Timber and lumber Industry figures show that although 2011 was no record-breaker, it was a better year for lumber mill and logging jobs along the west coast. The story is in the Oregonian. Click here.Share on Facebook
Many Oregon counties that rely on proceeds from federal timber sales are staring down into a financial abyss as funds from those sales and other federal assistance dries up. The recession has knocked the stuffin’ out of the housing industry, leaving rural Oregon counties with a lump of coal in their revenue sock because timber sales are way down from historic averages. Lincoln County’s revenue picture is not so grim because it has a slightly broader tax base and higher property taxes than most rural counties. Lincoln County has also been laying off employees to better match labor costs with available revenues.
But for other counties, notably Josephine, Curry, Coos and Douglas, they worry about funds for their schools, law enforcement and roads and there has even been speculation about what could happen to rural communities within those counties if those services are not maintained.
However, a few Oregon Congessmen have been crafting legislation that would provide a game-changer in the way timber funds from tree harvests are handled. The story is in the Oregonian. Click here.
Here’s another take on it by the Coos Bay World newspaper. Click here.Share on Facebook
Following a study of salmon stream water temperatures after logging adjacent hills and encroaching on stream banks, the Oregon Board of Forestry announced that logging practices must change near those streams. The Board reported that temperatures rose enough to where it will have an effect on salmon spawns which require colder water. The study showed that when trees are harvested nearly up to the edge of streams, the streams’ water temperatures rise enough to affect spawning success. The Board also noted that Oregon’s forest practices rules have not been substantially reviewed for many years adding that Washington State’s stream zone harvesting rules were tightened over ten years ago in response to the same problem. If too many trees are cut that normally provide creeks and streams their cooling shade, more direct sunlight reaches the water and thereby heats it up which causes spawning conditions to deteriorate.
More details in the Statesman Journal. Click here.Share on Facebook
More raw logs from west coast forests have been headed west across the Pacific, feeding a building boom in China. Although the sale of timber helps private forest owners, it’s very hard on local lumber mills who can scarcely buy timber at $550 per thousand board feet while the Chinese are paying $650. The story is in the Oregonian. Click here.Share on Facebook
U.S. Congressman Peter DeFazio has offered up his latest plan to break, literally, the log jam over how federal timber lands should be managed in order to provide funds for the Congress as well as funds for local counties that have been hit the hardest over the housing slump and timber harvest drop off. DeFazio claims it protects sensitive forest lands for conservation and special protection, while opening up other lands for more traditional, but sustainable forest management.
The story is in the Eugene Register-Guard. Click here.Share on Facebook
Some months back the Toledo City Council hired a forestry management consultant to take a comprehensive look at the city owned Mill Creek watershed south of town, which also doubles as an important wintertime water supply for the town. Forester Mark Miller of Trout Mountain Forestry gave his initial report Wednesday night that basically said the watershed is in pretty good shape and which might produce up to $100,000 in timber income to the city over the next ten years. However, due to low timber prices being at recessionary lows, he recommended not cutting for at least a few years, or at least until timber prices rise again.
Miller said the watershed is a mixture of good timber, poor timber, good wildlife habitat and some erosion issues. He said timber stands of douglas fir, alder and spruce are in abundance, some ready for harvest, others that won’t be ready for at least another ten years or more. He said there is a sizeable quantity of timber that might be targeted for what he termed “value added” products, timber that might find its way into artistic wood carving or furniture or for decorative use in boutique home construction.
Miller said his management plan for the watershed is still being finalized to reduce erosion, conduct tree harvesting, proper seedling plantings, and other strategies that will ensure the watershed produces not only good water quality for the citizens of Toledo, but also revenues for other vital city services.
Toledo City Manager Michelle Amberg said there will be a number of meetings for the public to make comments and suggest ideas about the Mill Creek plan. Those meetings are being scheduled and will be announced in the local media as well as on the city’s website.Share on Facebook
Congressman Kurt Schrader told the Portland Oregonian last evening that a proposed cut of over $300 million to the budget of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) could affect NOAA’s move from Seattle to Newport in a timely manner. An aide to Schrader told News Lincoln County that Schrader’s statement was more of a warning shot to the media and the Newport community than a specific prediction of impending doom. But he added that such a proposed huge cut to NOAA’s budget must call into question every facet of NOAA’s operations, including their relocation from Seattle to Newport.
News Lincoln County contacted Port of Newport General Manager Don Mann today and he said “While I’m concerned like everybody else, I’m not overly so. There’s a lot of political wrangling that will go on between President Obama and the GOP leadership in the U.S. House.” As for whether such budgetary sword fighting might endanger NOAA’s move to Newport Mann added “We have signed contracts and I feel they’re solid.”
Mann said they were still aiming for a June 1st completion of most of the $40 million dollar “plus” project. He said the headquarters buildings are up and the big ship docks are taking shape. Mann said he will be following the budget talks very closely like most areas of the country that rely on federal aid or federal budget expenditures.
On another budget front, Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley announced that President Obama’s budget for next year continues to fund rural county “in lieu” timber payments which assist local governments with law enforcement and schools. However, Wyden and Merkley pointed out that President Obama’s budget calls for a ten percent cut from previous levels so there will be severe strain on those services if those cuts stand. And, what’s more, Obama does not define where those timber “in lieu” funds will be coming from. A spokesman for Obama said the issue will be negotiated with House GOP leadership which they say continues to target programs vital to many Oregonians.Share on Facebook
The U.S. has formally gone after Canada for allegedly under-valuing raw logs so as to produce much cheaper timber products than what American lumber mills can produce them for. Such issues directly affect areas like Lincoln County due to its economic reliance on timber tax receipts which have plunged in recent years which has caused all kinds of budget and public service problems.
The story is in the Oregonian:Share on Facebook
American timber companies are howling from what they contend is Canada’s continued illegal subsidies of exported Canadian timber products. The complaint is that Canada falsely classifies certain timber in their own country as “scrap” wood even though it isn’t, and then dumps wood products made from it across the border to the U.S., thereby undercutting wood growing and processing profitibility in this country.
The continuing battle between American and Canadian timber and sawmill companies plays out in an article in today’s Oregonian. Click here.Share on Facebook
Concern for coastal rivers and streams and the way they are affected by logging spurred a lawsuit recently seeking to prove that Oregon’s logging rules were too lax along the coast. And a judge has ruled in favor of those critical of Oregon state timber harvesting rules. The story is found in the Portland Oregonian.Share on Facebook