March and April 2006



In the News

Timber Sales Blocked

In January, a federal judge who struck down a Bush administration decision to ease logging restrictions last summer issued an injunction blocking as many as 144 timber sales in Washington, Oregon and California. The decision will cost the government $2.7 million in revenue.

The timber sales did not require the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management to look for and protect rare plants and animals before logging on 5.5 million acres covered by the 1994 Northwest Forest Plan.

Last August when U.S. District Judge Marsha Pechman struck down the new rule, she didn’t state whether she would allow the 144 timber sales, which had been approved since the rule's adoption. About half of those sales included old-growth logging.

In her decision, she reinstated the survey-and-manage rule, and made clear that no timber sales would proceed unless they met that standard. The 144 timber sales were expected to capture 289 million board feet.

Truss Plant Coming to Longview, Wash.

According to the Longview Daily news, Lyman Lumber, a Minnesotabased firm, has plans to start up a truss plant this summer at Longview's Mint Farm Industrial Park. The plant will eventually employ 480 people and generate $100 million annual revenue.

Although the plant is on schedule to be up and running this summer, full production isn’t expected until 2010.

This is good news for Longview residents, also told less than a month earlier that Simpson Timber Co. purchased land for a sawmill at the Port of Longview.

A Beetle Win

There is finally some positive “beetle” news. According to the Vancouver Sun newspaper, scientists, helped by foresters and local residents, recently won a small victory in their battle against the mountain pine beetle infestation. They attached to trees pouches of a chemical emitted by the beetles in the Lac Le Jeune area. The beetles avoided the lodgepole pine trees in the area because the odor sent a signal to airborne beetles to travel elsewhere.

Eleven Activists Indicted

In January, 11 environmental and animal rights activists were indicted in a series of attacks.

The defendants, based in Portland, Ore., and acting on behalf of the Animal Liberation Front and the Earth Liberation Front, were named in a 65-count indictment that included charges of arson and destruction of an energy facility. Property damage is estimated at $100 million.

Seventeen incidents represented four-and-a-half years of arson and vandalism taking place in Oregon, Washington, Wyoming, Colorado and California. They included arsons or attempted arsons on a variety of structures such as U.S. Forest Service ranger stations; animal holding facilities; lumber companies and timber farms; the Vail Ski Resort; and the Eugene, Ore. police department.

Proposed Cutback of Payments to Rural Counties

In February, the Bush administration proposed phasing out a program that put more than $2 billion into rural states hurt by logging cutbacks on federal land.

The plan would cut in half payments made to rural counties in 41 states for schools, roads and other infrastructure needs. The program was first put in place in 2000 to help offset sharp declines in timber sales in western states.

Agriculture Undersecretary Mark Rey called the proposal painful but necessary in a tight budget year. Rey said the 2000 law was never intended to be permanent, but was designed to help rural counties make the transition from dependence on timber receipts to a more broad-based economy.

Disputed Study

The 2002 Biscuit wildfire is the center of new debate after an Oregon State University (OSU) graduate student, Daniel Donato, led researchers in examining burned lands.

Donato's team was surprised by the results, which showed that in this particular case logging slowed forest recovery. They found that logging after the Biscuit fire destroyed seedlings and littered the ground with highly flammable tinder. These findings contradicted the research of several professors in the OSU College of Forestry.

The results appeared in the January edition of the journal Science. Nine OSU scientists and professors as well as the U.S. Forest Service had asked the Science editors to delay publication until their criticism could be addressed or, alternatively, to print a letter detailing their concerns along with the study. Editor Donald Kennedy, the former president of Stanford, said those who disputed the findings could respond to the study once it is published, instead of using what he described as censorship.

"One has to notice and acknowledge the courage of a graduate student to do research and publish findings that run against the norm," said Kathleen Dean Moore, a professor of philosophy at OSU, who teaches environmental ethics. "The university isn't about secrecy, it's about discussion."

Forest management and ecology experts, government officials and U.S. representatives convened on February 24, in Medford, Ore., in a congressional field hearing to review the controversial study.

The House Subcommittee on Forests and Forest Health heard testimony from 11 speakers, including OSU faculty and Donato.



This page was last updated on Tuesday, September 19, 2006