Industry News – September 2001: Colorado Congressman is Urging the Bush Administration to Appoint a National Fire Czar

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A Colorado congressman is urging the Bush administration to appoint a national fire czar to oversee wildfire firefighting operations. Rep. Scott McInnis, a Republican who chairs a House subcommittee on forests, suggested the government create a post that would oversee policies for managing wildfires.

A host of different agencies in the Interior and Agriculture departments handle wildfires. “What I think the agencies need to do is figure how they will unify their forces,” said McInnis.

Southern pine beetles, which already have infested pine forests in eastern Kentucky, are moving westward across the state. An outbreak has been reported in the 14,700-acre Pennyrile State Forest, about a third of which is pine trees.

In eastern Kentucky, the beetles have killed up to 90% of the pine trees in the Daniel Boone National Forest.

CSA International has launched a new forest products marking program. It was developed in response to the growing market demand for products from well-managed forests. The new CSA program tracks products from the forest through phases of ownership, transportation and transformation prior to reaching the consumer. Qualified forest products will be identified by a new version of the CSA mark called the CSA Sustainable Forest Management Mark indicating that they originated from a certified forest.

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A company planning a massive $900 million paper mill in northern Alberta will miss the deadline to file an environmental impact assessment plan.

Grande Alberta Paper was granted a year-long extension in the summer of 2000 to file environmental plans for the light-weight coated paper mill outside Grand Prairie.

“We won’t have an environmental review done” on time, said GAP chairman Jim Hole. The company is seeking to renegotiate terms of an agreement with province officials.

Willamette reportedly has undertaken a major renovation of its pulp and paper mill in Kingsport, Tenn. The new, ‘world-class’ mill is expected to come on-line in October 2002.

The company apparently will totally rebuild the mill, tripling capacity to 1,200 tons per day. A new fine paper machine will produce printing and writing paper as well as offset and copy paper.

One report noted Willamette’s recent major capital investments and speculated that building to increase volume while the market is soft will position the company ahead of competitors, increasing sales potential when demand improves and prices recover.

Georgia-Pacific completed the sale of a portion of its pulp and paper assets to Domtar for $1.65 billion. Proceeds from the sale will be used to repay debt. Georgia-Pacific sold stand-alone uncoated fine paper mills in Ashdown, Ark., Nekoosa and Port Edwards, Wis., and Woodland, Maine, as well as associated pulp facilities. The operations employ about 3,200 people.

The mountain pine beetle, which has destroyed billions of dollars worth of timber in British Columbia, has moved into Alberta. The number of mountain pine beetles in Alberta has more than doubled in the past year, although so far they are mainly limited to a national park in Banff. The infestation has been aided by mild winters and good breeding conditions.Loggers in Newfoundland are facing a reduction in lumber quotas by up to one-third. The province is running out of timber after years of cutting and not replacing trees, according to government figures.

The wood shortage was predicted many years ago after insect infestations in the 1970s killed many of the trees in the province.

Since mid-1995, about 62,400 jobs in the paper industry — paper, pulp, paperboard, containers and converted paper — have been lost. Half the lost jobs have come as companies have closed older facilities.Trex Co. led the decking category in a reader survey by Remodeling magazine. The magazine’s brand leader survey measured the brand most heard of, used in the past two years, and used most overall. Remodeling surveyed 4,800 readers, and 43% responded.

Trex makes composite decking products from wood fiber and recycled plastic.