What's happening in the forest sector?

Taking a closer look at timber harvesting

Most Oregonians are familiar with timber harvesting. We see log trucks going to mills to produce forest products we use in our daily lives. Many of us realize that timber harvest is important to Oregon. It sustains jobs that are important to our rural communities.

However, fewer people know why and how timber is harvested on different forest types and different ownerships.

OFRI’s latest special report, Not So Clear-Cut, sheds light on why timber harvests vary in Oregon. The report documents how different forest owners have different management objectives and how forests and tree species growing in different parts of the state respond to management differently. Among the timber harvest methods the report discusses are clearcutting on industrial forestland in western Oregon, restoration thinning on a national forest in central Oregon and variable-retention harvest on Bureau of Land Management land in southwest Oregon.

The new report also highlights the forest laws that govern timber harvests in the state and the role of forest certification systems in documenting the sustainability of timber harvesting.

To accompany the report, OFRI produced three new short videos that offer insight on different timber harvest methods:

Enjoy these new resources and please share them with others. Oregon is one of the best places in the world for growing trees to produce timber for wood products, and fortunately there are a range of options available to meet landowner objectives.

For the forest,

Mike Cloughesy

Director of Forestry


Affordable housing available by the night?

Sometimes an answer to a vexing problem is right under our nose.

Lendlease, a worldwide development company, recently held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the country’s first all-cross-laminated-timber hotel, the new Candlewood Suites on Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Ala.

I’ve heard Lendlease representatives speak about this project more than once. Last November at the Mass Timber Research Workshop in Madison, Wis., what struck me is that Lendlease chose CLT for its superior blast protection, which makes sense since the hotel is on a U.S. military base. At the Mass Timber Conference in Portland, I was even more impressed by the cost comparisons between CLT construction and the steel construction Lendlease traditionally has used. The savings were significant compared to the typical military-base hotel project. By using CLT, Lendlease was able to build the structure for a 14 percent larger hotel in 37 percent fewer days, using 43 percent fewer employees and 44 percent fewer labor hours. Use of CLT shaved a full three months off the normal 15-month overall schedule. That savings in labor and construction time can add up to real dollar savings. The savings in interest alone on a construction loan is likely to be in the tens of thousands.

That’s especially pertinent since the perception of added cost is one of the concerns that development teams here in the Pacific Northwest have raised about adopting CLT and mass timber construction in a bigger way.

While Lendlease’s news is great, it’s not what prompted this blog. An idea came to me the other afternoon as I walked down the street in downtown Portland. I encountered an obviously homeless woman and her roughly 10-year-old child sitting on a sidewalk panhandling for donations so they could get a motel room for the night.

My mind went immediately to that Lendlease project. I thought, it’s not a huge leap to go from a hotel to a shelter that could house the homeless folks who are resorting to pitching tents on sidewalks and any other open space they can find. Then I thought, wouldn’t that be something if right in the heart of the best place in the world to grow trees, we somehow manage to find a way to shelter those among us who really need it – with wood?

I’m no expert on the causes and solutions related to the homeless problem. What I do know is that a primary reason we manage forests in this country is to provide the building materials we use to build the structures we live, work and play in. And I know many social services experts tout “Housing First,” the concept that the way to solve homelessness is first to provide the homeless a place to live. This is typically combined with supportive treatment services for mental illness, addiction and other underlying causes of homelessness.

Thanks to Lendlease, I also now know wood buildings designed to provide shelter for large numbers of people at a time, such as hotels, can be built less expensively than building those same structures in other ways. That prompts this question: If Lendlease can build a hotel with CLT and do so cost-efficiently, couldn’t we do the same thing for Portland’s homeless populations? The list of people interested in helping might surprise us.

Timm Locke
Director of Forest Products

Computer-aided forest management

Forestry has increasingly become high-tech, and one of my favorite things is to discover one of the new high-tech forestry tools available to make our work easier, more interesting and more effective.

An esteemed colleague shared with me an article published by Washington State University that highlights one of the coolest tools yet. WSU researchers Nikolay Strigul and Jean Lienard have created a computer simulation that models forests down to leaves, branches and roots of individual trees. They are using the model to understand how forests respond to climate change, including drought, warmer temperatures and increased wildfire activity.

The model uses a mixture of data from the U.S. Forest Service’s Forest Inventory and Analysis Program and aerial photos from drones to develop 3-D models of forests that are very realistic. The photo below shows real trees on the right and simulated trees on the left:


The modeling program is named LES, after the Russian word for forest. The advantage of using a very realistic model such as LES is that it can “grow” forests for several decades to examine the effects of drought, climate change and wildfire. LES is unique because it can grow both the canopies of trees and their root systems. The program also follows individual trees as they grow and respond to different situations.

Foresters have used visualization software such as Stand Visualization Software, or SVS, for many years to generate images showing stand conditions with a list of individual components, including trees, shrubs and down material (example SVS image 67k). The images produced by SVS, while abstract, provide a readily understood representation of stand conditions.

Foresters also have been combining SVS images with forest growth models such as a Forest Vegetation Simulator, or FVS, to simulate and graphically show how forests change over time.

I think LES takes forest visualization and growth to a new level by combining both root and canopy growth with realistic images. LES should be able to give accurate growth estimates in a variety of scenarios and provide extremely realistic images of the forest, which will make it an excellent communication tool.

My March blog was about using visual management tools to make forest harvest more visually appealing. I believe LES could easily be developed into a visual management tool. Go Cougs!

For the Forest,

Mike Cloughesy
Director of Forestry

Busy times for mass timber

Is there any doubt that the Pacific Northwest, and specifically Portland, is the epicenter for innovative wood building?

Last month the Wood Products Council announced its 2016 Wood Design Awards, which recognize innovation in wood architecture and construction, and more than half of the nine national winners are located in the Northwest. Four of the five Northwest winners are located in Oregon – one in Bend and three in the Portland area.

Perhaps most intriguing is that one of the winning projects, which earned the Institutional Wood Design Award, is Fire Station 76 in Gresham. That’s right. The men and women whose job it is to fight fires are perfectly comfortable spending their working hours (which involve 24-hour shifts) in a wood building. Isn’t that ironic?

Other Oregon winners include the Unitarian Universal Fellowship of Central Oregon (Bend), which won a Green Building by Design Award; The Radiator (Portland), a winner in the Multi-Story Wood Design category; and Framework (Portland), which won an award in the Commercial Wood Design category. These last two winners also happen to be featured on the mass timber buildings tour scheduled March 22 in connection with the Mass Timber Conference later in the month.

Also last month, Portland firms LEVER Architecture and Reworks celebrated their first use of domestically produced CLT in a building-wide structural system with an event that attracted both of Oregon’s U.S. along with nearly 100 others. Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley traded opportunities to tout mass timber’s contributions to green building and carbon sequestration, along with rural economic development for Oregon.

As if that all wasn’t enough for one month, Oregon State University announced it has received a grant of nearly half a million dollars from the U.S. Economic Development Administration to help it jump-start product performance testing for advanced wood products at the new National Center of Excellence for Advanced Wood Products Manufacturing and Design. The center is a collaborative effort between OSU and the University of Oregon and is housed on OSU’s main campus in Corvallis.

To top things off, Newsweek focused attention on Portland’s role in the tall wood building movement with an article, Wooden Buildings as Strong as Steel. The article appeared online February 20 and also found its way into the print version of the national-news weekly.

With this month’s Mass Timber Conference continuing the momentum and excitement surrounding wood building innovation, April now has a lot to live up to.    

Timm Locke

Director of Forest Products


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