Right-sizing the Forest Industry

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.

Crane Log Yard
Small and medium-sized logs resulting from forest restoration projects.

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.

Big projects require big investments

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Forest Service Policy

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.

Leadership

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New Reality

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?

History shapes this New Reality

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Resilient Federal Forests Act of 2017

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.

Forests need leadership
Lincoln represents solidarity and leadership

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Social Science

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.

Uneven Age Management

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Collaborate: A New Era

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:

WHO CARES WHOSE FAULT IT IS!

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Stewardship: A to Z

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”

Carbon Friendly Forestry

What is “Carbon Friendly Forestry?” It’s two things actually.  First, it was a conference put on by the Washington Environmental Council, a Seattle-based environmental organization.  Second, it’s an idea that forestry can Continue reading “Carbon Friendly Forestry”

Westerman Bill

Over the last 20 years, we have heard of many attempts to create legislation that will improve the management of our National Forests and public lands.  There was the Healthy Forest Restoration Act under the Bush administration.  It says a lot of good things, but it still fails to address the scale of the problem.  There have been other attempts at legislation, but none have made it to law.  In my opinion, the reason for this is simple.  The language has failed to capture the essence of what the public wants.  It either goes too far, and few Democrats support it, or doesn’t go far enough and loses momentum. Continue reading “Westerman Bill”

Smoke Pollution

In Northeast Washington on August 1st, 2017 we woke up to smoke from wildfires.  It wasn’t as thick here as it was in other areas, but it was bad at varying levels throughout the month.  Now that September has started it feels like August was clear.  The smoke is so thick that visibility is impaired within 100 yards and nearly nonexistent within a mile.  Your eyes burn and you find yourself continually coughing.  There’s no escape.  Some people have been living with it throughout the west like this every day for well over a month.  This is smoke pollution and it’s likely to be a problem for years. Continue reading “Smoke Pollution”