FRA

FRA

To Join the Forest Resource Association and benefit from the membership, please contact the FRA office at 301.838.9385.

In response to concerns expressed at FRA’s September 11 Board of Directors meeting about the growth of federal regulations impacting wood supply management at various levels throughout the chain, FRA examined the regulatory threats obstructing wood supply management the most and characterized each threat in plain terms, including its impact on the supply chain and its current status (whether the regulatory threat is in place or pending and how FRA and other organizations are confronting it).
Although September’s passage of a Continuing Resolution will keep federal highway programs funded through March 31, 2012, both House and Senate have indicated the will to complete work on a comprehensive Surface Transportation Reauthorization bill on an accelerated schedule, during November—partially because of a breakthrough in the impasse over funding, and partially because the rejection of the President’s “Jobs Act” has made a robust highway bill attractive in terms of job creation.
FRA member Jim Robbins, fourth-generation owner of Robbins Lumber in Searsmont, Maine, published a lengthy op-ed in the October 6 Bangor Daily News criticizing the assumptions behind, and practical effect of, the 70,000-acre National Park that former Burt’s Bees mogul Roxanne Quimby is proposing, as a means of disposing of a portion of her large investment in northern Maine woodlands.

On February 18, Rep. Mike Michaud (D-Maine) and Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-Ohio) re-introduced their Safe & Efficient Transportation Act of 2011 (SETA) as HR 763—essentially the same bill they co-sponsored in the last congress. Following a joint Fly-In hosted by the Coalition for Transportation Productivity and the Agriculture and Forestry Transportation Reform Coalition in early March, the new bill quickly gathered 21 bipartisan co-sponsors—with a strong showing from House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee members—and support continues to grow. FRA’s March 17 Fly-In, in which Truck Weight Reform was a key issue, placed further force behind advancing this important reform in Surface Transportation Reauthorization discussions. As previously reported, the Pulp & Paperworkers Resource Council also placed Truck Weight Reform toward the top of its agenda at its own Fly-In in early February, asserting, “transport is a significant and increasing component of the ultimate product cost.”

Negotiations are now concluding with respect to the introduction of a Senate companion bill to HR 763; we anticipate an announcement within days.

At a March 10 hearing before the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) questioned Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood about the possibility of resolving the Truck Weight Reform issue by means of the system of “waivers” which, she claimed, have already provided special exceptions for truck-weight limits in 31 states. She asked the Secretary what latitude the Department has to give every state “the ability to opt for higher truck weights, so we can streamline this across the country.” Secretary LaHood seemed sympathetic, suggested that since federal DOT has the ability “to look at it from the big view, with another safety optic,” the Department would be in a position to help, although he concluded by suggesting, “I think you can address that through a transportation bill.” This interesting but ambiguous exchange is preserved on a video posted on Sen. Snowe’s web site at this link. The relevant section begins at the 2:30-minute mark.

In a March 30 speech at an “International Year of Forests” celebration, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack explicitly endorsed the use of wood as a green building material, outlining a three-part “plan,” expressing the Department’s priorities:

  • To select wood preferentially in new building construction, while maintaining the Department’s commitment to certified green building standards;
  • To ask the U.S. Forest Service to examine ways to increase its already strong commitment to green building by reporting to him on ways to enhance the research and development being done on green building materials;
  • Actively to look for opportunities to demonstrate the innovative use of wood as a green building material “for all new structures of 10,000 square feet or more using recognized green building standards such as LEED, Green Globes, or the National Green Building Standard.”

“SFI is excited to see the explicit recognition of the Green Globes standard and the National Green Building Standard, both of which recognize multiple forest certification standards including SFI,” comments the Sustainable Forestry Initiative’s Kathy Abusow. The American Forest Foundation and the National Alliance of Forest Owners also praised the announcement.

Having observed through several years the proliferation of such e-mail taglines as “Please don’t print this e-mail,” keyboarder and Tree Farmer Chuck Leavell and forester Carlton Owen decided to make the case for paper consumption as a stimulus for sustainable forestry in a jointly authored commentary appearing in the March 30 Wall Street Journal. As Chuck’s own e-mail tagline proclaims: “Notice: It’s OK to print this email. Paper is a biodegradable, renewable, sustainable product made from trees. Growing and harvesting trees provides jobs for millions of Americans. Working forests are good for the environment and provide clean air and water, wildlife habitat and carbon storage. Thanks to improved forest management, we have more trees in America today than we had 100 years ago.” While stipulating that “we don’t advocate wanton waste of paper or any other material,” Leavell and Owen point out cutting paper consumption “may indirectly hasten the conversion of forests to other uses like strip malls, parking lots and housing developments—because the nation’s forest landowners can’t keep growing trees without markets for this natural, organic and renewable product.”

Within two days, the op-ed’s on-line edition had drawn over 150 reader comments ranging from the hopelessly muddled to the surprisingly trenchant—a forum in which the FRA Bulletin’s editor was pleased to participate.

A controlled study undertaken by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill measured 93% fewer tick attachments among a group of state water quality employees who wore the commercial tick-repelling garment Insect Shield Repellent Apparel, compared to workers in similar environments who used conventional spray repellants or other prevention methods. The commercially available apparel (www.insectshield.com) is treated, through a special process, with the synthetic chemical “permethrin,” which has properties that repel a wide variety of harmful pests (including mosquitos, flies, chiggers, and midges, as well as ticks) and apparently stays bonded to the fabric for up to 70 launderings. “Results showed that for every 100 hours spent outdoors, the group wearing treated clothing had 99% fewer tick attachments during work hours and 93% fewer tick attachments overall than the control group.”

 

UNC stresses that the apparel’s manufacturer “did not fund the study in any way.” A larger, four-year study to corroborate these results is underway.

The current WSRI Technical Team, chaired by Greg Swede, of International Paper, and composed of balanced representatives of wood consuming mills and wood supply businesses and associations, has completed the selection process for choosing the new WSRI Research Project and Researcher. This process began with a questionnaire to all WSRI members, as well as selected FRA members, seeking submissions for topics for potential research projects.

The current WSRI Technical Team, chaired by Greg Swede, of International Paper, and composed of balanced representatives of wood consuming mills and wood supply businesses and associations, has completed the selection process for choosing the new WSRI Research Project and Researcher. This process began with a questionnaire to all WSRI members, as well as selected FRA members, seeking submissions for topics for potential research projects.

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