In The News
Highest Bidder Not a Logger
In 1995, 275 acres scorched by fire on the Okanogan
National Forest's Thunder Mountain in north-central
Washington were up for sale. When the Forest Service rejected
the high bid from an environmental group that had no intention
of logging, it started a controversy that still echoes today.
The Bush administration is now proposing that recreation
or conservation groups be allowed to win timber contracts
in national forests even if they aren't going to cut
"If they are the highest bidder, we will take their money,"
said Mark Rey, undersecretary of agriculture for natural
resources and the environment.
The proposal has the timber agencies angered and even
left environmental groups with mixed feelings.
"It's like having a peace group bid to build a fighter
plane," said Chris West, vice president of the American
Forest Resource Council in Portland. "Only the federal government
would consider doing something like this."
Rey, who oversees the Forest Service from the
Department of Agriculture, said the legislation hasn't been
written but would involve amending the National Forest
Management Act, which currently bars such sales.
No More Plywood for Simpson
Simpson Timber Company is getting out of the plywood
business. It has decided to sell its specialty plywood mill in
Shelton, Wash. The mill is the company's last plywood mill
and specializes in plywood used for signs and making
forms for poured concrete.
Requesting Owl Review
It's been over 10 years since the spotted owl was listed as
threatened and a District Judge caused a regional uproar
when he blocked federal timber sales in the Northwest to
protect its habitat. Today, timber sales in the spotted-owl
forests are still only a fraction of what they used to be and a
coalition of timber companies wants the U.S. Fish & Wildlife
Service (FWS) to review the status of the spotted owl.
In a written notice to U.S. Interior Secretary Gale Norton,
the president of the Portland-based American Forest Resource
Council, Tom Partin, argued the owl may not be in dire straits
after all, citing recent studies showing owl populations to be
better than expected in some areas. Norton was given a 60-
day notice of intent to file suit citing the FWS's failure to conduct
the required five-year status review on the listing of the
northern spotted owl. Response is due in early April.
It was recently discovered that a deadly airborne fungus,
paytophthora ramorum, which is killing oaks in Oregon
and California, may also affect Redwoods.
The fungus spores attach to a tree and grow threadlike
cells that invade the inner bark. The fungus destroys the
inner back, and slowly kills the tree. The fungus looks like
brown algae and is related to the same type of organism
believed to have caused the Irish potato famine in the mid-
19th century. There is no cure as of yet, although some
chemicals have been used to lessen the affect.
A statewide quarantine limits the movement of wood
products containing the pathogen. And even if findings
reveal that Redwoods act only as a host, it could still make it
difficult for companies to get their lumber to mills.
For more information people can log onto www.suddenoakdeath.org.
Safety Violations at Thirty mile
OSHA announced it has issued serious and willful
notices to the U.S. Forest Service for alleged job safety violations
which existed at the time of the Thirtymile fire near
Winthrop, Wash. The violations were identified as a result
of its investigation of the fire following the deaths of four
USFS firefighters on July 10, 2001.
OSHA noted that all of the 10 Standard Fire Orders and
the 10 of the 18 Watch Out Situations listed in the National
Wildfire Coordinating Group's Fire Handbook were violated.
OSHA also cited the USFS for failing to conduct inspections
of its firefighting operations. They also noted that
work-rest cycles developed by the Forest Service were not
followed, an incident commander for all fire stages was not
clearly assigned, and fire shelter deployment procedures
were not developed for firefighters whose escape routes
eBay Enters Forestry
It was bound to happen. An Oregon landowner David
Sullivan auctioned an 80-acre plot of timberland on eBay, the
popular on-line auction service. He chose eBay versus the
other on-line services that deal specifically with timber transactions
because eBay had a low, flat fee, a large base of bidders,
as well as a "well-oiled" process for evaluating bidders'
Mr. Sullivan, who outlined his sale in January's National
Woodlands magazine, says he posted a map, a detailed
description, and other conditions of sale as explicitly as he
So how did he fare? The forested acres caught the attention
of a buyer who eventually bought the property for
$48,700-more than twice the minimum bid and well above
the amount Mr. Sullivan's appraisers estimated his land
would sell for.
9/11 Felt by Truckers
The Forest Resources Association. Inc. (FRA) reported
that truckers' insurance rose dramatically over the last few
months. This time it's not due to lawsuits or accidents, but
the attack on September 11.
There are now more risks, and more perception of risks,
and people want to cover them, creating a scarcity of reinsurance
funds and leaving small businesses, like truckers,
whose accounts are more difficult to service, most vulnerable.
The American Truckers Association reported that
Agricultural Truckers experienced an average 22 percent
increase in insurance premiums in 2001.
Ford and its dealers recently announced their new scholarship
program, "Ford Country Scholars," which will provide
nearly $4 million of financial assistance to young people
committed to careers that support rural life.
During the next three years, the program will provide
scholarships of $5,000 each to high school students in 11
(News Continued on page 8)
Western states who are enrolling in universities, colleges,
community colleges or technical institutes to prepare for
careers in rural communities.
"Ford and its dealers are committed to helping ensure a
strong future for the next generation of leaders in our rural
areas," said Cisco Codina, Ford Division general marketing
manager. "We want young people to recognize the educational,
career and lifestyle opportunities in smaller communities
that provide so much to all Americans."
States participating in the program include Alaska,
Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New
Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.
Applications for 2002 scholarships will be available April 1
and applications will be available through many high
school guidance counselors and on the Internet at
During the 2000 wildfire season, over 300,000 acres of the
Bitterroot National Forest were scorched. After a lengthy
squabble and court-ordered mediation, an agreement has
been reached between forest activists, the forest products
industry, and federal government officials that some of the
lumber will be salvaged over the next two-years.
Under the settlement, 60 million board feet, including
existing contracts, will be harvested on 14,700 acres.
Nineteen salvage sales covering 29,300 acres were temporarily
removed, but could return in the future.
"These settlements happily demonstrate that it is possible
for reasonable and thoughtful environmental groups,
industry representatives, and government agencies to work
together and cooperate to serve the human and natural
environments at the same time, even in the difficult and
sometimes strained setting of the courts," said US District
Judge Michael Hogan, who served as mediator.
service is temporarily unavailable