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In The News
Weyerhaeuser Joins Enviro-Industry Climate Coalition
On March 18, Weyerhaeuser joined the U.S. Climate Action Partnership (USCAP) -- group that lobbies for comprehensive climate and energy legislation.
Standing alongside companies like General Motors and General Electric, Weyerhaeuser is the 29th member to join the Partnership, and it demonstrates the ongoing support from businesses for enacting sound climate and energy policy that's economically sustainable and environmentally effective.
"The forest products industry will play a leading role in reducing dependence on fossil fuels and reducing emissions of carbon dioxide using biomass from forests, a sustainable resource and one of the best at sequestering carbon," said Weyerhaeuser CEO Dan Fulton. "The role of forest fiber in a low carbon economy will depend on the public policy concepts under debate in Washington, D.C. USCAP has successfully integrated the expertise of numerous stakeholders, and we believe our membership will help positively position sustainable forestry, biomass, and forest products in these important policy discussions."
Tax Extenders Act of 2009
Oregon's timber industry has been suffering due to a weak housing market. The Tax Extenders Act of 2009 could offer some relief.
The legislation would provide individuals and businesses with approximately $31 billion in tax relief in 2009 by extending for one year (through 2010). This $31 billion in tax relief includes more than $5 billion in individual tax relief and more than $17 billion in business tax relief. The Tax Extenders Act of 2009 also extends more than $7 billion of tax provisions that encourage charitable contributions and provide community development incentives.
The Tax Extenders Act of 2009 recently passed in the Senate. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) said it would allow its timber sale program to continue and grant contract extensions to some hard hit timber companies.
The bill would enable the BLM to extend their sales period for three years to timber companies. Hopefully, at the end of 3 years the market will have bounced back.
Forest Biomass Initiative Passes Legislature
An effort to build a green forest biomass industry in Washington's forests took a step forward when the Legislature passed the Washington State Department of Natural Resources' (DNR) Forest Biomass Supply Agreements Bill in March. This executive-request legislation from Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark takes the next step towards creating a forest biomass industry from state trust lands.
The Forest Biomass Supply Agreements Combined Bill 2481 passed with just one dissenting vote in the House of Representatives and unanimous support in the Senate. If signed by the Governor, the bill will allow DNR to enter into long-term agreements to supply biomass from overcrowded young forests and after-harvest slash to the biomass energy economy. To date, a major obstacle to realizing the benefits of the biomass energy has been securing reliable and predictably priced biomass feedstock.
The bill incurs no cost to the State's General Fund and, actually, has the potential to generate revenues from state-managed forestland.
ARRA Sparks Effort to Cut Forest Fire Risks
With fire-fighting costs escalating and the need to squeeze every dollar out of forest management activities, fire reduction is getting a closer look in a project led by researchers at Oregon State University. With a two-year $3.2 million grant of American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA) funds from the USDA Forest Service, scientists and economists are developing new ways to reduce the risk of future fires while improving wildlife habitat and generating revenues.
"This project has two sides," says Lisa Gaines of the Institute for Natural Resources. "The science delivery side uses existing knowledge to develop current and projected future conditions, while the knowledge discovery side develops new approaches for integrating multiple resource and social values to develop optimal solutions for moving forward."
Gaines is a co-principal investigator on the project with Steve Tesch of the OSU College of Forestry. The "Integrated Fuels Prioritization Project" is focusing on private and public lands in Oregon, Washington, Arizona, and New Mexico.
ARRA funds support a total of 48 jobs with 34.5 full-time equivalency positions for students, research assistants, and faculty at OSU alone. Their collaborators include scientists at the Forest Service, state natural resource agencies, and other universities.
Nationally, the Forest Service spent about $3 billion fighting forest fires in 2009, almost half its budget, according to Headwaters Economics, a Montana-based nonprofit research group. In the future, climate is expected to become warmer and drier across the Southwest and interior portions of the Pacific Northwest, increasing stress on forests and contributing to higher fire risks.
According to a 2008 study, there are 12 million acres of dry forest land in Oregon and Washington alone that are at high risk of fire, usually due to accumulation of small trees, bushes, debris, and other undergrowth resulting from fire suppression efforts in the past century. http://inr.oregonstate.edu/
Melcher Logging Recognized
In January, family-run Melcher Logging, out of Sweet Home, Oregon, was recognized as Loggers of the Year by the Associated Oregon Loggers. The award also included partner Jim Cota who has worked with the Melchers since 1980.
The company was honored for decades of hard work as well as for its innovative spirit, starting when Mike Melcher bought his first cut-to-length harvesting equipment in the early 1990s.
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