What's happening in the forest sector?

The foresters are coming to town

The largest forestry education event in the country, the Society of American Foresters National Convention, is coming to Portland next month. This is your chance to rub elbows with some 2,000 forestry leaders from around the country and increase your knowledge on many aspects of forestry that are important in Oregon, the Pacific Northwest and the world.

As a member of the Society of American Foresters board of directors, I’m excited to have the organization’s annual gathering of forest professionals held in my home state this Oct. 3-7. I’m also thrilled OFRI is a co-sponsor of the convention and that nearly all of our staff have gotten involved in some way, including helping to organize a tour and several breakout sessions and producing a new video that will debut during the opening session.

The theme of the convention, which will take place at the Oregon Convention Center, is the intersection of science and policy in forest management. Attendees will be asked to explore how wildland fire policy is influencing forest management decisions, the role of scientists in informing forest policy, and ways to transform state and federal policy into effective natural resource management. You can find a full convention program here.

The convention opens Oct. 3 with technical tours to several locations in the Pacific Northwest, including actively managed Coast Range forests and the site of last year’s Eagle Creek Fire in the Columbia River Gorge. OFRI has also organized a mass timber-themed tour that includes a visit to Freres Lumber Co.’s mass plywood panel plant in Lyons.

That evening, the convention will feature an opening reception in the exhibit hall, where more than 70 exhibitors, including OFRI, will showcase the latest products, technologies and resources for forestry professionals.

The Oct. 4 agenda will include the screening of a new OFRI video that showcases the pride of Oregon’s forest sector, from landowners to wildlife biologists. Oregon State Forester Peter Daugherty will also give the convention’s keynote address on forest policy and forest management.

That same day, OFRI’s contract wildlife biologist, Fran Cafferata Coe, and OFRI Senior Manager of Forestry Education Julie Woodward will lead a special session titled “Forest Management and Wildlife in Working Forests: Lessons from the Pacific Northwest.”

On Oct. 5, Julie has also organized a series of sessions titled “Connecting Students, Schools, Colleges and the Forest Sector” for high school forestry teachers, 50 of whom OFRI is sponsoring to attend the convention. A concurrent session titled “Critical Pathways in Forestry Education” was developed by OFRI Director of K-12 Programs Norie Dimeo-Ediger and Environmental Educator Rikki Heath for forestry professionals who want to work with schools and students.

The convention concludes on Sunday, Oct. 7, with two more tours highlighting forestry in the urban landscape and forest habitat conservation plans.

Even though it’s coming up soon, it’s not too late to register for the convention. We hope you can join us for some or all it.

For the forest,

Mike Cloughesy

Director of Forestry




Engaging forest landowners in reducing fire danger

With smoke from wildfires filling the air over much of Oregon for weeks this summer, many people are asking what can be done to prevent the large, intense forest fires we’ve seen this fire season and in previous years, across the state and throughout the western U.S. Part of the answer lies in active forest management to reduce the fuels for fires and improve the overall fire resiliency of our forests, especially those located in the drier region of the state east of the Cascades.

Since many of the individuals and families who own forestland in this part of Oregon lack the technical expertise needed to take steps that reduce the danger of a catastrophic wildfire on their properties, OFRI’s Landowner Education program is involved in a few collaborative projects that reach out to private landowners to engage them in active forest management.

Such “All-lands” projects, which involve multiple landowners, public agencies and partners representing a range of different forest ownerships, are increasingly common. My involvement in these types of projects came about through my association with the American Forest Foundation, an organization that helps family forest landowners care for their forests. AFF is coordinating several conservation projects throughout the West that focus on reaching out to private landowners to get them involved in active forest management.

My Blue Mountains Woodland website screencap

In Oregon, these include My Blue Mountains Woodland, the original AFF-coordinated western outreach project. MBMW focuses on the northeast Oregon counties of Baker, Umatilla, Union and Wallowa. Partners include AFF, OFRI, Wallowa Resources, Oregon State University Extension, the Oregon Department of Forestry, Wallowa-Whitman National Forest and the Natural Resources Conservation Service. This project began with funding forest restoration on private lands adjacent to the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest, but has since expanded to reach out to unengaged private landowners throughout northeast Oregon, to encourage them to actively manage their forests. Landowners are invited to receive publications, join networks and have a professional forester visit and assess their property.

Two other landowner outreach projects modeled after MBMW that have been launched in Oregon are My Southern Oregon Woodlands, which focuses on the unique landscape and landowners in Jackson, Josephine and southern Douglas counties, and the Chiloquin Community Forest and Fire Project, which  is based in Klamath County around the town of Chiloquin. OFRI’s role in these projects has been providing publications, helping fund development and mailing of outreach materials, supporting project coordination, and serving on the project advisory committees.

We are proud to be part of the teams that are making a difference on private forestlands in Oregon. With the state experiencing worsening fire seasons, collaborative programs like these will help make our forests more resilient to wildfire across the landscape.

For the forest,

Mike Cloughesy

Director of Forestry

From the “Silicon Forest” to Oregon’s forests

OFRI Executive Director Erin Isselmann, center, joins OFRI board chairman Quincy Powers, left, and Giustina Resources' Pete Sikora, right, on a forest tour near Eugene. 

My first month as the new executive director of the Oregon Forest Resources Institute has been a whirlwind of meetings, introductions and getting up to speed on Oregon’s forest sector. There has been a lot to learn. It is a completely new world to me.

I come to OFRI with more than 20 years of experience in marketing and communications, primarily in the high-tech industry. I began my career in Oregon at a company called Tektronix, which many consider the founder of the Portland metro area’s “Silicon Forest” of tech companies. At that time, my focus was on a little-known, Oregon-developed printing technology called solid ink. Our mission was to raise awareness about this new color printing technology and speed up the transition from black-and-white to color printing. We did such a great job that in January 2000, the color printing division of Tektronix was acquired by Xerox Corporation, and I started working for them.

Xerox provided me with great opportunities to grow my skills and experience in areas such as global public relations, corporate website marketing and forming the company’s first social marketing practice.  Now I have the opportunity to use my expertise at OFRI to guide the public education and awareness effort for one of Oregon’s most valuable resources and treasures: our forests.  

In my short time as OFRI’s executive director, I have met some wonderful people who care deeply about forestry in Oregon. They include landowners, foresters, loggers and mill workers. Each and every person I have met has a deep personal connection and commitment to the stewardship of Oregon’s forests, and the protection of wildlife and clean water. That dedication and alignment to sustainable forest practices, across the sector, sets this industry apart. I’m looking forward to helping share that story in Oregon and beyond.

Erin Isselmann

Executive Director  

Mass timber at OSU – slowed but undaunted

The newly completed lobby of First Tech Federal Credit Union's Pacific Northwest corporate office in Hillsboro. The 156,000-square-foot cross-laminated timber (CLT) building is among a growing number of commercial structures being built with CLT in Oregon. 

Oregon State University’s foray into mass timber hit a speed bump this spring, but construction of a signature building using innovative wood products technology is back on track and scheduled for completion in the fall of 2019.

On March 14, a cross-laminated timber (CLT) panel installed at Peavy Hall, the future home of the OSU College of Forestry in Corvallis, delaminated; two of the seven layers of lumber that made up the panel fell to the ground. No one was hurt, and all parties involved in the incident did the right thing.

OSU stopped construction on the two-building project, officially called the Oregon Forest Science Complex, and hired an engineering firm to analyze the structure for any other potential failures.

The manufacturer, Riddle, Ore.-based D.R. Johnson, investigated its role. Turns out there was an unauthorized change to the production protocols for a short period of time at the facility where lumber is glued together in alternating directions to create the CLT panels. This resulted in the production of some panels with weak adhesive bonds. Engineers zeroed in on the problem and corrected it. To be safe, the project’s general contractor then identified all panels that might have been affected, and is now completing the process of replacing them before moving ahead with construction. Problem solved.

Is this a major hurdle in the rapid adoption of CLT and other advanced wood products in commercial construction, or a minor hiccup? Actually, it’s whatever falls below a minor hiccup. When this event occurred, virtually everyone involved in the production and use of CLT and other advanced wood products heard about it. In the five months since, those same people have been moving forward, undeterred. Defects happen. They get corrected, and life moves on.

You might think the manufacturer’s customers would be taken aback by the incident. But, again, not the case. They’re still running two shifts at the plant and filling an order sheet that stretches through next spring, shipping panels to customers up and down the West Coast.

Some thought developers and builders would be hesitant, but they too are undaunted. Today there are at least five large new buildings being constructed in the Portland area using CLT as part of the structural system. At least a half-dozen more are in the planning stage and very likely to be built. Quite a few others are underway in California and Washington, and plenty more across the country.

In April, at the International Code Council’s Committee Action Hearings, 14 proposed amendments to the International Building Code – which collectively would allow for much larger and taller wood buildings – passed overwhelmingly. During the hearing those opposed to the amendments could have cited the Peavy Hall incident as a reason to vote the proposals down, but they didn’t. Likely, they too understood that manufacturing defects can occur with any product.

In recent months, Oregon-based Freres Lumber Co. opened a new manufacturing plant in Lyons that makes mass timber panels using wood veneer, the raw material that goes into plywood. The facility earned its PRG-320 certification last month, allowing it to begin marketing panels for structural use in similar applications as CLT.

At least five other U.S. mass timber plants, including two in eastern Washington (one in Colville and the other in the Spokane Valley) have broken ground.

The excitement around CLT and other advanced wood products is palpable, and it’s easy to see why. General contractor Swinerton recently handed over the keys to First Tech Federal Credit Union for their new Pacific Northwest corporate offices, a 156,000-square-foot CLT building in Hillsboro. The project was completed four months faster and 4 percent less expensively than it would have been had the team gone with a structural steel system, as was originally conceived. The architect on that project, Hacker’s Scott Barton-Smith, offered up a number of reasons architects and clients alike are jazzed about mass timber:

- By code, it must meet the same fire and seismic requirements as concrete and steel.

- It’s an elegant building solution that serves as the structure, fireproofing and finish, all in one.

- Wood has better aesthetics than fireproofed steel, including a warm, natural feel.

- Mass timber construction helps attract and retain the best staff by creating a distinctive work environment.

- Projects finish faster than conventional construction, and can be less expensive in comparison to constructing the same building with steel or concrete.

- Mass timber offers a structural solution that supports local industry and rural economies.

- Wood construction is sustainable. It’s a renewable resource that comes from sustainably managed forests here in Oregon. Wood stores carbon and requires less energy to produce than steel or concrete.

Many building owners, developers, architects and contractors are coming to these same conclusions. On August 1, the Oregon Building Codes Division made it much easier for all of them to use advanced wood products by publishing a Statewide Alternative Method (SAM) for building wood structures in Oregon up to 18 stories and 270 feet tall. That SAM, which took effect immediately, provides a prescriptive path for permitting that does not exist in any other state. That will make it easier for developers to achieve greater value in their projects using wood. It will go a long way toward accelerating the momentum of the growing mass timber movement.

There may be a few blips along the way, but it’s certain that Oregon will see a lot more wood buildings going up in the coming months and years. And for many good reasons.

Timm Locke

Director of Forest Products

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