Summer Surprise

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A number of forest analysts were projecting that while we are in midst of a long period of strengthening lumber markets, prices could fade this summer due to increasing production on both sides of the border. The 20% jump year-over-year in U.S. housing starts experienced in Q1 was widely explained by the mild winter compared to 2015. While no one projects another 20% jump in starts this year, homebuilding activity continues to grind forward. Demand for lumber has been surprisingly strong through mid-August. Notably, the Framing Lumber Composite Price is up almost 20% since the Softwood Lumber Agreement expired last October.

The positive correlation illustrated below suggests the “surge” in cross-border shipments during the standstill period to date is largely demand-driven. The chart plots B.C. softwood exports to the U.S. per BCStats vs. the Framing Lumber Composite Price by month per Random Lengths (most recent data for softwood shipments…

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Forgotten Characters from Forest History: Rusty Scrapiron

Peeling Back the Bark

Everyone knows Smokey Bear, Woodsy Owl, and maybe even Ranger Rick Raccoon, but there are many other forest and forestry-related fictional characters that long ago fell by the wayside. Peeling Back the Bark‘s series on “Forgotten Characters from Forest History” continues with Part 18, in which we examine Rusty Scrapiron.

This year marks the 75th anniversary of Keep Oregon Green, a statewide fire prevention program formed in May 1941 by Oregon Governor Charles Sprague and 250 state leaders who sought to replicate a similar program started in Washington the previous year. The purpose of Keep Oregon Green was to get the general public to embrace forest fire prevention, and in the decades that followed a massive publicity effort blanketed the state. One key component of the Keep Green campaign was the artwork found on posters, illustrations in various publications, and other promotional items. In Oregon, the artist…

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Searching for Lumber Man

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Volatility that characterizes global financial market activity seems less pronounced in North American lumber markets these days. While winter weather contributes to a pause this week in especially Northeastern jobsite activity, there is evidence of general price support as reflected in mill order files. Despite unseasonably active markets, the Framing Lumber Composite Price has drifted sideways since the October 12th expiry of the SLA ($311 Oct 13 vs $313 today). A weak Canadian dollar has so far helped keep a lid on significant US price increases.  Dealer hand-to-mouth buying patterns and pressure on timely deliveries also suggest the memory of last year’s market collapse still lingers.

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In keeping with the preservation of old growth timber these days, now comes word Random Lengths is searching for the industry’s oldest active lumber trader. According to Random Lengths, candidates “must work full time in the U.S. or Canada, and spend at least…

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Forgotten Characters from Forest History: Turp and Tine

Peeling Back the Bark

Everyone knows Smokey Bear, Woodsy Owl, and maybe even Ranger Rick Raccoon, but there are many other forest and forestry-related fictional characters that long ago fell by the wayside. Peeling Back the Bark‘s series on “Forgotten Characters from Forest History” continues with Part 17, in which we examine Turp and Tine.

The annals of classic cartoon duos are packed with famous forest-dwelling characters who worked together such as Rocky and Bullwinkle, Chip ‘n’ Dale, Yogi and Boo Boo, and many others. Venture deep enough into the recesses of cartoon history and you’ll also find the classic forgotten forest history character duo of Turp and Tine.

Turp and Tine

Who were these simple painters who transformed an industry? Well the story of Turp and Tine has its beginnings over a century ago with the Hercules Powder Company.  A division of DuPont, Hercules became an independent company in 1912 after a…

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The Saga of Miss American Green Cross

Peeling Back the Bark

This weekend a winner will be crowned at the 89th Miss America Pageant in Atlantic City. While we wish all the ladies luck, here at Peeling Back the Bark World Headquarters our favorite Miss America will undoubtedly remain one woman born all the way back in 1928.Miss America Green Cross

Miss American Green Cross, as she is known, was unveiled in Glendale, California, 87 years ago. Posing against the backdrop of a cross, her striking figure appeared with her arms outstretched in a call to save America’s trees. But who was this woman and where did she come from? To fully understand her story we need to go back a few more years to the origins of the American Reforestation Association.

American Reforestation Association logoThe early 1920s was a time of growing concerns over dwindling forest resources in the United States. In response to this perceived crisis, the American Reforestation Association was incorporated in Los Angeles…

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How Oregon Rivers Carried Millions Of Trees Into Production

How Oregon Rivers Carried Millions Of Trees Into Production . News | OPB.

Around the same time famed photographer Carelton Watkins first captured the Columbia River Gorge with his traveling darkroom, on the south fork of the Coos River in southwest Oregon a large dam helped fuel Oregon’s burgeoning timber industry.

The Tioga Dam was the largest splash dam in the Northwest. It was the first of what would grow to become 230 splash dams throughout western Oregon.

Let’s start big picture. From 1849-1924, Oregon produced over 47 billion board feet of lumber production, most of it hauled out on rivers. For context, trucks carried about 4 billion board feet lumber out of the woods on forest roads in 2014.

The Tioga Dam on the South Coos River towered 52 feet high and 200 feet wide.

Stephen Dow Beckham

In the past, ax men would cut down the towering trees and guide them into flooded rivers, which were controlled by splash dams. When ready, the splash dams opened and the wood rushed down in log drives. Workers would use dynamite to carve out natural objects in the way and clear backed up trees.

The river could carried off around a million board feet of timber in a single drive.

Oregon’s years of log drives ended with the Tioga, as the last standing splash dam in Oregon. Under pressure from the state and landowners, it closed in 1957. Workers burned it down in a night.

Many of the rivers changed by the log drives have healed over the past 70 years. But there are some lingering challenges.

Oregon Field Guide explores this history and what means now for some rivers in Oregon

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7/31/1865: Austin Cary, the Father of Southern Forestry, Born

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Austin Cary, one of the great unsung heroes of American forestry, was born this date in 1865 in East Machias, Maine. A Yankee through and through, he found professional success in the South, eventually becoming known as the “Father of Southern Forestry.” In 1961, twenty-five years after Cary’s passing, his biographer Roy R. White wrote of him:

In contrast with his more renowned contemporaries, Austin Cary was an obscure logging engineer in the Forest Service. Yet the story of the life and work of this latter-day Johnny Appleseed has reached legendary proportions in the southern pine country. Cary, a New England Yankee, dedicated himself to the awesome task of bringing forestry and conservation to a region reluctant to accept, and ill-equipped to practice, these innovations. His success places him in the forefront of noted American foresters and his character warrants a position peculiarly his own.

What makes Cary an intriguing…

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