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In the news

$4 Million Gift for Two OSU Professorships
The late Nat Giustina was well known for his work in forestry, his love of golf, and his commitment to his alma mater, Oregon State University. As his health started to fail, he requested that, after his death, his family make a gift to OSU’s first comprehensive fundraising campaign.                                   

His wife, Jacqueline, and his children recently honored his request by donating $4 million to Oregon State to establish two endowed professorships, one in forest management and another in turf management. The decision involved the entire family, said son Larry Giustina, a 1971 OSU graduate.                                   

“My father had always been supportive of Oregon State, and he really wanted to be a part of the campaign,” he said. “The family came together, and we decided to direct the gift to two areas he loved.”

Plan to Re-open Oregon Short Line
In February, Rail America, owner of the Central Oregon & Pacific Railroad, offered to spend $23 million to repair its short line from Eugene, Ore., to Coquille, Ore., if the state of Oregon agrees to provide funds to make the line viable long-term. The line closed in September due to safety concerns, cutting the rail link used by several wood products manufacturers.

Rayonier to Purchase Timberlands
Rayonier has agreed to purchase approximately 56,300 acres of timberland in Southwestern Washington from Sierra Pacific Industries. The purchase is expected to close early in the second quarter and is valued at $215 million. It will increase Rayonier’s Washington holdings to more than 426,000 acres. “This acquisition reflects our strategy to grow and upgrade our portfolio with timberlands that meet our strategic investment criteria. In this case, we will substantially increase our holdings of merchantable Douglas-fir and western hemlock timber, and gain highly productive land for long-term management,” said Rayonier chairman, president, and CEO Lee M. Thomas.

Expensive Shavings
The price of shavings is going up. With a slowdown in housing construction, which has led to less shavings on the market and a growing demand, people are seeing the prices rise. In some areas, a truckload of shavings can run you $200, up from $150 last year.                 

Shavings, used primarily to bed livestock and horses, are now being used to make wood pellets for heat. In the Midwest, 30 percent of wood sawdust and shavings are converted into wood pellets, up from less than 5 percent three years ago.                                   

The weakened U.S. dollar is also to blame for the rising cost of wood shavings. Canadian sawmills have scaled back production significantly, reducing a big portion of the sawdust used in the U.S.

Weyerhaeuser Closes Veneer Plant
On March 3, Weyerhaeuser Co. permanently closed its iLevel Veneer Technology Facility in Junction City, Ore. The reason for the closure was a decline in demand for engineered wood products due to the slowdown in the housing market.

Ax Men
On March 9, millions of people tuned in to the History™ channel to watch Ax Men, the first ever non-fiction series about Pacific Northwest timber cutters. The new series, by History Channel and Original Productions, the team responsible for the Ice Road Truckers, takes a look at Northwest loggers.                                   

Over the course of thirteen episodes, Ax Men will follow four logging crews through a season in the remote forests of northwest Oregon. Some of these crews will be familiar names to TimberWest readers. They include, Pihl Logging out of Vernonia, Ore., J.M. Browning Logging based out of Astoria, Ore., Stump Branch Logging, and Gustafson Logging, also out of Astoria.                                   

History.com is supplementing Ax Men with a minisite featuring more than 50 shortform pieces detailing the tools of the trade, where the lumber goes, the intricacy of the hand signals that loggers use, and their origins, among other things.

Judge Clears Rey
On February 28, U.S. Agriculture Undersecretary, Mark Rey, walked out of federal court a free man after his contempt hearing.                                   

U.S. District Judge, Donald Molloy, cleared Rey and the Forest Service of contempt and withdrew his threat to jail Rey, or ground all fire retardant air tankers, until the agency evaluated the environmental impact of the chemical slurry.                                   

Rey acknowledged the agency was slow in preparing environmental studies related to the effects of the chemical firefighting tool dropped from airplanes. “There is no way to put a positive face on the fact that we dropped the ball,” Rey testified in court. “We’re sorry.”                                   

Before announcing his ruling, Molloy criticized the Forest Service, saying only a threat of contempt prompted the agency to comply with the nation’s top environmental laws — the National Environmental Policy Act and the Endangered Species Act.

Boise Closes White City Plant
Boise Wood Products announced in January that it would permanently close its lumber manufacturing facility located in White City, Ore. The sawmill and planer departments will be phased out over the following two months, with permanent closure scheduled by the end of the first quarter 2008. The closure will affect 32 employees of the mill.                                   

“The lack of affordable pine logs due to long-term reductions in federal timber sale programs, in combination with reduced demand for lumber in both the new construction and remodel markets, are the primary reasons we are closing the White City Lumber mill,” said Bruce Cartmel, Western Oregon regional manager. “We regret the impact this closure will have on our employees and their families here in the Rogue Valley.”