Strong viewpoints out of Oregon


Two op-eds were published recently in the Oregonian that bring up some important issues about the future of the timber industry. The two pieces discuss Oregon, but they may as well be talking about any state with an active timber industry.

The first opinion piece is from Marvin Brown, the Oregon State Forester and Chair of the the Sustainable Forestry Initiative; Clint Bentz, Chair of the American Forest Foundation’s Board and a family forest landowner who resides in Scio, Ore.; David Ford, Executive Director of Oregon Small Woodlands Association and a family forest landowner who resides in Beaverton; and Steve Wilson, a member of the Oregon Board of Forestry and Secretary-Treasurer of Woodworkers District 1 of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers.

These are guys who obviously know their stuff, and to them, the U.S. Green Building Council is shortchanging local communities by not allowing other forest certifications into the LEED building standard.

An exclusive LEED policy is a problem for Oregon, where forestry is crucial to the economy. There are nearly 30 million acres of forestland in Oregon, covering 48 percent of the state. SFI and the American Tree Farm System provide the standards for prudent forest management on more than 5 million acres of our state’s land, and Forest Stewardship Council standards are used on 500,000 acres. All three are credible certification programs, and we have personally seen how they each work on the ground. With a lifetime of first-hand experience and extensive background in the application of forest certification programs in our state, we find it bewildering that the Green Building Council has not opened its LEED policy to all credible forest certification programs.

Opening LEED would benefit our forests, our economy and green building in Oregon and throughout North America. Responsible forest management supports jobs. Limiting which certified wood can be credited in LEED projects reduces demand for wood from SFI and Tree Farm certified lands and puts forestry jobs at risk.

The op-ed is an important article to read because it brings together the ideas of people who are active in public and private forestry in Oregon, and their opinions carry real weight.

The second opinion piece is from Karla Kay Edwards, a  Rural Policy Analyst at Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s free market public policy research organization. She argues that Oregon could be a national leader in biomass, because of its vast forestlands and the state’s renewable energy policies. But the only way for this to happen, Edwards says, is for the state’s federal forests to be opened to “long-term sustainable timber harvests.”

Federal lands must play a role in creating a long-term consistent supply of merchantable timber and logging residues. Simply providing grants for biomass facilities that create a greater demand for biomass feedstuffs, without any significant movement toward providing long-term access to the captured supply of merchantable timber and logging residues on federal forestlands, is setting up an industry for economic failure.