WFPA members are committed to advancing sustainable forestry in Washington State to provide forest products and environmental benefits for the public.

Forest restoration in Washington still needs funding to succeed

2014-11-26 Ashley Bach

A new study from the U.S. Forest Service and the Nature Conservancy reveals that 3.5 million acres of forestland in Eastern Washington is overcrowded with small, fire-prone trees and needs to be restored. The study comes on the heels of Gov. Jay Inslee designating 720,000 acres of federal forestland in Eastern Washington for expedited and prioritized forest restoration.

As we've written many times, Washington's federal forests are woefully mismanaged, which in turn has allowed the trees to become infested by insects and disease and vulnerable to large wildfires. The Forest Service study and Inslee's forest designation will add more momentum to the cause of active forest management and getting our state's forests back to good health. 

But they are also two steps on a long road. The study from the Forest Service and the Nature Conservancy highlights the depth of the problem,  but policy changes, along with more funding, are needed to get the forests restored.

...While the recent study for the first time identifies the extent of need, no comprehensive plan exists for tackling the enormous, ongoing problem.

In recent years, state, federal, tribal and private forest managers in Eastern Washington have reduced density on about 145,000 acres annually, according to a report the (state) DNR prepared for the Legislature. That’s commercial logging and restoration-focused work, referred to together as “active management” because it’s the opposite of leaving the forests to fend for themselves.

That’s just 4 percent of the acres that need it, according to the new study. Lead scientist Ryan Haugo of The Nature Conservancy said the study used computer models to compare current forest conditions to ideal conditions, based on what the forest looked like before people began cutting down the biggest trees and putting out wildfires.

Read more

Tall wood buildings rise in U.S. and Canada

2014-11-20 Ashley Bach

When you've made the pages of the Wall Street Journal, you know you've truly arrived. It was the Journal that wrote earlier this month about the big news: the first tall, modern wood building in U.S. history is on its way.

The 7-story office building will be constructed in Minneapolis, right next to Target Field, the home of the Minnesota Twins. The developer is Hines Interests LP of Houston, and the architect - no surprise here - is Michael Green of Vancouver, B.C.

Green, of course, is the same star architect who has been the leader in pushing large wood buildings into the public sphere in North America. He also is the star of a series of videos promoting the use of wood in large buildings. The videos are sponsored by the Washington Forest Protection Association, the Washington Contract Loggers Association, the Family Forest Foundation and the Washington Farm Forestry Association, and we wrote about Green's involvement last month.

It's no wonder that the Journal's headline reads: "Towering Ambition":

For the past 100 years, virtually all buildings over a few stories tall have been constructed out of concrete and steel. But some architects and builders are promoting an alternative they are positioning as environmentally friendlier: good old-fashioned wood.

Last week, real-estate developer Hines Interests LP, based in Houston, unveiled plans to build a seven-story, wooden office building in Minneapolis near one of the city’s light-rail lines in an increasingly popular district downtown. Hines is calling the project T3, for timber, technology and transit.

If the building is approved by the city’s preservation and planning agencies, T3 would be the tallest modern all-timber structure in the U.S., according to reThink Wood, a coalition promoting wood in architecture. The building is designed by Vancouver-based Michael Green Architecture; the firm also designed the Wood Innovation and Design Centre in British Columbia, which opened a few weeks ago and is the tallest modern wooden building in North America.

Read more

Diary of a Working Forest: Biomass

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.