For thousands of years, the Western White Pine has dominated vast tracts of land in the northern Rockies and other areas in Idaho. However, this tree species has been reducing over the last four decades, primarily due to the white pine blister and attack by the mountain pine beetle. The country is estimated to lose more than 318 billion feet of Western White Pinewood due to these factors. The tree has low resistance to white pine blister rust, which means the mortality rate is high and is expected to continue with time. Massive tree death results in excessive accumulation of dead wood in the Idaho forests. As a consequence, the accumulated dead tree parts pose a threat because they act as a factor contributing to the rapid spread of bush fire.
The white pine should be harvested just before or after its death—failure to harvest the tree results in drying and the occurrence of cracks and warps. In addition, a fungus known as blue stain causes discoloration of the sapwood (Costanza et al., 2018). It is worth noting that the mountain pine beetle carries the fungus.
Statement of the Problem
The high mortality rate of the Western White Pine reduces its value because the lumber market rejects deadwood. There are two major implications of this problem. First, vast amounts of deadwood lie idle and cannot be used for common purposes (Costanza et al., 2018). Secondly, even though dead wood eventually rots and improves the quality of soil, it is also a risk factor as it may contribute to rapid bush fire. Moreover, accumulating dead wood in forests occupy spaces needed to plant new trees. In addition, after death, the tree’s heart cracks. All these factors result in the degradation of the lumber and loss of value.
Searching for markets other than the conventional lumber market is a potential solution to this problem. In the last few years, the demand for weathered bam boards and wormy pine for interior paneling has increased as this finishing method has become popular. Many organizations around the country are using and marketing dead pine wood as specialty products under the name ‘distressed wood.’
- In assessing the development a market for the dead white pine (distressed wood), this proposal seeks to pursue six areas based on the following research questions:
- What are the products currently developed from dead wood and what are the approximate costs of production?
- What is the size of the demand for products developed from distressed wood?
- Can dead Western White Pine meet this demand?
- Does the existing market for distressed wood contain room for the dead Western White Pine?
- What are the specific costs of retrieving and processing dead white pine?
- What are the prices of the products from the dead white pine obtainable from the existing market?
The primary data sources will include consultations and interviews with specialists in forestry. Specifically, the researcher will interview two wood science and technology professors from the University of Idaho, three leaders in forest research institutes in the region, and two forestry specialists in Idaho working with the department of forestry, wildlife, and range in the state government. The research will also involve conducting a review of the recent literature about the problem, where secondary materials such as research articles and official reports will be examined.
The researcher is a student of a Master of Science in Environment and Natural Resources at Idaho University’s College of Forestry Management. As such, the researcher is familiar with wood milling processes and has adequate experience in logging.
Based on this view, it is evident that there is a need for effective actions to cope with the vast amounts of dead white pine in the Idaho woods. Indeed, the accumulated dead woods contribute to the spread of bushfires, a major environmental problem in the area. Suppose the six areas of inquiry are addressed. In that case, it is possible to find a solution to see the accumulated dead trees removed from the woods, profit generated from these resources, and the market for distressed lumbar satisfied.
Costanza, K. K., Whitney, T. D., McIntire, C. D., Livingston, W. H., & Gandhi, K. J. (2018). A synthesis of emerging health issues of eastern white pine (Pinus strobus) in eastern North America. Forest ecology and management, 423, 3-17. Web.
Kaboli, H., Clouston, P. L., & Lawrence, S. (2020). Feasibility of two northeastern species in three-layer ANSI-approved cross-laminated timber. Journal of Materials in Civil Engineering, 32(3), 04020006. Web.