CNN BREAKING NEWS: WOOD PRODUCTS COME FROM FORESTS

CNN BREAKING NEWS: WOOD PRODUCTS COME FROM FORESTS

 

**WARNING: Readers with a sense of humor only.  This is a parody.  While the forest facts are true, the dialogue is fictional.  This did not air on CNN.  The below did not come from, was not approved by, or sponsored by CNN or Wolf Blitzer.  Just so we are clear. *

 

Wolf Blitzer (from the New York City studio): Good evening from the Situation Room.  Tonight, breaking news.  Happening now, we are learning from inside sources that wood products – including lumber to build millions of homes in this country – do not, I repeat, do not, come from Home Depot or Lowe’s.  Our correspondent, Faux Green, is on the ground in Oregon for this exclusive reporting.  Faux, what can you tell our viewers at home about this shocking new development?

 

Faux Green (outside of Home Depot): Wolf, we have a few major, breaking storylines developing here in Oregon.  We are learning from our sources that the wood products you see stacked behind me, here at the Home Depot Lumber Yard, and countless wood products inside Home Depot were transported from local manufacturing facilities – popularly known as “mills” – rather than being made by hand here at the store.

 

It’s our understanding – and we are working with our team of experts to confirm this – the process works something like this: trees from a forest are cut and removed, followed by replanting.  The cut trees are trucked to nearby mills where thousands of workers throughout the state use modern technology to convert material from forests into useable wood products like lumber, plywood, doors, and cabinets.  We are also learning that even the byproduct of the manufacturing process – think sawdust and chips – is used as well, including for energy and heat for the mill.

 

Wolf, I am also hearing… and, yes, this has just been confirmed in my earpiece… breaking news, that even the Amazon Prime box used to ship the book “How to Pretend to Know What You are Talking About for Dummies” I ordered online – both the box and the book come from woody material from a forest.  It’s just… it’s hard to wrap your mind around Wolf.

 

Wolf Blitzer: Bombshell news from Oregon tonight.  Happening now, our viewers at home are now learning that wood products – dimensional lumber, paper, cardboard boxes, I assume even toilet paper – come from forests, not corporate home improvement stores.  Faux, with 325 million Americans in this country and billions worldwide daily consuming wood products, if your reporting is indeed accurate, I assume you are seeing the massive devastation of forests in Oregon and throughout the West.  Are there any trees left?

 

Faux Green: Wolf, to our surprise, it’s quite the opposite.  Just yesterday, we drove over one hundred miles of forest roads and saw trees as far as the eye can see.  I estimate there are billions of trees of all ages and size out here.  In fact, unnamed public officials are telling us – behind closed doors – that there are more trees standing today in Oregon than the number of trees standing in the 19th Century.  Of course, these officials can’t and won’t acknowledge this fact publicly.  This is highly sensitive and potentially explosive information.

 

Wolf Blitzer: Sorry to interrupt your excellent reporting, Faux.  Why?  Help our viewers at home understand: why is this information so explosive or controversial?

 

Faux Green: It doesn’t fit the narrative being peddled out here, Wolf.  We are being told here on the ground there’s a sense by some, despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary and laws requiring replanting, that once trees are cut and removed from a forest, forests never return and can never recover.  They’re gone forever.  But just to give you a sense, Wolf, there is one public forest here in Western Oregon we visited yesterday that grows 1.2 billion board feet of wood every year.  A “board foot” is the equivalent of one square foot of wood, one inch thick.  If that amount of wood was stacked in a column, it would reach 100 million feet in the air, or 35,000 times the height of Mt. Everest.  That’s just wood growth from one – ONE! – Oregon forest every year alone – not to mention the millions of acres of other public and private Oregon forests.

 

We are also learning that in many cases, the federal government is actually required by law to cut and remove trees from these forests but has failed to follow its own forest plans for nearly three decades.  My government contacts are privately telling us they hope the public does not notice or that politicians will continue to avoid asking tough questions about how hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars are spent to not implement the law or manage these forests.

 

Wolf Blitzer: If you are just joining us in the Situation Room, stunning, breaking news tonight: wood products come from forests and there are still billions of trees standing in Oregon – and presumably in the West! Remarkable reporting from our inquisitive and persistent correspondent, Faux Green.  Faux, tell our viewers what else you are learning and hearing tonight from Oregon.

 

Faux Green: Wolf, it is with a sober and sad heart tonight to report that we have now confirmed, through multiple eyewitness accounts and interviews with scientists, old trees do not live forever.  It’s shocking, devastating news – but it is something we can now report with confidence.

 

Some have tried for decades to pass laws to protect old trees from the cycle of life and inevitable death.  Unfortunately, it appears those repeated efforts have been in vain as science, nature, and according to some experts – plain common sense – have convincingly demonstrated all trees perish.  But, as reported this evening Wolf, miraculously, forests do continue to grow and thrive here in Oregon and the West.  Replanting, science-based management, and the fact that people care about the future of public forests – including people who work in the forest products industry – are helping ensure forests flourish.  Wolf, it seems responsible stewardship is really a part of Oregon’s culture and identity out here.

 

Wolf Blitzer: Powerful words, if you will, from Faux Green.  Groundbreaking.  Faux, as always, outstanding reporting and extraordinary investigative work.  Thank you.

 

Stay tuned.  Next, our panel in the studio will try to address the age-old mystery: where does food come from?  More breaking news from a cornfield in Iowa and dairy farm in Wisconsin.  You won’t want to miss new shocking revelations that are leading families and consumers to question the source of their food: Safeway, Whole Foods, or somewhere else? Exclusive on CNN. We’re live.  We’re breaking news.  You’re in the Situation Room.  Stay with us.


FORESTRY'S BEST DAYS ARE YET TO COME. HERE'S WHY.

*This article first appeared in the April issue of TimberWest Magazine and was reprinted with the permission of the author. 

By Nick Smith

Healthy Forests, Healthy Communities (HFHC) was launched five years ago as a grassroots coalition advocating for better management of federally owned forest lands. Back then I couldn’t have foreseen the changes in Washington D.C. and within the forest products industry itself. It’s not easy to be part of an effort to turn around decades of federal mismanagement. But I know there isn’t a better time to be working alongside this industry, whose best days I’m convinced are yet to come.

Five years ago, it seemed there was little momentum for forestry issues in Congress and the White House. Few forest products companies and associations were utilizing newspapers and other media, let alone social media, to tell their stories and shape public opinion. Grassroots advocacy on timber issues had been largely abandoned since the so-called “timber wars.” Ongoing challenges — from log supply to labor — called into question the very future of the industry in the United States.Read more


‘Breaking News’: Another News Outlet Gets It Wrong on the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument

By Travis Joseph, AFRC President

In its December 7 editorial titled “Oregon should fight for an untouched Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument,” the Salem Statesman Journal editorial board makes several false and misleading claims that deserve clarification.

First, the editorial board wrote that the “federal government is planning to reduce some of the space available” to the public by reducing the size of the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument. That’s simply not true. No matter what happens to the monument, the federal land will stay in federal ownership and public access will remain.

In fact, limiting public access was one of the reasons so many Oregonians opposed the monument expansion in the first place. The expansion would lead to permanent road closures and road decommissioning making it more difficult for Oregonians – especially those with disabilities that depend on the infrastructure – to access some of their favorite places. The monument also restricts traditional uses of the land, such as grazing and timber, that have helped sustain the local economy for decades. If the monument stands, public access to public lands will decrease, not increase.

The editorial board also claims it has seen “no support from folks who use the land for recreation” to make changes to the monument size. Really? The counties that host the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument and the elected state legislators that represent Oregonians who live, work, and play in or near the monument strongly and publicly voiced their opposition to the expansion. But, apparently, the voices of the people most impacted by the monument don’t count – or were never heard.

Then, bizarrely, the editorial board argues that even though “the state has plenty of other open space” the monument is important because “once land is lost to development, it’s unlikely it will ever revert to the people again.” No one, on either side of the debate, is proposing that the land in question be developed. Although, it should be pointed out that several supporters of the monument expansion own cabins within the monument boundaries. State taxpayers will be on the hook to protect these structures if and when a wildfire occurs in this fire prone landscape.

What the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument expansion is really all about is whether or not a president – regardless of party – has the authority to override an act of Congress. In 1937, Congress passed a law that requires the Bureau of Land Management to manage all O&C lands for “permanent forest production.” The law has never been repealed, replaced, amended, or changed. The O&C Act is the law of the land.

But, with a swoop of a pen, the Obama Administration circumvented that law and re-designated the same lands for a completely different purpose. To add insult to injury, the monument expansion happened largely behind closed doors with minimal public input. The expansion was exempt from all public review and environmental laws – the National Environmental Policy Act, the Endangered Species Act, and the Clean Water Act just to name a few.

It’s disappointing that on such an important issue to the state of Oregon, which will have major legal implications for public land management into the future, the editorial board got the basic facts so wrong. Let’s have a conversation about the appropriate size of the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument, the appropriate role of the Antiquities Act, and how the O&C Act is being implemented. But, if we are going to have an honest conversation, let’s start with the facts.


Travis Joseph: I am an environmentalist. I also work for the timber industry.

I am an environmentalist.  I also work for the timber industry.  Some people might see that as a contradiction.  But in the timber industry, that’s the norm.

I grew up in Springfield exploring Oregon’s incredible natural treasures.  I have hiked Oregon’s volcanoes, rafted down our state’s wild and scenic rivers, got lost in the woods, and swam and fished in our ice cold lakes.

I plan on living in Oregon for the rest of my life and hope to share these same, amazing experiences with my kids and grandkids.  My coworkers and colleagues feel the same way.  That’s exactly why we work for the timber industry: to keep Oregon’s forests healthy, the environment clean, and to ensure our rural communities are vibrant and safe.

But we have a lot of work to do if we want to protect Oregon’s special places.  The truth is, our state is facing an environmental crisis.  Climate change, disease and bug infestations, drought, and catastrophic wildfires are threatening Oregon’s public forests and the extraordinary economic and ecological benefits they provide.

The impacts of our forest health crisis are already apparent in California, where more than 65 million trees are dying or dead.  Leaders in California are asking the Federal government for emergency relief to treat and replant its dying forests.  But under current Federal rules and regulations, it would take years and tens of millions of taxpayer dollars before restoration work could even begin.

The more likely scenario will be for millions of California trees to rot, burn, and spew stored carbon dioxide into the atmosphere – to say nothing of the economic loss and public safety risk.  With the resulting lack of replanting and a changing climate many of these forests will instead become brush fields.

Oregon should take note and then take action.  Now, more than ever, we need a plan to save Oregon’s public forests through proactive management and local and regional partnerships.  Congress has passed new laws, such as the Good Neighbor Authority, that would allow the State of Oregon to work hand-in-hand with the Forest Service to thin hundreds of thousands of acres of unhealthy forests before it’s too late.

Under current policy, Federal agencies are only treating hundreds of acres at a time.  That’s not good enough.  Oregon has 30 million acres of forest land and the Federal government owns more than 60 percent.  In order to avoid California’s fate, land managers must increase both the pace and scale of forest restoration projects.  Additional tools and money are needed from Congress to accelerate planning processes and implementation of work in the woods.

If Oregon takes action now, it can also help avert another crisis: the economic and social collapse of our rural communities.  As the Portland metro-area continues to pull itself out of the Great Recession, rural Oregon is being left behind.

Real unemployment in southern and eastern Oregon communities is still in the double-digits.  The number of students eligible for free or reduced lunches in rural Oregon – a key indicator of poverty – is staggering.  Sadly, more than 63 percent of kids in my hometown school district, Springfield, are eligible for the program.

In places like Josephine County, a county that recently lost its last remaining sawmill, one in four Oregonians lives in poverty and 30 percent rely on food stamps.  To make matters worse, essential county government services like law enforcement, search and rescue, mental health, education, and roads – are being slashed as county revenues from federal timber sales remain at historic low levels.

Oregon’s timber industry is perfectly positioned to help the State of Oregon solve the looming environmental crisis and our state’s rural economic crisis.  Our industry could put thousands of unemployed and under-employed Oregonians back to work thinning our forests, transporting materials to local facilities, manufacturing carbon friendly wood products, and generating renewable energy by using every scrap of wood that comes from our forests.

Exciting new advances in technology, engineering, and architecture put Oregon’s timber industry at the forefront of innovative and game-changing products, such as cross laminated timber.  As Portland continues to grow up and out, Oregon could use its own raw materials, made by local workers, in local mills, to build some of the most sustainable and beautiful buildings, schools, and houses in the United States.

Oregon faces serious ecological and economic challenges.  But these challenges provide very real opportunities to protect our incredible natural treasures for current and future generations, grow our economy, and put rural Oregonians back to work.  Now is the time for a vision and action, or else we may watch our state’s unparalleled natural beauty go up in smoke with the fate of Oregon’s rural communities not far behind.

-Travis Joseph