In the News

Stimson Lumber to Pull Timber Jobs out of Oregon

Portland, Oregon-based Stimson Lumber announced that it will lay off at least 60 people at its Forest Grove mill — 40 percent of the workforce there — and move some of its operations to Idaho and Montana.

Stimson CEO Andrew Miller said layoffs were a direct response to three environmental and tax policies championed by Oregon Gov. Kate Brown. He cited a $1-billion-a-year increase to fund schools; a 2015 Clean Fuels Program requiring reduced carbon emissions, and a cap and trade package under consideration.

“Oregon’s leaders have communicated that they don’t value natural resource employers like Stimson, and we have been forced to respond by shifting our workforce to states like Idaho and Montana where the environment is more hospitable,” said Miller.

One Billion Acres at Risk of Catastrophic Wildfires

NPR reported that U.S. Forest Service Chief Vicki Christiansen is warning that one billion acres of land across America are at risk of catastrophic wildfires.

Christiansen said wildfires are now a year-round phenomenon. “When you look nationwide, there’s not any place that we’re really at a fire season. Fire season is not an appropriate term anymore.”

Christiansen’s agency is trying to prioritize treatments such as thinning, brush clearing, and prescribed burning on 80 million acres of its own land, mostly in the West. 

“We are certainly focused on the timber outputs, but that is only one of the critical measures,” she says. “We are tracking with laser focus our hazardous fuels reduction and our watershed health and restoration as well.”

Even with a focus on mitigation, this fire season looks bleak. The Forest Service predicts spending upward of $2.5 billion just fighting fires this year, and 1.7 billion is budgeted.

Utah National Forest to Clear 30K of Dead Timber

Twenty years ago, a beetle epidemic killed 90 percent of a spruce species growing in two districts of the Manti-La Sal National Forest in central Utah. reported that now forest authorities will commence an extensive, 15-year forest restoration project to remove over 30,000 acres of those dense and dead spruce trees.

Dubbed “The Canyons Project,” the undertaking is an effort to both improve the forest’s condition and prepare for the wildfire seasons ahead.

Boot Camp in Oregon Aims to Bring More Women to Wildland Firefighting

The Boise AP reported that there is a special boot camp in eastern Oregon that aims to bring more women into wildland firefighting careers.

Cassandra Fleckenstein with the Vale District for the Bureau of Land Management sought out the grant funding to start the wildland fire boot camp, which is now in its second year.

A popular program, it drew applications from women as far away as Great Britain and Hawaii. Twenty women participated in 2018, and half of them have gone on to acquire jobs in the industry for the 2019 fire season.

If you know of a woman who may be interested, the BLM’s Vale District is now taking applications for this year’s 3-day boot camp, which will be held in October.

Freeman, Wyden rally for Secure Rural Schools Payments in Idaho

U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, and Douglas County Commissioner Tim Freeman were among the leaders of a rally on the steps of the Idaho Statehouse in late May to announce the reintroduction of federal legislation to permanently restore the Secure Rural Schools program that has helped fund services in Douglas County and other forested rural counties across the country.

Wyden said the permanent endowment would end the financial whipsaw counties have faced as they’ve worked out their budgets each year, uncertain whether they would have sufficient funding for police and roads.

“Long-term quality of life in rural America requires a new long-term roadmap. That is what we are laying out here today,” said Wyden.

Montana Governor Appoints Forest Action Advisory Council

On May 20, Montana Governor Steve Bullock announced the formation of a 21-person Forest Action Advisory Council to examine the state’s forested lands and plan for their future, including identifying areas that are at high risk of wildfire, reported the AFRC.

The Governor’s executive order lists 14 duties for the Council, most of them focused on crafting a broad long-term strategy for managing the state’s forest land and building on collaborative partnerships that have supported several timber projects. The driving force for the Council’s creation was the 2017 wildfire year — the most expensive fire season on record for Montana.

TimberWest November/December 2013
May/June 2019

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