Logging and Sawmilling Information for the Western United States

December  2000 - Volume 25 Number 12



In The News


Christmas in D.C.  
Dave Romani, former Washington state logger now located in Colorado, was part of some grand Christmas festivities.  As Colorado Logger of Year, he was invited to fell the Millennium Holiday Tree 2000 — a 75yearold, 65 foot Colorado blue spruce headed for Washington, D.C.  Dave fired up the Husqvarna 272 XP chain saw and brought down the tree that had been selected nearly 10 years ago for the event.  The Holiday Tree traveled a 2,000mile journey from Pike National Forest in Colorado to Washington, D.C., following the Santa Fe Trail, a historic trade route through Colorado, Kansas and Missouri.  It arrived in D.C. on December 4 on a 65foot trailer designed to look like a historic Conestoga pioneer wagon.     

Colorado Logger of the Year, Dave Romani, receives a sacred blessing from a Ute Indian Chief prior to the cutting ceremony. 

Bureau Looks For Spending Projects 
Because of years of tight budgets and political fallout from this year’s disastrous forest fire season, the U.S.  Bureau of Land Management now has millions of federal dollars at its disposal and is trying to quickly figure out how to spend it.  In the fiscal year that runs through next September, Congress has given the BLM in New Mexico nearly $5.5 million to reduce fire danger around communities.  That’s up from about $900,000 last fiscal year.  "It’s kind of boggling and staggering to suddenly get all this money," says Bob Lee, state fire management officer for the BLM in New Mexico.  "We had been learning to do without and eke things out and get along.  Suddenly we’ve got all this money.  But the money represents a lot of expectations from a lot of people.”  So far they have started to thin trees and underbrush around communities.  Work is under way on agency land near Copper Hill, outside of Picuris Pueblo, at Ft.  Stanton, in the town of Lincoln, at the Chimayo Boy Scout Ranch and at Pinos Altos.  By early next year, the BLM intends to have nearly another 70 thinning projects ready for next summer," says Lee.  "Most of the actual thinning work will be done by contractors.”  

Canadian Mills Closing Too
Alliance Forest Products Inc. is shutting down four Quebec sawmills indefinitely.  The Montreal Company says that the affected mills have combined annual production of about 145 million board feet of lumber a year.  Alliance says it will periodically assess the market to determine when to resume production.  "Unfortunately, we must proceed with these temporary closures due to the sharp decline of net selling prices for lumber products since last year," says Jean Label, Alliance’s vice president of sawmills and woodlands.  "These sawmills are struggling with difficult market conditions, costly stumpage fees, insufficient fiber supply and supplemental export costs attributable to the Canada U.S.  Softwood Lumber Agreement.”  The move by Alliance comes a week after newsprint giant AbitibiConsolidated Inc. announced it will shut down its eastern Canadian sawmills and planing mills for three weeks over Christmas because of weak markets.  

Tribe’s Plan To Reclaim Lands 
The Klamath tribes have finished preparing their economic self-sufficiency plan, which is a vital part of their proposal to regain possession of approximately 690,000 acres of Forest Service land and reestablish their former reservation.  Tribal Chairman Allen Foreman delivered the plan to Washington, D.C., on November 1.  "In a culmination of over 14 years of work by the tribes, we have finally completed the first part of the congressional mandate," Foreman says.  Most of the Winema National Forest was created from the tribes’ 880,000acre reservation after tribal status was terminated in 1954.  Opponents say that when tribal members accepted cash payments of approximately $43,000 each for their interest, they lost all rights.  Others say it was a land grab.  However, it will be those in D.C. who make the final decision. 

Old Growth Logging In Northwest
The revised Northwest Forest Plan (NFP), released in November, drops more than 60 species from the list of plants, animals and other forest life that biologists must look for before logging can begin — allowing more harvesting in the Northwest.  The NFP, an attempt by the Clinton administration to balance logging with species protection, originally lumped more than 400 organisms thought to live only in the Northwest’s old growth forests.  Some of the species are more common than originally thought and have been removed.  Federal officials say their shortened list of about 340 species should streamline long, costly surveys for slugs, fungi, lichen, moss and other organisms that have often slowed logging promised under the 1994 forest plan.  

"We included some of these species because we didn’t know much about them," says Chris Strebig of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.  "Now we’re fine-tuning based on new information to make sure we meet both tenets of the Northwest Forest Plan: to protect species and to provide reasonable timber harvest.”  The secretaries of interior and agriculture are expected to put the new strategy into effect in January.  Frank Gladics of the Portland based American Forest Resource Council says the timber industry won’t hold its breath waiting for those timber jobs.  With conservation groups already threatening to sue over the shortened species list and the courts watching over the shoulders of forest supervisors, he says hoping for any boost in the region’s federal timber supply "is like counting on winning the Irish sweepstakes.”    

Housing Starts Down 
The Engineered Wood Association reported that U.S. housing starts through the first three quarters of the year were down 4 percent compared with the same period last year.  This translates into a reduction in demand of approximately 500 million square feet of structural wood panel. 

One Mill Fights Back  
It seems like everywhere you turn, there is news of another mill shutting down.  One Idaho mill, Bennet Lumber Products, is making a multimillion-dollar investment to ensure it won’t happen to them.  “The declining availability of logs from federal and state land, as well as increased movement in the forest products industry toward sustainable tree farming, has pushed the future of logging toward smaller logs," says Brett Bennett, manager.  The company plans to expand the mill to include a new operation designed to mill smaller diameter logs with a price tag of between $8 million and $12 million.  The company told commissioners that without the new mill, Bennett Lumber would eventually have to close, impacting at least 250 individuals.  The small diameter logs will supplement, not replace, current operations, and the company hopes to begin building in early spring.  

Cohesive Fire Strategy 
The Forest Service recently released its Cohesive Strategy for Protecting People and Sustaining Resources in Fire Adapted Ecosystem.  Having experienced a 7 million acre fire and billion-dollar fire season, they needed the report out quickly to help Congress appropriate over $1.1 billion in emergency fire and forest health funding.  The report describes a 20year treatment schedule that could treat up to 6 million acres per year following a fire year ramp up period.  It places priority on: (1) wild and urban interface, (2) municipal watersheds, (3) habitat of threatened and endangered habitat, and (4) maintenance of existing low risk areas.  If you’d like to read further, the report is available online; log on to www.fs.fed.us/pub/fam/CohesiveSrategy00oct13.pdf. 

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