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Sustaining green growth. (Around the State).

STATEWIDE - Ever since the passage of the Oregon Forest Practices Act in 1971 the state's timber industry has been a national leader in environmentally responsible practices. Over the past decade, however, market-based initiatives rather than public policies have raised the green bar even higher, and timber companies are responding.

Certification -- using independent parties to certify that companies have produced wood and wood products under sustainable conditions -- is gaining momentum throughout the industry as mega-retailers such as Home Depot pay premiums for certified lumber. The process assures consumers that the timber isn't coming from tree plantations. where destructive clear-cutting prevails. Instead, it originates from healthy forest ecosystems, where multi-aged stands are selectively logged to minimize erosion, maintain water quality, and support bio-diversity including beaver, bear, fish and birdlife. "[Certification is] all about building the public's trust in the forest industry, where historically it has been low," explains Hank Cauley, executive director of the Washington, D.C.-based Forest Stewardship Council.

Given the state's environmental traditions, it's not surprising that Oregon's timber industry roster includes a company that has received wide recognition for its green practices. The Collins Companies, based in Portland, "is an absolute national leader," says Cauley. "They're an excellent example of how large-scale forestry operations can integrate financially viable and socially and environmentally responsible forestry."

Since its founding in 1855, the family-owned company, which is in its fourth generation, has thought long term. Favorite son Truman Collins furthered that agenda in 1939 when, with a freshly minted Harvard MBA in scientific forestry, he undertook the company's first experiments in sustainable management. By photographing plots in the Collins Almanor Forest, a 94,000-acre northern California tract, at 10-year intervals, Truman Collins determined the number of trees that could be harvested without damaging the ecosystem. After just over 60 years, 1.7 billion board feet of timber have been logged. Today the Almanor Forest contains 2 billion board feet -- half a billion more than its original 1.5 billion. In 1993 the Almanor tract was also the first privately owned North American forest to be certified.

The Collins Companies earns $200 million in revenues annually through the operation of almost 300,000 acres of forest and associated processing facilities. In addition to owning parcels in Pennsylvania and California, Collins has 78,000 acres of timberland in Oregon near Lakeview, where it also operates a sawmill. The company also runs two composite plants in Klamath Falls.

Collins' environmental attitude has not only positioned the company to meet the demand for certified wood, but its green approach has also reduced its power bills. After an audit showed operations were releasing C[O.sub.2]-laced steam into the atmosphere, the company replaced old valves with backpressure turbines. Instead of being wasted, the steam now shunts into generators that produce power to run the plants. "The turbines are 1928 technology, but they are effective in reducing our greenhouse gas emissions," says Wade Mosby, senior vice president at Collins. "As a member of the World Wildlife Fund's Climate Saver Program, we have committed to reducing C[O.sub.2] emissions by 150,000 tons over a 10-year period. At the same time we will save $5 million in energy costs."

Collins' leadership has not only gained national attention but is influencing the industry statewide as well. Columbia Forest Products has followed Collins' lead into the certification market, and Roseburg Forest Products is in the process of becoming certified as well. Collins is also a founding member of the Oregon Natural Step Network, which educates companies on how auditing their consumption of natural resources with an eye to minimizing their environmental impact can improve their financial bottom lines.

"Reorienting the timber industry toward environmentally responsible practices is like turning an ocean tanker around -- it takes time," says Mosby, a fourth-generation timber man. "My father and grandfather didn't know about environmentally responsible logging. But now that we do, our changes can benefit our grandchildren's grandchildren."
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Title Annotation:timber companies' environmental actions
Comment:Sustaining green growth. (Around the State).(timber companies' environmental actions)
Author:Johnson, Jean Kristen
Publication:Oregon Business
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 1, 2002
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