April/May, 2001





In The News

Governors Seeking Fire Funds 
This spring Western governors met with officials in hopes of obtaining long-term funding to reduce the risk of wildfires. Since last summer's fires, state and federal agencies and interested parties have worked collaboratively to produce a 10-year strategy to reduce the risk of wildfires. Although $3 billion has already been approved by congress for 2001 to manage hazardous fuels, restore firedamaged lands and support fire preparedness, the governors are seeking the same funds for 2002. A copy of the 10-year strategy, which the American Forest Resource Council participated in preparing, is available at the Western Governors' Association web site at www.westgov.org.

Umpqua In The Black 
While many in the National Forest Service are finding their books in the red, the Umpqua National Forest in Oregon bucked the national trend, showing a profit in 1998. In fact, they made a net profit of $9.3 million while nationwide national forests lost $126 million. As recently as 1994 logging earned a net profit of $122 million for the forest systems. The Forest Service says the drop in revenue is due to the agency's shift from harvesting larger more valuable trees to smaller, fire-prone timber.

The Campbell Purchase 
The Campbell Group (TCG) has purchased from International Paper Company approximately 265,000 acres of commercial timberland in Washington on behalf 2001 of Rainier Timber Company, a newly formed company managed by TCG. "This purchase represents an investment of more than $500 million and is the largest single transaction ever completed by a timberland investment management organization," says Stan Renecker, president of TCG. The purchase positions TCG as the largest private timberland manager in Washington with a land base of more than 520,000 acres, and the second largest forestland manager in the United States. Renecker adds, "These properties represent some of the best managed, highest quality forestland in the world, and are important parts of the local economies. Our future management will focus on continuing the production of high-quality timber for both the export and domestic markets."

Dombeck Resigns 
Mike Dombeck, who had held the office of chief of the Forest Service since January 7, 1997, resigned March 31st. Phil Janik, chief operating officer for the Forest Service, will serve as acting chief until a successor is named. "I have enjoyed every minute of my tenure as chief of the Forest Service," said Dombeck. "I feel that this is the right time to step down, spend time with my family, and then look at new opportunities." Washington insiders and the media have speculated that Dombeck is resigning over differences in opinion with the Bush administration regarding the future of the Forest Service. In an Associated Press article that appeared March 27, Chris Wood, a former top aide to Dombeck, said Dombeck's resignation was the result of the Bush administration's desire to take the Forest Service in a different direction.

WSRI Publishes Truck Turnaround Study 
In June 1999, the Wood Supply Research Institute (WSRI) was formed to investigate areas of efficiency that can make the whole wood supply system more effective. Jointly funded by six forest products companies and six logging associations, WSRI has concluded its first project, "An Investigation of Roundwood Truck Turn-Time Cost Penalties to the Wood Supply System." The research team, led by Dr. Don Deckard, gathered 10,244 records of individual log truck mill turnaround times. Based on this data, the team estimated that "excess" truck idle-time at mill woodyards imposes total costs of $.20 to $.53 for every ton of roundwood hauled in the study area, or $39.2 million to $102.9 million per year. Whether borne by the logger, the trucker, or the mill, this cost represents a drain on the wood supply value chain, potentially depressing profitability for all of its links. Anyone interested in additional information about this report, or in joining WSRI, should send a note to WSRI director Steve Carruth at jscarru@westvaco.com, or phone him at (304) 392-1616.

Slow Start For the West 
The Western Wood Products Association (WWPA) forecasts a slow start for western mills but a better second half. WWPA said U.S. lumber demand should total 51.7 billion board feet in 2001, down 3.9 percent from 2000 volumes and the lowest consumption since 1997. Even so, 2001 will be the fourth-highest consumption year on record. WWPA predicts that lower housing activity should reduce production at Western lumber mills by 6.3 percent to 16 billion board feet. Overall U.S. lumber production is forecast to decline 4.8 percent to 34.1 billion board feet. "The first six months will be difficult for Western mills," said Michael O'Halloran, WWPA president. "We're hopeful the second half will show some improvement that could carry the industry into 2002." According to WWPA, slower demand will likely end a three-year run of increased lumber imports from Canada. Canadian imports are forecast to fall to 18 billion board feet - the lowest since 1997. 

Sierra Moves to Washington 
The word is out that Sierra Pacific Industries of Anderson, Calif., may be expanding north into Washington. They've agreed to purchase 45 acres at Junction City, near Aberdeen, Wash., where they plan to build a sawmill and a log yard. Also included in the Sierra plan would be the reconstruction of a railroad line that used to connect Junction City with the main railroad line. 

National Indian Timber Symposium 
The 25th annual National Indian Timber Symposium will be held in Carlton, Minn. June 24-28, 2001. The topic this year is "balancing conflicting objectives for tribal forces." The Fond du Lac (end of the water) band of Lake Superior Chippewa will be welcoming the Intertribal Timber Counsel and friends to explore the conflicts regarding the use of resources and how we can balance those conflicts. For more information you can call the Intertribal Timber Counsel at (503) 282-4296 or fax them at (503) 282- 1274. 

Thumbs Down on Ergonomics Rule 
In March the U.S. House and Senate voted down the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's Ergonomics Rule, terminating one of the most controversial rulemaking processes in OSHA's history. OSHA issued a draft Ergonomics Rule two years ago, and businesses submitted extensive testimony in opposition. The final version of the rule was even more burdensome. Businesses bitterly contested the provision that employee compensation measure in excess of Workers' Comp payments for diagnosed ergonomic injuries, in spite of substantial uncertainty about the influence of workplace conditions over ergonomic disabilities and the obvious incentives for fraud. The House and Senate also saw problems with the Rule.


This page was last updated on Monday, November 10, 2003