slick propaganda by Weyerhaeuser??

Jim Frost jimfrost at hctc.com
Tue Mar 30 22:12:45 EST 1999


Found it for those who may be interested.

Bill would let big timber bid on state trees 

by Jim Lynch
Seattle Times Olympia bureau

OLYMPIA - Weyerhaeuser and other big timber companies may soon be 
allowed to buy and harvest trees off state-owned lands if a 
four-paragraph bill becomes law. 

The new legislation could allow the state's Department of Natural 
Resources (DNR) to invite more companies to bid on its timber sales, 
including firms now banned from such sales because they export logs cut 
on privately owned forest lands. 

The bill's sponsor calls it a creative way to increase revenues for the 
dwindling school-construction fund, financed in large part by the 
proceeds of state timber sales. 

"I'd much rather have an open market where you have people bidding the 
timber up," said Rep. Tom Huff, R-Gig Harbor, co-chairman of the House 
Appropriations Committee. 

DNR manages more than 2 million acres of state-owned forest. Under 
federal law, unprocessed logs from those lands can't be exported; the 
idea is to preserve local timber-industry jobs. The law also bans 
companies from bidding on federal or state timber sales if they export 
logs from their own lands. 

That rules out such industry giants as Weyerhaeuser and Plum Creek. 

Huff says he crafted the bill after consulting with state Lands 
Commissioner Jennifer Belcher, who heads DNR. Both Huff and Belcher, a 
Democrat, agree the log-export ban hurts the state because the publicly 
owned trees often sell too cheaply. 

A DNR study estimated the log-export ban cost the state $350 million 
between 1990 and 1997. The impact has diminished during the past two 
years as Asia's economic slump has curbed the overseas appetite for 
logs. 

Huff's bill is co-sponsored by 10 other lawmakers, including House 
Appropriations Committee co-chair Helen Sommers, D-Seattle. Introduced 
yesterday, the legislation would give Gov. Gary Locke more authority to 
administer and enforce the export ban while keeping within the intent of 
the federal law. 

Kaleen Cottingham, DNR's deputy commissioner, says she hopes the 
legislation can bring "common sense" to the issue and allow some 
competition for timber from exporting companies. 

Cottingham said that, under the bill, the governor could: 

-- Re-offer a timber sale to all companies, including exporters, if no 
one bids on the trees at the first auction. 

-- Open sales now limited to companies operating in a certain geographic 
area to other bidders. 

-- Open timber sales that do not include any export-quality timber to 
all bidders. 

Still, none of the state timber that would be sold could be exported as 
raw logs, except in rare instances. 

Cottingham estimates the state could generate an additional $10 million 
a year with these changes. The state's school-construction fund fell $13 
million short of demand this year, largely as a consequence of declining 
timber revenues. 

Weyerhaeuser spokesman Frank Mendizabal says his company likes the 
proposal. "We would welcome the opportunity to bid on state timber and 
run them through our mills here in Washington," he said. 

But the legislation concerns environmentalists who fought to limit log 
exports from public lands, particularly the state's remaining old 
growth. 

"Anything that weakens the existing law, which we thought was a weak one 
in the first place, we will have problems with," said Bill Arthur, 
Northwest director of the Sierra Club. 

The proposal also may rankle some small mill owners, who would face more 
competition for state-owned timber. 

However, Sen. Jim Hargrove, D-Hoquiam, thinks most of the mills likely 
to object already have gone out of business. 

Hargrove has watched the number of small sawmills in his Olympic 
Peninsula district shrink to one. "I can tell you that the log-export 
ban, with the thought of helping our little mills, has been a bust," he 
said. 


Michael Hagen wrote:
> 
> It was in my local paper on Sunday  presented as a solution to low
> timber payments to Counties. If my scanner was working I'd list it here
> but nada.
> 
>



More information about the Ag-forst mailing list