It’s a good story, but admittedly it is probably a little too eager on the getting logs to the mill angle. I say that because the A to Z project, a major topic of the story, was a result of over a decade of successful collaboration with conservation groups and community members. The results of these efforts have been excellent in terms of jobs in the woods and logs to the mill, but it would not Continue reading “Forests of Abundance”
What do the Softwood Lumber dispute and the US Forest Service have to do with one another? At first glance, very little. However, there could be an unlikely connection. One of the main complaints from the US Forest Industry (Coalition for Fair Lumber Imports) has been that the Canadian Forest Industry had been subsidised with lower-priced logs. The argument was that the available supply and low prices allowed Canadian mills to ship lumber to the US market at a profit while US mills lost money and were harmed.
Our federal forests suffer from the chicken and egg conundrum. The Forest Service has reduced its harvest volumes over the last 30 years, which drastically changed the landscape of the forest industry. Now we have large voids where mills used to dot the map. We currently face a forest health where the Forest Service needs to create large, landscape-level projects to make a difference. How do we do this without mills? The answer is that we can’t. New, right-sized milling infrastructure is required to pull this together.
It’s time to build a right-sized industry that adds value to the by-products of forest restoration. We need to quantify which trees and how many need to be removed over time with new forest restoration programs. Then use that data to align with the mills. These mills are the physical and financial tools needed to get our forests back to health. Many mills already exist, but more are needed.
Washington DC has dominated headlines over the last year. Some of it including Federal Land, but not much to do with the Forest Service. Forest fires being the possible exception. It doesn’t mean things haven’t been going on behind the scenes. With new leadership at the top, there seems to be some renewed optimism of accelerated management of our federal forests. A policy review is a logical first step.
Have you stopped to think about the landscape of the Forest Industry as it relates to the Forest Service? Very few people realize the reality is that much of the industry has written off timber from public lands. For many of these companies, it seems to be counterproductive for our public timberlands to become a significant supply again. Why is that and what is the New Reality of the US Forest Industry?
On November 1st, 2017 the House of Representatives voted 232 to 188 to pass House Resolution 2936. This is the second house bill that has passed in the last couple of years having to do with National Forests. It’s important that the issue is on the national radar. It is unfortunate that the bill wasn’t passed with more bipartisan support. The vote was with yes votes coming from 222 Republicans and 10 Democrats. That leaves no votes from 179 Democrats and 9 Republicans.
I’ve been thinking about forest management as a social science for many years. As a teen, I remember wondering why people were fighting about the activities in our forests. Of course, I understood the concern over heavy-handed clear cutting, but I wondered why there was anger over the other types of logging that worked in concert with the needs of the forest. Where I grew up, many of the private forestland owners managed their land so that they could be proud of what it looked like after it was logged. This meant leaving many trees behind so the forest looked natural.
I read and hear people talking about how the environmentalists are to blame for all our forest health woes. I also hear about the same on the other side of the coin saying that over-harvesting and past logging is the reason our forests are in the shape they are in. Here’s my take:
This week gave me two good reasons to visit the A to Z stewardship project on the Colville National Forest. The first was to collect video for the blog and scope for an upcoming news story. The second was to spend a couple hours with Mike Petersen (The Lands Council based in Spokane, WA) along with Whitney Ward and Brett Allbery from KREM2 (Spokane CBS Affiliate). Mike and I have spent years working together as part of the Northeast Washington Forestry Coalition. We always look for ways to tell our story of forest collaboration and this was an excellent opportunity. Continue reading “Stewardship: A to Z”