Region Archives: United States

Special Feature

Ian Aftermath Even Harder to Fix With Supply Chain Tattered

By Jen Skerritt, Olivia Rockeman, and Sabrina Kharrazi
Bloomberg
September 30, 2022
Category: Special Feature
Region: United States, US East

The difficult job of rebuilding communities pummeled by Hurricane Ian is expected to be made even worse by a problem that’s lingered since the early days of the pandemic: snarled supply chains. Ian tore a path of destruction across Florida…with damage estimates ranging from $65 billion to $100 billion. Construction groups warn that labor shortages and supply-chain difficulties are likely to hamper rebuilding efforts. “Across the board, we are seeing challenges in obtaining all types of building materials in a reliable time frame,” said Steve Cona III, of Associated Builders and Contractors in Florida’s Gulf Coast. …Compounding those challenges are ongoing labor shortfalls, supply-chain issues and the fact that material costs remain unpredictable, he said. 

While there is an oversupply of material in North America, disruptions from Ian may cause logistical issues transporting lumber, according to Kevin Mason of ERA Forest Product Research. Russ Taylor, of Russ Taylor Global said “the whole building sector is going to shut down for a while until things dry out and waters recede. While supplies from lumber mills have been improving in 2022, there are still issues getting wood to market due to a shortage of rail cars and trucks. The storm will slow deliveries to affected areas, creating a glut of lumber and sending prices lower. On Thursday, lumber futures in Chicago fell as much as 6.9% to touch the lowest price in more than two years. …Scott Harris an insurance claims consultant, said “properties flooded with several feet of water, that are boarded up, devoid of light or airflow are quickly at risk of mold damage.”

In photos: Scenes of destruction following Ian’s landfall in Florida

Next: Biden declares emergency in South Carolina as storm intensifies

Read More

Business & Politics

How Russian timber bypasses U.S. sanctions by way of Vietnam

By Michael Tatarski
The Washington Post
October 1, 2022
Category: Business & Politics
Region: United States, International

HO CHI MINH CITY, Vietnam — Russian birch wood has continued to flow to American consumers, disguised as Asian products, despite U.S. economic sanctions imposed on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine. The Environmental Investigation Agency … reports that most birch products currently being exported from Vietnam to the United States originate in Russia. …roughly 40,000 cubic meters of birch wood is transported every month from Russia and China into Vietnam, where it’s assembled into furniture and plywood that end up on the shelves of major American retailers… The group’s investigators spoke to five Chinese companies accounting for 60 percent of China’s birch veneer exports to Vietnam and concluded that over 90 percent of their birch is sourced from Russia. One Chinese wood factory owner told the group that all of the birch their company uses comes from Russia but is repackaged in China and re-exported to Vietnam with China listed as the country of origin.

Read More

Mercer International Inc. announces the completion of the acquisition of Holzindustrie Torgau

Mercer International Inc.
September 30, 2022
Category: Business & Politics
Region: United States

NEW YORK, NY – Mercer International Inc. today announced that it has completed its previously-announced acquisition of all of the shares of the parent company of Holzindustrie Torgau (HIT).  Mr. Juan Carlos Bueno, Chief Executive Officer, stated: “We are very excited about the acquisition of HIT and the expansion of our solid wood operations in Germany. I want to welcome all of the HIT employees to the Mercer team.” He continued: “We look forward to integrating HIT and furthering our goal to operate world class operations. Additionally, I am excited about the expansion of our product mix with the introduction of pallets and biofuels and look forward to working with HIT’s strong customer base and enhancing its market position.”

Read More

More Than 1,750 individuals Receive Initial Roseburg Relief Funds

Roseburg Forest Products Co.
Cision Newswire
October 3, 2022
Category: Business & Politics
Region: United States, US West

WEED, Calif. — More than 1,750 survivors of the Sept. 2 Mill Fire have received payments for immediate needs such as temporary housing, transportation, food and clothing during the first three weeks of Roseburg’s $50 million Community Relief Fund. Fund administrators have paid 674 claims covering 1,769 individuals since Sept. 13 when they began processing claim applications for financial assistance at the Weed Community Center and through the Fund’s website. Households from more than half of the homes lost in the fire have received initial support. “We believe the percentage of survivors receiving funds is unprecedented for how quickly after the fire they had cash in hand for their immediate needs,” said Pete Hillan, a spokesperson for Roseburg.

Read More

R-Y Timber fire accidental, cause under investigation

By Juliana Sukut
The Bozeman Daily Chronicle
September 29, 2022
Category: Business & Politics
Region: United States, US West

A fire that started at R-Y Timber in Livingston and injured two employees was accidental, according to the State Fire Marshal’s Office. The September 12 fire burned three buildings on the lumber yard’s property. Two employees were injured in the fire. One who was severely burned is now recovering, said Livingston Fire Chief Josh Chabalowski. The fire also destroyed the lumber yard’s planer, delaying when the lumber yard may reopen, the Chronicle previously reported. R-Y Timber’s mill in Townsend burned down earlier this year. As of August, a cause of that fire is still unknown, the Helena Independent Record reported. The State Fire Marshal’s Office is assisting an investigation into the cause and manner of the Livingston fire. A preliminary investigation has found the fire was accidental, according to a Montana Department of Justice spokesperson. An investigation by the State Fire Marshal’s Office is ongoing.

Read More

Roseburg announces automation and modernization at Pembroke MDF Moulding

Roseburg Forest Products
September 28, 2022
Category: Business & Politics
Region: United States, US West

Roseburg announces automation and modernization at Pembroke MDF Moulding located in Renfrew County, Ontario. This facility is unique, producing a wide variety of high quality MDF products as well as manufacturing MDF mouldings onsite. The two-line moulding operation is in the midst of a significant modernization project. An automated packaging line has been installed on line 1 and is resulting in huge improvements in efficiency and employee satisfaction and continues with the installation of line 2 which began this month. When complete, these automations will increase the operation’s total volume capacity by more than 50 percent.

Read More

Loggers, truckers, and sawmill workers hit lumber giant Weyerhaeuser

By Tim Wheeler
Peoples World
September 29, 2022
Category: Business & Politics
Region: United States, US West

PORT ANGELES, Washington —More than 1,100 sawmill workers, log truck drivers, and loggers are picketing Weyerhaeuser Corporation sawmills in Oregon and Washington, the first walkout to hit the giant lumber producer in 36 years. The vote to strike was 98% after the strikers overwhelmingly rejected Weyerhaeuser’s take-it-or-leave it “best and final offer” Sept. 2. Brandon Bryant, President and Business Agent of Woodworkers IAMAW District W24 in Longview, Wash., blasted Weyerhaeuser for reaping record profits while scheming to force their workers to accept a cheap wage settlement and sharp cutbacks in health care, job leave, and vacations. …Weyerhaeuser refused to budge from its 5% proposed wage increase coupled with higher health care premiums and sharp cutbacks in vacations and paid leave.

Read More

Enviva Reports Minimal Impact from Hurricane Ian

By Enviva Inc.
Business Wire in the Financial Post
October 3, 2022
Category: Business & Politics
Region: United States, US East

BETHESDA, Maryland — Enviva reported that Hurricane Ian has resulted in minimal impact to operations and provided details on third quarter and fourth quarter of 2022 expectations, along with an update of certain 2022 financial guidance metrics. …We expect the storm to have minimal overall financial impact to our results for 2022, with disruption limited to weather-related ship loading delays at three of our deep-water marine terminals, which have since fully resumed normal operations,” said John Keppler, Chairman and CEO. …Similar to what was described in Enviva’s most recent earnings release, Enviva expects third-quarter 2022 adjusted EBITDA to be over 50% higher than reported results for second-quarter 2022, and that fourth-quarter 2022 is expected to represent over 40% of full-year 2022 adjusted EBITDA. The second half of the year is traditionally Enviva’s seasonally strongest period.

Read More

Finance & Economics

US Housing Market August & Softwood Lumber Prices Sept: 2022

By Madison’s Lumber Reporter
Cision Newswire
September 30, 2022
Category: Finance & Economics
Region: Canada, United States

US housing starts and US new home sales for August 2022 sharply reversed the downward trend seen in the past few months since mortgage and interest rate increases hit the housing market. While it is true that a slow-down is apparent in both construction and home buying activity, it is important to note that month-over-month starts have indeed dropped, however new building activity is flat compared to one year ago. Total housing starts in the US for August 2022 jumped +12.2% to 1.575 million compared to July, and were down -0.1% from the August 2021 rate of 1.404 million. Data for July was revised lower, from the previously reported 1.446 million units. Indeed, total starts year-to-date are down only-1.4% compared to the first eight months of 2021. Meanwhile, building permits dropped significantly – which is normal for this time of year – down -10% to 1.517 million from the revised July rate of 1.685 million. 

Read More

Lumber prices fall to a new 2022 low as housing market cools and mortgage rates approach 7%

By Matthew Fox
Business Insider
September 27, 2022
Category: Finance & Economics
Region: Canada, United States

Surging mortgage rates and a slow down in the housing market continue to take a toll on lumber prices, with the essential building commodity hitting a new 2022 low on Monday. Lumber futures hit a low of $413 per thousand board feet on Monday, representing a year-to-date decline of 64%, and a 76% decline from its record high reached in May 2021. The commodity tumbled 20% during a four-day losing streak, which ended on Monday. On Tuesday, lumber prices rebounded 8% to $442 per thousand board feet. The ongoing decline in lumber prices has been mostly driven by a slowdown in the housing market, which has been severely impacted by the swift and aggressive interest rate hikes by the Federal Reserve. Just one week after the Fed raised interest rates by another 75 basis points at its FOMC meeting, the average 30-year fixed mortgage rate inched closer to 7%. 

Read More

US housing recession is already here

By James Knightley
ING
September 28, 2022
Category: Finance & Economics
Region: United States

Rising mortgage rates and a lack of affordability are prompting a steep drop-off in demand for housing. At the same time inventory for sale is on the rise. A combination of falling transactions and prices will intensify the recessionary forces the US economy is facing. In this article:

  • The stimulus-fueled surge in prices looks to be over
  • Affordability is stretched to the limit
  • Demand is capitulating and transactions are slowing
  • Supply is on the rise
  • The Fed wants a correction
  • Recessionary forces are intensifying
  • Negative equity and financial risks are lower than in the Global Financial Crisis
  • Housing downturn opens the door to lower inflation and lower interest rates

Read More

Housing Starts Expected to Find Pre-Pandemic Levels Next Year, Analyst Says

By Kirk Maltais
The Wall Street Journal
September 28, 2022
Category: Finance & Economics
Region: United States

Housing starts are expected to return to pre-pandemic levels next year, according to analysts at investment bank D.A. Davidson. Citing interviews with leaders of building companies, the bank forecasts that 2023 housing starts are expected to hit an annualized rate of between 1.3 million to 1.4 million units. That would be roughly 15% down from the 1.58 million units reported by the U.S. Census Bureau last week. “There’s no way around it, 2023 is going to be a much more challenging year for new residential construction,” said the firm in a note. Housing starts in 2019 hit a rate of 1.29 million units, while the rate for 2020 came in at 1.38 million units. Meanwhile, home-price growth slowed in July from the previous month, according to new data. [END]

Read More

New Home Sales Up in August: Will Decline Again with Higher Rates

By Robert Dietz
NAHB – Eye on Housing
September 27, 2022
Category: Finance & Economics
Region: United States

A brief decline in mortgage rates helped to boost new home sales in August but sales are expected to move lower in the months ahead as rates have since moved higher and builder sentiment continues to fall due to declining housing affordability and ongoing supply chain bottlenecks. Sales of newly built, single-family homes in August increased 28.8% to a 685,000 seasonally adjusted annual rate from an upwardly revised reading in July. …New home sales are down 14% on a year-to-date basis despite the August upturn. …The August new home sales data indicate two important factors about the future: There remains significant, unmet structural demand for housing. However, in the short-run the cyclical impacts of higher interest rates are the primary factor determining actualized, market demand for housing. Together, these factors point to ongoing weakness for single-family housing in the coming quarters, followed by a rebound in 2024 as interest rates eventually ease.

Read More

US Consumer Confidence Rises to 5-Month High in September

By Fan-Ku Kuo
NAHB – Eye on Housing
September 27, 2022
Category: Finance & Economics
Region: United States

Consumer confidence increased for the second straight month to the highest level since April, as solid job gains, declining gas prices and easing inflation contributed to more optimistic views of economy. However, spending plans were mixed. The purchasing intention to buy cars and major appliances increased, while the intention to buy homes fell due to the rising mortgage rates. …The Consumer Confidence Index, reported by the Conference Board, increased 4.4 points from 103.6 to 108.0 in September, the highest level since April 2022. The Present Situation Index increased 4.3 points from 145.3 to 149.6, and the Expectation Situation Index climbed 4.5 points from 75.8 to 80.3, the highest since February 2022. …The share of respondents planning to buy a home stayed slightly fell to 5.3% in September, the lowest level since September 2021. The share of respondents planning to buy a newly constructed home remained at 0.6%, while for those who planning to buy an existing home rose to 2.3%.

Read More

Wood Chip Supplies Diminish and Prices Soar in the Pacific Northwest

By Matt Elhardt
Forests2Market Blog
September 28, 2022
Category: Finance & Economics
Region: United States, US West

Labor union strikes and industry developments that have pinched the supply of conifer wood chips in the Pacific Northwest (PNW) now have a number of regional chip consumers on edge. Prices bottomed in 2020 in response to the pandemic, but they reversed course sharply in 3Q2021 and have been climbing ever higher since. Conifer chipmill (primary) and residual chip prices are now at a 10-year high in the region and are poised to go higher. …In the near-term, there are three converging factors placing additional price pressure on regional chip supplies.

  • The recent Weyerhaeuser strike in the PNW will have some immediate influence.
  • Sawmill curtailments in British Columbia.
  • Log trucks are in short supply and loggers are struggling to keep all their production moving.

Read More

Wood, Paper & Green Building

The Architect’s Newspaper presents its 4th annual TimberCon

The Architect’s Newspaper
September 26, 2022
Category: Wood, Paper & Green Building
Region: Canada, United States

TimberCon, presented by The Architect’s Newspaper in partnership with the Mass Timber Institute, returns virtually on September 28. This year’s edition features leading projects and practitioners from across the U.S. and Canada sharing advances in timber design, engineering, and construction. Mass timber is of growing interest across North America as firms and clients seek to reduce embodied carbon in their buildings. The day leads off with a welcome from Juan Du, Dean of the University of Toronto’s Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Planning, and AN’s Editor in Chief, Aaron Seward. Peter MacKeith, Dean of the Fay Jones School of Architecture at the University of Arkansas, will deliver the opening keynote. …Tom Chung, principal at Leers Weinzapfel and a leader in mass timber design, will share the story and lessons learned from the firm’s work on Adohi Hall. 

Read More

Softwood Lumber Board Monthly Update, September 2022

The Softwood Lumber Board
September 28, 2022
Category: Wood, Paper & Green Building
Region: United States

The SLB recently welcomed two new members to its team: Reed Kelterborn joined as the newly appointed Director, Education. In this role, Kelterborn will define and advance the strategic direction of the Wood Institute, the SLB’s online education portal, and manage and grow the SLB’s partnerships with university faculties, administrators, and students. Concurrently, Jeff Lee joined the SLB as its Manager, Communications, supporting content and strategy development and execution for both the Think Wood campaign and SLB industrywide communications. Other headlines include:

  • The AWC Contributes to Successful Appeal Allowing Heavy Timber Roof
  • New Report Shows Mass Timber Schools Can Boost Well-Being and Cut Carbon Without Breaking the Bank
  • WoodWorks’ Project Tours Create New Conversion Leads
  • WoodWorks’ Support Leads to Wood Use in Utah Healthcare Facility

Read More

State proposes making it easier to grade Alaska lumber for local use

Wrangell Sentinel
September 28, 2022
Category: Wood, Paper & Green Building
Region: United States, US West

The Alaska Department of Natural Resources is preparing a new program that would allow Alaska sawmills to sell lumber for local construction without having that wood graded for quality by an Outside inspector. The program was announced by Alaska State Forester Helge Eng on Sept. 13 at Southeast Conference, a gathering of Southeast Alaska political and business leaders. Eng said the program, which may take two years to implement, would encourage the growth of Alaska’s lumber industry by making it easier to use locally produced lumber. Many residential building codes require lumber be graded for strength and quality by a national organization before being used in construction. …The Department of Natural Resources is requesting public input on the proposal. It expects that it will take at least one year, and likely longer, to develop regulations for the program.

Read More

Eight stories, mass timber, and within view of Capitol Hill Station

By Ari Cetron
Capital Hill Seattle Blog
September 26, 2022
Category: Wood, Paper & Green Building
Region: United States, US West

SEATTLE — Revived redevelopment plans for a new project in front of the East Design Review Board this week a vision for an eight-story mass timber building within sight of the Capitol Hill Station entrance. …Designs to be presented this week describe an eight-story building, with a planned 67-77 residential units and about 2,500-3,500 square feet of commercial space. …The project team, led by Tsuga Studio, will present three options for the new building at an Early Design Guidance meeting before the East Design Review Board. …All three propose construction from mass timber, which the packet calls a lower carbon option than steel or concrete. It would use a post and beam style and would allow for the ceilings to be finished wood. Capitol Hill will see another mass timber project in coming years for the new City Market building. The affordable Heartwood project will also boast cross-laminated timber construction.

Read More

Project of the Year Finalist Best Project, Higher Education/Research San Jacinto College

By Bruce Buckley
ENR Texas & Louisiana
October 3, 2022
Category: Wood, Paper & Green Building
Region: United States, US East

HOUSTON, Texas — With an eye toward sustainability, the $42-million Anderson-Ball Classroom Building, designed by Kirksey Architects, adds a striking new mass timber structure to the San Jacinto College campus in Houston. And at 122,000 sq ft, builder Tellepsen touts it as the largest instructional building built of mass timber in the nation. …Due to the nature of mass timber, the team was able to reuse a substantial amount of the existing building foundations. …Crews were able to erect the entire structure in 14 weeks with a single crane and a crew of six erectors. Reducing crew size and work hours resulted in a safer and cleaner working environment, according to Tellepsen. The contractor reported an OSHA incident rate of 0.74 and no lost-time accidents over 268,781 worker-hours. The project, which broke ground in May 2020, was completed on time and below budget in January 2022.

Read More

Massachusetts seniors’ residence to feature an all-timber structure

The Construction Specifier
September 26, 2022
Category: Wood, Paper & Green Building
Region: United States, US East

BKSK Architects have proposed a multifamily housing for 55-plus-aged occupants in the well-connected heart of downtown Northampton, Massachusetts, which will be based on a structure built completely from mass timber. Inside, the building’s timber structure will be partially exposed to reveal warm wood columns, beams, and ceilings, providing a key part of the interior aesthetic. The construction will also achieve Passive House standards by slashing heating and cooling costs with a reliance on rooftop solar panels and an exceptionally airtight building envelope. …The development is a combined project of Live Give Play… and Spiritos Properties, a longstanding real estate industry organization, committed to building mass-timber developments. …“By building to a carbon-negative, net-zero ready design, we’re proving how mass timber construction and Passive House certified standards are not only viable options for all multistory buildings including rental housing, but they are also its future.”

Read More

Forestry

Mature and old-growth forests contribute to large-scale conservation targets in the conterminous USA

By Dominick DellaSala, Brendan Mackey, Patrick Norman, Carly Campbell et al
Frontiers in Forest and Global Change
September 28, 2022
Category: Forestry
Region: United States

Mature and old-growth forests (MOG) of the conterminous United States collectively support exceptional levels of biodiversity but have declined substantially from logging and development. …We present the first coast to coast spatially explicit MOG assessment based on three structural development measures—canopy height, canopy cover, and above-ground living biomass to assess relative maturity. MOG were displayed by major forest types, landownerships (federal, state, private, and tribal), and Gap Analysis Project (GAP) management status. …The vast majority (76%, 20.8 M ha) of MOG on federal lands that store 10.64 Gt CO2 (e) are vulnerable to logging (GAP3). If federal MOG are logged over a decade, and half their carbon stock emitted, there would be an estimated 0.5 ppm increase in atmospheric CO2 by 2030, which is equivalent to ∼9% of United States total annual emissions. We recommend upper bound (100%) protection of federal MOG, including elevating the conservation status of Inventoried Roadless Areas. 

Read More

Crater Lake planning prescribed burns

By Lee Juillerat
Herald and News
October 3, 2022
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

National Park Service

CRATER LAKE NATIONAL PARK — Three prescribed burns are planned in the coming days and weeks at Crater Lake National Park. The park’s fire management staff are preparing to conduct three prescribed fire projects in the park this fall along Highway 62 South, near Mazama Village and Munson Valley. According to a press release, the Highway 62 South project includes 50 acres of piles and material that were cut last year along the highway starting at the park’s southern boundary and continuing 3.5 miles to the north along the roadway. …Fire Management Officer Ed Waldon said Crater Lake’s fire managers plan to begin burning the piles in the next few weeks and will continue burning through the fall as conditions allow. “Fire management personnel will patrol and monitor the prescribed fires until they are completely extinguished,” Waldon said.”

Read More

Influencing wildfires by logging, other management is a fool’s errand

By George Wuerthner
Helena Independent Record
September 30, 2022
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

George Wuerthner

Recently Governor Greg Gianforte praised forest management for limiting the spread of two fires near Helena. Gianforte suggested that active forest management (i.e., logging) helped firefighters to keep two blazes, the Grizzly Gulch and Mount Helena fires, to 25 and 18 acres, respectively. And the Governor noted that there were 267 fires on DNRC lands this past year, and only 525 acres burned, or an average of 2 acres per fire. “Proactive management protects Montana,” suggests Gianforte, who attributed the small size of these blazes to forest management, a euphemism for logging. The presumption that fuels are the cause of large fires is widespread and promoted by the timber industry and Forest Service — both of who have a direct financial incentive to enable logging.  I can’t discount that past forest management may have influenced the Grizzly Gulch and Mt. Helena fires. However, I will note that the more likely explanation is climate/weather.

Read More

Trees as timber: Logging activity steady in local forests

By Dennis Webb
The Daily Sentinel
October 2, 2022
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

GRAND MESA, Colorado — As a small crew worked last week cutting down timber in a spruce-fir forest south of Collbran on Grand Mesa. …These are fairly sunny days for the industry, with a decent amount of work available and logging activity in forests being steady in recent years, thanks in part to the desire by the Forest Service to address concerns such as insect infestation and wildfire danger. “With all the (beetle) infestation throughout the state, we’re getting a lot of wood,” said Kent Strong, who with his wife Kathy owns K&K Lumber Co. in Silt. Strong’s grandfather had a sawmill in the Aspen area, and he and his late father Ken started K&K Lumber in 1978. …The amount of logging and other vegetation treatment measures is due to increase thanks to the infusion of new federal funding aimed at achieving things such as reducing wildfire danger.

Read More

Better housing can help fight California’s devastating wildfires

By Elijah Gullett, American Conservation Coalition
Sustainability Times
October 3, 2022
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

Once again California finds itself at the forefront in the fight against climate-related natural disasters. You wouldn’t know it from the scary images of fires engulfing homes, but policymakers actually have all the tools they need to improve our environment. …One major driver for climate change is energy-intensive urban sprawl that pushes urban developments further away from urban centers. By making it easier to build dense housing in urban areas, we can combat climate change and protect human life and property. …While talk of zoning laws and permitting lengths may not be obviously connected to climate change or the uptick in wildfires, urban land-use reform will not only help to reduce carbon emissions, but it will be the key to protecting Californians from wildfires and reducing the number of wildfires in the future. …California’s future doesn’t have to be defined by environmental “doomerism.” There are real, practical solutions… It starts with land-use policies in urban centers.

Read More

Forest Service Hiring 1,000+ Seasonal Workers In Washington and Oregon

By Lucas Combos
Patch
September 30, 2022
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

WASHINGTON — For Washingtonians in search of a little seasonal work: the U.S. Forest Service is now accepting applications for more than a thousand temporary positions across Washington and Oregon next year. The Forest Service is seeking workers to fill full-time and part-time positions in its Pacific Northwest and Southwest regions, and the first application window runs through Oct. 6. The jobs available include forestry technicians, forestry aid workers, visitor services staffers and various scientific roles. Officials said the open positions cover an array of specialties, including fire, timber, natural resources, engineering and archaeology. In Washington, there are openings in the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie, Okanogan-Wenatchee, Gifford Pinchot, Olympic and Colville national forests.

Read More

Forest Service proposes young growth timber sale near Thorne Bay

By Reagan Miller
Alaska Public Media
September 28, 2022
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

The U.S. Forest Service is proposing the harvest of up to nine square miles of young growth timber on Prince of Wales Island. It’s part of a years-long transition away from old growth logging in the Tongass National Forest — and some in the timber industry worry they’ll be left behind. One of the project’s main goals is to provide local mills with three years’ worth of timber. That would mean harvesting about 5,800 acres over 15 years. It’s a haul worth somewhere between $7 and $10 million. The agency says the Thorne Bay Basin Integrated Management Project would be a much-needed boost to Prince of Wales Island’s timber sector. “There is a need for young growth forest management now to produce future desired resource values, products, services, and forest health conditions that sustain the diversity and productivity of forested ecosystems,” the Forest Service’s plan read.

Read More

Climate change is turning the trees into gluttons

By Tatyana Woodall
The Ohio State University News
September 27, 2022
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

Brent Sohngen

Trees have long been known to buffer humans from the worst effects of climate change by pulling carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Now new research … recently published in the Journal Nature Communications, finds that elevated carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere have increased wood volume – or the biomass – of forests in the United States. Although other factors like climate and pests can somewhat affect a tree’s volume, the study found that elevated carbon levels consistently led to an increase of wood volume in 10 different temperate forest groups across the country. This suggests that trees are helping to shield Earth’s ecosystem from the impacts of global warming through their rapid growth. “Forests are taking carbon out of the atmosphere at a rate of about 13% of our gross emissions,” said Brent Sohngen, co-author of the study and professor of environmental and resource economics at The Ohio State University.

Read More

Lumber giant Sierra Pacific Industries reopens most of its California forest lands

By Guy McCarthy
The Union Democrat
September 27, 2022
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

Sierra Pacific Industries, the state’s largest private-property owner, has reopened for recreation most of the 2 million acres of forest lands it manages for timber and timber harvesting in California, effective on Friday last week. Recent rains prompted the decision to reopen most SPI forest lands in California, which had been closed due to extreme fire dangers since July 1. Closures will remain in place on SPI forest lands in the vicinity of recent wildfires to ensure the safety of crews working to restore and reforest lands impacted by those fires, and for public safety near those burn scars, SPI communications staff said last week. “Protecting forest lands from catastrophic wildfires is a commitment that SPI takes seriously,” Andrea Howell, a designated SPI spokeswoman, said in prepared remarks. “We are grateful the recent rains improved conditions to facilitate the reopening of our lands for responsible recreation.”

Read More

Governor praises fire mitigation efforts, $238K announced for Helena forest treatment

By Phil Drake
The Missoulian
September 26, 2022
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

MONTANA — Governor Greg Gianforte praised wildfire fuel mitigation efforts by all levels of government and interagency cooperation for halting two recent fires in the Helena area. He said such efforts improve habitat, increase resiliency, expand recreational opportunities and create jobs. “Everyone benefits when we have healthier forests,” Gianforte said. “When we manage our forests our communities are safer, we have more recreation…” Monday’s event included an announcement by Amanda Kaster of an expansion to the Good Neighbor Authority agreement between DNRC, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, and the Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest. “Under the expansion, $238,000 in funding will treat up to 1,270 acres of Forest Service ownership in the Ten Mile-South Helena and Middleman areas,” Kaster said. “$15,000 is provided for weed treatment on 250-plus acres on the Helena Ranger District.”

Read More

How New Mexico’s Largest Wildfire Set Off a Drinking Water Crisis

By Simon Romero
New York Times
September 26, 2022
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

Heavy monsoon rains would normally be cause for celebration in the drought-parched mountains of northeastern New Mexico …especially after the largest wildfire in state history came within a mile of the region’s largest community this spring. But not this year, when fears of running out of fresh water forced officials to cancel [large events]. All over this town of 13,000 people, carwashes are closed. Swimming pools are empty. Restaurants are serving food on paper plates. …Instead of replenishing reservoirs, the downpours are flooding a burn scar left by the blaze known as the Calf Canyon/Hermits Peak fire, releasing contaminants into private wells and overwhelming Las Vegas’s main water supply with ashy sludge. It is the latest chapter in a catastrophe created by the federal government when Forest Service employees lost control of not just one but two prescribed burns set this spring to clear out undergrowth.

Read More

Oregon postpones wildfire risk mapping and rulemaking plans after public backlash

By Cassandra Profita
Oregon Public Broadcasting
September 26, 2022
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

The Oregon Department of Forestry will spend an extra year talking with the public about its controversial plan to create a wildfire risk map and impose rules on property owners in high fire risk areas. The agency was overwhelmed by public outcry in June after it released a map of wildfire risk levels on every property in Oregon. Last month, after receiving thousands of public comments and 1,600 appeals from property owners, Oregon State Forester Cal Mukumoto announced his agency would withdraw the map and revise its plans to use the map as the basis for new wildfire protection rules. Property owners complained that the map could reduce property value and increase insurance costs, and many filed appeals disputing the fire risk level assigned to their tax lots. The forestry department is now planning to spend the next five months talking with the public … before releasing a new draft in March.

Read More

Governor helps open forest business center at University of Arkansas-Monticello

By I.C. Murrell
Arkansas Online
September 30, 2022
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US East

Asa Hutchinson

MONTICELLO — What was promoted as a ribbon cutting for the new Arkansas Center for Forest Business was actually a log breaking outside the University of Arkansas at Monticello’s Chamberlin Forest Resource complex. Gov. Asa Hutchinson broke off an end of a round log that revealed a large sticker for the new center during a dedication ceremony Thursday morning. The center is part of UAM’s College of Forestry, Agriculture and Natural Resources — the only forestry school in the state — and was created by the state legislature last year, with $841,000 in state funding going toward the center July 1. “The governor and the state legislature have provided us funding, so we will be hiring additional people — technical experts in forest business to promote the growth of the forest industry in the state of Arkansas, and do it in a sustainable manner,” said Matthew Pelkki, UAM’s forestry chair.

Read More

Lawsuit challenges nearly 4 thousand acres of logging at Daniel Boone National Forest

By Keaton Hall
Mountain News WYMT
September 27, 2022
Category: Forestry
Region: US East

RED BIRD, Ky.  – A lawsuit from Kentucky Heartwood is challenging the logging of nearly 4,000 acres of trees at the Daniel Boone National Forest. Kentucky Heartwood officials claim the logging could increase landslides, harm important ecological habitats and remove old growth trees. “A lot of the streams in the Red River Project area are designated critical habitat under the Endangered Species Act, in order to protect the Kentucky Arrow Darter… that are only in the Upper Kentucky River water shed,” said Kentucky Heartwood Ecologist Jim Scheff. Scheff says documents point to the Forestry Service knowing the risks from previous logging projects in the area. …The U.S. Forestry Service would not comment on the litigation, but according to their website, the logging is part of the larger ‘South Red Bird Wildlife Habitat Enhancement Project’ which aims to improve the habitat by making room for newer forests through removal of older ones.

Read More

Forestry: Hurricane Ian bringing increased wildfire risks to state

By Mary Sell
Alabama Daily News
September 28, 2022
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US East

The Alabama Forestry Commission says wildfire risks are higher starting today because of winds expected from Hurricane Ian and urges caution in any outdoor burning. “Alabama will be seeing lower than normal relative humidity and stronger winds across the state, meaning conditions are favorable for wildfires to start easily, spread rapidly and be difficult to control,” forestry said in a statement. “Because Alabama is already experiencing dry conditions heading into the event, this critical weather behavior will elevate fire danger for the state.” Hurricane Ian, now a Category 4, is expected to make landfall on Florida’s west coast later today. Alabama is on the “dry side” of Ian’s expected path and gray skies, but no rain, are expected for much of the state through the weekend.

Read More

It’s getting harder for Maine hunters to find moose

By Pete Warner
The Bangor Daily News
September 26, 2022
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US East

When the state held the first modern moose hunt in 1980, it was common to see the huge animals in northern and western Maine. Expansive clearcuts — created by the forestry industry to eradicate trees infected by the spruce budworm infestation — enabled hunters to observe moose from long distances. …More than four decades later, moose can be difficult to spot. As a result, moose hunters must be willing to adapt their tactics by taking into account changes to moose habitat and weather to improve their chances of harvesting an animal. Maine still is home to an estimated 60,000 to 70,000 moose. …The changes in moose habitat began in 1989 when harvest limitations were placed on commercial logging operations under the Maine Forestry Practices Act. It reduced the size and scope of cutting, prohibited clearcuts of more than 20 acres.

Read More

Carbon, Climate & Bioenergy

World’s largest wood pellet plant opens in Lucedale

By Cory Johnson
WKRG News 5
October 3, 2022
Category: Carbon, Climate & Bioenergy
Region: United States, US East

LUCEDALE, Miss. – The world’s largest wood pellet plant is nearly fully operational in Lucedale, Mississippi. The plant is owned by Enviva Biomass, based in Bethesda, Maryland. The company has hired 90 full-time employees to support plant operations in Lucedale. The $140 million construction project supported about 400 cumulative jobs after the October 2019 groundbreaking, Enviva says. The company expects to generate an annual economic impact of $250 million in the region. The company says the Lucedale plant will support more than 200 indirect jobs in the region in adjacent industries like logging and trucking. “By utilizing low-value wood, Enviva has created a new market that, in turn, provides landowners and loggers with additional income while also incentivizing forest growth,” said Agriculture and Commerce Commissioner Andy Gipson. “We are so proud that Mississippi wood is being used in Enviva’s pellets to power homes and industry all over the world.”

Read More

Forest Fires

Red flag warning comes as Goat Rocks Fire battle continues

The Longview Daily News
September 26, 2022
Category: Forest Fires
Region: United States, US West

PACKWOOD, WASHINGTON — The Goat Rocks Fire northeast of Packwood continues to grow and is still 0% contained after having consumed 3,675 acres of forest as of Monday morning. On Monday from noon to 7 p.m., a red flag warning was put in place in the vicinity of the fire, which is a weather advisory signaling dry, windy conditions that increase the potential for fire growth. Gusty winds from the east were expected to bring dry air into the area, with relative humidity falling into the upper teens and low 20% range. The weather was expected to stay dry Tuesday before a shift to more typical on-shore flow brings in cooler, more humid air and possibly light showers later this week, according to a news release from the Forest Service. The warm weather early this week will likely increase the amount of smoke produced by the fire. 

Read More

Forest service seizes PG&E equipment as part of fire probe

By Olga Rodriguez
The Herald and News
September 26, 2022
Category: Forest Fires
Region: United States, US West

SAN FRANCISCO — Federal investigators have taken possession of a Pacific Gas and Electric Co. utility transmission pole in a criminal probe into what started a Northern California fire that has become the largest in the state this year, the utility said in a regulatory filing. U.S. Forest Service officials indicated to PG&E that an initial assessment showed the Mosquito Fire started near one of its power lines on National Forest lands, the Oakland-based utility said in its filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. …The Mosquito Fire has scorched 120 square miles and was 85% contained as of Monday. The blaze in the Sierra Nevada foothills, about 110 miles northeast of San Francisco, broke out Sept. 6 and has destroyed at least 78 homes and other structures and charred forestland across Placer and El Dorado counties. PG&E equipment has been blamed for several of California’s deadliest wildfires in recent years.

Read More