July, 2001

 

 

 

 

In The News 

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The Northwest timber industry is encouraged with the appointment of Mark Rey as undersecretary of agriculture. Rey worked in the timber industry for 18 years. From 1976 to 1994 he worked for the National Forest Products Association, the American Forest Resource Alliance, and the American Forest and Paper Association. He spent the last six years working as a Republican aide to the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. He was one of the individuals who helped draft the salvage rider. Rey's appointment requires a Senate confirmation. But if confirmed, he likely will be involved in efforts to challenge the Clinton administration roadless rule. The timber industry is hopeful Rey will help step up the pace of federal logging. "He knows our industry, knows the West and knows how the forests need to be managed," says Tom Partin, American Forest Resources Council president. 

International Paper Cuts 3,000 Jobs 
International Paper Co. (IP) stated it will be cutting 3,000 jobs (or about 10 percent of its salaried employees) due to restructuring several of its businesses. ``Our capacity management and divestiture efforts, coupled with a rigid financial discipline, are having a favorable impact on our performance and will continue,'' said Chairman John Dillon. ``But the market and economic conditions we are facing require that we further reduce costs within the company.'' The strong dollar isn't helping IP either, making it harder for the company to be competitive with exports. 

Canadian Exports Rise 
For those expecting the wall of wood to come in from Canada with the expiration of the trade agreement, it just hasn't happened. Statistics Canada (Statscan) reported that Canadian lumber exports rose 16.1 percent in April, the first full month since a softwood lumber trade pact with the United States expired, but they were still 7.8 percent below the level of April 2000. "Continued strong housing starts in the United States pushed lumber exports up 16.1 percent in April. However, this result was 7.8 percent lower than that of April 2000," says a Statscan representative. The U.S. figures, coming out soon, are not expected to substantially vary. 

Bosworth on Roadless Issue 
In June, Forest Service Chief Dale Bosworth directed Agency managers to consider the long-term protection of unroaded areas as they make scheduled revisions to the forests' management plans. "It appears that the roadless rule may be embroiled in legal controversy and process for a very long time, with an ultimate outcome that is far from certain," Chief Bosworth writes. "Thus it is necessary for the Agency to act decisively, proactively, and with common sense to ensure that our efforts to protect roadless values will not be confined to legal proceedings."  Until the work is done, Bosworth will personally have authority over timber harvests and road construction in unroaded areas until officials overseeing forests have a chance to map existing roads. As it stands now, roads may be constructed in the 58.5- million-acre designated area but only subject to a "compelling need" and with the Chief's personal approval. Timber sales are not considered a "compelling need." Presumably forest health and fire-preventive treatments are. 

Timber Transportation 
In June, members of the American Trucking Associations' Agricultural Transporters Conference (ATC) met with Secretary of Agriculture, Ann Veneman, to discuss the proposed "Hours of Service" regulations. ATC stressed two points: the need to retain the agricultural exemption, allowing states to issue variances to the federal HOS rules; and the restoration of timber to the definition of "agricultural commodities." Secretary Veneman supported both points and directed that these concerns be communicated to Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta. The Coalition for Transportation Safety and Efficiency also sent a letter to Secretary Mineta to assure the next steps will be taken. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is currently reviewing 53,000 submissions commenting on the proposed rule, including nearly 1,000 written comments from members of the Forest Resource Association and allied forestry and logging associations. 

Reflectors a Must! 
As of June 1, the Federal Department of Transportation's requirement that truck trailers manufactured before December 1, 1993, be retrofitted with reflective tape or reflectors is in effect. The only exception is for pole trailers. All other trailers with an overall width of at least 80 inches and a gross vehicle weight of at least 10,001 pounds must comply. 

Certified Forests in Washington 
On June 9, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported on the State of Washington's efforts to obtain Forest Stewardship Council certification for "about half its forests," in a process launched by the state's former land commissioner Jennifer Blecher. According to certifier Scientific Certification Systems, about half of the state's holdings - 1.2 million acres in the west side - would meet the FSC criteria if four recommendations were adopted: (1) increase the harvest cycle from 60 years to 75-80 years; (2) provide additional field biologists and "law enforcement" staff; (3) inventory select wildlife and habitats; (4) "make old-growth areas presently protected from logging into permanent preserves." A DNR spokesman states, "I don't think we're miles apart on this issue, but it does come at an awkward time." For one thing, any change to harvest practices shows up in the funding formula that supports the state school system. 

Eco-Terrorist Gets 22 Years 
A Eugene, Oregon judge sentenced 22-year-old Jeffrey Michael Luers (anarchist and longtime tree-sitter) to 22 years in prison. Luers had set fire to pickup trucks at a car dealership and attempted to ignite a gasoline tanker at an oil company. Judge Lyle Velure did not consider the frustration over growing ecological destruction as an adequate defense. The prosecution demonstrated that Luers obtained the materials and owned the premises on which the incendiary devices were created. Some feel, however, that the lengthy sentence is inconsistent with what a "standard arsonist" would receive. Luers will be appealing his sentence.

Log Haul A Huge Success

Schools recessed and businesses closed as more than 4,000 cheering spectators turned out to welcome those who brought logs and hopes for brighter days to this beleaguered Northwest Montana sawmill town this past May. Twenty-six log trucks and 265 pickups delivered small diameter logs to the Owens and Hurst Lumber Company in a symbolic gesture to call the nation's attention to the plight of the West's fire-ravaged forests. Last year alone, more than 6.5 million acres burned in wildfires fires most scientists say could be alleviated if the federal government would implement a long-range thinning program designed to reduce the potential for catastrophic fire in at risk forests. Unloading the logs, which were harvested from private forestlands in several western states, began early in the morning was continued all day at Owens and Hurst, the town's only sawmill. 

The mill, once on of the largest purchasers of federal timber in Montana, provided employment for 140 men and women for many years. Last January, the job force was reduced to 65, and now the mill gets most of its timber from burned over forestland in Alberta. Ironically, the nearby Kootenai National Forest holds sufficient dead and dying timber to run the Eureka mill for five years. Thousands of acres of it are plainly visible from an overlook behind the mill. But the Forest Service appears to be in no hurry to salvage what is still useable. The event's most notable guest, Montana Gov. Judy Martz, got a standing ovation with pointed comments contrasting the Bush Administration with the Clinton gets from his dealer - Totem Equipment in Spokane - which keeps machines up and running when his own crews can't handle repairs. The good working relationship with Totem put both him and Connolly on the guest list to the early summer equipment demo in Sweden. 

It's Reynolds' second trip, but he already knows he doesn't need further convincing on cut-to-length equipment. "I can't see myself retiring at 65 still using a chainsaw," he says. "I wanted to stay in this area and I thought this was the equipment to help me do that." Barbara Coyner has covered forestry issues and the timber industry for magazines and newspapers for over 15 years. Administration's "heavy-handed topdown tactics that affect our smallest, most vulnerable communities in the biggest ways." I think there is hope for this administration," she said. "And there is hope in these communities, but mostly there is hope for these forests." Mill co-owner Jim Hurst concurred. "What is more important than the wood itself is the fact that so many people from so many walks of life came so far to stand with us today. This is a significant day for those of us who believe federal forests must be better managed to reduce the risk of fire." Bruce Vincent, President, League of Rural Voters and one of the event's organizers, termed the day "an empowerment session." "We want to empower the new administration to do the right thing for our forests and communities. And we want to empower the people who have been struggling for a decade.

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