In The News

USDA Announces Pandemic Assistance for Timber Harvesters and Haulers

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced in July that it is providing up to $200 million of relief to timber harvesting and timber hauling businesses that have experienced losses due to COVID-19, as part of the USDA’s Pandemic Assistance for Producers initiative.

Loggers and truckers can apply for assistance through USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) through October 15, 2021. The Pandemic Assistance for Timber Harvesters and Haulers program (PATHH) is administered by FSA in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service.

The USDA says timber harvesting and hauling businesses that have experienced a gross revenue loss of at least 10 percent during the period January 1 through December 1, 2020, compared to the period January 1 through December 1, 2019, are encouraged to apply

To be eligible for payments, the USDA says an applicant (an individual or legal entity) must be a timber harvesting or timber hauling business where 50 percent or more of its gross revenue is derived from one or more of the following:

  • Cutting timber
  • Transporting timber
  • Processing wood on-site on the forest land (chipping, grinding, converting to biochar, cutting to smaller lengths, etc.)

Payments will be based on the applicant’s gross revenue received from January 1, 2019, through December 1, 2019, minus gross revenue received from January 1, 2020, through December 1, 2020, multiplied by 80 percent.

Infrastructure Package

The AFRC reported that while many details are lacking on the specifics of the $1.2 trillion infrastructure package, Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Joe Manchin moved a plan through his committee for spending the $100 billion it has been allocated under the agreement. The plan, which was approved by the committee on July 14, would provide more than $5 billion over five years for forest restoration, wildfire, and hazardous fuels reduction efforts. The plan includes:

  • $500 million for “ecologically” appropriate thinning
  • $200 million to remove “flammable vegetation”
  • $200 million for post-fire restoration within three years of a fire
  • $300 million for “ecological restoration contracts” covering at least 10,000 acres
  • $200 million for Good Neighbor Authority and Tribal Forest Restoration Act projects
  • $400 million for financial assistance to sawmills and other wood processing facilities

Senator Steve Daines (R-MT) was able to secure additions to streamline forest management activities, including an amendment establishing a 3,000-acre Categorical Exclusion (CE) for fuel breaks to create defensible space for firefighters, protect communities, and slow the spread of wildfires. The other amendment would codify the Forest Service’s existing emergency situation determination to streamline restoration and salvage work when there is a risk to public safety or natural resource value.

Mercer International Acquiring Former Katerra Plant in Spokane Valley for $50 Million

The Spokesman-Review reported that Mercer International Inc., a global pulp and forest products company based in Vancouver, Canada, is expanding into the cross-laminated timber market by acquiring the former Katerra plant in Spokane Valley.

Mercer International received approval from a U.S. bankruptcy court to purchase the 270,000-square-foot manufacturing facility for $50 million.

The facility, located on 54 acres at 19202 E. Garland Ave., is equipped with state-of-the-art automation technologies and is capable of annually producing more than 140,000 cubic meters of cross-laminated timber.

It is the largest cross-laminated timber plant in the nation, according to Mercer International.

OSU Scientists Collaborate on Road Map for Adapting Forests to New Fire Regimes

Oregon State University (OSU) scientists and collaborators from throughout the western United States say that thinning and prescribed burning are crucial parts of adaptive management for seasonally dry, fire-dependent forests such as those east of the Cascade crest.

In a paper published this week in Ecological Applications, Andrew Merschel, James Johnston, and Meg Krawchuk of the OSU College of Forestry, join other researchers in acknowledging the role of Indigenous fire stewardship in past and present landscapes and the value of restoring that stewardship – intentional low-severity burning that reduces fuels and is important culturally.

The Oregon State team was among dozens of scientists across the western United States who teamed up on three papers that the journal published simultaneously, all dealing with approaches for managing fire-dependent forests following a century of fire suppression and in the face of climate change. 

TimberWest November/December 2013
July/August 2021

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Making Short Work of Fire Clean Up
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A Summer of Fire
Firebreak Column looks at battling current fires in the greater northwest.

Young Entrepreneur Clears Path for Future
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Guest Column
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