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.
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.
Oregon logging may soon look more like logging in Washington State when it comes to cutting trees near salmon streams
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.
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.
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.