Reuters reported that pre-current research indicates the yearly land area burned by severe wildfires in the western United States has grown eight times larger in less than four decades, warning that higher temperatures and drier conditions are threatening irreparable forest loss.
According to a study by the U.S. Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station, a government organization, some 210,000 acres burned in 2017, in high severity fires that killed more than 95 percent of trees in their path. The amount of acreage burned in 2017 was up from the 26,000 acres burned in 1985.
As the intensity of fires and temperatures rise due to global warming, the western forests lost in severe blazes may be unable to grow back to what they once were, the research said.
The study’s authors suggested that land managers in western U. S. forests promote the use of controlled burns—fires set intentionally to decrease the chances of more destructive fires and to stimulate regrowth.
A team of former White House and government officials, including members of President-elect Joe Biden’s transition team, recently released a 300-page blueprint for how to leverage agencies to fight climate change.
Called the Climate 21 Project, the memo calls on the upcoming administration to make dramatic changes to USDA’s climate policies that could impact farmers. It also addresses the forest industry by advocating the administration to establish a “Wildfire Commission” co-chaired by the Secretary of Agriculture, Secretary of the Interior and each a Democratic and Republican governor. This commission would improve watershed health, maintain long-term carbon sequestration on Forest Service lands and “significantly” increase prescribed burning.
The Climate 21 team also suggests creating a market for hazardous fuels to incentivize private landowners to clean up fuels on forest floors. This could include having USDA promote biomass energy as a market for low-value timber and wood residues.
Freres Lumber Market Update: Gradual Improvement in End of Year Plywood Markets
Freres Lumber Company reported that over the past few weeks it has seen a gradual improvement in commodity plywood markets heading into the end of the year. Prices have consolidated, leveled out, and are now moving slightly upward for the first time in over two months.
In late November most western plywood producers reported good to very good sales. While sales have been improving incrementally, lumber dimension markets have been on an uptick over the past few weeks. That trend has continued, with sales and shipping pace in the field still strong.
Assuming that current price trends continue, producers are building backbone going into the end of the year. Inventories on all commodities seem to be lean in the field, and expectations for 2021 are bullish on almost all fronts of the industry.
Woodworking Network reported that the U.S. Department of Commerce, an alliance of large and small American softwood lumber producers, has set a new average duty rate of 8.9 percent on Canadian softwood lumber imports. The new rate is down from the original 20.2 percent average applied back in 2018.
“While the U.S. Lumber Coalition has demonstrated that this calculation understates true levels of subsidies and dumping, these results nonetheless reinforce that the Canadian lumber industry benefits from significant government subsidies and dumps lumber into the U.S. market at unfairly low prices,” stated Zoltan van Heyningen, Executive Director of the U.S. Lumber Coalition.
“The U.S. lumber industry will continue to push for the trade laws to be enforced to the fullest extent possible in the second administrative review to allow U.S. manufacturers and workers the chance to prosper,” said Jason Brochu, U.S. Lumber Coalition Co-Chair and Co-President of Pleasant River Lumber Company.
U.S. officials released an overarching plan for removing or changing vegetation over a huge swath of the U.S. West to stop devastating wildfires on land used for cattle ranching, recreation, and habitat for imperiled sage grouse.
The plan released by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management aims to limit wildfires in a 350,000-square-mile area of mainly sagebrush habitat that includes parts of Idaho, Oregon, Washington, California, Nevada and Utah.
The plan can be used to help OK “project-level” environmental impact statements without having to duplicate previous studies,
An electronic copy of the Final PEIS and associated documents is available for public review for 30 days on the BLM Land Use Planning and NEPA register: https://go.usa.gov/x79bp.
On the Cover
Photo of ZB Cutting on a smoky morning - TimberPro feller buncher with Quadco head on the Archie Creek fire in Glide, Oregon.
Sawmilling in the Age of COVID
Steady log supply, innovative equipment upgrades, fluctuating lumber markets, personnel issues…sawmills have constant challenges. Now add COVID.
On the Cutting Edge
When Zach Brugnoli began researching tethering machines, efficiency and versatility were at the top of his list.
A Look Into Fire
August 14, 1933, a forest fire literally exploded into being near the coastal Northwest Oregon town of Tillamook. It was described as “holocaustic”.
The Great Outdoors - Gustafson’s Favorite Office
Gustafson says, “On the Oregon coast, we have new environments every five minutes. When it’s ugly, it’s ugly, but when it’s beautiful, it’s awesome.”
Emergent Technologies column
A look at monitoring, 3D surveys, and digital wildfire training.
A review of track log loaders currently on the market.
2020: A Year We Won’t Forget