January and February 2007

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In The News

 

Potlatch to Sell 120,000 Acres in Idaho

Idaho’s largest private landowner, Potlatch Corp., says it’s planning to sell up to 120,000 “non-strategic” acres of timberland in Northern Idaho. The company’s research indicates that the land is worth more developed than used for timber.

Potlatch owns 1.5 million acres in rural and mountain regions of Idaho, Minnesota, Arkansas, and Oregon, including about 670,000 acres in Idaho. The company says that its non-strategic lands total 100,000-120,000 acres in Idaho, 100,000-120,000 acres in Minnesota, and 50,000-60,000 acres in Arkansas.

The non-strategic acres are worth four times as much developed than with trees. And those areas near lakes and rivers, with easy access, have the highest value. William R. DeReu, vice president of land sales and development, says that three in five baby boomers want to retire in rural areas or small towns. “That’s a sweet spot for us,” he said.

 

Reasonable Lynx Habitat

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service issued its final ruling on the critical habitat for the Canadian Lynx. A designation of 18,000 square miles was proposed in the draft, but the USFW decided on a more reasonable figure — 1,841 square miles. The entire habitat lies within the boundaries of three National Parks — Minnesota’s Voyageurs National Park, Montana’s Glacier National Park, and Washington’s North Cascades National Park.

 

Timber Companies Receive Large Refund

The softwood lumber agreement, which went into effect October 12, 2006, requires that most duties paid on Canadian lumber, sold in the U.S. since 2002, be returned. Weyerhaeuser, one of the companies to receive a large refund, received $344 million, which represents 82 percent of duties it had paid and doesn’t expect any more. Pope & Talbot received a $127.5 million refund.

 

Salvaging Timber from Tornado

In June, a rare tornado (with 150 mph winds) hit Bear, Idaho, and uprooted thousands of trees in a 12-mile swath. It is estimated that 26 million board feet of ponderosa pine came down in the Payette National Forest near the Oregon border. Efforts began immediately to salvage the lumber.

Although there was an objection by a Montana environmental group, the USFS auctioned off four of five areas for salvage logging. The four parcels were auctioned in November for a total of $1,072,794. No one bid on the parcel that required helicopters to access an estimated six million board feet.

 

Salvage Bill Dead

Two Republican senators, Mike Crapo of Idaho and Gordon Smith of Oregon, say there wasn’t enough time to take up the controversial bill that would speed logging of burned forests and the planting of new trees after storms and wildfires.

Both say they will try again next year to approve the logging bill. In an email to the Associated Press, Smith said, “Oregon should be allowed to manage its forests. There was little bipartisan support for a salvage bill in this Congress. Without broader bipartisan support in the next Congress, Oregon is going to be in a very tight bind.”

 

New Conveyor System Saves Kilowatts

A new, chip truck conveyor belt loader at the Simpson Timber Co.’s new planer mill is expected to save the company 0.5 percent of their annual electrical output or 3 million kilowatt hours — enough energy to supply 240 residential homes. The project is one of the largest ever on the Shelton, Wash., waterfront.

The old system used energy-intensive motors that blew the chips from the conveyor into the barges. The new system — an enclosed conveyor — is powered by smaller, energy-efficient motors, and the wood chips are emptied into trucks.

The price tag for the conveyor system was $800,000; however, $365,000 of that figure was paid through an energy conservation grant from the Bonneville Power Administration. The $435,000 Simpson paid is just a piece of its $20 million planer mill expansion. Bev Holland, spokeswoman for the company, said that Simpson should be able to recoup their investment, with lower energy bills, in a little more than three years.

 

Vaagen Buys Usk Sawmill

Vaagan Bros. Lumber Inc. purchased Ponderay Valley Fibre’s sawmill in Usk Wash., to help both mills weather the lower timber prices. Although the companies did not release the purchase price, county records listed the sale of the mill at $20.4 million.

 

Oregon Minimum Wage Rises

On January 1, Oregon’s minimum wage increased 30 cents per hour, taking the minimum wage from $7.50 to $7.80 per hour. This brings Oregon’s minimum wage to the second highest in the nation, behind Washington. The Oregon Employment Department sent out posters for employers, which must be posted. The posters can also be downloaded at www.boli.state.or.us.

 

Simpson to Purchase Mill

Simpson Timber Co. announced in November it would purchase the Caffall Brothers stud mill in Longview, Wash., and a closing date was set for mid-December.

In the last four years, Caffall Brothers built a new 29,500-square-foot planer building, installed new equipment, and made other improvements as well. The county and city records value the improvements at $1.5 million.

“We’ve been interested in the Longview area for some time,” said Ray Tennison, president of Simpson. “Caffall Brothers’ recent remodel of its stud mill and its well-qualified management team and work force are a good fit for Simpson’s business strategy.” Spokeswoman Bev Holland says the company currently doesn’t plan to change the employment level at the mill.

 

Soper-Wheeler is Honored

The oldest privately owned forestry company in California, Soper-Wheeler Company has a long history of support for the conservation of natural resources and sustainable forestry practices. And in December, the Yuba County Resource Conservation District recognized the company, naming it the 2006 Conservationist of the Year. Soper-Wheeler was praised for “striving to find solutions based on common sense and good science, in order to arrive at decisions that are environmentally, economically and socially practical.”

Vaagan Bros. Lumber Inc. purchased Ponderay Valley Fibre’s sawmill in Usk Wash., to help both mills weather the lower timber prices. Although the companies did not release the purchase price, county records listed the sale of the mill at $20.4 million.

 

TW

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This page was last updated on Tuesday, April 17, 2007