Bear Creek Lumber

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In This Issue:

Volume 15 Number 9 September 2001

Fire and Fish
Industry News
Treated Wood Alert
Penofin Recommended
End of Summer Sale

Architectural Stone

Our purchasing agent has found excellent sources of architectural stone for building and landscaping applications. It is a special order item but we can have the product drop shipped to you within the continental USA. Products available include Cabinet Gorge Building stone, Random Flagg stone, Rustic Flagg stone and Ledge stone. For more information, contact Merle or Cloud at Bear Creek (800) 597-7191. We can send more pictures via email.
We Answer Readers Questions
Q. Where do you ship to?

A. We will ship just about anywhere, including the most remote locations. Sometimes we work with your local shipping companies. They may have limitations that are beyond our control as to the final delivery of your product. Our shipping manager Bennet Upper will make sure all details are worked out and that you will be aware of how the product will arrive. Customers are responsible for off-loading. Our products are shipped fully wrapped and side-protected so they can endure weather and rough treatment along the way.

Q. Do you have project plans for deck furniture, planters?

A. Yes, we do! Courtesy of the California Redwood Association and the Western Wood product Association, we have rudimentary plans for arbors, gazebos, fences, pergolas, picnic tables and planters. Let us know what you are looking for and if we have it, we can send info along with your information packet, purchase agreement or as a solo piece.

Of Fire And Fish

For those of us who live in the Methow Valley, the Chewuch river is a pastoral brook with a series of clear jade green pools and sandy outcroppings ideal for a cooling swim on a hot afternoon. Huge, lazy salmon, having spawned, are hidden in old tree roots overshadowing the pools, ready to die. They mill about the swimming holes, relatively undisturbed by the occasional swimmer sharing their nirvana. Humans have peacefully co-existed with salmon in the Chewuch for 8,000 years. The name Chewuch was a native American expression which meant many salmon. The native fishermen would tell each other how the fishing was going by how they pronounced the name: CHHEEE-wuch for a very good year and simply Che-wuch for a more modest year. This name is an example that the river valley has historically seen both big returns of salmon some years and sparse returns in others. Its a lesson that Washington D.C. needs to learn when it comes to the Endangered Species Act : Peaks and valleys in populations are part of Nature’s way.

This peaceful salmon/human co-existence took a horrible turn when a careless camper, roasting hot dogs during a Fourth of July weekend outing , left a fire smoldering in a Chewuch campsite during a particularly hot day. The fire crept out of the rudimentary fire pit and grew into a five-acre series of small hot spots. The Forest Service, already fighting a 3,000 acre blaze 60 miles to the south, dispatched a small crew to contain these new fires. The crew captain immediately called for a helicopter to douse the fires with buckets of river water. But the water never came.

Eighteen firefighters who were sent to replace the initial crew found themselves trapped when the fire picked up and grew into 2,500 acres in a matter of hours, cutting off their only escape route. At the end of a dead end road in a narrow canyon, the desperate crew deployed their personal fire resistant shelters. Five of the crew members chose to move up above the road into an area of boulders. However, the area had too much fuel and only one of these crew members, his hands horribly burned, was able to flee before the fire’s intensity superheated the air, killing the others. After the survivors were rescued, it came out that the helicopters were never deployed because the dispatcher was afraid to authorize the taking of water from the river or dropping of fire retardant because it might disturb endangered fish habitat. By the time the authorization came to go ahead, it was too late. The fire was too dangerous, several hours later, for helicopters or planes to approach. The fire eventually grew to 10,000 acres before it was contained. A water drop would have made the difference between life and death, a small fire and a catastrophe.
There are some who question why the fire was even fought. The camp area where it started was located in a remote zone that is designated as a biological reserve, where fires are only supposed to be minimally suppressed so that natural fire can burn through. However, the area was also being used as a starting point/parking area for high country/wilderness hikers. Two campers would have surely been burned to death if one of the firefighters hadn’t been there to share their fire shelter with them as the fire blew up.
. The tragedy of young lives lost will be debated for years. The Forest Service is adamant that they did everything humanly possible to protect their crews and that salmon considerations were never an issue. But the documented hesitation by the dispatcher about endangered fish issues proved otherwise. A full federal investigation is underway.
Pacific salmon are the most resilient fish species in the world. Legally “ endangered”, few such listed species are so aggressively harvested. They journey from the headwaters of the Columbia thousands of miles, past nine hydroelectric dams up to Southeast Alaska ( where they are fished) and back, passing 360 Native American gill nets spread across the river and past countless sports fishing folks and commercial fishing fleets as they find their way back to their birthplace. Despite this daunting human barrier, 2001 is already a record breaking year for these returning fish. Science has proven that runs of salmon are much more affected by events in the open ocean, which dictate the salmon’s food supply, than by habitat issues in the underpopulated headwaters.
Restrictions on harvest outside the Methow ( where harvest has not been allowed for twenty years) have been lessened throughout the Northwest this year, prior to this fire. Government hatcheries , so overwhelmed with returning fish, are now allowing them to pass the hatchery boundaries and spawn upstream after years of blocking their migration routes( in order to harvest eggs). Before heated local protests last year, when they also had a large return, the government had planned to simply club the extra fish to death and throw the carcasses away, rather than letting them spawn naturally.

Their reasoning? Too many fish!
We’ll update this story on the website periodically. Check under What’s New.

Industry News

Consumers this fall should start seeing warning labels about the 22 percent arsenic found in a wood preservative used in nearly all the treated lumber in the United States.
The Environmental Protection Agency announced Tuesday an expanded information program it is beginning to warn about the chromated copper arsenate (CCA) that goes into the making of playgrounds, decks, railings, picnic tables, fences, posts and docks.
Also Tuesday, the Consumer Product Safety Commission took a first step toward possibly banning CCA-treated wood from playground equipment. Chromated copper arsenate is a powerful pesticide put into lumber under pressure in a factory to protect the wood from decay and insect damage.
Arsenic, a substance that is both manufactured and naturally occurring, has been much discussed recently in wrangling over how much to limit it in drinking water.
By early fall, the EPA-required labeling is to include all pieces of CCA-treated lumber. The program also is to include stickers and signs for all in-store displays, a new toll-free hotline and a Web site.
Now consumers will understand that this treated wood contains arsenic," said Stephen Johnson, the EPA's director of the Office of Prevention, Pesticides, and Toxic Substances.
EPA had decided that consumers were not being adequately informed. In May, it asked for opinions from the public and from the wood preservative industry on ways to increase consumer awareness.
In late October, the agency also plans to hold a public meeting of one of its science advisory panels to better calculate children's potential exposure in playgrounds.
Next year the EPA expects to release a comprehensive review of CCA-treated wood that could lead to more regulatory changes. That review will include an evaluation of how well the new consumer information programs are working.
In late May, the private Environmental Working Group and the Healthy Building Network petitioned the Consumer Product Safety Commission to ban CCA-treated wood from all playground equipment and to study whether it is safe for other consumer uses.
The groups said the commission's 1990 study underestimated the risk of cancer by failing to account for the risks of CCA-treated wood rubbing off on skin or leaching into places where it can be ingested by people and animals.
The commission has stood behind the study but said it is open to new research. The commission voted 3-0 on Tuesday to let the public comment on the petition by publishing it in the Federal Register. Based on those comments and on additional research, the commission could vote to begin rule-making on whether to ban CCA-treated wood from playgrounds, spokesman Scott Wolfson said.
"The commission has many options," he said. "We're at the early stages of the process."
Switzerland, Vietnam and Indonesia have banned CCA-treated wood. Japan, Denmark, Sweden, Germany, Australia and New Zealand have either limited its use or proposed restrictions.
The best alternative to treated wood: natural red cedar, redwood, yellow cedar or sustainable/plantation grown tropical hardwoods, all available at Bear Creek Lumber!

NOTE: This is an old article, BCL no longer sells penofin.

Penofin Recommended

For builders who are looking for a low impact method of preserving their wood product, Bear Creek Lumber recommends Penofin Stains.
Made from the oil of Oticicia nuts naturally harvested and sustainably grown, Penofin supports an Amazon industry that is beneficial to the local economy without being disruptive to the rain forest. Penofin is longer lasting that other commercial products because its natural oil based penetrates better and is superior in preventing cracking and checking. There is little discoloration from sunlight. Products are available for both interior and exteriors applications. A product that restores natural wood color is also available. Want to know more? The Penofin website ( is highly informative.
Bear Creek Lumber has a number of penofin brochures if you don’t have a computer. We also (used to - edited 08-2007) have a stain color comparison on our website. We sell Penofin because we trust the brand as the best. We have never had a complaint about Penofin products.
For prices, call Bob at Bear Creek Lumber at (800) 597-7191 or ask your regular Bear Creek Lumber about Penofin products.