Wood products firms find new ways to succeed

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The timber business is one of the oldest industries in the country, particularly in the West, but it never stands still. Just last week, the media profiled four wood products firms that are using innovation to not just survive, but thrive. To start, Rice Logging in Sweet Home, Ore., isn’t as old as most timber firms (founded in the 1980s) … Read More

Our federal forests can be saved with active management

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There is one thing our local, state and federal governments can agree on: our nation’s federal forests are in poor health. We are facing a record wildfire season this year and federal forests across the West are diseased by pine beetles, spruce budworms and root rot. But what’s lost in the shuffle is the fact that more than anything, active … Read More

Timber reform now subject to delicate negotiations in D.C.

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Timber and environmental leaders agree that meaningful federal timber reform in Washington, D.C., is closer than it’s ever been. Describing the situation, Nick Smith, a spokesman for Healthy Forests Healthy Communities, a pro-timber group, used a football analogy. “It feels like we’ve taken this thing all the way down to the 5-yard line,” he said. “Now we’ve got to take … Read More

Congress ends legal battle over logging roads

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With the passage of a new Farm Bill this week, Congress ended a legal battle over logging roads that started all the way back in 2006. The issue started eight years ago, when an environmental group filed a lawsuit against an Oregon timber company, claiming the company’s logging roads were “point sources” of stormwater pollution and therefore subject to federal … Read More

Tiny crystals could be a boon to paper and pulp industry

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Who knew that nanocrystals could be so important to the paper industry? Cellulose nanocrystals, a microscopic material produced by processing wood pulp, are at the forefront of what the U.S. National Science Foundation says could become a $600 billion industry by 2020. The crystals are stronger than stainless steel, carbon fiber or kevlar. And they’re incredibly plentiful in wood and … Read More

Wild Olympics proposal is revived

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Wild Olympics is back. The proposal to make 126,000 acres of Olympic National Forest off-limits to logging and also name 19 rivers and seven tributaries as wild and scenic is up for consideration again in Congress. This new version, sponsored by new U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer and veteran U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, was introduced on Friday and is pretty much … Read More

Grays Harbor paper mill closes down for good

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The Aberdeen Daily World this month made it official: Harbor Paper is not going to reopen. The story of the Hoquiam, Wash., paper mill is long and its ending especially sad, given the importance of the mill to Grays Harbor County, where the mill had been one of the largest employers. Grays Harbor County has the third-highest unemployment rate in … Read More

Salvage logging is a different story on federal forestland

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Wildifires are tremendously destructive, with the largest fires burning miles and miles of forestland and sometimes property. For private forest owners, one of their priorities in the wake of the fires is to salvage whatever timber they can. Seattle’s Plum Creek Timber Co. is in the process now of salvaging what it can among thousands of acres of the company’s … Read More

Timber counties searching for an answer from Congress

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Northwest timber counties got some good news over the holidays when federal leaders announced that new federal timber subsidies won’t be subject to the budget cuts known as sequestration. But the counties’ financial situation is still dire. In Josephine County in Southwest Oregon, the local budget is so thin that sheriff’s deputies only respond to “life-threatening situations.” With so few … Read More

Wyden’s committee move could imperil Northwest timber reform

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U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden is an ace up the sleeve for timber issues in the Northwest. The Oregon Democrat took over as chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee in January 2013, and since then, he’s championed timber reform. His proposal to increase the timber harvest in Oregon, released last month, may not be receiving widespread support from … Read More