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In the News

Lessons Learned from NWFP
Although the Northwest Forest Plan (NWFP) significantly reduced cutting of old-growth forests on federal land, forests in the driest regions are now at greater risk of being lost to wildfire than to logging. A team of federal and university scientists recently completed a study and analysis of large-diameter forests and discovered that elevated fire levels in the Pacific Northwest outweighed harvest reductions in the loss of older forests.

“Fire is a more important factor of loss to old-growth than harvesting between 1993 and 2002,” says Tom Spies, a research ecologist and co-author of a study on the dynamics of older forests.

The study, published in Ecosystems, entitled The Relative Impact of Harvest and Fire Upon Landscape-Level Dynamics of Older Forests: Lessons From the Northwest Forest Plan, examined western Oregon and Washington and parts of the range of the northern spotted owl. The team used a 30-year satellite record to identify trends in the loss of large-diameter trees to harvest and fire on private and public land.

Other conclusions from the study included:

  • Warmer springs and summers, as well as earlier snowmelt, contribute to the dry conditions that produce more fires in the West. These factors may have contributed to the fires that burned up the old forests during the last decade.
  • Money appropriated for fuel treatments (1999 to 2003) has instead been used to fight fires.
  • Comprehensive landscape-level plans will be needed to reduce the risk of loss of older forests to fire.
  • Federal managers should consider increasing fire prevention and suppression treatments in dry regions as climate change may lead to more fires.
    To read the entire paper, visit www.springerlink.com/content/027220017657k848.
    Mill Closures

The economic downturn and weak market conditions have led to the closure of two mills. Three Rivers Timber, located in Kamiah, Idaho, shut down its sawmill indefinitely on November 10, and the planer was shut down on November 21.

In October, Stimson Lumber Co. informed employees it planned to close its sawmill in Arden, Wash., in 60 days. Company officials were, however, working on plans to maintain partial production at the plant.

Hancock Acquires Oregon Timberlands
The Hancock Timber Resource Group announced that it has acquired 114,000 acres of timberland and timber rights in Oregon.

Hancock Timber acquired the timberlands on behalf of its clients from Green Diamond Resource Company, a privately held company, but the terms were not disclosed.

The timberlands, located near the coast in northwestern Oregon, are populated largely with Douglas-fir and western hemlock. With the addition of these Oregon properties, Hancock Timber manages approximately 750,000 acres of timberland in California, Oregon, and Washington.

New Law Requires Companies to Declare Origin of Wood
A new law was passed to stop illegal logging that is threatening the world’s forests. The law, which will be phased in over the next two years beginning April 1, will require companies to declare the country of origin, as well as the genus and species, of any wood or other plant material they import. (Food crops are exempted.)

A company caught selling illegally sourced wood or filing false import declarations will have their goods confiscated and could face possible criminal charges.

For the first time, it forces companies “to ask the most basic question of, where is my wood from,” said Alexander von Bismarck of the nonprofit Environmental Investigation Agency.

The new law will affect many goods. It’s estimated that as many as 30,000 custom entries each day could require a declaration.

Endowment Announces Selection of Forest Investment Zones
In November, the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities (the Endowment) announced the selection of three areas as “Forest Investment Zones” under a multi-million dollar initiative designed to advance healthy working forests and vibrant forest-reliant communities across America.

The organizations and areas identified as Forest Investment Zones are:

  • Mountain Association for Community Economic Development in Berea, Ky., focusing on Appalachian communities and forests in Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, and Ohio.
  • The Northern Forest Center in Concord, N.H., representing a 30 Million acre swath of forests and communities across northern New York, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Maine.
  • Sustainable Northwest of Portland, Ore., that will work on “dry-side primarily publicly-owned forests” stretching from northeastern Oregon to northern California.

From a cache of nearly 60 pre-proposals stretching literally from Alaska to Florida and from California to Maine, the Endowment identified three projects that capture a significant slice of the array of forest types, ownerships, and challenges facing rural America.

Under the Endowment’s Forest Investment Zone initiative, each partner will be granted up to $2 Million over five years. That money will be leveraged with other funds to test and implement strategies that yield healthier working forests, create local wealth, and provide economic opportunity, while assisting rural communities in charting paths to a more productive future.

Endowment vice president for community development Diane Snyder says, “This program hits squarely on all three legs of forest sustainability: ecological, economic, and social health. We are very excited to launch this new program. Our desire is to create a ripple effect that has positive impact on numerous forested areas across the nation, not just within the zones. We’ve spent months preparing for this journey.”

Highlights of some outcomes from the proposed partnerships include:

  • Expanding community forest ownership
  • Enhancing market connections for ecological services
  • Creating models that use woody biomass energy production at appropriate scales
  • Promoting technology that will advance forest health
  • Creating new market distribution channels for green products
  • Applying forest and forest product certification systems
    For more information, visit the Endowment’s website: www.usendowment.org