Capital press. (Salem, OR) 19??-current, September 22, 2017, Page 9, Image 9

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    September 22, 2017
Upper Deschutes Basin
Area in detail
New wood products may impact forest management, wildfi res
Capital Press
Oregon BEST CLT report:
La Pine
30 miles
Alan Kenaga/Capital Press
for Upper
Basin study
Capital Press
Federal authorities will
soon be sharing preliminary
fi ndings of a water study of
Oregon’s Upper Deschutes
Basin with landowners and
other affected parties.
The U.S. Bureau of Recla-
mation and regional partners
will use the input to complete
their analysis of water man-
agement in the basin, whose
water supply demands are
eventually expected to exceed
supplies by 230,000 acre-feet
a year.
One component of the
report, which is due in mid-
2018, will examine the fea-
sibility of expanding water
storage in the region.
The possibilities being
studied include raising an ex-
isting dam to expand the Hay-
stack Reservoir south of Ma-
dras, Ore., or building a new
upstream facility.
The study is also look-
ing at creating a new “Mon-
ner” reservoir east of Madras
or restoring storage in the
Prineville reservoir that’s
been lost to sedimentation.
Water conservation and
water transfers are also being
examined in the study, said
Mike Relf, project manager
with the Bureau of Reclama-
tion’s Pacifi c Northwest re-
gional offi ce.
“Storage is just one part of
the basin study,” Relf said.
The goal is to lay out the
benefi ts and challenges of po-
tential storage options, rather
than make any recommenda-
tions, he said.
“The idea is not to promote
any particular idea,” Relf said.
Building or expanding wa-
ter reservoirs would entail en-
vironmental studies and fund-
ing processes that would likely
require decades to complete,
he said. “Storage would by far
be the longest-term idea out
It’s worthwhile to take a
closer look at storage possi-
bility, the likelihood of actu-
ally starting construction is a
long shot, said Mike Britton,
general manager of the North
Unit Irrigation District, which
is one of the partners partic-
ipating in the $1.5 million
Aside from bureaucratic
and fi nancial hurdles, storage
projects are often unrealistic
because they’d fl ood exist-
ing infrastructure, such as gas
pipelines and power transmis-
sion lines, he said.
“Those types of obstacles
are potential deal stoppers,”
Britton said.
California, for example, has
a long list of potential storage
options that haven’t been built
for decades, he said. “I doubt
we’d be that much different
here, unfortunately.”
The prospect of expanding
the Haystack Reservoir, how-
ever, is making at least one
landowner nervous.
Kenny Reed, who owns a
ranch abutting the reservoir,
worries an expansion would
disrupt habitat for bald eagles
that he’s conserving under an
agreement with the federal
Reed has expressed his
concerns to the Bureau of
Reclamation, which has ac-
knowledged there’s a conser-
vation plan for the area.
Could a revival of Ore-
gon’s timber industry reduce
the fuel load in public forests
and ease the blistering wild-
fi res that choked much of the
state in smoke the past few
At this point it’s an in-
triguing question without a
simple answer. But it arises
as university researchers and
industry offi cials explore ad-
vanced wood products such
as cross-laminated timbers
— called CLT — and mass
plywood panels, which can
support multi-story wood-
en buildings, even modest
high-rises. Only two Western
Oregon mills and a handful
of others nationally make the
products, but they appear to
hold promise.
For one thing, the mas-
sive beams and panels can be
made with small-diameter
logs, the very type crowding
forests and contributing to
the explosive growth of the
Eagle Creek Fire in the Co-
lumbia River Gorge Nation-
al Scenic Area and the much
larger Chetco Bar Fire in the
Kalmiopsis Wilderness in
the southwest corner of the
A recent report by Ore-
gon BEST, a quasi-public
entity that funds clean tech-
nology startups and links
entrepreneurs to university
researchers, said CLT and
related mass timber manu-
facturing could create 2,000
to 6,100 direct jobs in Ore-
gon. Income generated from
those jobs would range from
$124 million to $371 mil-
lion a year, according to the
report. The estimate came
from an analysis by Busi-
ness Oregon, the state de-
Oregon BEST said Ore-
gon and Southwest Wash-
ington are “poised as a
manufacturing hub for the
emerging Cross Laminated
Associated Press File
A piece of cross-laminated timber, or CLT, which is made from smaller trees harvested in Oregon
forests. Some experts believe new technology may open the door for a revitalized timber industry and
change the way forests are managed in the region.
Timber market in the United
States.” Pacific Northwest
forests could easily and sus-
tainably supply the wood
needed for production, the
report said.
People working in the
field issue a cautionary,
“Yes, but. …”
“In theory, it makes a lot
of sense, but it requires for
the forests to be actively
managed in that way, and
an outlet for that wood to be
taken up,” said Timm Locke,
director of forest products for
the Oregon Forest Research
Institute, an organization
founded by the Oregon Leg-
islature to enhance collab-
oration and inform the pub-
lic about responsible forest
Locke said the public for-
ests most in need of resto-
ration and thinning work are
east of the Cascades, where
much of the milling infra-
structure has “disappeared.”
It doesn’t make economic
sense to move poor quality
trees from Eastern Oregon to
mills in Western Oregon, he
“We need to be thinking
about what’s stopping us
at this stage,” Locke said.
“What are the issues there?”
One of them, he said, is a
lack of trust between industry
and the public land agencies
— principally the U.S. Forest
Service and Bureau of Land
Management. Mills that once
depended on logs from pub-
lic forests were “burned”
when the timber harvest was
drastically reduced due to
lawsuits and policy and reg-
ulatory changes over threat-
ened species, wildlife habitat
and watersheds. An often-cit-
ed statistic shows the Forest
Service manages 60 percent
of the timberland in Oregon
but that land produces only
15 percent of the annual har-
“It’s diffi cult for govern-
ment agencies to make sig-
nifi cant changes quickly,”
Locke said. “There’s a lot of
process that has to happen.”
Locke believes the For-
est Service is on the right
track, but noted that conser-
vation groups often oppose
increased logging on public
“It’s a tricky subject, no
question about it,” he said.
“Public discussion about
public land management — I
think we’re ripe for that con-
A Forest Service offi cial
said the agency makes 600
million board-feet of timber
available for sale annually in
Oregon and Washington, and
the perspective that it is hold-
ing up an industry revival is
Debbie Hollen, director of
state and private forestry for
the Forest Service in Port-
land, said the agency hopes
tall wood buildings provide
the market for restoration log-
ging and thinning.
The agency’s Wood Inno-
vation Grant Program pro-
vides funding to help create a
market for fuel that needs to
be removed from the forests.
“Our hope is that it will
be the value-add that makes
it worthwhile,” Hollen said.
“Industry is not there yet.”
The research infrastructure
is swinging into place. Oregon
State University’s colleges of
forestry and engineering have
teamed with the University
of Oregon’s School of Archi-
tecture to form the TallWood
Design Institute at OSU. It
is the nation’s fi rst research
center to focus exclusively
on advanced structural wood
At this point, the one con-
stant is fi re.
John Bailey, a professor of
silviculture and fi re manage-
ment at OSU, said the amount
of biomass accumulated on
forested hillsides is greater
than ever before. Whether
people see the biomass as
scenery, recreation site, wild-
life habitat or timber, it’s go-
ing to “exit the system” one
way or the other, he said.
Humans remove less of
the biomass through log-
ging and thinning than in the
past, which contributes to the
fi erce, explosive, “climate
driven fi re” that has gotten our
attention. With more forested
acreage closely connected,
and with hot, dry, windy con-
ditions prevailing, fi res quick-
ly grow large, he said.
Bailey said the Forest Ser-
vice is doing all the manage-
ment that society allows it to
do, and it’s time to “rethink
what we do with the hillsides
in light of fuel accumulation”
and climate conditions.
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