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American Tree Farm System Certification has Perks for Idaho Forest Group Suppliers

By Community, News, Uncategorized

Written by Madeline Bodin This article is reprinted from the Summer 2019 edition of Woodland Magazine with permission from the American Forest Foundation   Caude Burlingame has no problem identifying any tree on his roughly 300 acres of forested land scattered throughout four parcels in the northwest corner of Montana. “If a tree is dying, I can figure out why.” His goal as a Tree Farmer is to leave his land in better shape than he found it. Even though he has a deep knowledge of trees and how to manage them, a stand of trees on land he purchased recently had him baffled. He was particularly concerned about the grand firs there, which were being attacked by beetles. “This was a distressed property,” Burlingame said. “It had been logged a couple of times in the last 20 to 30 years and was kind of junky. I didn’t know if I could find a logger interested, because there was not enough profit. As a landowner, I just wanted it cleaned up.” Burlingame had started working with Idaho Forest Group (IFG), a Coeur d’Alene, ID-based lumber company, when he harvested trees on one of his properties just a few miles from the Idaho border. IFG foresters Russ Hegedus and Skyler Hoefer had been helpful in the past, so he turned to them again for advice. Hegedus and Hoefer were happy to help Burlingame figure out how to improve the trees on the new property. They, like Burlingame, are thinking about the future, with a common goal…

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Timber Industry Faces Shortage of Log Truckers

By Community, News

From The Forestry Source, August 2019. © 2019, The Society of American Foresters   Timber Industry Faces Shortage of Log Truckers   By Steve Wilent The first item listed in the Forest Resources Association’s June 27 Southcentral and Southeastern Regions Activity Report was startling: “It is estimated that the truck driver shortage is resulting in a 10% to 15% loss of logging production currently. Multiple industries compete for drivers, and good, reliable trucking is very expensive.” Rick Meyer, Appalachian and southwide regions manager for the association, said that the production- loss figures are anecdotal, but very real. “I would say that just about every logging or trucking contractor that I’ve talked with who has, say, five trucks or more, has had at least one of those trucks idled at one time or another over the past year due to the driver shortage,” Meyer said. “For the majority of our members all across the country, trucking challenges are their number one issue by far, both from the logging end and probably from the mill as well.” The shortage of drivers in the US is affecting all industries that rely on trucking. A March 2, 2019, article in Fortune, “America’s Trucker Shortage Is About to Hit Consumers Where It Hurts,” notes that US companies “are sounding the alarm that higher freight fees could be passed on to consumers of everything from Crest toothpaste to Arm & Hammer cat litter to My Little Pony figurines. And it’s all because transport companies can’t find drivers.” In the forest-products industry,…

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October 22 – 26, 2019 is Forest Products Week

By Community, News

OCTOBER 22-26, 2019 IS IDAHO FOREST PRODUCTS WEEK IDAHO – (October 11, 2019) Governor Brad Little has formally proclaimed the week of October 22-26, 2019 to be Idaho Forest Products Week. “The Idaho Forest Products Industry plays an essential part of the state’s history, culture, environment and economy,” said Governor Little. “It also plays an essential role as a fundamental industry to the State of Idaho, providing for the production of wood and paper products from Idaho forests.” Idaho has 21.5 million acres of forest land spanning from the Canadian border to the southern edge of the state. Over 40% of Idaho is covered in trees. Idaho’s forest sector is one of Idaho’s leading trade sectors, contributing more than $2 billion to the state’s gross and state product, providing 30,000 jobs, and generating more than $3 billion in sales and $25 million in tax revenue. “Sustainable forest management under the Idaho Forest Practices Act provides countless benefits, including clean air and water, fish and wildlife habitat, recreation, scenic beauty, local renewable energy, forest products used by Idahoans every day, and employment and tax revenue for local communities, counties and the state of Idaho,” said Little. Wood is widely recognized as renewable, recyclable, durable, versatile and energy efficient green building materials. Products from sustainably managed forests play a critical role in combating climate change due to natural process of photosynthesis where trees absorb carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, release oxygen into the atmosphere and capture carbon, which is stored in wood products for the life of…

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Shared Stewardship, forest, state

Federal–State “Shared Stewardship” Strategy Takes Hold

By Community, News
By Steve Wilent On May 8, Washington State became the second state to sign a “shared stewardship” memorandum of understanding (MOU) agreement with the US Forest Service. The MOU calls for the state and the Forest Service “to work collaboratively toward mutual goals and effectively respond to the increasing suite of challenges facing communities, landscapes, and natural resources across the state. The partnership will work together to improve forest health—a cornerstone of clean water and abundant wildlife habitat—and create exceptional recreational and outdoor opportunities across the state,” according to a joint announcement. “Wildfire, forest health, and habitat loss are not issues that respect property lines,” said Washington commissioner of public lands Hilary Franz. “To truly tackle our wildfire and forest health crisis, at the pace and scale this crisis demands, we need a strong partnership between Washington State and the USDA Forest Service. This agreement ensures that our response will be unified, well-coordinated, and deliver maximum benefit for the people.” Idaho was the first state to enter into a shared stewardship agreement with the Forest Service. On May 8, 2019, Hilary Franz, Washington State’s commissioner of public lands, announces the signing of a shared stewardship memorandum of understanding between the state and the US Forest Service (USFS), calling it a model for other states to follow. USFS Chief Vicki Christiansen looks on. Photo: Washington Department of Natural Resources. “By pooling resources, sharing expertise and making decisions together, the State of Idaho and the Forest Service can get more work done in our forests to protect...
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Bringing the St. Regis Mill into the Family

By Community, News

Idaho Forest Group acquired the St. Regis (MT) mill in December 2017. The mill was old and outdated, but a hidden gem. With commitment, hard work, and heart from managers and employees around the company, St. Regis has made impressive strides improving organization, efficiency, and safety. IFG has a strong and unwavering commitment to safety at our mills, physically making sure operations are safe and training team members in protocols to prevent and deal with accidents, should they happen. Our first project was ensuring the St. Regis mill was safe for IFG employees. The mill has also been transformed to improve workflow and efficiency. For example, 6 million board feet of log decks were mixed-species when IFG came in. Those logs have now been sorted by species. A sprinkler system that uses water from a recirculation pond is being constructed to catch and reuse irrigation water. The team identified outdated and inefficient machinery, redesigned log flow, and purchased new equipment to improve output. Next, we’ll be changing the mill from a 9’ multiple mill to an 8’ mill to meet growing demand from the home center market. We are grateful to the community of St. Regis for a warm welcome and hope to continue to make progress on projects that will improve quality of life around the mill, like those we’ve already completed to reduce emissions, mitigate dust, and start a new apprenticeship program for residents.

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Log Truck Drivers Needed

By Community, News

Manufacturing lumber involves a lot more than just milling wood. It involves sourcing logs, transporting the logs, manufacturing products, finding suitable markets, and transporting the products to the markets. All of these tasks require people to do the work. A labor shortage has become a major concern for many industries in the U.S. and truck driver positions are one of the most common jobs to go unfilled. According to the American Trucking Association the United States is projected to be short 175,000 truck drivers by 2026.  Log truck driving companies are already feeling the effects of this shortage in Idaho and Montana. Driving a log truck takes experience and special skills beyond those common to CDL licensed drivers. There are few formal training options anywhere in the country, and none located nearby. Schools have typically been underused because they require a significant financial investment and a log truck certification is not generally required to work in the industry. It’s likely, that given this lack of training availability, there are people who are interested in learning about driving a log truck but don’t feel confident in making a commitment (purchase of equipment) without some understanding of what the job entails. In 2018 over 143,000 log trucks delivered logs to Idaho Forest Group’s (IFG) mills.  Timely delivery to mill after the harvest of these logs is crucial to our operations.  Logs that sit at forest sites too long lose value, are attractants for pests, hold up payments to landowners, and are potential fire hazards. As fire threat…

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Prichard Creek Restoration

By Community, News

Idaho Forest Group  always aims to have a positive impact in the communities in which we operate from sponsoring youth sports teams, to volunteering at educational events, to donating to local charities; we invest in our homes.  One of these investments is just starting to take shape, will live on in perpetuity for everyone. In 2014, Idaho Forest Group (IFG) purchased nearly 2,000 acres of the Prichard Creek stream and bordering forestland from a single private landowner. Prichard Creek flows down from the Montana border passing the historic town of Murray and draining into the North Fork of the Coeur d’Alene River. Its entire length once served as cold water refuge from the summer heat, for bull trout and cutthroat trout. Around the turn of the 20th century, the creek was mined for gold using an in-stream floating dredge that removed thousands of tons of sediment from the creek bed and leaving large piles of rocks bordering it. These operations have changed the shape of the creek leaving decreased riparian vegetation, eroding banks, sediment loading into the water, decreased sinuosity, and a three-mile stretch that flows subsurface during the summer months. Prichard’s waters are very cold and have relatively high water quality. Almost all of the North Fork of the Coeur d’Alene River has been impacted by mining and development.  Prichard Creek stands out as “low hanging fruit” in the basin for potential restoration because the water quality is decent, the waters are cold, and it is mostly surrounded by public lands. IFG saw an…

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Shared Stewardship in Idaho

By Community, News

Wildfire isn’t the only threat facing Idaho’s forests. According to the National Insect and Disease Risk Map, Idaho leads the country in the number of treed acres at risk of high rates of mortality from insect and disease by 2027. For every 1 cubic foot of wood harvested, 3 cubic feet die in our forests. High mortality rates lead to reduced carbon sequestration, increased wildfire risk and pose a threat to Idaho’s forest products industry and the jobs it supports in our rural communities. With 6.1 million acres at risk in Idaho, there’s a lot of work to do. In July, Governor Little announced two priority areas, encompassing over 4 million acres. Idaho Forest Group operates within these areas and is committed to supporting individual projects by sharing technology and data, adjusting capacity to meet demand, and lending expertise wherever needed. In December 2018, Idaho signed the nation’s first Shared Stewardship agreement with the U.S. Forest Service, pledging to double the number of acres treated to reduce wildfire risk and improve the health of our ailing forests. The concept of the Shared Stewardship policy is to allow states to define priorities and manage projects across land ownerships, utilizing collaborative decision-making that involves land managers and land users throughout the process. This agreement shaped a collaboration between Idaho Department of Lands and USFS Regions 1 and 4 to reduce fuels and wildfire threats around communities; create and sustain jobs; and improve the health and resiliency of the forest. The Idaho-USFS Shared Stewardship Agreement promises to double the annual acres…

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log truck drivers, help wanted, jobs near me, forestry, timber

Log Truck Drivers Needed

By News

Being a lumber manufacturer takes a lot more than milling wood. It involves sourcing logs, transporting the logs, manufacturing products, finding suitable markets, and transporting the products to the markets. All these roles require people to do the work. A labor shortage has become a major concern for almost all industries in the United States and truck drivers are one of the positions most unfilled. According to the American Trucking Association the United States is projected to be short 175,000 truck drivers by 2026. Log truck driving companies are facing the same challenge. Driving a log truck takes experience and special skills beyond that of a common CDL licensed driver and there are limited venues for developing these skills around the country, with none currently nearby. Schools have typically been underused because they require a significant financial investment and a log truck certification is not generally required to work. It likely remains that there are people interested in learning about driving a log truck who don’t feel confident in making a commitment without some understanding of what the job entails. In 2018 over 143,000 log trucks delivered logs to Idaho Forest Group’s (IFG) mills. Timely delivery to mill after the harvest of these logs is crucial to our operations. Logs that sit at forest sites too long lose value, are attractants for pests, hold up payments to landowners, and are potential fire hazards. As fire threat increases in the region, the recognition of this threat also grows, bringing with it more landowners wanting to manage…

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