Region Archives: United States

Business & Politics

US Senators introduce bipartisan bill to boost mass timber

James Risch, (R-Idaho)
April 17, 2024
Category: Business & Politics
Region: United States

Jim Risch

Jeff Merkley

U.S. Senators Jim Risch (R-Idaho) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) announced the bipartisan Mass Timber Federal Buildings Act to promote the use of mass timber in federal buildings and military construction. …The Mass Timber Federal Buildings Act would provide a preference in federal building contracts for mass timber products. …The bill creates a two-tier contracting preference for mass timber. The first-tier preference applies to mass timber that is made within the U.S. and responsibly sourced from state, federal, private, and Tribal forestlands. The second tier, which is optional, applies to mass timber products that are sourced from restoration practices, fire mitigation projects, and/or underserved forest owners. Additionally, this bill contains a reporting requirement for a whole building lifecycle assessment. The Act is endorsed by the American Wood Council, American Forest Resource Council, Forest Landowners Association, National Alliance of Forest Owners, Southeastern Lumber Manufacturers Association [amongst others].

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Mill closures ‘shock’ industry, but officials say demand for wood remains

By Justin Franz
Montana Free Press
April 22, 2024
Category: Business & Politics
Region: United States, US West

Since 1990, about three dozen mills have closed in western Montana, a list that will soon include Pyramid Mountain Lumber in Seeley Lake and Roseburg Forest Products in Missoula, both of which announced plans to shutter within a week of each other last month. …Paul McKenzie, vice president and general manager of F.H. Stoltze Land & Lumber Co. in Columbia Falls said in 2023, the company got about 70% of its wood from national forest land — the most it had gotten from that source in years — but that amount was going to be significantly less this year. …Stoltze is also looking for ways to expand its business. A few years ago, the company established a new branch called Stoltze Timber Systems, which produces pre-fabricated structures using cross-laminated timber. Such construction is appealing to a lumber mill like Stoltze because it allows it to use smaller trees that in the past had little use. 

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Lumber mill closure leaves Seeley Lake wrestling with a timberless future

By Austin Amestoy
Montana Public Radio
April 18, 2024
Category: Business & Politics
Region: United States, US West

MONTANA — The signs of Seeley Lake’s timber-town origins are everywhere you look. The community is nestled in a valley packed with pine trees. Signs warning of “log trucks entering” are sprinkled along the highway toward town. Log buildings are everywhere. But, Seeley Lake may not be able to call itself a timber town for much longer. The community — and the state’s once-booming lumber industry — suffered a blow in March when Pyramid Mountain Lumber announced plans to shut down. …Now, mill workers and Seeley Lake residents are grasping for a future that may not include timber. …Now, Seeley Lake residents are grappling with the potential fallout of losing their largest employer. …Since school funding in Montana is tied to enrollment, those possible departures could mean layoffs at the elementary school. Gibbs wonders what will happen to the electricians and plumbers who work with the mill.

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Sawmill announces layoffs in Spearfish

By Sarah Pridgeon
The Sundance Times
April 18, 2024
Category: Business & Politics
Region: United States, US West

Neiman Enterprises has announced layoffs and production reductions at Spearfish Forest Products, its last remaining facility in South Dakota. The company says the decision is due to a decrease in the timber sale program on the Black Hills National Forest (BHNF). …This is the second time in under two years that Neiman Enterprises has announced shift reductions. In July, 2022, the company reduced hours at both of its sawmills, removing a shift in Hulett and reducing hours in Spearfish. That move, too, was attributed to a reduction in timber harvests. A year before, the company closed its mill in Hill City, SD, citing the same reason. …During the process of revising the Black Hills National Forest Management Plan, the United States Forest Service (USFS) determined that change would be needed because the 1997 forest timber plan was not consistent with actual, on-the-ground conditions.

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Morgan Franklin joins U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities as Program Coordinator

By Brooke Miller
The US Endowment for Forestry and Communities
April 23, 2024
Category: Business & Politics
Region: United States, US East

Morgan Franklin

GREENVILLE, S.C. – Morgan Franklin has joined the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities as program coordinator. The Endowment is the nation’s largest public charity dedicated to serving the forestry sector and Franklin will manage program activities and support grant and contract management. “We are thrilled to have Morgan join us,” said Delie Wilkins, program officer for the Endowment. “Her experience in project management and grant administration, coupled with her passion for active forest management and environmental stewardship, brings a valuable skillset that aligns perfectly with our mission of keeping working forests working.” Prior to the Endowment, Franklin specialized in grant administration and forestry at Thompson Appalachian Hardwoods. …Her work led her to collaborate with the Endowment’s ForesTrust initiative, where she helped pilot a tracking and tracing program that tracks logs from the forest through the supply chain. 

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Canfor launches optimization strategy for South Alabama operations

By Jerry Underwood
Made In Alabama
April 18, 2024
Category: Business & Politics
Region: US East, International

Canfor announced plans to expand production at its facility in the Clarke County community of Fulton as it moves to optimize its operational footprint in Southern Alabama, where it is also building a new, state-of-the-art sawmill in nearby Mobile County. As part of the restructuring, Canfor plans to permanently close its aging mill in Jackson, as it adds a second production shift in Fulton. Lee Goodloe, president of Canfor Southern Pine, said he expects the majority of employees in Jackson will have the opportunity to join the expanded operation in Fulton or its $210 million sawmill in Axis when it opens later this year. …The strategic moves will expand the company’s regional manufacturing platform by 100 million board feet. …Clarke County Commission, along with the Town of Fulton, approved a 10-year tax abatement on the new installation of the #3 continuous dry kiln, fire protection upgrades, blower system upgrade and planer mill/kiln access road.

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Finance & Economics

US Leading Economic Index Fell in March

The Conference Board
April 18, 2024
Category: Finance & Economics
Region: United States

The Conference Board Leading Economic Index (LEI) for the U.S. decreased by 0.3% in March 2024 to 102.4 (2016=100), after increasing by 0.2% in February. Over the six-month period between September 2023 and March 2024, the LEI contracted by 2.2%—a smaller decrease than the 3.4 percent decline over the previous six months. “February’s uptick in the U.S. LEI proved to be ephemeral as the Index posted a decline in March,” said Justyna Zabinska-La Monica at The Conference Board. “Negative contributions from the yield spread, new building permits, consumers’ outlook on business conditions, new orders, and initial unemployment insurance claims drove March’s decline. The LEI’s six-month and annual growth rates remain negative, but the pace of contraction has slowed. Overall, the Index points to a fragile—even if not recessionary—outlook for the U.S. economy. …The Conference Board forecasts GDP growth to cool after the rapid expansion in the second half of 2023. 

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AF&PA Releases March 2024 Packaging Papers Monthly Report

The American Forest & Paper Association
April 17, 2024
Category: Finance & Economics
Region: United States

WASHINGTON – The American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA) released its March 2024 Packaging Papers Monthly report. Total packaging papers & specialty packaging shipments in March decreased 5% compared to March 2023. They were down 2% when compared to the same 3 months of 2023. The operating rate for bleached packaging papers was 82.5%, up 5.7 points from March 2023 and up 9.5 points year-to-date. Shipments of the biggest subgrade in unbleached packaging papers — bag & sack — were 99,700 short tons for the month of March, down 0.3% from the same month last year but up 3.5% year-to-date.

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How Quickly Do Housing Prices Respond to US Monetary Policy?

By Eric Lynch
NAHB – Eye on Housing
April 17, 2024
Category: Finance & Economics
Region: United States

As economist Milton Friedman once quipped, monetary policy has a history of operating with “long and variable lags.” What Friedman was expressing is that it takes some time for the true effects of monetary policy, like the changing of the federal funds rate, to permeate completely through the larger economy. While some industries, like housing, are extremely rate-sensitive, there are others that are less so. Given the current inflation challenge, the question then becomes: how does monetary policy affect inflation across a diverse economy like the United States? This was the question that Leila Bengali and Zoe Arnaut, researchers at the Federal Reserve Board of San Francisco, asked. …The economists examined which components that make up the Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE) Index, an inflation measurement produced by the Bureau of Economic Analysis, are the most and least responsive to changes in the federal funds rate. 

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Wood, Paper & Green Building

Latest Revisions to the American National Standard for Hardwood and Decorative Plywood

By Keith Christman, President
Decorative Hardwoods Association
April 22, 2024
Category: Wood, Paper & Green Building
Region: United States

Decorative Hardwoods Association members have told us that our standards provide critical value to their companies. We’re happy to report that the revision process for our American National Standard for Hardwood and Decorative Plywood (ANSI/HPVA HP-1-2020) is nearing completion and the revised standard is available for comment. Our thanks to our members and the many others who participated in the revision process. Unfair and illegal trade from China has also impacted our customers. Therefore, we join the Kitchen Cabinet Manufacturers Association in applauding the Department of Commerce’s recent action against circumvention through Vietnam and Malaysia. Regulations remain an important challenge to our industry and our allies in other parts of the hardwood industry. The Hardwood Federation, which DHA and our members are part of, has asked for our help in reaching out to policymakers and pushing back on regulatory overreach. 

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Mass timber is creating office environments worth rooting for.

Think Wood
April 22, 2024
Category: Wood, Paper & Green Building
Region: United States

Using Mass Timber to Differentiate Your Next Office Project — Watch the full video to hear industry leaders discuss how mass timber is reshaping modern office construction by leveraging the environmental and sustainable benefits and the aesthetic appeal of the building material itself. Not to mention the impact mass timber can have on employee well-being and productivity!

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The International Mass Timber Conference promotes community through design, manufacturing, and a shared love of craft

By Allan Horton
The Architect’s Newspaper
April 18, 2024
Category: Wood, Paper & Green Building
Region: United States, US West

The spirit of mass timber is the ethos of Portland; there’s no better place for this conference than the City of Roses. For the eighth year in a row, the world’s largest gathering of mass timber experts and stakeholders assembled for the 2024 International Mass Timber Conference at the Oregon Convention Center. Pre-conference events held on March 26 provided context for the two-day agenda to follow, with local building tours and crash courses in both mass timber basics and recent advancements in research. In cooperation with the wood design experts at WoodWorks-Wood Products Council and with the support of sponsors including the Urban Land Institute and the U.S. Forest Service, the event casts a wide net. … This is a feel-good conference led by makers that grows approximately 30 percent each year, on average. …The 2024 IMTC was the most inspired conference I’ve been to in 20 years, and I can’t wait to see if it will exceed 30 percent growth next year. 

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Mercer Mass Timber Selected to Provide Building Materials for the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library

By Accesswire
April 17, 2024
Category: Wood, Paper & Green Building
Region: United States, US West

SPOKANE, Washington — Mercer Mass Timber (MMT) announced that it will provide mass timber for the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library in North Dakota’s Badlands. This project honors the president’s legacy of conservation by utilizing locally sourced and renewable resources, like mass timber. In partnership with general contractor, JE Dunn, MMT will provide mass timber design assistance, materials, and coordination and logistics for the project, including the signature roof structure. The Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library will sit on 93 acres in Medora, North Dakota, situated near the Burning Hills Amphitheater. The library will be a single-story, large footprint museum building with 93,000 square feet of interior space that includes interactive galleries, community spaces, a cafe, and an auditorium. …The first stage of the project will start in April 2024, with the project slated for an opening on July 4, 2026.

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Kansas University architecture students are building a small house with big ambitions

The University of Kansas
April 22, 2024
Category: Wood, Paper & Green Building
Region: United States, US East

LAWRENCE — Dirt Works Studio, an academic design-build studio at the University of Kansas School of Architecture & Design, has designed and is currently building Phoenix House, a small, solar-powered house designed to assist members of the Lawrence community in transitioning from houselessness to a secure home. …Phoenix House has been designed using an innovative cross-laminated timber (CLT) shell, wrapped in a highly insulated, airtight building envelope, and clad with a wood rain screen. Designed to accommodate 1-2 people, the home’s interior is characterized by durable materials and surfaces, including CLT timber walls and ceilings and exposed concrete floors with radiant floor heating. Wood surfaces were prioritized for aesthetics and as a natural solution for humidity regulation. The color, tactility and smell of wood, along with its positive effects on interior air quality, have documented regenerative and stress reduction outcomes.

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Architecture Hall expansion honors HDR collaboration

By Troy Fedderson
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
April 19, 2024
Category: Wood, Paper & Green Building
Region: United States, US East

The expansion of the University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s iconic Architecture Hall will honor a longstanding collaboration with HDR, an Omaha-based architecture/engineering firm. Currently under construction, the new addition of Architecture Hall will be named HDR Pavilion. The name honors HDR’s undisclosed gift to the project and the firm’s deep connection to the College of Architecture and generations of alumni. …The pavilion will feature a resilient, mass timber structure. The exposed wood structure and infrastructure will provide students with embedded learning opportunities in mass timber design and construction, which is increasingly a preferred construction method in Nebraska and around the world.

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The push for mass timber as a sustainable housing solution in New England

By Abigail Brone
WSHU Connecticut Public Radio
April 22, 2024
Category: Wood, Paper & Green Building
Region: United States, US East

Across New England, developers are looking for new ways to increase affordable housing inventory, and some are trying to do so by using mass timber… in recent years there’s been an increase in mass timber construction in New England, though not to the degree proponents would like to see. Some say it could be key to creating sustainable new housing in the region. …It may be hard to replace carbon and steel in our tallest skyscrapers, but mass timber buildings are getting taller, said Ricky McLain, with the Wood Works Products Council. A 2021 building code change allowed mass timber buildings to go up to 18 stories, McLain said. …A mass timber industry in New England would create a new market for wood, leading to more forest maintenance as trees are harvested, according to Chad Oliver, a professor emeritus at the Yale School of Forestry. Oliver calls it a “triple win.”

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Ohio State University-area plan would replace Bier Stube with nation’s second-tallest wood-framed building

By Jim Weiker
The Columbus Dispatch
April 21, 2024
Category: Wood, Paper & Green Building
Region: United States, US East

A Chicago-area company plans to build a 13-story apartment building in the University District out of wood, making it the country’s second-tallest timber-framed building. Harbor Bay Ventures is proposing the building on the site of the Bier Stube, a longtime Ohio State watering hole at 1479 N. High St. “Our plan is to build Columbus’ first mass-timber building,” said Dan Whalen, vice president of design and development for Harbor Bay. “We are really excited about that.” This would be Harbor Bay’s second large, wood-framed structure. Two years ago, the company opened INTRO in Cleveland’s Ohio City neighborhood, made of two timber-framed buildings, nine and 11 stories high. Harbor Bay bills INTRO as the nation’s largest timber-framed building, though not the tallest. …Harbor Bay’s plan calls for a first-floor “podium” level of traditional steel and concrete topped by 12 floors built of wood. 

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North Carolina updating fire code following deadly SouthPark fire

By Morgan Frances
Queen City News
April 17, 2024
Category: Wood, Paper & Green Building
Region: United States, US East

CHARLOTTE, North Carolina — It was one of the darkest days in Charlotte’s history when a 5-alarm fire engulfed a SouthPark apartment complex under construction, trapping two workers inside. …Now, because of that fire, changes are on the way. …The State Fire Marshal’s Office plans to adopt the most recent National Fire Protection Association standards, which was released in 2022. North Carolina adopts changes to the state fire code every six years. …The standards target fire safety, specifically, at wood-framed sites. One change will require property owners to designate a Fire Prevention Program Manager for the site. That person will be responsible for maintaining a fire safety plan. “This daily inspection is going to allow them to identify fire safety as the building is going up,” said Robin Zevotek, for the National Fire Protection Association. The prior version did not have that daily inspection requirement. …The changes are expected to be implemented in January 2025.

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Forestry

UBC prof Suzanne Simard named in Time’s ‘most influential’ list

By David Ball
CBC News
April 21, 2024
Category: Forestry
Region: Canada, United States

Suzanne Simard

When Suzanne Simard heard she was going to be named one of the 100 “most influential people” in the world on Wednesday, she had a hard time believing it at first. The Finding the Mother Tree author, who was included in Time magazine’s annual list alongside a handful of fellow Canadians. …Simard is joined on the magazine’s annual list by Canadians such as actors Elliot Page and Michael J. Fox and artificial intelligence pioneer Yoshua Bengio. According to Time magazine’s write-up about Simard, the professor was chosen because of what it called the “revolutionary” findings of her extensive study of forest ecology. “Her 200-plus peer-reviewed articles have deeply informed the thinking of conservationists and environmentalists working to help preserve forests in a world ever more threatened by climate change and wildfires,” the New York-based publication wrote.

Additional Coverage in Vancouver Sun, by Tiffany Crawford: Meet the Vancouver scientist whose work could help fight forest fires, save old-growth

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A Book’s Vital Warning About How Forests Shape Human History

By Eugene Linden
Time Magazine
April 21, 2024
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, International

The thirty-four-year history of A Forest Journey: The Role of Wood in the Development of Civilization, has been an epic tale of repeated consignments to oblivion, followed by dramatic rescues. First published in 1989 by W.W. Norton, author John Perlin looked at the rise and fall of civilizations through the lens of the forests that supported them, and then showed how, time after time, subsequent deforestation contributed to a civilization’s collapse. Though a few reviews recognized the book’s originality and astonishing erudition, sales were meager. Thus began a tale of abandonment and rescue as several, successive influential admirers saved the book from pulping. The author’s journey has been no less fraught, including a four-year period during the writing of the book when he lived in a friend’s back yard. Now, thanks to… Patagonia Press, who view A Forest Journey as a “foundational environmental text,” the work has new life.

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The cicadas are coming, and some may become ‘flying saltshakers of death’

By Jason Bittel
The Washington Post
April 20, 2024
Category: Forestry
Region: United States

This spring the American Midwest and South will experience a numerically magnificent wildlife event: a rare double emergence of periodical cicadas. With the arrival of Brood XIX and Brood XIII, trillions of harmless insects will be singing their hearts out from Wisconsin to Louisiana, Maryland to Georgia. The last time these broods co-emerged was 1803. As impressive as that is, this year’s entomological phenomenon is special for researchers hoping to unravel the evolutionary mysteries of bugs that crawl out of the ground in roughly 13-year and 17-year intervals. Broods are not the same as species, and each brood can contain multiple cicada species that can emerge in different places. In 2024, all seven cicada species will be represented, a coincidence that won’t happen again until 2037. …One of the more unusual mysteries scientists hope to investigate involves a parasitic fungus that attacks adult cicadas, turning them into what one expert calls “flying saltshakers of death.”

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Why Aren’t We Saving the Urban Forests?

By Margaret Renkl
The New York Times
April 22, 2024
Category: Forestry
Region: United States

When it comes to trees, human beings tend to like them big and tall and inconceivably ancient. …But human beings cut down old trees all the time, for no reason but the inconvenience of their falling leaves or their burgeoning fruit, or because they are in the way of a road or a subdivision, or because of foolish notions of safety. …I wonder what the world would be like if we could harness the outrage engendered by a tree felled in an act of vandalism, or the grief engendered by a tree at risk of dying in a wildfire, and turn it toward protecting the trees we still have left. …Today is Earth Day and Arbor Day is on Friday. Both will be celebrated across the country by a great communal effort to plant trees. …We just need to remember how good it feels to sit beneath the cooling shelter of mature trees, too. [to access the full story a NYTimes subscription is required]

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President Biden Marks Earth Day 2024 with Historic Climate Action

The White House
April 22, 2024
Category: Forestry
Region: United States

Building on his climate, clean energy, and environmental justice agenda, President Biden will travel today to Prince William Forest Park in Triangle, Virginia, to celebrate Earth Day 2024, and highlight his Administration’s unprecedented progress in tackling the climate crisis, cutting costs for everyday Americans, and creating good-paying jobs. The President will announce $7 billion in grants through the Environmental Protection Agency’s Solar for All grant competition, a key component of the Inflation Reduction Act’s $27 billion Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund. …To conserve and steward old growth forests, USDA announced a proposal to amend 128 forest land management plans to conserve and steward old-growth forest conditions on national forests and grasslands nationwide. This builds upon the Biden-Harris Administration’s protection of Tongass National Forest, the largest intact temperate rainforest in the world.

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Committee Addresses Wildfire and Forest Management Crisis, Considers Solutions for Federal Forests

House Committee on Natural Resources
April 17, 2024
Category: Forestry
Region: United States

Today, the Subcommittee on Federal Lands held a legislative hearing on a discussion draft of legislation to improve responsible forest management and protect communities from catastrophic wildfires. A century of mismanagement has resulted in overstocked, unhealthy, and fire-prone federal forests left susceptible to wildfires, insects and disease, drought, and rising temperatures. More than 1 billion acres are now at risk of wildland fire. Federal land management agencies have identified a combined 117 million acres of federal land at high or very high risk for wildfire… These high-risk federal forests are overloaded with dangerous dry fuels that have been allowed to accumulate due to a lack of thinning, prescribed burns, and mechanical treatments. …At today’s hearing, members heard from Forest Service officials and forestry experts from around the country on draft legislation that includes solutions to address emergency wildfire risks, protect communities, provide greater transparency and technology and ultimately help solve the wildfire crisis. 

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Hilary Franz meets with Ukrainian delegation to discuss wildfire management, forestry

By Mitchell Roland
The Chronicle
April 22, 2024
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

Hilary Franz

As part of a growing list of international partners, Washington Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz met with a delegation of Ukrainian officials last week to discuss wildfire mitigation and sustainable forestry management. On Thursday, Franz met with a delegation led by State Specialized Forest Enterprise Director General Yurii Bolokhovets, who requested the meeting to strengthen bilateral cooperation in forestry. The cooperation is the latest partnership for the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), which includes meetings with officials from British Columbia, Iceland and Finland. …In a news release, DNR noted the risk that Ukraine’s forests face, particularly as the war with Russia continues. According to the Ukrainian State Forest Resources Agency, over the past three years, an estimated 30% of the country’s forests have suffered damage.

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Commissioner Franz Signs Order Directing DNR to Partner With Ukraine on Forestry

By Hilary Franz
Washington State Department of Natural Resources
April 19, 2024
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

Washington Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz today met with a delegation from Ukraine (led by State Specialized Forest Enterprise “Forests of Ukraine” Director General Yurii Bolokhovets) to discuss best practices for sustainable forestry as well wildfire response and mitigation strategies. Ukrainian officials requested a meeting with Commissioner Franz and DNR staff to develop and strengthen bilateral cooperation in sustainable forestry. Washington’s high standards in forest management make the agency a global leader in sustainable harvest, conservation, and preservation. …Ukraine’s forests are in danger. The State Forest Resources Agency estimated that nearly 30% of Ukraine’s forests have suffered some kind of damage in the last three years. Russia reportedly has been actively destroying and harvesting Ukrainian forests, depleting the country’s natural resources, inflicting over $2 trillion in environmental costs, and causing long-term ecological damage – lowering groundwater level, reducing biodiversity, polluting the air, and increasing wildfires.

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Proposed Conservation Easement on Green Diamond’s Private Timberland in Northwest Montana

By Tristan Scott
The Flathead Beacon
April 17, 2024
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) is seeking feedback on a public lands project that would furnish permanent protections on nearly 33,000 acres of private timberland in northwest Montana while precluding development on a patchwork of forestland surrounding the Thompson Chain of Lakes between Kalispell and Libby. …FWP is working with The Trust for Public Land (TPL) and Green Diamond Resource Company to identify funding sources for the potential easement. …Under the terms of the easement, which provide for public recreation access and the preservation of wildlife habitat, Green Diamond would retain ownership of the land under an easement owned by FWP. The easement would allow Green Diamond to sustainably harvest wood products from its timberlands. It is the first of a potential two-phased project totaling 85,792 acres of private timberland. …“Green Diamond has essentially offered to donate 35% of the value of this easement,” Dillon Tabish said.

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Corrosion from new fire retardant grounds two air tankers

By Joshua Murdock
Helena Independent Record
April 18, 2024
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

Two aerial firefighting jets, including one based in Missoula, have been grounded because of corrosion apparently caused by a new fire retardant the U.S. Forest Service approved for use beginning last year. Two large air tankers — passenger jets converted to carry 3,000 gallons of retardant each — used a magnesium chloride fire retardant product while fighting wildfires last year. Both are grounded pending a joint investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board, National Institute of Standards and Technology and the Forest Service. The magnesium chloride retardant was in limited use last fire season, loaded into the two large air tankers and some smaller, single-engine aircraft also in Montana. After the discovery this winter of corrosion in areas of tankers where the retardant accumulated, the Forest Service decided not to use it this year. Instead, the agency will continue its widespread use of ammonium phosphate fire retardant that has been the go-to retardant nationwide for years. 

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Rayoniers’s historic Clallam Tree Farm hits the market

The Forks Forum
April 18, 2024
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

In a monumental move within the timber industry, Rayonier Inc. has set the stage for a most significant timberland transactions in recent history. The Clallam Tree Farm, a property in the heart of the Pacific Northwest’s Olympic Peninsula, is now up for sale. The Clallam Tree Farm spans 115,250 acres of forestland. The property is located within the Douglas-fir region of the upper-west Olympic Peninsula. With nine miles of the North Fork of the Calawah River meandering through its expanse and neighboring the Olympic National Forest, this property stands as a testament to managed forestry. Rayonier’s decision to put the Clallam Tree Farm on the market marks the first time this property has been available for acquisition since the 1940s. With nearly eight decades of stewardship, the property is a legacy of sustainable forest management. …Their website invites prospective buyers to participate in a single-stage, sealed-bid process, with bids due on June 6, 2024. 

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California spent $3.7 billion reducing wildfire fuel. Bill would make insurers factor that into coverage

By John Woolfolk
The Mercury News
April 16, 2024
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

Josh Becker

Insurers in California have sounded the alarm: A warming climate has dramatically raised the risk of devastating wildfires, and with it the cost of providing coverage. But those insurance companies should credit the state and homeowners for the work done to reduce our vulnerability to wildfires, says State Sen. Josh Becker (D), who has introduced a bill that would require insurers require insurers to consider the state’s efforts to thin flammable brush and trees as well as property owners’ steps to make their homes more fire resistant, such as covering vents and clearing vegetation. Those efforts would need to be incorporated into their risk modeling to determine coverage decisions and costs. …The American Property Casualty Insurance Association, said the bill “has several complicating factors to consider.” …Becker said the proposed law wouldn’t mandate any particular discount or result, only for insurers to account for wildfire risk reduction efforts. 

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Fires have consumed nearly 20,000 acres in Virginia this spring. That could be good for the environment.

By Charlie Paullin
The Virginia Mercury
April 22, 2024
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US East

VIRGINIA — Almost 20,000 acres have been lit by flames that primarily torched the western and central parts of the state so far during Virginia’s 2024 spring fire season. With about a week left until the season ends, that is double the amount of acres affected annually in the state across its 10-year average. There’s no question that the fires visibly caused an immediate loss of vegetation and wildlife habitat, but state and federal officials said in interviews with the Mercury last week the blazes provide some benefits and are a centuries-old resource management tool. “It does play an important role in the ecosystem,” said Michael Downey, at the Virginia Department of Forestry. “In the public’s eye it is a natural disaster, but we do try to keep it in a controlled, contained environment.” …It’s the unruly nature of the wildfires that can cause concern, particularly given the proximity to neighborhoods.

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Quiet end to multi-year review of logging draws complaints from environmentalists

By Henry Redman
The Wisconsin Examiner
April 22, 2024
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US East

For four years, Vilas County residents who live near the Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest have alleged that the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has violated its mandatory logging best management practices by cutting too many trees too close to shorelines. Last year, a review of those practices by an international auditing firm quietly ended with the finding that in some cases the agency had been harvesting trees thinner than the rules suggested but that the flexibility of those rules means there has not been a violation — allowing the DNR to retain its certification as a responsible steward of the state’s forests. That conclusion has raised eyebrows among conservation groups and outside scientists who believe the review’s secrecy is an intentional effort to keep public attention away from the Northwoods and that the episode casts doubt on the validity of the whole global forestry certification system.

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US Department of Agriculture Forest Products Laboratory holds Earth Day celebration

By Natalie Sopyla
Spectrum News 1
April 20, 2024
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US East

MADISON, Wis. — The USDA Forest Service’s Forest Products Laboratory held an Earth Day celebration to showcase the work they’re doing to make the earth greener. The lab’s work revolves around wood and products that come from trees. Researchers study everything from the anatomy of a tree to the ways a tree can be used. “We work on sustainability, we work on reducing our footprint, we want to be more eco-friendly,” said Alicia King, Assistant Director of Communications said. “So, a lot of the research that we do enables us to discover more ways to utilize trees, all of their glory, and all of the fun things that can come from that.” Visitors got a glimpse at cutting-edge research being done at the lab, from testing the durability of different types of wood products, to products that help reduce waste.

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DNA science cracked case of stolen walnut trees on Mark Twain National Forest

By Lucas Davis
News Talk KZRG
April 17, 2024
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US East

MISSOURI — A recent investigation of illegal tree harvesting on the Mark Twain National Forest that led to the indictment of a southern Missouri man used DNA from an illegally harvested log. This case marks the first time that tree DNA was used to investigate a federal timber poaching case in the eastern US. …After identifying eight freshly cut walnut stumps at the site, a Forest Service special agent investigated a nearby lumber mill, where he found one log with dimensions matching one of the stumps. …The special agent contacted Richard Cronn, a USDA Forest Service research geneticist in Oregon, who pioneered the use of tree DNA in illegal logging investigations. …Cronn’s lab showed that the samples were identical across 80 genetic markers. …The defendant pled guilty in July 2023 to one felony count of depredation of Government property.

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John Ralph wins prestigious Marcus Wallenberg Foundation

By Chris Hubbuch
University of Wisconsin-Madison
April 17, 2024
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US East

John Ralph

The world’s top prize in forestry research has been awarded to University of Wisconsin–Madison biochemistry professor John Ralph for work that has led to new uses for one of the world’s most abundant natural resources. The Marcus Wallenberg Foundation awarded the 2024 Marcus Wallenberg Prize to Ralph and collaborator Wout Boerjan, a professor at Ghent University in Belgium, for their groundbreaking research on the molecular structure of lignin, one of the main components of plant cell walls. Dubbed the “Nobel Prize for forestry” as the highest award in the field, the prize honors scientific achievements that contribute to knowledge and technical developments in forestry and the forest products industry, from growing trees to using forest-based products. …The winning scientists developed and innovatively applied advanced analytical techniques in ways that enhance understanding of lignin biosynthesis and structure in trees and provide a basis for new ways to deconstruct wood and use lignin.

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Scientists Discover Forests That May Resist Climate Change

By Lauren Milideo
The University of Vermont
April 17, 2024
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US East

A new University of Vermont (UVM) study is flipping the script on what we know about forests and climate. The study, published in Ecology and Evolution, explores forests that experience “cold-air pooling,” a phenomenon where cold air at higher elevations drains down into lower-lying valleys, reversing the expected temperatures—warm at the bottom, cold at the top—that typically occurs in mountainous areas. That is, the air temperature drops with descent from mountain to valley. “With temperature inversions, we also see vegetation inversions,” says lead study author Melissa Pastore. “Instead of finding more cold-preferring species like spruce and fir at high elevations, we found them in lower elevations—just the opposite of what we expect.” “This cold-air pooling is fundamentally structuring the forest,” says study coauthor and UVM professor Carol Adair. This insight “can help …preserve cold-loving species as the climate warms,” says Adair.

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Carbon, Climate & Bioenergy

‘Uncharted territory’: El Niño to flip to La Niña in what could be the hottest year on record

By Stephanie Pappas
Live Science
April 20, 2024
Category: Carbon, Climate & Bioenergy
Region: United States

El Niño is likely to give way soon, ushering in a quick switch to its opposite atmospheric and ocean pattern, La Niña. For the U.S., this climatological flip-flop will likely mean a greater risk of major hurricanes in the Atlantic as well as areas of drier-than-usual weather in the southern portions of the country. Globally, La Niña usually leads to declining temperatures, but the lag in when the effects take place means that 2024 will likely still be a top-five year for temperature in climate history, said Tom Di Liberto, a climate scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. “2024 is going to be another warm year,” Di Liberto said.  …All of these climatic patterns are taking place against a backdrop of rising ocean and surface temperatures. So, while La Niña usually brings cooler-than-average temperatures to the northern U.S., this region could still experience a scorching summer due to the background effects of climate change. 

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Health & Safety

Wildfire smoke contributes to thousands of deaths each year in the US

By Alejandra Borunda
Oregon Public Broadcasting
April 18, 2024
Category: Health & Safety
Region: United States, US West

New research shows that the health consequences of wildfire smoke exposure stretch well beyond the smoky days themselves, contributing to nearly 16,000 deaths each year across the U.S., according to a National Bureau of Economic Research analysis. The analysis warns that number could grow to nearly 30,000 deaths a year by the middle of the century as human-driven climate change increases the likelihood of large, intense, smoke-spewing wildfires in the Western U.S. and beyond. “This really points to the urgency of the problem,” says Minhao Qiu, a researcher at Stanford University.” …Another analysis, led by researchers from Yale University, finds that the human death toll every year from wildfire smoke could already be near 30,000 people in the U.S. Deaths from cardiovascular disease, respiratory problems, kidney disease, and mental health issues. Together, the studies point to an underappreciated threat to public health, says Yiqun Ma, author of the second study.

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Group caught on camera pulling bear cubs from tree to take pictures with them

By Emily Mae Czachor
CBS News
April 18, 2024
Category: Health & Safety
Region: United States, US East

A group of people was recorded pulling two bear cubs from a tree in North Carolina on Tuesday afternoon, apparently to take pictures with the animals and leaving one orphaned and potentially injured in the process. In an unsettling video taken by onlooker Rachel Staudt, the group of around five people is seen approaching a tree lining the fence of an apartment complex in Asheville, where the two small cubs are perched on branches. …Ashley Hobbs, a special projects biologist at the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, responded after receiving a report that several people were pulling cubs from a tree to take selfies, she told CBS News in a statement. The agency’s enforcement division has opened an investigation into the incident. …”I confronted the offending people and explained the danger of approaching and handling wildlife,” Hobbs said in the statement.

Bear Cub Harassed from N.C. Wildlife on Vimeo.

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Forest History & Archives

Mount St. Helens After the Eruption

By Adam Sowards
History Link
April 17, 2024
Category: Forest History & Archives
Region: United States, US West

On May 18, 1980, Mount St. Helens erupted and drastically changed the surrounding environment. Despite the devastation to plant, animal, and human communities, ecological recovery developed over time. Scientists saw the landscape as an ideal place to study ecological processes, while the timber industry wanted to hasten the forest’s rebound. Weyerhaeuser Company and the Forest Service planted trees, but on the new 110,000-acre Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument, nature was allowed to replant at its own pace with scientists closely observing the results. The tensions among managers about how much intervention was permissible and warranted has been constant since the eruption. Through the years, recreationists have sometimes clamored for more access to the region. In the decades after the eruption, scientists have argued for and closely monitored how ecological systems have reconstituted themselves with minimal human intervention. The 1980 eruption provided a large-scale experiment that has taught scientists and land managers much about ecological disturbance and ecosystem management.

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