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From the Society of American Foresters website (www.safnet.org)
Wyden asks for return of $2 million for Ashland project
February 05, 2010 8:50 AM
U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., sent a letter to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack on Thursday asking him to restore $2 million in federal funding that was pulled from a forest thinning project in the Ashland watershed.
The U.S. Forest Service had allocated $6 million to the Ashland Forest Resiliency Project, but took back $2 million on Jan. 21 for redistribution elsewhere.
The Forest Service move came a week after Ashland City Councilman Eric Navickas and Arizona ecologist Jay Lininger, acting as private citizens, filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court challenging parts of the forest thinning project.
"While I know that a lawsuit has been filed over portions of this project, there is broad consensus on much of it and the litigation in no way reduces the need to move forward in a timely manner to produce badly needed jobs and protect the City of Ashland from catastrophic fire," Wyden said in the letter, before urging Vilsack to restore the funding.
UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
OFFICE OF THE SECRETARY
WASHINGTON, D.C. 20250
Last Friday, USDA’s ‘Open Gov’ website went live at USDA.gov/OPEN, an important step in the Obama administration’s efforts to make USDA - and all of the federal government - interact with the public in a more open, transparent & collaborative way. The project is just the beginning of our efforts to fulfill requirements of the Open Government Directive (OGD) issues by the Office of Management and Budget in December 2009.
This website is initially designed to house valuable public information and datasets about USDA, but also to stimulate conversations about the USDA’s programs and policies, and how we can become more open through transparency, participation, and collaboration in the future. Through the site, we hope that the public will provide feedback for published datasets and information, and join our efforts to shape an Open Government Plan that best serves the American public by offering them the critical information they want to know about how their government does business.
On January 20, we fulfilled the first OGD milestone and published three high-value datasets to Data.gov – the government-wide portal for the OGD. These datasets are the first of many that will be published on USDA.gov and Data.gov.
- Agricultural Research Service (ARS) National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 22 (SR22) is the major authoritative source of information about food composition in the United States.
- Economic Research Service (ERS) feed grains dataset contains over 300,000 data points on four feed grains (corn, grain sorghum, barley, and oats), foreign coarse grains (feed grains plus rye, millet, and mixed grains), hay, and related items.
- National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) 2007 Census of Agriculture dataset provides summary data file provides county-level demographic profiles of U.S. farm and ranch operators from the 2007 Census of Agriculture.
From the Oregon Small Woodlands Association (OSWA)
Roger Beyer has agreed to represent OSWA during the 2010 Legislative Special Session. Roger will work with GAC Chairman Mike Barnes and me through the month of February to represent the interests of OSWA members before the state legislature.
Roger is a tree farmer and is well known to OSWA members. He spent 12 years as a state legislator, serving six years in the Oregon House and six years in the Oregon Senate. His first involvement in politics was serving on OSWA’s GAC in the 1980s. We are excited to have Roger on the OSWA team.
Cheers, David Ford, Executive Director
Reforestation and farming are crucial to Haiti's long-term recovery
By Patriot-News Op-Ed
January 26, 2010, 6:06AM
Haiti’s creole language is rich with proverbs that evoke memories of that nation’s tragic history.
“Beyond the mountains are more mountains” is one that captures the essence of the people’s struggle for survival. Ravaged by tragedy man-made and natural, Haitians have a remarkable capacity for endurance.
The earthquake is the latest in a litany of woes that goes back three centuries, stretching from slavery, to hard-fought independence, to inept government and destructive tropical storms.
In this image made available by the American Red Cross in London, Wednesday Jan. 13, 2010 shows earthquake damage to a shanty town on the outskirts of Port au Prince, following a major earthquake in Haiti, Tuesday Jan. 12, 2010. Haitians piled bodies along the devastated streets of their capital Wednesday after the strongest earthquake to hit the poor Caribbean nation in more than 200 years crushed thousands of structures, from schools and shacks to the National Palace and the U.N. peacekeeping headquarters. (AP Photo/American Red Cross, Matt Marek)
The grim pictures of collapsed structures and broken bodies in Port-au-Prince challenge the international community to think beyond the current devastation and plan for a long-term program of effective assistance.
Unless it does so, the United States and other countries will continue to face humanitarian disasters in the future.
Haiti is the best test case for the international community’s ability to find creative solutions to the increasing challenges of climate change and ecological damage.
One of the world’s poorest countries, before the earthquake 54 percent of the 9 million people lived on less than $1 per day, illiteracy was estimated at 44 percent, unemployment from 70 percent to 80 percent. Forty-six percent had no access to potable water, and the country was able to produce less than half of its own food needs.
The root of the problem is a combination of bad governance and the gradual destruction of the ecological basis for human habitation.
Any long-term assistance program must address both. Massive deforestation has reduced the forest cover from more than 60 percent of the national territory in the 1920s to less than one percent today.
Lack of trees accelerates the loss of top soil, rendering the rugged mountainous topography unsuitable to growing crops and pushing the people to migrate to Port-au-Prince, where crowding adds to unemployment and crime.
What is to be done? Reforestation is essential. The key will be convincing peasants to accept the notion that sustainable farming is profitable.
Currently, millions of trees are cut annually to make charcoal (and other uses) because it is the cheapest source of energy. Charcoal supplies 71 percent of the energy used in cooking.
In the 1980s, the U.S. Agency for International Development helped plant 25 million trees, but seven trees were cut for every one planted. Thus a system must be developed to create incentives that protect trees, and that produce jobs and profits.
One of these is marketing fruit. Haitian mangoes, for example, are preferred in the United States because of their high quality. Similarly, Haitian coffee fetches a good price.
Bamboo, which has multiple uses in construction such as flooring, is being introduced from Hawaii and propagates easily in Haiti’s tropical climate. Tree types that put nitrogen into the soil and can be pruned repeatedly for making charcoal also have potential.
In July 2009, Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., introduced a bill (Haiti Reforestation Act of 2009), with bipartisan sponsorship, to provide assistance to “end within five years the deforestation of Haiti and restore within 30 years the extent of tropical forest cover in existence in Haiti in 1990.”
This ingenious proposal, which originated from recommendations provided by Haitians through the Lambi Fund, is likely to get a boost from the earthquake.
Such an ambitious project will need acceptance and involvement by farmers, sustained support by the international community and superior administrative capacity on the part of the government.
Unfortunately, the Achilles heel of the Haitian state has been its inability to provide security and justice. An effective partnership between Haiti and the international community must be part of the arrangement.
Protecting the trees and public environmental education will be imperative.
Pellet Market Smoldering
From: Oregon Business- February 2010
Wood pellets are looking like the next big thing in Oregon’s campaign to create green jobs. Or are they?
First Prineville-based Ochoco Lumber received a $4.9 million stimulus grant through Business Oregon to construct a wood pellet factory in John Day. Then a Redmond start-up named Pacific Pellet announced plans to convert 40,000 tons of scrap wood per year into pellets to heat homes and businesses and eventually fuel everything from schools and hospitals to factories and power plants. Ochoco’s grant will enable it to retain 80 workers and create 11 new jobs, while Pacific Pellet is expected to employ 20 people. Both plants will produce an alternative fuel from a renewable resource that burns with very low emissions.
Of course, that was the claim with ethanol, too. Industry insiders say the last thing the wood pellet industry needs is more production. Three wood pellet plants in Oregon have been shut down recently because of severe oversupply in the market.
Chris Sharron, president of West Oregon Wood Products in Columbia City, has suspended production at both of his mills and laid off 30 workers until the pellets start moving again. “Demand has dried up,” he says.
As with ethanol, skyrocketing fuel prices powered massive speculation in wood pellets, followed by subsidized construction and overcapacity. European Union nations required by law to find new sources of “carbon neutral” energy have been burning more pellets and less coal in their power plants, importing millions of dollars worth of pellets from the U.S. each week. The European market has justified the construction of huge new pellet plants in the Southeast, where production has grown by a factor of 10 over the past five years. But it’s a long road from Central Oregon to Europe.
The market in Oregon has been fickle. Sharron says 2008 was his best year ever, but 2009 was his worst. The state has tried to intervene by offering tax credits for pellet stoves and paying to convert schools to pellet fuel. “We’re trying to take a responsible and efficient approach to growing this demand,” says Matt Krumenauer, a senior policy advisor for the Oregon Department of Energy.
Whether they can grow enough demand to sell 80,000 new tons per year of wood pellets remains to be seen. Mark Stapleton, president of Pacific Pellet, says he is confident the market for pellet stoves will rebound and grow. “We’re not trying to displace anybody,” he says. “We’re just trying to give the consumer more options.” Ben Jacklet.