September October 2005
 

 

 

IN THE NEWS

Katrina takes out trees
Hurricane Katrina has caused unspeakable damage. The media has focused primarily on the cities, but the forest service estimates that approximately 19 billion board feet of timber valued at about $5 billion was damaged across five million acres in Mississippi, Alabama, and Louisiana. Most of the land is privately held and in Mississippi.

Murphy Plywood Mill Destroyed
Murphy Plywood's mill in Sutherlin, Ore. was destroyed in a fire in early July. The fire began on the roof and quickly spread, destroying 250,000 square feet of the plant and causing an estimated $30 million in damages. Newspapers reported it was probably a faulty motor, inside one of the driers used to dry veneer, that caused of the fire. The plant was a total loss, but luckily no one was injured. The owners of the
mill have decided to rebuild.

Canada Sues for Duties
On August 26 the Canadian government as well as the Canadian Lumber Trade Alliance, Ontario lumber producers, the Canadian Wheat Board, and Norsk Hydro Canada Inc., filed a lawsuit to have the U.S. return the duties collected on Canadian softwood lumber imported to the U.S. The suit was filed in the U.S. International Trade Court in New York. The suit alleges that the Byrd Amendment, which diverts duties from importers to those in the U.S. injured by imports, does not apply to Canadian industries because of NAFTA.

USFS Evaluates Wildfires
This July the USFS released an official estimate of costs of three 2003 wildfires that hit Southern California's San Bernardino National Forest. It arrived at a figure of $1.2 billion — approximately $61 million representing the Agency's actual suppression costs. The total was based on: claims submitted for insurance payments (about half of the total), expenses incurred by rescue services, and expenses associated with broader water-quality impacts. It did not take into account the destruction of wildlife habitat, lost income, or lost recreational revenues. San Bernardino Forest Supervisor Gene Zimmerman stated, "The vegetation isn't going to stop growing and neither will the population. If we get to a point and think we are ‘done’ and stop treating the forest, we risk being in the exact same situation down the road."As of August 1, for all ownerships nationwide, the 2005 fire season had burned 4,673,837 acres.

No Sierra-Pacific Plant in Everett
Sierra-Pacific Industries decided against building its $100 million sawmill and power plant at the Port of Everett. The decision was made in part due to permit conditions set by the City. The company is now looking at an 80-acre site in Skagit County — west of Mount Vernon and north of State Route 20. Sierra-Pacific also plans to build an addition to its Aberdeen mill, able to process another 250 million board feet of lumber. But the company says it plans to wait on expansion until it finishes the new mill.

Port of Olympia and Weyerhaeuser Sign Lease
Weyerhaeuser will be relocating its Tacoma port facility to Olympia, Wash. The Port of Olympia Commission approved
a lease between the Port and Weyerhaeuser for a 24.5-acre site on the Port peninsula in Olympia for Weyerhaeuser's forest products export facility. The five-year lease contains options for three consecutive two-year extensions and start-up is expected in the spring of 2006. The Olympia facility is expected to handle up to 18 export vessels and 30 barges of in-bound logs annually. With the addition of the new business, over 100 million board feet of export wood is predicted to cross the Port docks each year — that’s up significantly from 41 million in 2004. "The Port has established itself as a regional log load center, and this move captures a market opportunity that is a natural extension of what we already do well," says Port Commission President Bob Van Schoorl.

Litigation Ties up Timber
A letter from the U.S. Forest Service to Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR) stated that approximately 1.6 billion board feet — nearly 80 percent of the average annual sale of timber from national forest land— is tied up in litigation. 1.6 billion board feet can be translated into 111,000 homes. "The timber sales program is in worse shape than even these disturbing numbers would indicate. Not counted in this figure are the proposed sales currently tied up in the administrative appeals process, nor those held up while waiting for a resolution on litigation facing other sales," said Walden. The Forest Service's timber sale program currently provides approximately 2 billion board feet of volume a year. At its peak in the 1970s under Democratic President Jimmy Carter, 11 billion board feet were sold a year.

Halting Old-Growth Harvesting on Washington Trust Lands
This July the Washington Board of Natural Resources agreed to ban harvesting of old-growth timber from state trust lands in Western Washington, which are primarily located on the Olympic Peninsula. Preserving the trees is part of the Policy for Sustainable Forests to be adopted in the fall. The ban covers approximately 88,000 acres. Almost all old-growth there is already protected because of habitat and conservation agreements. Only about 1,000 acres will be protected for the first time.
The legislature will be asked to compensate the trust beneficiaries. The estimated value of the lost harvest is estimated to be anywhere between
$4 and $10 million.

End of Era at Coos Bay
Ships laden with logs have been leaving from Coos Bay for the last century. But that era has come to a close. In July when a 561-foot ship left the dock in Coos Bay headed for Japan, loaded with timber, it would be the last shipment of logs out of the exporter. As recently as 12 years ago Coos Bay was considered "the world’s largest lumber shipping center," says Martin Callery, the director of communication and freight mobility for the Oregon International Port of Coos Bay. But 300 million board feet of logs a year in the 1980s dropped to 30 million board feet per year today. Although this ends the export business for the community, Scott Starkey, vice president of operations for Menasha Forest Products, says business is not going to suffer. "It’s not going to change the amount or the way we do forestry."

TW

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This page was last updated on Thursday, November 10, 2005