January February 2005





Forest Management Rules Finalized
On December 22, the Bush Administration issued new Forest Planning Regulations that will help simplify and streamline implementation of the 1976 National Forest Management Act (NFMA), the law that directs management plans to be developed and implemented for all national forests (over 120 of them) every fifteen years. This action will also rescind the previous rule as well as create a new Categorical Exclusion under NEPA, for adopting, revising and amending forest plans. "I applaud the Bush Administration's actions to modernize the archaic planning process the Forest Service has been using since 1982 to manage our national forests . . . this is long past due," said Resources Committee Chairman Richard W. Pombo (R-CA). "Under current procedures it takes the agency 7 years and $7.5 million, on average, to produce just one forest plan. The process is so burdensome and time consuming that the plans are obsolete before they are finished. These Soviet-like methods have produced so many outdated plans and so much red-tape that the agency has been incapable of responding to changing conditions in our forests; such as insect and disease outbreaks, hurricane and storm damage, and catastrophic wildfire." The Administration's new regulations will streamline the process while continuing to allow for full public participation. This new policy will also require more active participation by scientists and better utilization of current scientific data.

Boise Sells Over 2 Million Acres
In December, Boise Cascade agreed to sell approximately 2.2 million acres of timberland to Capital Partners, LLC, of Boston for $1.65 billion cash. The timberlands are spread across the U.S. ó the Pacific Northwest, Louisiana, Alabama, and Minnesota. Funds from the sale will be used to reduce Boise's debt. The sale is expected to close in the first quarter of 2005. It is reported that this sale is the single largest cash timberland acquisition in history.

Crown Pacific Transfers 522,000 Acres
Following an 18-month Chapter 11 bankruptcy process, a court-approved liquidation plan formally transferred the ownership of 522,000 acres of industrial timberlands to Cascade Timberlands LLC, a new entity created to own the assets formerly held by Crown Pacific LP. Crown Pacific LP was substantially owned by its parent, Crown Pacific Partners, a publicly held partnership. The timberlands were the remaining assets of Crown Pacific after sales of sawmill manufacturing assets and wholesale lumber distribution yards were completed in 2004. Under the terms of the liquidation plan, Crown Pacific Partners, LP will cease to exist and Cascade Timberlands LLC, owned by the secured creditors of Crown Pacific LP, will assume ownership of nearly all of the remaining timberland assets in Oregon and Washington.

Rey Indicates More Thinning
At the Intermountain Forest Associationís annual meeting, Agriculture Undersecretary Mark Rey said that the Bush administration plans to double efforts to thin Western forests to minimize fire risk, and will focus on cutting trees that can be sold to help pay for the work. Rey also indicated that the administration wants to reform the Endangered Species Act, streamline national forest management and give states more power in managing roadless areas, but did not go into detail. He also stated that congress will likely attempt to approve drilling for oil in Alaskaís Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and lawsuits in opposition are expected. Rey joked to the crowd that Bush holds the "indoor world record on being named a defendant in environmental litigation."

Evergreen International Aviation Buys 747
Boeing 747s are known for transporting people. Now you may get to see them putting out fires. Evergreen International Aviation of McMinnville, Ore. has spent approximately $10 million to cover a 747 in an enormous water tank. The plane can hold 24,000 gallons compared to the 1,200 to 3,000 gallons other firefighting planes carry. Using nozzles under the planeís belly, the 747 can spray a stream up to five miles long. The company says the craft has other uses as well, including dispersing major oil spills or decontaminating areas hit by biochemical attacks.

Canfor Sells Sawmill to Pope & Talbot
Canfor has agreed to sell its Fort St. James sawmill, located in British Columbia, to Portland-based Pope & Talbot for $31.5 million plus the value of the inventory. The sale it expected to close March 1.

U.S. Cuts Softwood Tariffs
In December the U.S. Department of Commerce said it would lower the tariff on softwood lumber coming from Canada from an average of 27.2 percent to 21.2 percent. The departmentís decision set the countrywide anti-dumping tariff at 17.2 percent for Canada and added punitive tariffs ranging from .09 percent to 10.6 percent for individual companies. Canadian officials said they denounced the decision and would challenge it. "Canada categorically rejects the Department of Commerce determination," said Jim Peterson, the nationís international trade minister. The Commerce Department said the final decision accurately reflected subsidies by six Canadian provinces that allow their producers to sell lumber in the U.S. at below normal value.


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This page was last updated on Wednesday, March 23, 2005