Fraser Paper Certified In September, Fraser Paper Inc., a member of the American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA) achieved third party SFI (Sustainable Forestry Initiative) certification, which includes 1.76 million acres in Canada. The Canadian lands represent the first outside the U.S. to be independently third party SFI certified. "The SFI program has taken a monumental leap forward," says W. Henson Moore, AF&PA president and CEO. "With Fraser's announcement, the SFI program has solidified its position as an international forestry standard."
Boise Cascade Setting Up in Satsop Lewis County has been trying to lure Boise Cascade to build their new plant in Chehalis, Wash. However, it now looks as if Boise is seriously considering the Satsop Development Park in Grays Harbor County - a site once intended for a nuclear power plant. "Most of our energies are going into a site at Satsop," says Boise spokesman Doug Bartels. "We're still considering the Chehalis site, as well as Southern Oregon. "We're sad, but still hopeful," says Buck Hubbert, president of the Industrial Commission, based in Chehalis. "A lot of people worked hard to get 'em to locate here, and it would be too bad. Everybody hopes, but you don't know anything until you see 'em building someplace."
Thinning 455,000 Acres Fires have had an effect on the Clinton administration. The administration now wants to clear brush and trees on another 455,000 acres of federal lands next year, a 33 percent increase over what agencies planned before this summer's wildfires. That would make a total of 1.8 million acres set to be thinned through logging and prescribed burns to reduce the threat of fires. The thinning, which would mostly take place near growing communities like Billings, Mont., and Flagstaff, Ariz., double what the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management logged and burned five years ago to prevent fires. Agencies "are committed to minimizing the losses from future, unnaturally intense fires," said Jim Lyons, an Agriculture Department undersecretary. The thinning would, however, involve mostly small diameter trees, not commercially valuable large timber. President Clinton also plans to spend an additional $1.6 billion for fire fighting and fire prevention in 2001.
New Manager for SFIsm To improve the effectiveness and credibility of the AF&PA SFI program, SFI has established a multi stakeholder Sustainable Forestry Board (SFB) to manage several critical components of the SFI program. Board members will continuously monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of the SFI Standard and Verification Procedures; upgrade the Standard and Verification Procedures and assure consistency of application; and with the AF&PA Board, monitor and resolve any noncompliance issues. The SFB is composed of 15 members, 40 percent of which are AF&PA members. The remainder were selected to represent diverse interest groups including: environmental/ conservation groups; public officials (state and federal agencies); professional/academic groups; logging professionals and nonindustrial landowners.
Proposed Clear Cutting Ban In early September, a bill that would have banned clear cutting in the Sierra Nevada Mountains passed the California Senate Natural Resources Committee by a five to four vote. The proposed legislation would have imposed a moratorium on clear cutting in the Sierra Nevada Mountains for two years until an eight member scientific panel could assess the environmental impacts of the forestry practice. However, the state legislature adjourned for the year before debate on the measure could take place, and that left both sides wondering about the proposal's future. Bill Houston, a Simpson Timber Co. chief forester, said that clear cutting has been studied "to death. Even aged tree management is a widely accepted practice." Houston is more concerned about the ramifications of a ban on Simpson's harvesting. In the long term, Simpson's cut would be reduced by 40 to 50 percent of its annual total if the bill passes, and could cause considerable layoffs. Tim McKay, executive director for the North coast Environmental Center, says the issue is primarily an aesthetic one. "Clear cutting ain't pretty. It's primarily an issue for upscale residents living in the foothills (of the Sierra Nevada) suddenly offended by clearcuts in their neighborhood."
Bill Approved The Senate approved a bill designed to stabilize payments made to counties containing federal forests, since some areas have been crashing as timber sales on national forestlands have declined. Sen. Ron Wyden (D Ore.) and Larry Craig (R Idaho) introduced the measure, S. 1608 (S. Rpt. 106275), the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self Determination Act. The bill guarantees payments made to counties from a fund that collects 25 percent of federal forest products and service revenues under the Forest Service and 50 percent of Bureau of Land Management forest receipts.
SmurfitStone Juicing Up with soaring power prices, SmurfitStone is taking steps to generate more of its own power. Within a year the Missoula, Mont. paper mill plans to install a steampowered generator. The generator will be taken from one of the closed mills and rebuilt for the paper mill. Adding the generator will boost the company's in-house power generation to about 15 megawatts - roughly 25 percent of the 60 megawatts it needs to run at full speed, or the same megawatts needed to power the entire Missoula Valley. Since May, power prices have zoomed to unheard of highs in the Pacific Northwest. Industries, like the mill in Bellingham, have had to shut down because operations have become unprofitable. Bob Borschee, plant manager, says that even generating as little as 25 percent of its power could help the mill better weather the price volatility.
Grays Harbor Rail Spur The Port of Grays Harbor, Wash., hopes to load up to 30 rail cars a day with logs destined for U.S. mills, with the addition of their new $185,000, 1,600 foot rail spur. The Port wants to adapt to the growing domestic log market by developing its log to rail loading operation in the north cargo yard. "Today we are loading 20 rail cars a day with logs using our existing lines," says Gary Nelson, executive director for the Port. "Our customers are telling us we need to be prepared to load over 30 cars daily. To do this efficiently, the rail spur is a necessity." Roy Nott, president of Panel Tech International, one of the shippers using the Port, agreed. "Being one of the few locations on the west coast that offers direct access to both Burlington Northern Santa Fe and Union Pacific railroads makes Grays Harbor a natural for this type of operation."
Less Timber From Alaska National Park Approximately 80 million board feet of Tongass National Forest timber was offered for sale this fiscal year, about 35 million less than last year and only 40 percent of the amount approved in the Tongass Land Management Plan. The amount actually sold to logging companies - including that from sales offered in past years - grew from 313 million to 361 million board feet. A number of factors reduced the Forest Service's original fiscal 2000 projected offering of 148 million board feet, said Forrest Cole, forest management staff officer - a change in environmental analysis requirements for small timber sales, sending field crews to help fight fires in the Lower 48, timber sale appeals and late decisions on environmental impact statements. Jack Phelps, Alaska Forest Association executive director, said the small sale amounts are costing Alaska. But others like Aurah Landau, an organizer of the Southeast Alaska Conservation Council, say it's dwindling demand, not bureaucracy, that's caused the slowdown.
Silent Sawmills The saws of the Northwest have gone silent as near record low lumber prices, among other factors, force temporary mill shutdowns. "We have hit rock bottom lumber prices," says Chris West, vice president of the Northwest Forestry Association. "It's one thing to hit those in the winter, but another at this time, when there's still a lot of building going on." At least 30 Northwest mills have closed or are considering temporary closures, putting hundreds out of work. The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Forest Products Laboratory estimates 160 softwood lumber mills nationwide have pared down operations this summer, which could reduce the lumber supply by 775 million board feet. And Henry Spelter, wood economist for the Forest Products Laboratory, estimates that U.S. and Canada softwood lumber mills have produced 1 billion more board feet than necessary during the first two quarters of the year. What's brought all this on? One factor is that housing starts have slowed with rising interest rates. "This industry is a very straightforward commodity market, in which supply continues until supply outstrips demand," says Patti Case, public affairs manager for Simpson Timber. "If you were taking Economics 101, this would be the business to study." Timber consultant Paul Ehinger said 1991 was the last year that things were as rough as this year, though short-term plant closures are increasingly common.
Land Swap A three-way land swap taking place in Oregon could create a state park in Washington County and furnish Tillamook and Clatsop counties with additional state forestland. Preliminary plans call for the state to exchange 1,700 acres of Oregon Parks and Recreation Department land in Tillamook and Clatsop counties swap the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF). ODF would give 1,500 acres of state forest in Tillamook County to Longview Fibre Co., which would then hand over roughly the same amount of both sides of the Banks Vernonia Linear Trail in Washington County to the Parks and Recreation Dept. It's hardly a done deal. "Longview Fibre is willing to continue discussions to try to make the exchange a reality," says Curt Copenhagen, Longview Fibre director of public affairs. "It would have to be a value for value exchange. It's got a long way to go."
IP Pacific Timberlands Up For Sale International Paper says it's going sell their West Coast forest subsidiary, IP Pacific Timberlands, Inc. This sale is in conjunction with a recent announcement that IP is going to divest $3 billion in operational assets that no longer fit its long-term strategic objectives. IP Pacific Timberlands, Inc. was formerly part of Champion International which IP acquired earlier this year, and involves approximately 293,000 acres of Washington forestlands. "We believe IP Pacific Timberlands will be very attractive to another company where there is a strategic fit," says George O'Brien, senior vice president, Forest Resources. "We intend to find a buyer so we can transfer ownership quickly and efficiently. While there is no timetable as to when that may happen, the company is committed to aggressively marketing the forestlands and obtaining a buyer as soon as possible." When it comes to IP Pacific's employees, O'Brien believes some will find jobs with the new owner. "For those employees who no longer have jobs as a result of the divestiture, we are committed to ensuring outplacement, severance, and other benefits are provided."
Land Exchange a Done Deal President Clinton has signed into law the Oregon Land Exchange Act, allowing several Eastern Oregon private landowners to trade environmentally sensitive lands to the BLM and Forest Service for lands interspersed with their private holdings. Oregon Congressman Greg Walden and Oregon Senators Gordon Smith and Ron Wyden sponsored the bill that creates a win/win situation - 70 miles of streamside buffer become public land, while increasing land under the Wild and Scenic River System by 1,300+ acres and adding 5,000 acres of productive forestland to federal ownership.
Log Camps Close After 80 Years An era has ended. Gildersleeve Logging Inc. in southeast Alaska has dismantled its two floating campsites at Dall Island's Grace Harbor and closed down all of its logging activity. One of the floating campsites was the biggest of its kind - with streetlights, church and school. It was a symbol of more prosperous times in the Tongass National Forest. In July a large amount of equipment was towed to Everett, Wash. to sell, and the company has been towing remaining portions of its floating camp to storage sites on eastern Prince of Wales Island. The company employed between 75 and 125 people in the last five years. Although Keaton Gildersleeve says they could keep logging, the large camp lifestyle he loved is gone. "It was never about money, says Keaton. "It was about the way of life."
Salvage Battle In an effort to salvage wood products and restore ecosystem health, the National Forest Service may log portions of the Santa Fe National Forest burned by the 48,000acre Cerro Grande wildfire near Los Alamos last May. John Talberth, conservation director for the Forest Conservation Council, said his group will fight to stop salvage logging in the Santa Fe National Forest. If the salvage project is OK'd, his group will file suit against the U.S. Forest Service. Forest Service officials claim the Cerro Grande project would ensure a healthy forest. It would remove trees so severely burned they would die and fall in about five years, creating forest floor clutter and leaving the area susceptible to possible catastrophic fire in the future. The Forest Service is reviewing two bids from private firms to complete an environmental assessment of the impact of salvage logging on about 3,000 acres in the Cerro Grande burn area in the Jemez Mountains. The agency said it may soon consider a similar contract for the Viveash Fire area near Pecos. The Viveash wildfire charred about 28,000 acres in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains portion of the Santa Fe National Forest in late May and June. Unfortunately, threats of lawsuits and objections from state and federal biologists, environmentalists and area residents stopped the Forest Service from a salvage logging operation after the 1996 Dome Fire, a 16,000 acre burn between Cochiti and Los Alamos. Limited salvage logging was conducted following the 5,100acre Oso Complex Fire in the Jemez range in 1998.
Boise Cascade In Top 10 Boise Cascade Corp. was named one of the nation's most innovative users of information technology by CMP's InformationWeek magazine. The InformationWeek 500 measures the innovative ways in which companies use technology to gain a business advantage. InformationWeek editors sought to identify and reward organizations that demonstrate a pattern of technological and business innovation. Robert Egan, Boise Cascade's director of Information Services, said, "The competitive nature of our businesses compels Boise Cascade to place a premium on running efficiently. That's given us a focused approach to undertaking projects and choosing technologies."