USDA Forest Products Laboratory
Since the early days of the partnership, a number of FCSFP, partners have sought resources at the USDA Forest Products Laboratory in Madison, Wisconsin for getting ideas and for developing products. Probably the first instance of this was when Tim Reader and members of the Madera Wood Products Cooperative in Vallecitos, New Mexico discovered files in the Lab’s voluminous database describing products that potentially could be applicable in their project. Tim Reader, who was contracted through the Colorado State Forest Service to provide regional technical assistance to recipients of funding through the Demonstration Grants Program, found a paper describing a long-forgotten, simple dip-diffusion process for treating timber. He thought it might work for post and poles made from small-diameter. It might add value to small diameter that would be affordable and could be achieved locally and hands-on.
The dip diffusion wood treatment effort, which eventually saw little advancement due to EPA rules, was an outshoot of Reader simply searching product development stories from the past on the Forest Products Lab database. “There are hundreds of other product stories archived in the files, but no one is searching them to find any that might fit today’s needs,” Reader said.
Load-bearing strength testing of construction quality timber has been a common interface between Lab researchers and Demonstration Grant Program recipients. The process seems to be slow and results have not been conclusive, but an atmosphere of entrepreneurship is strong and those involved continue to test new ideas and products.
Another potential improvement is the use of log sort yards as a method
for better managing smaller logs. From a presentation by Susan LeVan-Green
and Rusty Dramm of the Forest Products Lab, it is shown that log sort
yards can be instrumental in accomplishing the following objectives:
In addition to explaining the fundamental concepts of log-sort yards, Forest Lab Staff have the capability of assisting in the practical and efficient lay-out of a yard to reduce costs of operations for scaling and grading.
While the USFS Forest Products is an outstanding source oftechnical
and economic information, new product ideas, and assistance with operational
transformation to utilize small diameter materials, there is always the
challenge of accessing these resources by a small business or partnership
in a distant part of the country. This has been overcome to a degree by
coordinating and communicating through a larger regional partnership,
the FCSFP, in order to host technical assistance events, such as the workshop
on sawmill conversions being conducted in late 2004 by Tim Reader and