A guest post from Kevin Matthews:
A substantial body of science shows a general pattern, that when the ecological integrity of a natural ecosystem is degraded, its response curve is non-linear. The state that occurs when the response curve becomes non-linear, such that small additional impacts result in large losses of ecosystem integrity, is sometimes referred to as ecosystem collapse.
One of the scientific bases for why ecosystem collapse tends to catch humans by surprise is pretty interesting with regard to the O&C checkerboard forest lands of western Oregon.
Natural ecosystems tend to be very resilient, accommodating heavy damage and still recovering, up to typically somewhere between 50% and 90% damage. This lulls humans into complacency, to the sense that they can keep taking, and the ecosystem will keep recovering.
Then, somewhere in the range of substantial alteration of from 50% and 90% of habitat area, ecosystem resiliency breaks down. A threshold gets crossed, where things fall apart fast and hard. And in a relatively short time frame, the habitat is changed (loss of soil, hydrology, key species, whatever) so the ecosystem no longer has a viable path to recovery.
The point of collapse is hard to predict because the system responses go rapidly non-linear. Past rates of recovery, however well-researched, become almost instantly irrelevant.
A rough, understated estimate would be that the overall O&C checkerboard is already at 75-80% substantial impact, based on close to 100% impact to the industrial part, and optimistically 60% impact to the BLM part. (Looking just at old growth remnants, 90% or more impacted would be defensible.)
Add in the ongoing impacts due to climate change, and there’s a strong basis to believe the checkerboard forests are hanging on the edge of serious collapse.
Interestingly, much same thing is true for ecosystems overall, viewed at the global scale:
Habitats incorporating giant trees were endemic across the well-watered areas of what is now the U.S., from the Appalachians to the Great Plains, from the Carolinas to Maine to Minnesota. After a few centuries of western expansion, all that remains of those great tree forests is a thin fringe along the western edge of the continent. And this thin fringe is critically endangered.
Time to change our ways.
If we were ecologically realistic, given the heavy impacts on western Oregon forests to date, in order to avoid collapse we might want to plan for significant disturbance to not more than 25% of the checkerboard lands, and that, only in lands heavily disturbed already.
Key questions then would be, how could we make a sustainable level of harvest, contained by that threshold, work for the economics of rural communities? Could we continue needed building construction with the resulting output of sawlogs? Could we maintain a timber culture that we would all be proud of?
Recent calls by Senators and other politicians to increase logging, without addressing these broader and deeper issues, are fundamentally misinformed.
I’d like to see all sides work together in seeking a true balance, based on clear evidence, for forest policy in this new century.
Fortunately for everyone this will be my last post on the concept of “Ecological Integrity”as described in the NFMA Rule. Perhaps unfortunately, not my last post on the planning directives. Other guest posts on the directives are welcome. Wading through the directives was a lonely business, and thanks much to the others on this blog who suffered and shared.
So let’s return to the definition in the regulation of “ecological integrity”:
“The quality or condition of an ecosystem when its dominant ecological characteristics (for example, composition, structure, function, connectivity, and species composition and diversity) occur within the natural range of variation and can withstand and recover from most perturbations imposed by natural environmental dynamics or human influence.”
We have discussed the first part in previous posts, here, here and here… now let’s look at after the “and”:
“can withstand and recover from most perturbations imposed by natural environmental dynamics or human influence.”
Well, that sounds like a good idea. But what “can withstand and recover”? It appears to be the “dominant ecological characteristics” composition, structure and function, species composition and diversity”. That sounds like “everything you can possibly think of.” So everything would have to go back to being the same as it was prior to “most” perturbations. And how is that?
Natural range of variation (NRV). Spatial and temporal variation in ecosystem characteristics under historic disturbance regimes during a reference period. The reference period considered should be sufficiently long to include the full range of variation produced by dominant natural disturbance regimes, often several centuries, for such disturbances as fire and flooding and should also include short-term variation and cycles in climate. “Natural range of variation” (NRV) is a term used synonymously with historic range of variation or range of natural variation. The NRV is a tool for assessing ecological integrity, and does not necessarily constitute a management target or desired condition. The NRV can help identify key structural, functional, compositional, and connectivity characteristics, for which plan components may be important for either maintenance or restoration of such ecological conditions.
But how do we know if something (er.. everything) will “withstand and recover from “most” perturbations?” Who gets to decide what “most” is?
While I thought that the 2000 rule was a full employment program for fire ecologists and historic vegetation ecologists.. this sounds like a full employment program for lawyers and modelers, as well as the fire ecologists and historic vegetation ecologists. I wonder who was sitting around the table or on the phone when this rule was developed, and if there is some correlation between the disciplines of those folks and the disciplines advantaged by this language ?
If we agree that climate change is unprecedented, then with climate change, the past cannot be a predictor of the future.. so we don’t really have any information, not do we have any predictive capability other than modeling. Of course, our climate models are not particularly accurate at the scales we are interested in, and humans are constantly not doing what we assumed they would do when we ran the scenarios in the models.
But for me, all this is a distraction from dealing with real environmental problems of today (dirt in streams, invasive species) and acknowledging that time’s arrow only goes one way. Yet this rule and its directives have us spending time digging up the past (sorry, Bob) and modeling the unmodelable. We simply have no clue about the future at the detail required in this rule.
Before climate change, we used to hear a lot the paraphrase of Haldane “ecosystems are more complex than we think, they are more complex than we can think,” with the sense that we needed to preserve species. Which is fine. But if in fact they are that complex, then what are we doing depending on models over observations today in a regulation?
It’s clear that it is not really about “science”. I like to go back to Michael O’Connell’s warning of 1999 in his testimony here (my italics).
Ecosystems are more complex than we think. There are many complexities at all levels of biological organization that cannot be measured, perceived, or even conceived of, that directly affect the viability of conservation solutions. Science can never provide all the answers to questions about conservation, so the response should be to exercise both caution and prudence when designing answers. Wise solutions don’t necessarily try to compensate for factors that cannot be defined, but at the same time they leave room for them. A good example of this is true adaptive management, where the results of ongoing monitoring are used to adjust the conservation program based on new information and changes in circumstance.
Nature is full of surprises. Ecological systems are characterized by non-linear, non-equilibrium and often seemingly random dynamics. Both unexpected events and unanticipated consequences affect the long term viability of any conservation solution. This uncertainty is a given, and its runs directly counter to the political, social and economic desire for predictability in the outcome of conservation plans. It is better to be forthright in acknowledging that the issue of “no surprises” is not a scientific question of predicting the future, but instead a social question of how to deal with those surprises.
Conservation planning is interdisciplinary, but science is the foundation. Creating a long-term solution for species and the ecosystems on which they depend is a complicated exercise in reconciling social, political, legal, economic and biological factors. But if science must be one of several competing interests in the negotiation instead of the method of evaluating how to reach specified objectives, then conservation outcomes will always be undermined. This raises the critical issue of how to integrate both scientific information and scientists themselves into the planning process.
So let’s take a real world example.. say a ski area. Does having an area suitable for skiing “promote ecological integrity” ? Well, a ski area would be outside the RNV, so that’s out, so we don’t have to go to perturbation. So are we expecting that the next White River Plan revision will be litigated for having ski area suitability and thereby not promoting integrity?
So let’s move on to resilience.. say the climate is warming and drying. You want to thin some ponderosa pine trees so they have enough water to stay healthy and do some fuel reduction. A lower basal area (than in the past historical period you picked for NRV) would be better in terms of resilience to “perturbations” . But as far as the historians tell you, that is not in NRV. So the two requirements for “ecological integrity”, NRV and resilience, could actually be in conflict. (aside: picking a reference period can’t really be “scientific” so this idea of NRV seems like “science” but isn’t really). As in you can have one or the other, but not both.
My question is “are we way overthinking this?” WTH is this doing in a regulation and thereafter in the court system?
Here’s what Mike Dombeck said: just plain English and inspiring. Have we changed so much since he said this? Here’s the link, the whole thing is worth a read.
My expectation is that everything we do—every environmental impact statement we write, every timber sale, recreation plan, mining plan, or allotment management plan we approve—will not compromise the health of the land. I want to make it very clear that no Forest Service program has dominance over another. Timber is not more important than wildlife and fisheries. Nor is wildlife and fisheries more important than timber or recreation, or cultural resources, and so on.
So what happened between Mike’s term and now? Have we really changed this intention (no one is more important than the other), or are we so wrapped around the axle of fuzzy words that we can’t even tell what we mean? Are we adrift in a sea of legal hooks?
Really.. she said it was in a national park and the Voice also said it was in a national park??? Editor, where art thou, editor?
Here’s the link and below is an excerpt:
As a kid raised by environmentalists, she grew up with him, she says, and feels a particular connection to the affable, but informative cultural touchstone invented by the US Forest Service in 1944. “So I thought it was a perfect culture-jamming opportunity to take this very familiar conservationist and turn him into an anti-fracking activist,” she told the Voice.
The Forest Service, on the other hand, isn’t a fan of LaRoe’s representation of a Smokey who tries to prevent “faucet fires.” Nearly a year after LaRoe began carrying images of a newly-radicalized Smokey Bear to protests, selling t-shirts, and circulating what soon became a viral meme online, the Forest Service asked LaRoe to cease and desist.
“The feds want to frack our national parks,” LaRoe said. “It’s not surprising that they’re coming after me to try and censor my political speech.”
For nearly two years, the Forest Service has been embroiled in a debate over whether to allow hydraulic fracturing in western Virginia’s George Washington National Park.
Personally, I think the Park/Forest convolution was very poor journalism. Not just accidentally wrong, but egregiously wrong on something very easy to understand and easy to check (like from the link within the article to the GW national forest).
Which lead me to this story the cited, which has nothing to do with the Forest Service but seems to be about giving loans to poor rural people for their homes. Weird convolutions.
I ran across this while doing some other work…
Here’s the link and below is an excerpt.
Sounds like a bonanza of “EIS’s we’d rather not review”! I remember some folks wanted to genetically engineer wood fungi so they would break down logs faster in the woods and reduce fuel loads quicker..I wonder if that ever got funded..
As an example of what the field can offer conservation, Kitney cites an undergraduate project he supervised that was presented at the 2011 International Genetically Engineered Machine competition, a kind of synthetic-biology science fair. Christopher Schoene, now at the University of Oxford, UK, and his team engineered Escherichia coli so that the bacterium would migrate into plant roots and produce the growth hormone auxin. In greenhouse tests, roots of cress plants that contained the engineered bacterium grew longer than those without, and the soil retained more water. Such a bacterium might help to combat desertification — the degradation of fertile land into desert when soil nutrients are lost.
But synthetic biology worries some observers, who fear what might happen if genes or organisms escape from their intended niches. Paul Falkowski, a geomicrobiologist at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey, sees value in microbes that can turn carbon dioxide into fuel or make fertilizers from atmospheric nitrogen, but he worries that industrial-scale production could have drastic consequences, such as the inadvertent production of greenhouse gases.“I am rather amazed at the naivety of synthetic biologists at the way the world works,”he says.
Many attendees also expressed nervousness about the potential of synthetic biology to influence land-use patterns. Microbes that reduce greenhouse-gas levels might lessen the pressure on governments to maintain rainforests, they said. Technologies that make marginal lands more productive could turn undeveloped land into single-crop farms.
Such shifts are already beginning to occur. A project begun by Jay Keasling, a synthetic biologist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California, coaxed yeast to produce the antimalarial drug artemesinin at industrial levels (see Nature 494, 160–161; 2013). Much of the drug currently comes from cultivation of sweet wormwood (Artemisia annua), but Keasling believes that synthetic sources will eventually force A. annua growers in China and elsewhere to cultivate other crops. “I don’t make the decision about what gets produced,” says Keasling, whose company, Amyris in Emeryville, California, aims to produce industrial products with engineered microbes. “The marketplace decides. What I do is provide more options.”
Concerns could be mitigated by designing ways to limit the spread of synthetic microbes. Schoene’s team, for example, added a genetic safeguard to its E. coli that stops other microbes from acquiring the auxin-producing gene. “If [safeguards] are being developed with as much creativity as other technologies, that would reassure me a lot,” says Stephen Palumbi, a marine biologist at Stanford University’s Hopkins Marine Station in Pacific Grove, California.
Bill Sutherland, a conservation biologist at the University of Cambridge, agrees that his colleagues need to take synthetic biology seriously. But he says that a small poll he took at the meeting shows that the gulf between the two disciplines is not so wide. Both agree that more-efficient use of natural resources could be an important boon from synthetic biology. Both worry about the potential for synthetic organisms to harm natural ecosystems.
Received this from Faith Campbell of The Nature Conservancy. This rulemaking could have more impact on our forests than a plethora of thinning projects. Not to speak of invasives meddling with “range of natural variation”.. er.. they’re definitely “natural” but not “historic”ally in the U.S. Here’s her email…
Imports of living plants have historically been one of the most important pathways by which tree-killing insects and pathogens have entered the country. Examples of pests introduced via this pathway include chestnut blight, white pine blister rust, hemlock woolly adelgid, and sudden oak death.
On April 25th, USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service published a proposed regulation [https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2013/04/25/2013-09737/restructuring-of-regulations-on-the-importation-of-plants-for-planting] that would restructure its regulations governing imports of plants. Among the several proposed changes is language in proposed Section 319.37-21 that would establish APHIS’ authority and a framework under which plant producers overseas could be required to implement “integrated pest management measures” to ensure that plants shipped to the U.S. would be pest-free. APHIS would require use of such integrated measures when the pest risk associated with those plants could be addressed only through the use of such measures.
While the specifics of any integrated pest management measures program would be developed through negotiations by APHIS with the exporting country, the proposed overall framework would have the following components:
· Production facilities would generate plants from propagative material that is free or nearly free of pests.
· Production facilities would have an approved set of standard operating procedures that include adequate pest control, regular inspection and testing, and detailed recordkeeping of all aspects of plant production, including the origin of plants that will eventually be exported so that they may be traced back if a pest is detected by the importing country.
· The phytosanitary agency of the producing country oversees the production facility and performs regular audits to ensure that all elements of the production system comply with program standards.
· APHIS may perform on-site audits of the production system. APHIS also audits imports to ensure that these plants meet the approved standards for the clean stock program.
· Penalties and remedial action in the case of noncompliance are negotiated by APHIS and the exporting country’s phytosanitary agency.
· APHIS will require plant brokers to keep records facilitating trace-back and follow specified procedures to ensure the continued phytosanitary status of plants under their control.
The deadline for comments is June 24, 2013.
I encourage you to review the proposal and submit comments. Points you might want to make:
The proposal is one of the most important actions APHIS has taken in decades to close down the plants for planting introduction pathway. The combined actions will enable APHIS to act more quickly, even pro-actively, to minimize the risk of pest introductions. The important innovations include:
o Creating the new authority to require foreign plant suppliers to implement integrated measures (as outlined briefly above);
o Integrating the proposed new strategy with the recently finalized NAPPRA strategy, under which APHIS can pre-emptively prohibit the most high-risk plant imports until effective safeguards are adopted;
o Shifting most of the specific provisions out of the regulations and into the Plants for Planting Manual should allow more rapid adaptation to changed pest situations;
o Consolidating regulatory provisions that apply to all or nearly all plant imports will improve the shipping public’s understanding an compliance.
You might also suggest that additional clarity is need re: conditions for “post-entry quarantine”. The provisions in this proposal [Proposed §319.37-23] apparently apply to only a limited number of taxa for which extensive periods in post-entry quarantine are already required. In comments on past components of this rulemaking, some of us have urged expansion of post-entry quarantine to additional taxa in order to further reduce the pest risk from a wider variety of plant and pest taxa. We called at the same time for strengthening conditions of post-entry quarantine in these expanded situations in order to ensure efficacy. Our comments were inspired in part by 2001 episode in which citrus longhorned beetles – a very large insect – escaped from bonsai trees kept in “post-entry quarantine” in a commercial nursery.
I picked this up from the Teton Valley news here.
If you thought the 400 pages or more of directives were too daunting to review (and who didn’t, really?), you can now get pointed in a direction to check out certain parts, by the other comments in the reading room here...
I tried to check out Bill Imbergamo’s comments and it said that they were being checked for offensive content.. so you may not be able to see all of them. Or maybe it was just my computer?
I have a set of notes, which I have been unable to locate, however here is some information about the hearing I attended last week. In general, the dialogue among Coloradans was more focused on specific practices than the generalized partisan nature of some D.C. hearings. The point of the hearing, after all, was to find out what Coloradans are thinking and doing. But I will give my impressions after I find my notes.
The first panel was Gale Norton and Mike King..Mike is the Director of Natural Resources for the State of Colorado, in the Hickenlooper Administration (D). He started off by saying that that forest health and wildfire issues are beyond partisanship (or similar words).
Recovery From 2012 Wildfires
As the Committee is likely aware, Colorado had an intense fire season in 2012. It started uncharacteristically early and led to a great deal of damage. The Lower North Fork, the High Park, and the Waldo Canyon fires all occurred along the highly populated metropolitan corridor from north of Fort Collins down south to Colorado Springs. Collectively, those fires resulted in six fatalities, scorched 110,368 acres, and destroyed 744 structures.
Recovery efforts began before the fire season was over last summer, and has continued. Federal support in the form of increased funding for the Emergency Watershed Projection program was recently included in the Continuing Resolution for the FY13 federal budget, and will be instrumental in helping our local governments. Nearly $20 million is expected to come to the state as a result of this measure, and treatments will include mulching, seeding, channel stabilization, and contour tree felling. However, with so many resource values in need of attention – water quality, erosion, road corridors, revegetation – even this robust federal support is insufficient to meet the need completely.
Local governments began meeting a few months ago to coordinate their fire recovery efforts, share information about funding, and learn from each other’s experiences. As a part of those conversations, entities that have been engaged in the range of recovery activities have tracked those expenditures. To date, state and local public funds spent on recovery from the Waldo Canyon fire in Colorado Springs has totaled $10.5 million; recovery from the High Park fire in Fort Collins has totaled $9 million. Those funds don’t include the millions that were lost in private property and insurance claims. It is with
this damage in mind that Colorado has worked to elevate forest health and wildfire risk reduction to the highest policy levels.
Governor Hickenlooper, in sync with other Western Governors, has identified two federal authorities that have played a key role in Colorado as we work to find a private market for forest products, enhance the health of our forests, and reduce the risk from wildfire. Those provisions are Stewardship Contracting and Good Neighbor Authority.
Stewardship Contracting allows the USFS to focus on goods (trees and other woody biomass) for services (removal of this material), and helps the agency make forest treatment projects more economical. Individuals who seek to build a business that requires a reliable supply of timber have consistently reported that long term Stewardship Contracts provide them with the security they need to secure investments. We support permanent authorization for stewardship contracting.
Good Neighbor Authority allows states, including our own Colorado State Forest Service, to perform forest treatments on national forest land when they are treating neighboring non-federal land. This landscape-scale approach is essential for achieving landscape-scale forest health. Fires don’t respect ownership boundaries. We support permanent authorization for Good Neighbor Authority.
Early response to wildfires is essential to ensure public safety, reduce costs, and minimize damage to natural resources. Western Governors have repeatedly noted their concern with the ongoing pattern whereby land management agencies exhaust the funds available for firefighting and are forced to redirect monies from other programs, including, ironically, fire mitigation work. Raiding the budgets for recreation in order to pay for fire suppression presents a significant problem in Colorado, where our outdoor recreation opportunities on public land are unparalleled. We support minimizing fire transfer within the federal land management agencies, and more fully funding existing suppression accounts.
As far as I can tell, there were no professional journalists at the hearing.If you see news stories that were generated from a journalist attending, please let me know.
Why the Forest Service? Of all the agencies who gave all the bucks to all the other entities already, why would you pick the Forest Service bucks and States to try to get money back from? Really?
I’ve been known to be “politically impaired,” so if someone with better sensitivities would explain why it is considered a good idea to poke both red and blue governors and states with a sharp stick, please enlighten us.
Here’s an AP story..
So far I’ve seen stories where Alaska and Wyoming are not giving it back..
Matthew has raised the issue of “overconsumption” a couple of times, most recently in this comment.
On the way home from the hearing yesterday, I stopped to get a tour of our local community facility for those in need, the Action Center. They said that they were having trouble with moving people from homelessness into housing due to a less than 5% vacancy rate in rental housing in our area. So it seems like more building would be good in that context to move people from underconsumption to consumption.
I think individuals probably do “overconsume,” and people with more probably have since before recorded time. In those days it was decried more from a “give your extra to those who have none” context rather than a “reduce your environmental footprint” context, but the behavior seems to be the same.
Still, I’m not sure that decreasing timber production from small western communities close to federal land is really related to the problem of overconsumption. If people think so, I would like to hear more about it. Because people definitely do overconsume calories, and the solution has never been to buy up farmland to bring it back to its historical range of variation. When food or timber can be and is imported, I’m not sure that “overconsumption” is an argument for not producing it locally and giving our own folks jobs.
This topic is a bit of a crosswalk of my interests, and I wouldn’t have posted the essay below except that the topic came up. I took a class in Creative Writing with Gotham Writers Workshop online last fall. It was a good course and teacher was excellent. Here’s an essay I wrote for the class…note that Matthew didn’t say “we” overconsume, so the essay is not directed at folks like him.. his comment just reminded me of this essay.
Breast Beating of Others is Neither Attractive Nor Particularly Useful
I spend a great deal of time around people who work in the spiritual and church business. They are great people in general, and I love them. These are the people you want around when things are going very, very badly for you. That’s why I don’t ask them what the H they are talking about, or slap them upside the head, when they say things like I’m going to describe below. Occasionally I am tempted but..
It’s about the profligate use of the word “we”. As in “we Americans consume too much.” I honestly don’t understand why someone would say this to a group of people. You could say “I think some of the people in this room consume too much”, but really how would you know? Unless you were going through their trash, or checking the miles per gallon of, and counting their vehicles. And of course in my spiritual community, we’re supposed to follow the Guy who said “Judge not, lest ye be judged.”
My point would be that while some Americans are rich, many are poor. Many are working and overworked, in a less-than-pleasant work environment, to make ends meet and to provide for their families, not to buy their second Prius, and then bask in a glow of climate change prevention self-satisfaction.
We always talk, in the same kinds of churchy situations, about ethnic and cultural differences among Americans and how valuable these differences are. Yet when it comes to something bad, we seem to have been homogenized into one gelatinous glob (“Americans are destroying the environment”). So if you only mean “some” Americans, just say it. Like “I think white upper-class Americans are destroying the environment”. That’s much better as those of us not in the upper class or white, can just grab a milk shake at McDonald’s and go home and feel good about ourselves.
Now that we’ve identified the culprits of over-consumerism, you can target your message to them and make sure that they are there when you engage in your castigation of behavior. This reminds me of my former church in Virginia. A couple of times per year, young priests from somewhere would show up with fire and brimstone sermons against abortion, to a congregation of gray and white-haired folk. Waste of time, anyone?
And really, what good is it to exhort people who are not there? And really, how well does exhortation work to modify human behavior? Seems like we have been hearing “Thou shalt not kill” since the time of Moses, which has been a long time, and people still go around killing.
My solution is that if you want to confess and do penance, beat your own breast, and I’ll let you know when you can touch mine. If you said, instead of “Americans consume too much”, “I consume too much,” I would ask you “what do you think is too much?” and “why do you do it?”. That would be the beginning of an interesting and instructive conversation. But please, leave the “me” in “we” out of it.
Derek is a pretty skookum guy. A while back he said the Saratoga Mill had reopened. I hate to confess that I doubted him, because the entire time I worked in Region 2 it was on the horizon.. but always on the horizon, sort of a sawmill Holy Grail. I also thought I would have seen it in a news clip.
Derek, I apologize.
So, sure enough, I went to a field hearing today at the State Capitol (more later on that) and who did I run into also looking for the meeting room, but one of the folks who runs the now open Saratoga mill. How did I miss that?
So I looked on the trusty internet and found this… on USA Today of all places!
Here’s the link and below is an excerpt.
A HARD FALL
The housing downturn hit the wood products and timber industries hard.
At the height of the housing boom in 2005, consumption of U.S. lumber hit almost 65 billion board feet. It fell to about half that at the bottom of the market in 2010. Last year, it climbed back to 37.5 billion and will likely pass 40 billion this year, FEA estimates.
With rising demand, a few lumber mills are roaring back to life. Out of 146 North American lumber mills closed since 2008, 14 have reopened or announced plans to do so, says industry analyst Paul Jannke. Five are in the U.S., including the one in Evergreen, and others are in Alabama, Wyoming, Virginia and Colorado. The rest are in Canada.
Other mills are reopening, too, including those making plywood and oriented strand board, a plywood competitor.
This summer, Toronto’s Norbord expects to reopen an OSB mill in Jefferson, Texas, that has been closed since 2009, the company says.
Rising prices are a big motivator. OSB prices are up 134% since the end of 2011, Jannke says. Framing lumber prices are up 64%, according to the composite index kept by the Random Lengths industry newsletter. Plywood prices are up 43%.
“Prices are strong enough that we can make a profit,” says Gary Ervin, owner of Saratoga Forest Management. In January, it reopened a mill in Saratoga, Wyo., that makes studs used to frame houses. The mill had been closed for 10 years. It now employs 80.
None of the reopened mills are especially large, but neither are their communities. Saratoga, population 1,678, describes itself as a place “where the trout leap in Main Street.”