The Washington State Senate has unanimously approved SB 5546, which directs the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to treat one million acres of state land by 2033. Unfortunately, the money to fund this project, and others similar to it, may be hard to come by.
This particular bill comes with a broad range of stakeholders, including the Nature Conservancy and DNR staff.
“As most of us know, we suffered devastating back-to-back summers of the state’s largest wildfires in 2014 and 2015,” said SB 5546’s chief sponsor, Majority Assistant Floor Leader Sen. Brad Hawkins. “But there are fortunately some good things that come from that. We had a community conversation developed locally for ideas for how we can shift our thinking when it comes to wildfire.”
The Times Free Press reported that people have triggered five out of six wildfires in the U.S. over the last two decades, tripling the length of the wildfire season and making it start earlier in the East and last longer in the West.
Although climate change has worsened the nation’s fire season, researchers say human activities are having an even bigger impact.
Scientists analyzed fire data from 1992 to 2012 and found that 84 percent of all U.S. wildfires—but only 44 percent of the total acres burned—were started by people, either by accident or on purpose. And human-caused blazes have more than tripled the length of the wildfire season from 46 days to 154 days, according to a study in a recent journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
“People are moving more and more into natural wild areas and essentially providing ignition for wildfires,” said Jennifer Balch, a fire ecologist at the University of Colorado.
The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) reported in its Eye on Housing blog that the price of lumber, from framing to structural panels, had increased in recent weeks with some prices rising more than 30 percent.
Softwood lumber prices have been relatively steady since 2014, NAHB reported. However, the trade agreement that has governed Canadian imports of softwood lumber since 2006 effectively expired at the end of 2016. The failure to reach a new agreement is the primary catalyst of market-wide price increases. The outlook of a new pact between the U.S. and Canada and thus, lumber prices, is highly uncertain at this point.
Rep. Stewart Named Vice Chair on House Appropriations Interior Subcommittee
Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah, was named vice chair of the House Appropriations Interior Subcommittee in early March.
This subcommittee is tasked with overseeing federal funds at the Interior Department, Environmental Protection Agency, and Forest Service.
“It’s an honor to be selected as the Vice Chair of the Interior Appropriations Subcommittee,” Stewart said, “giving western states—and specifically Utah—a bigger voice.”
He added, “Among other things, I will be able to use the power of the purse to push for more local control of our public lands, to help bring certainty to locals, and help ensure true multiple use of our public lands.”
California experienced extremely high levels of tree mortality in 2016 because of the combined effects of drought and bark beetles. The U.S. Forest Service estimated that 102 million trees have died in California since 2010.
To help land managers anticipate the risk of tree loss ahead of these surveys, Haiganoush Preisler from the Pacific Southwest Research Station, Sheri Smith and Zachary Heath from Forest Health Protection, and Nancy Grulke from the Western Threat Assessment Center created a forecast of the intensity and location of bark beetle-caused mortality, by analyzing historical aerial survey data and variables known to influence bark beetle success, such as precipitation and stand density.
The forecast is based on history of drought (amount of precipitation) and bark beetle attacks in each 6.5 square mile grid cell from 1993 to 2016. Cells with similar histories of bark beetle activity and precipitation were then grouped together into ten risk (color) groups. These risk groups forecast a range of the likely number of trees expected to die from bark beetles by the end of summer 2017.
To see the entire maps, graphs, and forecast, visit https://usfs.maps.arcgis.com/home/index.html.
On the Cover
Photo of this Link-Belt was taken by Lindsay R. Mohlere at the Henderson logging operation, based in Wallowa, Oregon.
Multi-Tasking Makes the Difference
Henderson Logging, continually adapting to an ever-changing industry
Small is Big Again
Two small mills that specialize in sustainability and provide opportunities for the next generation
Steep Slope Logging Conference
Show guide of the 2017 Steep Slope Logging Conference held in Kelso, Washington, April 19-21
Rocky Britt takes on the many challenges of building a successful logging operation
Keeping it in the Family
R&R King Logging looks ahead to a bright future with a great succession plan
Gearing up for the season
2017 OLC Pictorial Review
Highlights of the 79th Annual Oregon Logging Conference