News & Events

Weekly WrapUp 5/24/23

HANNA FLATS LOGGING PROJECT: Ninth Circuit rules against environmental group in dispute over logging project in Idaho forest. MORE HERE

FOUR MAJOR CHANGES: Bureau of Land Management makes sweeping changes to public lands management in proposed rule. MORE HERE

MATURE AND OLD GROWTH FORESTS: NASA teams with Forest Service to tally America’s oldest trees. MORE HERE

JOINT RESPONSE: Industry groups tout wood’s ability to combat greenhouse gas emissions. MORE HERE

NATIONAL MODEL: UM to lead precision forestry and rangeland innovation engine. MORE HERE

Weekly WrapUp 5/17/23

ROAD WORK: Safety project starts Monday on US-95 near McArthur Lake. MORE HERE

MEETING INDUSTRY NEEDS: The University of Idaho’s response to addressing workforce challenges in the logging, fire, and forest nursery sectors. MORE HERE

SUPPLY AND DEMAND: Ongoing soft demand keeps lumber prices stable. MORE HERE

FOREST POLICY GOALS: Two U.S. House committees to revisit wildfire and forest debates. MORE HERE

COLVILLE NATIONAL FOREST: Lawsuit alleges 43,000-acre forest treatment project will impact lynx. MORE HERE

Weekly WrapUp 3/10/23

BIDEN REPORT: No Shortage of Old Growth on Federal Lands. MORE HERE

KEEPING TRACK: House bill to improve accountability for wildfire prevention work advances to floor. MORE HERE

FED UP: Idaho’s largest landowner doesn’t live in the state. MORE HERE

SALES VOLUMES: Lumber prices tick up slightly even as demand remains low. MORE HERE

BROKEN PROCESSES: Risch, Barrasso Unveil Permitting and Environmental Review Reform Legislation. MORE HERE

LONG DELAYS: Forest Service chief grilled over delays in efforts to avert wildfires. MORE HERE

SOUTHWEST IDAHO: Petersen named Boise National Forest supervisor. MORE HERE

TRAINING THE NEXT GENERATION: UI Research Faculty Member Ryer Becker Works to Advance the Industry

Ryer Becker sports his camera at a logging site. (Photo courtesy of Ryer Becker)

By Justin Post
For The Idaho Logger
Ryer Becker is working in the woods.
Becker is visiting logging jobs, snapping pictures and working to improve public perception of loggers and haulers.
“It has become clear how unfamiliar most individuals are with the logging industry including the equipment and processes used in contemporary logging operations,” Becker said.
But educating the public about the benefits of sustainable forestry is just part of his mission.
Becker serves on the research faculty at the University of Idaho’s College of Natural Resources where he helps prepare the next generation of loggers for careers in the industry.
The photos, videos and other data he collects at logging jobs helps in the college’s efforts to teach students about the latest and greatest equipment being used in the field.
“By going out to get my own photos and videos, I have full access to all the resources I need while also shooting the newest, most modern logging equipment being integrated into operations,” Becker said.
Becker’s gotten to know contractors along the way, hearing their concerns and industry insight.
“While out shooting these photos and videos, it has also allowed me to build relationships with our contractors statewide and learn directly from them to increase my own knowledge and understanding of the equipment, processes, and advancement of the industry,” he said.
Becker said he listens to the challenges that loggers and haulers are facing and seeks solutions.
For instance, Becker’s research has sought to integrate mobile technologies and mobile maps into forest operations to boost production and help more accurately analyze cost.
Some of his most recent work includes the development of activity recognition models using smartphones to monitor the work activities of logging equipment.
“The purpose of this research was to provide contractors and other natural resource managers with the means to determine their production and delays using technology most carry with them daily — smartphones,” Becker said.
It’s a similar concept to those applied to smartwatches or smartphones used to track activity, or fitness levels, he said.
Data collected from sensors in phones such as gyroscopes, accelerometers and sound meters are used to model and classify activities on logging jobs.
“In the context of my work, this would be activities like a feller buncher would do such as fell, walk, bunch, etc.,” Becker said. “These models I have worked on need more work before they can be operationalized, but myself and the Forest Operations Lab at UI are some of the first people developing these activity recognition models for forest operations and management tasks.”
And while he’s helping current contractors to maximize their time and energy, he’s also focused on equipping students with the information they’ll need to enter the industry.
Becker’s current focus is redeveloping the University’s forest operations coursework to support four-year forestry degrees as well as a new two-year degree in forest operations and technology.
“With the rapid advancement and increased mechanization of the logging industry, it was important to capture how the industry is changing in our curriculum to make sure or students are as equipped as possible once they graduate to support sustainable forest management while maintaining a fundamental and applied understanding of forest operations,” Becker said.
Becker said he’ll also continue working to identify ways to support Idaho’s loggers and haulers – and building public support for the important work that’s done in the industry to meet society’s need for forest products.
“I am working to increase public recognition and positive perceptions of what our logging and hauling contractors do,” he said.
Becker has heard from contractors struggling to fill jobs and says the college is looking into opportunities to develop new training and educational resources to support workforce development.
Apart from rising costs of everything, one of the biggest struggles facing the industry is related to recruitment and retention of a skilled workforce and the accessibility to training pipelines and exposure to the industry for future generations, Becker said.
“We need to address the very real workforce challenges facing our logging and hauling workforces and I hope my work now and into the future will help to support the health and advancement of the industry as a whole,” he said.

Weekly WrapUp 5/3/23

EDITORIAL: Banning Retardants Will Cost Lives. MORE HERE

TRANSCRIPT: The Supply Chain Crisis That Could Wreck the Bourbon Industry. MORE HERE

TOP PRIORITY: Lawmakers from several western states want the U.S. Forest Service to do more to address a wildfire crisis that they say will surely destroy more landscapes, communities and livelihoods. MORE HERE

SKILLS AND EQUIPMENT: Idaho is training loggers to fight forest fires. MORE HERE

SURVEY SAYS: Only two more days to complete the U.S. Forest Sector Challenges Survey. The Society of American Foresters and the U.S. Endowment, in partnership with Michigan State and Purdue Universities, have asked us to share the survey to identify the most important problems facing the forest sector. The survey should take less than 10 minutes to complete. To access the survey, please CLICK HERE

Weekly WrapUp 4/26/23

LOGGING PROJECT HALTED: Judge halts Montana logging project over concern for threatened grizzly bears. MORE HERE

WASTING TIME: Biden Administration’s Actions Jeopardize Forest Health. MORE HERE

OPINION: Reducing the risk of a big fire season. MORE HERE

TRUCK DRIVER SHORTAGE: NLBMDA supports new trucking legislation. MORE HERE

Weekly WrapUp 4/19/23

WILDFIRE MANAGEMENT: U.S. Senator Steve Daines of Montana launches bipartisan Senate wildfire caucus. MORE HERE

METHANE FROM MEGAFIRES: Scientists using a new detection method have discovered a large amount of methane linked to wildfires, which air quality officials are not currently accounting for. MORE HERE

TREE PLANTING INITIATIVE: National Association of Realtors pledges to plant 215,000 trees to bolster reforestation efforts in the Nez-Pearce Clearwater National Forest and the Boise National Forest in wake of the 2016 Pioneer Fire and 2021 Johnson Creek Fire. MORE HERE

SKEPTICAL CUSTOMERS: Soft demand brings lower lumber prices. MORE HERE

Weekly WrapUp 4/12/23

HEALTHY FORESTS: Biden-Harris administration invests nearly $34M to strengthen wood products economy, forest sector jobs, sustainable forest management. MORE HERE

SAFE ROUTES ACT: U.S. Rep. Gallagher: Introduces bipartisan bill to support logging industry. MORE HERE

OPINION: Family loggers are not putting their children in danger. MORE HERE

FEDERAL INFRASTRUCTURE LAW: Two businesses, tribes receive Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funds to support wood products. MORE HERE

Weekly WrapUp 4/5/23

TRAFFIC SAFETY: Joint project underway to reduce big game-vehicle collisions in North Idaho. MORE HERE

SELF-DRILLING SEED CARRIERS: A recent study unveiled prototype human-designed seed carriers that can be sprayed from above and coil and uncoil depending on the humidity in the air, helping them to corkscrew into the ground. MORE HERE

WORK ZONE: Road construction to widen US-95 in Coeur d’Alene kicks off. MORE HERE

PROSPECTIVE BUYERS: R-Y Timber in Livingston, Montana, entertains potential buyers. MORE HERE

FIRE SAFETY BILL: New Mexico governor signs bill to limit prescribed fires. MORE HERE

Weekly WrapUp 3/29/23

Here’s your Weekly WrapUp of industry news! Stay informed! Stay Logger Strong!

25,000-ACRE PROJECT: The Payette National Forest this week released the environmental assessment, finding of no significant impact, and draft decision notice for the Railroad Saddle Forest Restoration Project. MORE HERE

LUMBER MARKET: U.S. becomes the largest importer of Swedish lumber after UK in 2022. MORE HERE

OPINION: We must break away from the status quo forestry policies of the last 30 years. MORE HERE

FOREST FUNDING: Legislators, lobbyists look to farm bill to save American forests. MORE HERE

FIRE SEASON: Feinstein, Daines, Neguse, Curtis launch bipartisan, bicameral wildfire caucus. MORE HERE

FROM THE ASHES: Timber management project aims to mimic natural process. MORE HERE