The Oregon Legislature’s Emergency Board appropriated $17 million for the Office of State Fire Marshal and the Oregon Department of Forestry to invest in wildfire prevention and preparedness programs, reported the Oregonian.
The spending was approved despite concerns from legislative analysts and lawmakers, who doubt the two agencies can even spend the money in the six months remaining in the current two-year budget cycle.
The spending includes $4 million for the Office of the State Fire Marshal. In part, that would cover 25 new positions, which legislative analysts noted will increase the size of the office by nearly one third. The jobs will support modernization of the state’s mutual aid system for emergency response and implement some of the wildfire council’s recommendations to help communities better adapt and respond.
The $227 billion budget proposed by California Governor Gavin Newsom and his Forest Management Task Force has provided a strategy to combat wildfires many have been suggesting for a long time: A combination of prescribed burning and forest thinning.
The Porterville Recorder reported Newsom’s wildfire budget proposal after a record year for wildfires in the state in 2020. Newsom’s administration is working on a proposal to be ready by the spring to strengthen the ability of the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services to respond to emergencies and support recovery efforts, especially in vulnerable communities.
Newsom’s proposed budget calls for an additional $143 million to support 30 new fire crews and $48 million to phase in Black Hawk helicopters and large air tankers.
Wood Resources International reported that the U.S. lumber market was red hot in the 3Q/20, with prices surging to levels never seen before. By September, Southern pine prices increased by 160 percent from the year’s low in April.
In Western U.S., Douglas-fir lumber prices almost doubled during the same period. High domestic demand for lumber in the U.S. and a trade dispute with China reduced U.S. softwood exports in 2019 and 2020, with year-over-year reductions of 17 percent recorded in the first nine months of 2020. Total shipments for 2020 are on track to be their lowest in over ten years. The price surge in the U.S. domestic market directly impacted Canadian export prices in 2020. Average prices for U.S.-bound lumber in September 2020 were 94 percent higher than in September 2019.
In 2020, roughly 9,600 fires in California burned nearly 4.2 million acres, killed 31 people, and emitted an estimated 112 million metric tons of carbon dioxide, based on a California Air Resources Board report. The emissions from these fires were approximately the same emissions from 24.2 million passenger cars over a year, reports Bloomberg Law.
The board also studied emissions from controlled burns, clearcutting, harvesting, and other forest management actions that could lesson fire risk. Their report stated that prescribed burns have emitted on average 14 million metric tons per year of carbon dioxide between 2000 and 2019. These prescribed burns could be an important way to mitigate effects of fire on the landscape.
Bloomberg News reported that with U.S. lumber prices at fresh record highs, construction companies and wood wholesalers are buying just enough to get by, threatening to make price swings even bigger.
Lumber futures in Chicago reached a record $855.10 per 1,000 board feet, having surged more than 30 percent since Jan. 12. This price surge during what is normally a winter lull is raising homebuilding costs and forcing many buyers to purchase only their immediate needs. That may filter through to housing prices, while also boosting earnings at lumber companies such as Weyerhaeuser Co. and West Fraser Timber Co.
Record-low borrowing rates and an exodus from major cities triggered a homebuilding spree, with U.S. home construction starts in December reaching the fastest pace since 2006, while lockdowns also spurred demand for home renovations. At the same time, mills couldn’t ramp up fast enough to keep available supplies from drawing down.
On the Cover
Overhead view of Osprey Logistics’ barge transport out of Everett, Washington
HDWI attempts to predict bad fire days by taking the wind speed and multiplying it by the vapor pressure deficit.
Osprey Logistics serves this logging community by finding a way to bridge logging and barge transport.
Emergent Technology Column
Komatsu Steps Up with User-Friendly Telematics
From the Get-go, A Step in the Right Direction
Building a good reputation by taking care of business, while respectfully treating employees, was the first order of business for Jesse Hunt Logging Inc.
Innovative Loggers Meets Innovative Machine
VanNatta Brothers Logging out of Eugene, Oregon, are pleased with the acquisition of their Quadco 4400 feller head.
Managing Forests for Maximum Value and Health