logging

The debate is beginning once again over endangered species habitat and county budgets in Oregon.

On Friday the Bureau of Land management released draft options to manage its public forests.

Timber interests and environmental groups are gearing up for a multi-year fight over how federal forests are managed in Washington, Oregon and Northern California.

The Northwest Forest Plan is now 20 years old and due for an update, according to the US Forest Service.

Ever since residents in a Southern Oregon community near Gold Beach claimed weed killer sprayed from a helicopter poisoned them in late 2013, the Eugene-based environmental group Beyond Toxics has been pushing hard for stricter rules governing aerial spraying.

Now it has company.

Flickr Photo/Forest History Society

Duff. Fish wheel. Skid Road.

Long butt.

Few of us here know the Northwest words listed in the Dictionary of American Regional English because they harken to a time when fishing and logging reigned in Washington state – when skookum described a tough, hardworking guy and Skid Road was a street in downtown Seattle where logs were sledded down to the waterfront.

Federal timber payments to counties in the Pacific Northwest may be a thing of the past, after funding failed to make it into a Congressional spending bill this week.

For the past century, when timber was logged on federal land, the county where that land was located would get a cut of the profits. The reason: counties couldn’t collect property taxes on federal lands, yet still had to provide services there.

Courtesy of King County Sheriff's Office

State officials adopted a more cautious approach to logging near landslide-prone slopes on Wednesday.

The adoption of new, voluntary guidelines came in response to the Oso landslide that killed 43 people in March.  

Washington Department of Natural Resources

Washington State officials announced new restrictions on logging near landslide zones Friday afternoon.

The change in policy comes six weeks after a landslide near the town of Oso killed at least 41 people.

Courtesy Washington Forest Law Center

Washington state officials have postponed selling 250 acres of timber on steep slopes near the town of Oso.

Flickr Photo/Diana Lofflin, DNR (CC BY-NC-ND)

It's not unusual for elected officials to cozy up to people with money. Yet Washington Lands Commissioner Peter Goldmark's relationship with the timber industry he regulates has changed dramatically since the two-term Democrat first ran for the office six years ago.

Scientists at Oregon State University may have discovered a new high-tech use for the state’s abundant forests: the trees could play a big role in making energy storage devices.

It's the cellulose found in trees that scientists have zeroed in on. That cellulose could be a key component in something called supercapacitors.

Supercapacitors are high-power energy devices with applications ranging from electronics to cars, aviation to alternative energy.

KUOW Photo/John Ryan

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story stated that land above the Oso landslide zone was logged in 2005. The site was logged in 2004 and replanted in 2005.

Seattle just wrapped up its wettest March on record, with 9.4 inches of rain reported at Sea-Tac International Airport. 

Geologists say near-record rain in the Cascade foothills was key in triggering the fatal landslide near the town of Oso, Wash., on March 22. But they say clear-cutting nearby could also have worsened the risk of the hillside collapsing.

Courtesy of WSDOT / Bill McMillan

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story stated that land above the Oso landslide zone was logged in 2005. The site was logged in 2004 and replanted in 2005.

Saturday's deadly slide was the latest in a long string of landslides to hit the area known as the Hazel or Oso slide along the North Fork Stillaguamish River.

State and tribal officials have known about and tried to block landslides on that spot for half a century.