Working Toward Making Construction Essential in Washington

Although Governor Jay Inslee did not add construction to the list of allowed “essential activities” as part of the state’s COVID-19 response, discussions are ongoing among stakeholders about how to change that. A growing number of builders, state and federal elected officials argue that work can resume safely while avoiding detrimental effects of long-term inactivity reported Lens Media.

Master Builder Association of King and Snohomish County Media Manager Nona Raybern told Lens that “we understand the frustration that builders are facing right now. Essentially, the job could be completed safely and following CDC guidelines, following Inslee’s guidelines, following government guidelines.”

This week two digital work groups were held between Inslee’s office and various stakeholders, including the Building Industry Association of Washington (BIAW). BIAW Government Affairs Director Jan Himebaugh told Lens the meetings so far have been positive. “There is definitely an effort and a desire for finding a path forward…in a way that we can protect our workers and also be productive.”

Oregon Loses Post-trial Appeals of $1.1 billion

The Oregonian reported that Linn County judge Thomas McHill has rejected the state of Oregon’s post-trial appeals of the $1.1 billion jury verdict against the state for failing to maximize timber harvests on state forests since 2001.

The state had argued that there was insufficient evidence presented to justify the November verdict in Linn County Circuit Court that the state had breached its contract with 13 rural counties by failing to maximize logging revenues. The state also argued that there were errors of law committed during the trial and asked the judge to substitute his own judgement, notwithstanding the verdict, or order a new trial.

The staggering $1.065 billion judgment against the state will now begin accruing interest at nine percent per annum. That’s about $96 million in the first year alone, or $262,000 a day.

The state now has 30 days to appeal the verdict to the state appeals court and is expected to do so.

Washington Senate Passes Bill to Align Timber Industry with State Carbon Goals

Washington State agencies would recognize and support efforts by timber companies to reduce carbon emissions through reforestation and other management practices under a House bill passed on a 46-3 vote by the Senate.

“There’s a longstanding presumption that timber harvesting and environmental protection are mutually exclusive, but the truth is just the opposite,” said Sen. Kevin Van De Wege, D-Sequim, the prime sponsor of similar legislation in the Senate. “By aligning timber practices and cycles with the state’s carbon reduction goals, we can boost our rural economies and improve our environmental health at the same time.”

House Bill 2528 recognizes the role of forest products in carbon sequestration and directs the state Department of Commerce to promote markets for the state’s forest products.

“The cool thing about this bill is it makes forest products a part of the carbon discussion,” said Van De Wege at the Greater Grays Harbor legislative sendoff in Aberdeen Jan. 10.

Forest Service Releases Community Wildfire Risk Website

For the first time, community wildfire risk has been mapped nationwide to help community leaders mitigate risk. The USDA Forest Service announced the free, interactive, easy-to-use website, Wildfire Risk to Communities —

The website is designed to help community leaders nationwide understand how wildfire risk varies across a state, region, or county and allow them to prioritize actions to protect their communities. It provides data through interactive maps and charts showing risk to homes, exposure types, wildfire likelihood and vulnerable populations. Wildfire Risk to Communities also provides vital steps that elected officials, planners and wildfire managers can take to mitigate risk through home hardening, wildfire preparedness, fuel treatments and more. 

Wildfire Risk to Communities is designed so that anyone can access the data. No technical or mapping skills are required. Geospatial data and tabular data will also be available for download to allow for additional analysis.

For even more info,

Large Sale in Coos Bay to Benefit 18 Oregon Counties

C and D Lumber of Riddle outbid other timber companies for the Oregon and California railroad land, reported 16KMTR Eugene.

Located near Rock Creek, the timber was sold by the Bureau of Land Management last week for just over half-a-million dollars. Fifty percent of the money goes to western Oregon counties. 

TimberWest November/December 2013
March/April 2020

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