slick propaganda by Weyerhaeuser??

Michael Hagen mhagen at
Wed Mar 31 12:36:33 EST 1999

This is quite a bit longer than the blurb our local news ran.  We're a
bit obsessed about our schools here.

Jim Frost wrote:
> 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.

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