Sept, 2001





In The News

Beetle Money Headed for Alaska 
The Kenai Peninsula Borough Spruce Bark Beetle Task Force will be receiving $750,000 as a result of a bill recently signed by President Bush. The money will be used for much-needed emergency response and communications equipment, which was brought to light by a recent fire. About $250,000 has been earmarked to upgrade a mobile communication vehicle for disaster situations and the remaining $500,000 will be used for various communication upgrades - satellite phones to cover 26,000 square miles of the borough inaccessible with cell phones. The bill also includes 1.75 million to the Municipality of Anchorage for emergency firefighting equipment to combat wildfires in the beetle-infested forest. "After visiting the Kenai Peninsula and seeing firsthand the devastation the spruce bark beetle has created, this money is essential to combat the epidemic we are facing," said Sen. Ted Stevens. 

Bush Administration Backs Fire Plan 
On August 12, Interior Secretary Gale Norton and Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman signed an agreement that would shift policy from suppressing major fires to preventing them by thinning underbrush and helping communities decrease risks to property. The agreement would also give Western states and local regions more discretion in fighting wildfires. At this time, the document is broad in scope and it won't be until next Spring before Veneman discloses details on implementing the plan. Forest Service Chief Dale Bosworth said the success of the plan depends on the federal government's financial commitment. He also stated that institutional barriers must be removed so that managing forests with mechanical thinning and prescribed fires can be done more quickly. 

Minimizing Monuments 
Congressman Mike Simpson's (R-ID) bill that would put in place checks and balances on a president's use of the Antiquities Act to create national monuments, has received support from the Bush administration. If passed, it would require a president to consult with the affected governors and congressional delegations when designating or expanding monuments 50,000 acres or larger. 

Fighting Fires With Satellites 
Satellite image technology is now being used at the Forest Service's Remote Sensing Applications Center (RSAC) in Salt Lake City, Utah, to give firefighting agencies a detailed picture of multiple wildland fires spread across several states. Thanks to a partnership among the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Forest Service, NASA, the University of Maryland, and the National Interagency Fire Center, this new regional view will help agencies manage firefighting resources strategically, especially during peak fire season activity. "Through a collaborative effort, we can now use images beamed back to earth from a NASA satellite to make strategic decisions as we combat wildfires across the nation," said Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman. "This is especially critical when firefighting resources are stretched to the limit as they are this fire season." NASA currently delivers moderate-resolution satellite images and active fire locations to RSAC. These images and fire locations are generated from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer, or MODIS, instrument carried aboard NASA's Terra satellite. "Many different sources of information are typically used to develop an overall understanding of the regional fire picture with most of the information coming from individual incidents," said RSAC Operations Program Leader Keith Lannom. "A reliable synopsis of information will help ensure that firefighting resources are deployed as efficiently as possible." The Forest Service is building a satellite image processing center in Salt Lake City capable of generating near real-time images of the western United States which will be functional by late fall. Besides fire management, RSAC contributes to projects in watershed restoration, range management, and forest planning. 

Millions of Board Feet Held Up In Court 
At times the forestry industry seems comprised of more lawsuits than trees. One troublesome legal battle is taking place at the Colville and Idaho Panhandle national forests. Approximately 1.2 million board feet of Douglas Fir was cut over seven months ago to combat a bark beetle infestation. In February, federal appeals justices halted the work until a lawsuit over the controversial sale was settled. Although 47 million board feet were hauled out, the rest remains down, losing value each day. The injunction may soon be lifted, but the value of the remaining trees is hard to gauge. "It wouldn't surprise me if the mills don't even want it now," said Wayne Babb, a logger waiting to retrieve 150,00 board feet of timber. "In this hot weather that stuff goes bad quick." In August, the Washington environmentalists won another victory when a ruling by a district court judge came down. The ruling states that the Forest Service must conduct more thorough environmental reviews before continuing the sales. Because the beetle-infested timber is continually losing value, the Forest Service probably will not proceed It wouldn't be a sound financial move. 

Taking The Fire Safety Message To The TV 
As the fire season heats up, so does the debate on how to best manage national forests to prevent catastrophic burns. To bolster their side of the issue, the Idaho Forest Products Commission released a radio commercial advocating logging to prevent fires. "We can manage our forests so that we don't have too many trees, and reintroduce fires in a controlled and prescribed way," Sandy Kegley, a U.S. Forest Service entomologist says in the 60-second spot. "But the most effective ways are thinning or changing to species that are more suitable to the site." "The message is to inform people that we have a forest health problem," says Betty Munis, director of the commission. "The forests are important to Idaho and the forest products industry." Environmentalists weren't as excited about the commercial, stating there was no empirical, scientific evidence demonstrating that thinning reduces fire severity.  But with the numerous fires this season, and the continued loss of our forests and resources, the Commission believes that the message is important and deserves air time. "It's not a new message we're coming out with," Munis says. "We're just trying to help people understand that we need to care for our forests." 

Time For a Little Good News! 
The Oregon Observer decided that with all the economic gloom and doom it was time to focus on some of the good news taking place in Northwest Oregon. For those that need a little cheering up after reading about falling stock values and industry job losses the Observer listed the following events: 

o Joseph Timber reopened. 
o Wallowa Forest Products reopened. 
o The state's share of funding for Eastern Oregon University's new science building was approved by the legislature. 
o Boise Cascade added a second shift at its Elgin stud mill. 
o Elgin is seeing life in its new industrial park. 

The Observer hoped to reassure folks that not all news is bad. 

NTEA Economic Outlook & Truck Product Conferences POSTPONED
 Due to the Sept. 11, 2001 national tragedy, the National Truck Equipment Association (NTEA) has indefinitely postponed its 2002 Economic Outlook Conference scheduled for Sept. 17 and its 2002 Model NTEA Truck Product Conference scheduled for Sept. 18-19 at the Hyatt Regency, Dearborn, MI. The continuing uncertainty of travel disruptions has caused the NTEA to postpone both events indefinitely. The NTEA is pursuing options for rescheduling of the Economic Outlook and Truck Product Conferences. All registrants are asked to cancel hotel reservations made with the Hyatt Regency by calling (313) 593-1234. The NTEA will issue full refunds upon request for anyone wishing to cancel their conference registration at this time. If the NTEA is unable to reschedule both events, full refunds will be issued to all registrants. The NTEA apologizes for any inconvenience this may have caused. If you have any questions, call 1-800-441- NTEA or e-mail [email protected].


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