2017 Forest Biometrics Research Institute Annual Meeting. What we heard…

The much anticipated FBRI Annual meeting happened today.  Did we learn anything?

These are just the basic NOTES from the meeting.  Some of the topics were pruned from this as they were the same from the past several years.

The first thing we learned is that Jim McWhorter is now the FBRI Board Chairman.

The Board now consists of:

  • Jim McWhorter – TerraVerde
  • Ken Borchert – BIA
  • Marc Vomicil – Starker Forests
  • Brian Sharer – Finite Carbon
  • Don Wales – Hancock Forest Management (11/13/17)

Contracted workers for the board:

  • James Arney – Senior Forest Biometrician / Executive Officer – Forest Biometrics LLC
  • Dan Opalach – Senior Forest Biometrician – Unknown at this point
  • Brock Purvis – Tech Support – Northwest Management
  • Richard Zabel – WFCA

There was a layout for the ideal board presented.  The currently seated board is nearly identical to this plan.

If you had attended the meeting, you would have heard a lot more catchphrases about stakeholders and such.

One of the bullet points of how value is delivered to stakeholders was through the use of the worlds largest “Proprietary” database.  In my opinion, this is a word of warning as there has been no evidence that the agreements or efforts have been made to transfer the rights to FBRI.  This means that all the data likely still belongs the Forest Biometrics LLC and that FBRI cannot validate its libraries.

A new version of FPS (7.5.3) will be released November 30 where nothing has changed since 7.5.2.  This was later revised to list some vague changes.  NO CHANGE LOG was provided as all other software projects in the world produce.

The basic comment from FBRI was that the users are the software testers! This may explain the lack of polished edges in the past few releases as testing may not be done internally based on the comments I heard.

The support report was very informative as usual.  The support people really do a fantastic job.

Tech support will ONLY support version 7

the stats listed said

  • over 200 requests in the past year
  • 47 topics
  • 4 workshops
  • multiple onsite visits

This is great news as that means support requests have significantly dropped in the past couple of years.

Questions primarily revolved around the SiteGrid and the undocumented fields of

  • WetA – annual precipitation
  • WetB – Growing season Precipitation – May-Sept
  • WetC – Summer Precipitation – July-Sept
  • EHor – eastern horizon
  • WHor – western horizon

the FBRI 5 Acre SiteGrid may be available under the following conditions

  • Contributing Organizations – Yes
  • Contributing Organization Consultants working on Contributing Organization lands – Yes
  • Non-Contribuitors – NO
  • Contributing Organization Consultants working on Non-Contributing organization – NO

Succession planning

The hiring of a Ph.D. Biometrician.  Four (4) applicants were reviewed, and Dan Opalach was selected from that list

Dan will be an independent contractor and accessible by Contributing organizations.  His duties will include:

  • “Backup” for Jim Arney
  • Review of Jim Arney’s work.  Replacement for Best Biometrics Review?
  • Pursue grant funding and new clients.  NEW CLIENTS?
  • Support FBRI Contributing organizations
  • Collaborate with the University of Idaho on the FBRI Fellowship Program

The 2017 Fellowship program

several Ph.D. candidates were turned down because they were “NOT LOCAL”?

Bottom line is that four recipients were selected in 2017 out of the one available.  These individuals are:

  • Shawn de France – Salish Kootenai Tribe
  • Halli Hemingway – Bennett Lumber Products, Inc
  • Patrick Whalen – Inland Empire Paper Company
  • Silas Whitley – Northwest Management, Inc

I would like to offer my congratulations to those individuals!!  That is a great achievement, and I know that they will do well in the program.


2017 had a surplus of $45k while having lost $51k in contributors.  This means people are jumping ship.  This has not been a significant number before 2017.

An additional $200k are in the “endowment” / now rainy day fund

proposed dues changes in 2019 (likely in my opinion based on history)

$0.07 per acre with a minimum of $3500 and a maximum of $50000

this would be an increase from the

$0.05 per acre with a minimum of $2500 and a maximum of $40000

Which was an increase from

$0.02 per acre with a minimum of $1500 and a maximum of $35000

Jim Arney will begin attempting to make grant proposals.  This was unclear how this would work.  In the past, the grants did not apply to a non-profit, and he was required to then subcontract FBRI to get the money into FBRI.  This discussion was vague.

Lastly, there have been updates to the cashflow routine in FPS, and a poorly formed process will be distributed on how to update this at the November 30 release.  Additional codes in the species table for the Rule field have been added.  Codes 5 & 6 for the International 1/4 rule and the international 1/4 rule with a full butt log.

The meeting wrapped up rapidly.

What are your thoughts we would like to hear…