If recent news coverage and town hall meetings are any indication, anger is growing in rural communities over the lack of timber activity in Northwest federal forests.
U.S. Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., has actually done more than most federal lawmakers to try to reform federal forest management, but that didn't stop him from getting an earful from constituents at a town hall last week in Eastern Oregon. This was in a rural area (Grant County) that had not just one but two wildfires burning while the meeting took place.
For some of the town hall meeting, Walden was joined by leaders from the U.S. Forest Service.
If you're looking for signs that the future of the forestry industry is in good hands, look no further than Billy Zimmerman.
The 25-year-old from Rainier, Ore., just across the Columbia River from Washington, recently started his own logging company, according to a recent story in the Longview Daily News. It's no secret that the forestry industry is aging, and experts say that industry leaders of the future will need to be experts in social media and perhaps even be fluent in Chinese. But more than anything, the industry needs young people like Zimmerman who are willing to commit to the business at a young age.
What helped Zimmerman is like so many people in the industry, forestry was in his blood. He grew up on a tree farm in Rainier on property that his great-grandfather bought in the 1920s.
We already know that the private forest land in Washington State plays a vital role in the carbon cycle. Now with biomass fuel we can make use of these working forests for another carbon positive process, power generation. Biomass boilers use harvest and milling by products to generate steam as an alternative to fossil fuels.