan. 2 fire at the office of Superior Lumber Co. in Glendale, Ore. The fire, determined to be arson by Oregon State Police investigators, caused more then $400,000 in damage.  The fire is the latest in a strong of arsons the ELF has taken credit for in recent years, including a Christmas day fire that destroyed a $1 million Boise Cascade Corp.  office in Monmouth, and a blaze that gutted the two-story Medford headquarters of U.S. Forest Industries in December.  

That fire caused a $500,000 in damages.  The ELF is an international underground organization that uses economic sabotage to stop alleged environmental destruction.  Luckily, the fire didn't stop business at the Superior Lumber Co.  "Employees haven't missed a beat," said Steve Swanson, president of Superior.  But he added that two dozen people employed in the office weren't able to return to work until Wednesday.  "Our computer systems are salvageable and our records - although smoke and water damaged - are salvageable," Swanson said.  "We are working to salvage them now."

New Road Policy Forest Service (FS) 
Chief Mike Dombeck approved a new forest road management policy. It requires that a forest transportation atlas be created and maintained. It also requires each national forest, and any other units of the National Forest System, identify the minimum road system needed for safe and efficient travel and for administration, utilization and protection of National Forest System lands. The FS believes this policy is necessary to: 

  • ensure that the National Forest transportation system meets current and future land and resource management objectives 
  • provide for safe public access and travel
  •  allow for economical and efficient management, and 
  • to minimize and to reverse adverse ecological impact from roads. 

If you would like to read more on the new forest road management policy, you can find it on the internet at www.fs.fed..us/news/roads/policy.shtml.

New Hardwood Drying Technique 
The Forest Products Journal reported that researchers at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in Tennessee have developed a microwave pre-treatment system that reduces the amount of time needed to dry hardwoods from about 2 months to 10 days. The system could save the lumber industry significant energy related expenses and reduce inventory requirements. It could also reduce yield losses caused by long periods during which wood is exposed to insects, weather, and fungus. The technology, developed by ORNL and partners, selectively opens cellular membranes, increasing fluid flow through the wood. According to researchers, this improves the drying rate and decreases the time required to kiln dry wood. The treatment also permits the production of a broad new range of low-pressure impregnated wood products for a variety of applications.

No Sale 
As of late January there has been no change in Weyerhaeuser's ongoing bid for Willamette Industries. Willamette is still saying "no" to the company's offers. "Let me show you something," said CEO Duane McDougall to a local Tacoma News Tribune Reporter. From a small stack on his desk, he handed over a baseball cardsized decal. "We didn't make these. Someone in one of our plants did," McDougall said, smiling. On the glossy scrap is superimposed Weyerhaeuser's green logo, in a red circle with a slash through it. Under the logo is the phrase "Just say 'No Wey'

U.S. Sierra Policy 
On January 12 the U.S. Forest Service announced its management plan for the Sierra Nevadas. It was no surprise that the plan included drastic cutbacks in logging and sweeping protections for old growth trees and endangered species. Responses to the plan were also no surprise. Environmentalists enthusiastically endorsed it, and timber industry advocates strongly opposed it. The Sierra Nevada management plan affects more than a tenth of the state - 11.5 million acres. It does not, however, apply to the Sierra's private landholdings.

The plan began in 1992 as an attempt to protect the spotted owl. Over time it expanded into an attempt to define a comprehensive management vision for the entire Sierra Nevada range. The goal of the final plan, said Brad Powell, Pacific Southwest Regional Forester for the Forest Service, is to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire while preserving old growth forests, enhancing wildlife habitat and protecting endangered species such as the California spotted owl and the Pacific fisher.

 

This page was last updated on Monday, November 10, 2003