Dave Romani, former Washington state logger now located in
Colorado, was part of some grand Christmas festivities.
As Colorado Logger of Year, he was invited to fell the Millennium
Holiday Tree 2000 — a 75yearold, 65 foot Colorado blue spruce headed for
Washington, D.C. Dave fired
up the Husqvarna 272 XP chain saw and brought down the tree that had been
selected nearly 10 years ago for the event.
The Holiday Tree traveled a 2,000mile journey from Pike National
Forest in Colorado to Washington, D.C., following the Santa Fe Trail, a
historic trade route through Colorado, Kansas and Missouri.
It arrived in D.C. on December 4 on a 65foot trailer designed to
look like a historic Conestoga pioneer wagon.
Logger of the Year, Dave Romani, receives a sacred blessing from a
Ute Indian Chief prior to the cutting ceremony.
Looks For Spending Projects
Because of years of tight budgets and political fallout from this year’s
disastrous forest fire season, the U.S.
Bureau of Land Management now has millions of federal dollars at
its disposal and is trying to quickly figure out how to spend it.
In the fiscal year that runs through next September, Congress has
given the BLM in New Mexico nearly $5.5 million to reduce fire danger
around communities. That’s
up from about $900,000 last fiscal year.
"It’s kind of boggling and staggering to suddenly get all
this money," says Bob Lee, state fire management officer for the BLM
in New Mexico. "We had
been learning to do without and eke things out and get along.
Suddenly we’ve got all this money.
But the money represents a lot of expectations from a lot of
people.” So far they have
started to thin trees and underbrush around communities.
Work is under way on agency land near Copper Hill, outside of
Picuris Pueblo, at Ft. Stanton,
in the town of Lincoln, at the Chimayo Boy Scout Ranch and at Pinos Altos.
By early next year, the BLM intends to have nearly another 70
thinning projects ready for next summer," says Lee.
"Most of the actual thinning work will be done by
Mills Closing Too
Alliance Forest Products Inc. is shutting down four Quebec sawmills
indefinitely. The Montreal
Company says that the affected mills have combined annual production of
about 145 million board feet of lumber a year.
Alliance says it will periodically assess the market to determine
when to resume production. "Unfortunately,
we must proceed with these temporary closures due to the sharp decline of
net selling prices for lumber products since last year," says Jean
Label, Alliance’s vice president of sawmills and woodlands.
"These sawmills are struggling with difficult market
conditions, costly stumpage fees, insufficient fiber supply and
supplemental export costs attributable to the Canada U.S.
Softwood Lumber Agreement.”
The move by Alliance comes a week after newsprint giant
AbitibiConsolidated Inc. announced it will shut down its eastern Canadian
sawmills and planing mills for three weeks over Christmas because of weak
Plan To Reclaim Lands
The Klamath tribes have finished preparing their economic self-sufficiency
plan, which is a vital part of their proposal to regain possession of
approximately 690,000 acres of Forest Service land and reestablish their
former reservation. Tribal
Chairman Allen Foreman delivered the plan to Washington, D.C., on November
1. "In a culmination of
over 14 years of work by the tribes, we have finally completed the first
part of the congressional mandate," Foreman says.
Most of the Winema National Forest was created from the tribes’
880,000acre reservation after tribal status was terminated in 1954.
Opponents say that when tribal members accepted cash payments of
approximately $43,000 each for their interest, they lost all rights.
Others say it was a land grab.
However, it will be those in D.C. who make the final
Growth Logging In Northwest
The revised Northwest Forest Plan (NFP), released in November, drops more
than 60 species from the list of plants, animals and other forest life
that biologists must look for before logging can begin — allowing more
harvesting in the Northwest. The
NFP, an attempt by the Clinton administration to balance logging with
species protection, originally lumped more than 400 organisms thought to
live only in the Northwest’s old growth forests.
Some of the species are more common than originally thought and
have been removed. Federal officials say their shortened list of about 340
species should streamline long, costly surveys for slugs, fungi, lichen,
moss and other organisms that have often slowed logging promised under the
1994 forest plan.
included some of these species because we didn’t know much about
them," says Chris Strebig of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.
"Now we’re fine-tuning based on new information to make sure
we meet both tenets of the Northwest Forest Plan: to protect species and
to provide reasonable timber harvest.”
The secretaries of interior and agriculture are expected to put the
new strategy into effect in January.
Frank Gladics of the Portland based American Forest Resource
Council says the timber industry won’t hold its breath waiting for those
timber jobs. With
conservation groups already threatening to sue over the shortened species
list and the courts watching over the shoulders of forest supervisors, he
says hoping for any boost in the region’s federal timber supply "is
like counting on winning the Irish sweepstakes.”
The Engineered Wood Association reported that U.S. housing starts through
the first three quarters of the year were down 4 percent compared with the
same period last year. This
translates into a reduction in demand of approximately 500 million square
feet of structural wood panel.
Mill Fights Back
It seems like everywhere you turn, there is news of another mill shutting
down. One Idaho mill, Bennet
Lumber Products, is making a multimillion-dollar investment to ensure it
won’t happen to them. “The
declining availability of logs from federal and state land, as well as
increased movement in the forest products industry toward sustainable tree
farming, has pushed the future of logging toward smaller logs," says
Brett Bennett, manager. The
company plans to expand the mill to include a new operation designed to
mill smaller diameter logs with a price tag of between $8 million and $12
million. The company told
commissioners that without the new mill, Bennett Lumber would eventually
have to close, impacting at least 250 individuals.
The small diameter logs will supplement, not replace, current
operations, and the company hopes to begin building in early spring.
The Forest Service recently released its Cohesive Strategy for Protecting
People and Sustaining Resources in Fire Adapted Ecosystem.
Having experienced a 7 million acre fire and billion-dollar fire
season, they needed the report out quickly to help Congress appropriate
over $1.1 billion in emergency fire and forest health funding.
The report describes a 20year treatment schedule that could treat
up to 6 million acres per year following a fire year ramp up period.
It places priority on: (1) wild and urban interface, (2) municipal
watersheds, (3) habitat of threatened and endangered habitat, and (4)
maintenance of existing low risk areas.
If you’d like to read further, the report is available online;
log on to www.fs.fed.us/pub/fam/CohesiveSrategy00oct13.pdf.
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