|IN THE NEWS
Katrina takes out trees
Hurricane Katrina has caused unspeakable damage. The media has focused primarily on the cities, but the forest service
estimates that approximately 19 billion board feet of timber valued at about $5 billion was damaged across five
million acres in Mississippi, Alabama, and Louisiana. Most of the land is privately held and in Mississippi.
Murphy Plywood Mill Destroyed
Murphy Plywood's mill in Sutherlin, Ore. was destroyed
in a fire in early July. The fire began on the roof and quickly
spread, destroying 250,000 square feet of the plant and causing
an estimated $30 million in damages. Newspapers reported
it was probably a faulty motor, inside one of the driers
used to dry veneer, that caused of the fire. The plant was a
total loss, but luckily no one was injured. The owners of the
mill have decided to rebuild.
Canada Sues for Duties
On August 26 the Canadian government as well as the
Canadian Lumber Trade Alliance, Ontario lumber producers,
the Canadian Wheat Board, and Norsk Hydro Canada Inc.,
filed a lawsuit to have the U.S. return the duties collected on
Canadian softwood lumber imported to the U.S. The suit
was filed in the U.S. International Trade Court in New York.
The suit alleges that the Byrd Amendment, which diverts duties
from importers to those in the U.S. injured by imports,
does not apply to Canadian industries because of NAFTA.
USFS Evaluates Wildfires
This July the USFS released an official estimate of costs of
three 2003 wildfires that hit Southern California's San
Bernardino National Forest. It arrived at a figure of $1.2
billion — approximately $61 million representing the
Agency's actual suppression costs. The total was based on:
claims submitted for insurance payments (about half of the
total), expenses incurred by rescue services, and expenses associated
with broader water-quality impacts. It did not take
into account the destruction of wildlife habitat, lost income,
or lost recreational revenues. San Bernardino Forest Supervisor Gene Zimmerman
stated, "The vegetation isn't going to stop growing and neither
will the population. If we get to a point and think we
are ‘done’ and stop treating the forest, we risk being in the
exact same situation down the road."As of August 1, for all ownerships nationwide, the 2005
fire season had burned 4,673,837 acres.
No Sierra-Pacific Plant in Everett
Sierra-Pacific Industries decided against building its $100
million sawmill and power plant at the Port of Everett. The
decision was made in part due to permit conditions set by
the City. The company is now looking at an 80-acre site in
Skagit County — west of Mount Vernon and north of State
Sierra-Pacific also plans to build an addition to its
Aberdeen mill, able to process another 250 million board feet
of lumber. But the company says it plans to wait on expansion
until it finishes the new mill.
Port of Olympia and Weyerhaeuser Sign Lease
Weyerhaeuser will be relocating its Tacoma port facility to
Olympia, Wash. The Port of Olympia Commission approved
lease between the Port and Weyerhaeuser for a 24.5-acre
site on the Port peninsula in Olympia for Weyerhaeuser's forest
products export facility.
The five-year lease contains options for three consecutive
two-year extensions and start-up is expected in the spring
The Olympia facility is expected to handle up to 18 export
vessels and 30 barges of in-bound logs annually. With
the addition of the new business, over 100 million board feet
of export wood is predicted to cross the Port docks each year — that’s up significantly from 41 million in 2004.
"The Port has established itself as a regional log load center,
and this move captures a market opportunity that is a
natural extension of what we already do well," says Port
Commission President Bob Van Schoorl.
Litigation Ties up Timber
A letter from the U.S. Forest Service to Rep. Greg Walden
(R-OR) stated that approximately 1.6 billion board feet —
nearly 80 percent of the average annual sale of timber from
national forest land— is tied up in litigation. 1.6 billion board
feet can be translated into 111,000 homes.
"The timber sales program is in worse shape than even
these disturbing numbers would indicate. Not counted in this
figure are the proposed sales currently tied up in the administrative
appeals process, nor those held up while waiting for
a resolution on litigation facing other sales," said Walden.
The Forest Service's timber sale program currently provides
approximately 2 billion board feet of volume a year.
At its peak in the 1970s under Democratic President Jimmy
Carter, 11 billion board feet were sold a year.
Halting Old-Growth Harvesting
on Washington Trust Lands
This July the Washington Board of Natural Resources
agreed to ban harvesting of old-growth timber from state
trust lands in Western Washington, which are primarily
located on the Olympic Peninsula. Preserving the trees is part
of the Policy for Sustainable Forests to be adopted in the fall.
The ban covers approximately 88,000 acres. Almost all
old-growth there is already protected because of habitat and
conservation agreements. Only about 1,000 acres will be
protected for the first time.
The legislature will be asked to compensate the trust beneficiaries.
The estimated value of the lost harvest is estimated
to be anywhere between
$4 and $10 million.
End of Era at Coos Bay
Ships laden with logs have been leaving from Coos Bay
for the last century. But that era has come to a close. In July
when a 561-foot ship left the dock in Coos Bay headed for
Japan, loaded with timber, it would be the last shipment of
logs out of the exporter.
As recently as 12 years ago Coos Bay was considered "the
world’s largest lumber shipping center," says Martin Callery,
the director of communication and freight mobility for the
Oregon International Port of Coos Bay. But 300 million board
feet of logs a year in the 1980s dropped to 30 million board
feet per year today.
Although this ends the export business for the community,
Scott Starkey, vice president of operations for Menasha
Forest Products, says business is not going to suffer. "It’s not
going to change the amount or the way we do forestry."
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