Burning Boise

Published March 1, 2000

Radical anti-civilization environmentalists at the Earth Liberation Front (ELF) have claimed credit for setting a fire that destroyed the regional headquarters of Boise Cascade timber company in Monmouth, Oregon on Christmas morning, 1999.

Earlier that year, ELF activists claimed responsibility for a multi-million-dollar fire that destroyed a ski resort in Vail, Colorado, and for a fire at Medford, Oregon-based U.S. Forest Industries.

The group accused Boise Cascade of “deforesting the Pacific Northwest,” and with threatening “the Virgin Forests of Chile.” Both claims have been denied by company spokespersons.

In the U.S., according to Boise Cascade, the company plants several trees for every tree harvested on the more than 2 million acres the company owns or manages. The company “has established standards for sustainable forestry that integrate the growing, harvesting, and renewal of trees with conservation of wildlife, plants, soil, air and water quality, and the maintenance of aesthetics,” it reports.

With regard to the replenishment of trees, Boise Cascade’s claim, as well as those made by the industry in general, seem to be supported by U.S. Forest Service statistics. Forest Service data show that the last year more trees were harvested than planted in the U.S. was 1933. In an average year, approximately 40 percent of all newly planted trees are planted by the forest industry. Another 40 percent are planted by other private sources, and 20 percent are planted by all local, state, and federal governments.

A review of Boise Cascade’s plans show that Cascada Chile, the company’s Chilean partnership, will reduce the cutting of virgin timber there and aid in the reforestation of native timber already cut. Significant economic benefits for the region are anticipated as well.

Cascada Chile’s plans, which have been endorsed by Chile’s national environmental agency, will provide private landowners with both the incentive and the ability to better manage degraded land and grow more and healthier trees. The company will work with landowners and universities on land management techniques and the development of superior planting stock–trees that will be supplied to landowners at cost. A native species seed collection program is already underway, in cooperation with Chile’s Universidad de Austral.

In addition, the company says it will purchase timber only from Chilean private landowners who have adopted an approved forest management plan consistent with its philosophy of sustainable forest management.

The lumber processing plant being built in Chile by Cascada Chile will make oriented-strand board, used in home building. Power for the plant will be generated by using solid waste, such as tree bark, sawdust and trim form logs. Its construction will employ 1,200 people; its operation will employ approximately 200 people full time. The Cascada Chile complex will also include the construction of a modern deep-water port.