Posts Tagged ‘timber’

State’s wood industry did a ‘180’ in 2010; Wood consumption up after decade of decline

May 4, 2012
The Koombana Bay loads logs at Port Angeles

In an image of good times for log exports, the 500-foot bulk loader Koombana Bay loaded logs bound for China from Port Angeles in March 2010. It was the first log ship to visit the city’s port in 10 years. Photo: Heather Buckmaster/Merrill-Ring, Inc.

After 10 years of declines, Washington State’s wood products industry increased its consumption of wood in 2010, using 5 percent more wood in 2010 than it did in 2008. Most of that wood–67 percent–went to lumber mills in the state. Also playing a role in the modest turnaround was the vigorous demand for raw logs from China, which pushed exports of Washington-sourced logs up 39 percent between 2008 and 2010.

In terms of revenue, the action was at pulp mills, which accounted for more than half–53 percent–of the $4.9 billion worth of wood-related products produced in Washington in 2010.

These nuggets (or should we say, chips? slivers?) are included in DNR’s recently published Washington Mill Survey. Released every two years, the Mill Survey is a comprehensive report on Washington’s wood products industry with latest edition showing activity in 2010. The report–the only one of its kind for Washington State–includes statistics and analyses for several sectors: lumber, veneer, plywood, pulp, shake-and-shingle, post-pole-piling, wood chips, and log exports.

Download a copy of the 50-plus page report at no charge.

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State lands accounted for 28% of the state’s timber harvest

March 12, 2012
Port of Olympia

Tug boats pull and guide the log ship "La Vie En Rose" into its berth at the Port of Olympia. In 2010, the port exported 117 million board feet of logs compared to 3 million board feet in 2008. Photo: Jim Wright/Port of Olympia.

DNR’s latest Washington Timber Harvest reveals the impact of export demand on Washington’s timber economy. Released in February, the annual report (now in its 57th edition) breaks out timber harvest totals by county and species. Based on annual Department of Revenue tax data, the report shows that exports kept many logging operations and shipping ports busy, even as domestic home-building (the chief market for West Coast softwoods) continued to struggle.

The exports even affected timber sales from state trust lands. By law, unprocessed timber–raw logs–from state trust lands cannot be sold for export, but with more of the privately owned timber heading overseas, DNR has become an important supplier to local mills.

Here’s a glance at the new timber report by the numbers:

1902 — When publication of state Timber Harvest reports began. (DNR has copies going back to 1940 and online versions back to 1990.)

2.74 billion — Board feet of trees (Scribner log scale) harvested in Washington in 2010.

2.39 billion — Board feet of trees (Scribner) harvested in Western Washington in 2010 (87% of state total).

1.82 billion board feet — Amount of logs harvested from private lands (industrial forest and small forest landowners) in 2010 .

Washington Timber Harvest - 2010

source: Washington 2010 Timber Harvest Report. Washington State Department of Natural Resources.

28 percent — Percentage of trees in state’s total harvest from DNR-managed state trust lands (all beneficiaries including counties) in 2010. In the western Washington counties where the majority of the timber was harvested, state trust lands accounted for 29 percent of the total.

The data for the Washington Timber Harvest Report came from statistics compiled by the state’s Department of Revenue which collects Forest Excise Tax. Since tribes don’t pay that tax harvest statistics from tribal lands were unavailable.

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Fire, tsunami, and Puget Sound restoration among top stories of 2011 on DNR’s Ear to the Ground

December 30, 2011

The Monastery Fire, the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, and Puget Sound restoration were among the top stories of 2011 on Ear to the Ground.

A late-starting fire season still produced a few large wildfire incidents of note, including the Monastery Fire that burned more than two dozen homes and several thousand acres north of Goldendale. This year also was the 20th anniversary of the firestorm that burned more than 100 homes and 35,000 acres in eastern Washington, but also led to a new state mobilization process for major disasters.

Getting lots of readership in 2011 were our several postings about people damaging natural resources and public lands: a topic that (rightly) stirred a lot of readers to comment on DNR’s Facebook page, too. The year saw several incidents involving illegal off-roading that damaged state trust lands and, recently, an avoidable truck accident in Capitol State Forest that could have turned out much worse. DNR-managed state trust lands also experienced thefts of timber, metal gates and, even, concrete fence rails from a recreation area.

Our posting about the tsunami warnings following the 9.0 magnitude earthquake in Japan in March drew much interest. Thankfully, waves hitting Washington’s coastal areas were small and did not cause injuries or fatalities. Just a few weeks prior another popular posting emphasized earthquake and tsunami preparation. Our late March post showed the potential impact of a tsunami on Tacoma following a major earthquake on one of our regional faults. February, by the way, was the 10th anniversary of the 2001 Nisqually earthquake centered near Olympia that injured more than 400 people.

Blogs about wildlife and Puget Sound always draw lots of readers. One in particular shows off a large octopus temporarily landed (and safely returned) off of Cypress Island during a creosote piling removal project — one of several that DNR managed in 2011. Another popular posting described our Aquatic Resources Division’s work studying eelgrass beds — a major component of a healthy habitat in the Sound

When you think of Washington State’s natural resources, trees just naturally come to mind. Our foresters’ advice on managing trees, including those in urban settings, drew lots of readers. Our tips to avoid topping trees were popular, too. Many readers clicked on articles about wildlife, whether it was the birds (like sapsuckers) that rely on trees or other animals, such as Canada lynx, that inhabit the state trust lands DNR manages. We were pleased that many of you read our article about a program that seeks to rehabilitate low-risk offenders by training them to become arborists (and in the process get some more forest maintenance work done on state trust lands).

DNR’s latest Economic and Revenue Forecast is online

December 16, 2011
state trust land

Photo: DNR

DNR’s latest economic forecast makes only minor revisions to the department’s revenue expectations for upcoming quarters — which is not particularly good news. The November 2011 DNR Economic and Revenue Forecast raises the department’s expected revenue from timber for the 2011-13 Biennium by 1 percent from the previous outlook. Projected timber revenue in the 2013-15 Biennium is lowered slightly. DNR economists base their outlook on the probability that the U.S. housing market will not see a significant recovery for several years. They also anticipate an easing of the hot export market to China for logs harvested from private lands (state law prohibits export of unprocessed logs from state trust lands). 

DNR also generates revenue for state trusts from other sources, including agricultural leasing, aquatic leases, commercial sites and other sources, but timber sales account for a substantial majority of the total revenues.

With this latest forecast, DNR raises its anticipated timber revenues for the 2011-2013 Biennium from $359.5 million to $361.5 million. The Forecast, which is published quarterly, also lowers the expected revenue for the 2013-2015 Biennium by 5 percent, from $403.3  to $384.9 million. A substantial portion of these revenues go to state trust land beneficiaries including public school construction, universities and several counties.

Read more details in the full report and summary

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DNR’s latest economic forecast lowers revenue expectations

October 19, 2011
log piles in snow

The delayed recovery of the U.S. housing market will keep DNR timber stumpage prices down over the next two to three years. Photo: Danielle Munzing/DNR.

Released in final form this week, the September 2011 DNR Economic and Revenue Forecast lowers the department’s expected revenue from timber and several other natural resources for the 2011-13 and 2013-15 bienniums. DNR economists say the delayed recovery of the U.S. housing market could keep timber stumpage prices down for the next two to three years. 

Largely as a result of lower prices for timber, DNR lowered its forecast of timber revenues for the 2011-2013 Biennium by $18.1 million (five percent) to $359.5 million. The Forecast, which is published quarterly, also lowered expected revenue for the 2013-2015 Biennium by $6.6 million (two percent) to $403.3 million. A substantial portion of the revenue DNR generates goes to state trust land beneficiaries including public school construction, universities and several counties.

Read more details in the full report and summary 

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Wood-based biofuels for aviation in the news

May 26, 2011
slash pile

Some of the logging 'slash' and other wood residues left after timber harvests could be converted into fuel for aviation. Photo: DNR.

Using forest biomass to create cleaner, sustainable energy — including jet fuel — is an emerging technology well suited to the Pacific Northwest. A news story on KLPU-FM describes the efforts of Sustainable Aviation Fuels Northwest, a regional consortium exploring the opportunities in producing sustainable aviation fuels.

A guest editorial from the consortium in The Olympian today describes the policy steps of developing a viable Northwest aviation biofuels industry.

The effort got a major boost in mid April when the 2011 Washington Legislature passed a bill authorizing DNR to develop a demonstration program to generate aviation biofuel from wood waste and mill residue. At a biomass conference in January, Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark detailed the aviation biofuel component of DNR’s Forest Biomass Initiative, noting that jet fuel would be one of the highest and best uses for residual forest biomass.

DNR is conducting a forest biomass assessment to determine what volume of biomass from Washington forests is both economically and ecologically available.

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Biomass-to-jet fuel and Community Forest Trust bills signed into law today

April 29, 2011
logging slash

Slash and residue from timber harvests and saw mill operations could supply biomass for alternative fuel projects. Photo: DNR.

Governor Chris Gregoire this afternoon signed into law two bills requested by Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark:

House Bill 1422 authorizes DNR to collaborate on the development of a sustainable source of aviation fuel using forest biomass such as logging slash and sawmill wood residues. Working with the state Department of Commerce, Washington State University and the University of Washington, DNR will move forward with a demonstration project for the concept.

“We have an opportunity to bring our timber heritage and our aviation industry together to contribute to a more sustainable energy future,” Goldmark said following the signing. 

Engrossed Substitute House Bill 1421, creating the Community Forest Trust, gives communities a new tool to prevent the conversion of working forests into housing or other types of development. Community Forest Trust lands could help buffer public or private working forests from encroaching development without the expenses of managing them as parkland.

“Protecting working forests protects local timber jobs and economies, but it also preserves the clean water, clean air, wildlife habitat and other values these lands provide to us,” said Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark after the bill was signed.

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Forks Community Hospital looks to timber revenue from DNR-managed trust lands

April 21, 2011
Forks Community Hospital

Forks Community Hospital is a key healthcare resource for western Clallam and Jefferson counties. Photo: donabelandewen@flickr

Residents across a broad swath of the western Olympic Peninsula rely on Forks Community Hospital for emergency, acute and critical care. This vital lifeline is supported in part by revenues DNR earns from managing 92,532 acres of State Forest Trust lands that benefit Clallam County. These trust lands provide vital support to the hospital’s general fund, as well as its emergency department and ambulance service.

Each quarter, DNR reports the earned income and projected revenue from State Forest Lands (formerly known as Forest Board lands) in Clallam and several other Washington counties. Harvesting timber provides most of the revenue, which the counties use to support various taxing districts that provide county services — roads, schools, hospitals, libraries and fire districts.

The lion’s share of revenue earned from the State Forest Trust lands DNR manages stays within the county. For example, during the first quarter of calendar year 2011, State Forest Trust lands in Clallam County generated $1.6 million and are projected to generate $4.4 million in 2011 (about $2.5 million higher than our earlier projections, thanks in part to recovering prices for unprocessed logs). In fiscal year 2010, State Forest Trust lands earned just over $98.7 million.

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Horse teams still have a place in timber harvests

March 31, 2011
Horse drawn logging

Horse teams are still in use for logging in special situations, such as small timber or in environmentally or aesthetically sensitive areas. Photo: DNR.

Washington State’s forest practices rules (administered by DNR) guide the use of ground-based harvesting systems. Ground-based systems are generally used on slopes less than 35 percent in Western Washington and less than 50 percent in Eastern Washington. The rules also set skidding distances (how far logs may be dragged) and other important activities.

Among the various ground-based systems is one that is fully non-motorized, but has plenty of horsepower: horses, that is. Horse-drawn harvesting can be useful where the timber is small, there will be only partial harvesting on level ground, and the area is aesthetically or environmentally sensitive.

To help small forest landowners, loggers and natural resource professionals — and the public — understand the rules governing forest practices, DNR publishes the online Forest Practices Illustrated. This publication is an overview of the forest rules that protect public resources as well as water, fish, wildlife and state and municipal capital improvements.

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DNR finds markets for wood products from state trust lands

March 21, 2011

Photo: Dorian Smith/DNR

Bill Latunen is manager of PLS Poleyard, a company based in Rochester that specializes in logs used for utility poles. For land managers like DNR, logs suitable for poles bring a higher price than those to be milled into dimensional lumber, such as 2X4s. In recent years, as many as half of these higher-value trees sold in Washington were harvested from state trust lands. DNR provides a needed source of suitable trees for the pole industry; contributing $10 million or more annually to state trusts — DNR produced about $151 million for public school construction and other state trusts last year.

Read more in the DNR 2010 Annual Report

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