Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Local wood

Posted By on Tue, Jul 28, 2009 at 12:00 PM

The media is paying plenty of attention to Sen. Jon Tester’s Forest Jobs and Recreation Act, but at last night’s Missoula City Council meeting, a small resolution regarding the city’s role in the wood products industry nearly escaped notice.

The resolution lays out a policy statement for enhanced forest practices and recommends that the city:

1. Utilize sustainably harvested local forest materials and locally produced wood products to minimize the impact of transportation and materials.
2. Support the sustainable and ecologically sound management of forests.
3. Support the use of wood waste material for the manufacturing of finished products, for energy production and encourage recycling of wood products.
4. Promote strategic urban planting of trees with the following principles in mind: reduce cooling requirements in the summer, provide wind protection in the winter, plant diverse species of trees on public and private lands to sequester carbon dioxide, utilize gray water from private and public treatment systems in an environmentally-friendly manner.

Although the resolution passed unanimously from the Conservation Committee, Ward 5 Councilmember Dick Haines sent it back to committee after Ross Best, a regular council attendee, questioned the language.

Many environmentalists say the wood products industry is done for, but it’s nice to think that if all the towns in the state adopted similar resolutions, perhaps the increased demand could prop up the timber industry enough so that our junior senator wouldn’t feel forced to mandate logging in the state’s national forests. Or maybe he still would.

Matthew Koehler, executive director of the WildWest Institute, just forwarded me an email in which he has suggested the same four policy points to the city's Greenhouse Gas Team, which crafted the resolution. If the resolution passes, it'll be a little ironic that Koehler, who's often portrayed as anti-logging, in effect, helped to write the city of Missoula's policy on the use of local wood products.

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