May June, 2004

 

 

 

 

In The News

Fewer Restrictions on Logging
In March, the Bush Administration eased logging restrictions in the Pacific Northwest ó finalizing the previously announced rule changes. Now forest managers wonít have to look for rare plants and animals before logging. Instead, the USFS and the BLM will use information provided by the state heritage programs of Washington, Oregon and California in determining whether to allow logging, prescribed burns and trail- or campground-building. Although environmentalists are worried the rule changes will adversely affect rare species and old-growth stands, Rex Holloway, spokesman for the USFS, says that 86 percent of the old growth still remains protected.

Timbered Rock Fire Challenged
The Bureau of Land Management is trying to salvage approximately 23.4 million board feet of timber from the 2002 Timbered Rock fire. The salvage plan, however, is facing challenges from environmentalists. The Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center has led the opposition to the salvage. But agency officials say the salvage from the 27,000-acre fire is legal, and will benefit the burned area and the local economy. In addition to the salvage, the plan will include restoration and research projects, said Tim Reuwsaat, the agency's Medford District manager. The project also will reduce the buildup of hazardous fuels on some 7,000 acres of the nearly 12,000 acres of federally-owned forest that was burned, according to BLM officials.

Eye to Eye
Talking may have paid off. Over the past year environmentalists have been sitting down and talking over timber interests with locals and others at a pub in Centralia. In April the group submitted a proposal to managers of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest to cut 3.7 million board feet of timber, enough to build about 250 new houses. The meeting started with a forest tour, where people were encouraged to sit next to people they hadnít sat next to before. Folks started talking ó constructively. Although 3.7 million doesnít come close to the 1 billion board feet promised to the industry, this approach may have promise. Mark Rey, deputy undersecretary of agriculture, says, "I've asked these groups to test: Is there a billion board feet out there you can agree on? If there is ó and it's a big if ó what we ought to do is go to Congress and tell them there's a plan we can all agree onÖ and move on with a new regime." The key to the Gifford Pinchot agreement was to stay away from old-growth forests and concentrate on overcrowded second-growth stands. The remaining trees can function like the old forests favored by spotted owls and other animals. Although not all are equally as excited, they are finding they can work together instead of fighting each other like enemies.

 

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Weyerhaeuser Settles Lawsuit Weyerhaeuser has agreed to pay $34.5 million to settle an anti-trust lawsuit with four hardwood lumber companies. The companies alleged that Weyerhaeuser manipulated the alder market to force competitors out of business. The company did not admit liability. The attorney for the CLASSIFIED/DISPLAY FORM e satisfied with the settlement, believing it makes up for their losses. And the four companies also feel that Weyerhaeuser has made the needed changes its business practices.

Forest Activist Captured
One of the regionís most well-known radical environmentalists was arrested this past March. Michael James Scarpitti, better known as Tre Arrow, was arrested at an auto parts store in British Columbia on related charges. The federal government will ask that Scarpitti be extradited to Portland, where if convicted he could face up to 80 years in prison. He is being charged with two incidents in 2001 that destroyed trucks owned by Ray Schoppert Logging Co. and Ross Island Sand & Gravel.

Forest Service Not Responsible for Deaths
In April, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration reported that the Forest Service committed serious safety violations last summer in battling an Idaho fire, but OSHA did not directly link the violations to the two firefighters who lost their lives. The report stated that instructions to crewmembers were unclear and escape routes were not identified. In addition, the fire manager didnít receive the weather report and was unaware that stronger winds were expected that afternoon in the Salmon-Challis National Forest. The winds caused the fire to shift and grow to 5,600 acres on July 21-22. The OSHA report states that the Forest Service failed to increase firefighter support or properly analyze the blaze. OSHA conclusions are similar to those reached by the Forest Service in their own internal investigation.

PLF Says Stop
Recently the Pacific Legal Foundation asked environmental organizations to stop using the courts to obstruct needed healthy forest and fire prevention programs in California. "It's clear from [Governor Schwarzenegger's Blue Ribbon Fire] Commission's findings that fuel reduction programs are a key component of protecting California from devastating wildfires like the ones that ravaged southern California last year," said PLF attorney Emma T. Suarez. "Time is of the essence in these situations." "With the constant threat of lawsuits from environmental groups, it's very difficult for our public servants to do the job they need to do to protect Californians," Suarez added. According to the Commission, the inflexibility of laws like the federal Endangered Species Act are problematic and donít allow officials to make decisions that protect the environment.

Lewis County Forest Products Expansion
Thereís good news coming out of Winlock, Wash. Lewis County Forest Products has announced that it has plans for three new facilities. In June, construction will begin on its second mill in Winlock. The mill will process logs up to 60 inches in diameter, increasing production of Titan Cuttings by 50 percent. The operation is expected to be up and running in December. The company also plans to build a planing mill and dry kiln in Chehalis, Wash. And finally, Mason County Forest Products, an affiliate of Lewis County Forest Products, recently purchased a stud mill in Shelton, Wash., from Olympic Wood Products. Equipment at the stud mill will be auctioned and new equipment installed.

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This page was last updated on Tuesday, September 28, 2004