Tree Frog Forestry News

Daily Archives: May 11, 2016

Business & Politics

Fort McMurray wildfire could trigger spike in insurance rates

By Mark Gollom
CBC News
May 11, 2016
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

Insurance companies forced to fork over billions of dollars to cover damages from the Fort McMurray wildfire will remain financially sound despite their enormous losses, but some homeowners will likely face spikes in their premiums. “It’s quite possible we could see some rate increases, probably regionally,” said Jason Mercer, an analyst at Moody’s Canada Inc. “Can’t imagine it will be wholesale across-the-board rate increases.” Mercer said anyone who lives near a dry forest or somewhere particularly vulnerable to wildfire risks could see their rates spike. “And that naturally occurs after a large loss in insurance, there’s sort of a period of time where rates go up and then competition sort of brings it back down,” he said.

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Canadian forestry finding its footing despite market challenges

By Nelson Bennett
Business in Vancouver
May 10, 2016
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

There was an embarrassing moment at the beginning of PwC’s annual Global Forest, Paper and Packaging Industry Conference in Vancouver May 4 when guest speaker Michael Walton, Google’s (Nasdaq:GOOG) head of manufacturing, asked if anyone in the room could share an innovation his or her company had implemented that was a game-changer. Not a single hand went up. Not that there haven’t been innovations in forestry science and technology in Canada. Tall wood buildings and biomaterials made from cellulose are among them. But the no-show of hands points to an overall innovation deficit in the industry. In B.C., lumber producers and pulp and paper mills are facing long-term timber constraints, thanks to the mountain pine beetle infestation, which means they’ll need to innovate to harvest timber that’s harder to reach.

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Western internal review reveals ‘dysfunction’

By Kristen Douglas
Campbell River Mirror
May 10, 2016
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

Members of a Western Forest Products advisory group believe their meetings are dysfunctional and a waste of time, according to an internal review conducted by the forestry company. Amy Spencer, director of communications and government relations for Western Forest Products, said a review of the Mid Island Forestry Lands Advisory Group revealed a degree of dissatisfaction with how meetings are conducted. “We did advise members of MIFLAG privately and overall they felt there was dysfunction and that meetings were not a good use of their time,” Spencer said. In response, Spencer said Western has revised its terms of reference. Key to those changes is a new code of conduct to ensure meetings are productive.

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Struggles for Lumber Liquidators continue into a new year

Atlanta Journal Constitution
May 10, 2016
Category: Business & Politics
Region: US East, United States

TOANO, Va. — Losses worsened at Lumber Liquidators during the first three months of its fiscal year and sales declined for a fifth straight quarter as the flooring company spent heavily to put behind it damaging reports of potentially dangerous and illegal products from China. Its stock fell almost 8 percent. In a tentative agreement, the company, through its insurers, will contribute $26 million to a settlement fund to resolve a related class action. Lumber Liquidators will also contribute a million of its shares to the fund. That follows an announcement last month that the Toano, Virginia, company would pay $2.5 million to settle allegations that some of its products violated California’s air-safety standards. Last year, it paid $13.2 million in fines and pleaded guilty to environmental crimes for importing China-made flooring that contained timber illegally logged in eastern Russia.

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Behind the Closing of a Maine Paper Mill, a Tale of Tariffs and the Times

Reason.com
May 10, 2016
Category: Business & Politics
Region: US East, United States

Whose fault is it? Gov. LePage attributed the issue in part to technological change. Businesses are increasingly reaching customers with ads on Google or Facebook, not with coupons or display advertisements distributed with Sunday newspapers or in glossy magazines. That means consumers are reading on computers or mobile phones, on glass screens made in China, Korea, Taiwan, Japan, or Taiwan, instead of on paper made in Maine. ” …Yet the statement from the governor blaming the decline of print for the job losses also mentioned foreign competition—not Asian glass-screen manufacturers, but Canadian newsprint mills. The persistence of the Canadian paper mills undercuts the argument that technology is to blame for the Maine mill’s closing. Canadians have smartphones, too, after all.

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Wood, Paper & Green Building

Trex takes aim at competition from wood

Plastics News
May 10, 2016
Category: Wood, Paper & Green Building
Region: US East, United States

Trex Co. Inc. sales climbed 9 percent to $131.6 million, giving the deck maker an “exceptionally strong” start to the year and momentum that it plans to maintain, in part, with an advertising campaign that asks consumers: Why would anyone build with wood anymore? The Winchester, Va.-based company, which extrudes its decks from a mix of reclaimed wood scraps and some 1.5 billion of recycled polyethylene bags a year, had a record first quarter in terms of sales and gross profit, which came in at $57.6 million. Net profit was $23.4 million. As it enters its peak selling season, Trex is going after the wood decking and railing market that accounts for 84 percent, or 2 billion linear feet, of the product sold.

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Wooden Skyscraper in Stockholm Will Be Built with a New Technology

By Andrew Zaleski
Architectural Digest
May 10, 2016
Category: Wood, Paper & Green Building
Region: International

In Stockholm, where there’s an effort under way to build more housing without encroaching on green space, Swedish firm Anders Berensson Architects has come up with an innovative solution—a 436-foot-tall, 40-floor residential skyscraper, dubbed Trätoppen. The name of the structure is Swedish for “the treetop,” and with good reason: Using a cross-laminated timber (CLT) building technique, the firm will construct the tower from the wood of pine and fir trees. According to CEO Anders Berensson, curiosity was one of the factors that pushed the company toward such a unique design. “Even though CLT is a very strong material, there are few high buildings made of it,” says Berensson. “Yet, since Sweden is a country with many forests, building with wood should always be a consideration, if not a priority.”

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Forestry

Fort St. James Community Forest Audit Finds Issues

BC Forest Practices Board
May 10, 2016
Category: Forestry
Region: Canada, Canada West

VICTORIA – An audit of Community Forest Agreement CFA K1D has found that, while the Fort St. James Community Forest Corporation met many of the requirements of provincial forestry legislation, it also had some problems with operational planning, culvert construction, bridge construction and fire hazard assessments, according to a report released today. “While the auditors found a number of issues with the activities on the community forest, the board is very pleased that the community forest corporation responded quickly to fix the problems and improve its procedures and training for operational staff,” said Forest Practices Board chair Tim Ryan. The auditors examined forestry plans, timber harvesting, road and bridge construction and maintenance, planting and regeneration activities, and wildfire protection activities carried out since August 2013.

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Treed land in Green Timbers to be developed

By Kevin Diakiw
BC Local News in Surrey North Delta Leader
May 10, 2016
Category: Forestry
Region: Canada, Canada West

Despite passionate pleas from the community to save the green space, Surrey council has chosen to develop treed land connected to Green Timbers Urban Forest. On Monday afternoon, civic officials voted unanimously to provide the necessary zoning changes to allow for a homeless shelter and transition housing, a health care facility and a bio-energy station on a large tract of forested land adjoining Green Timbers Urban Forest. The decision comes a week after a marathon public hearing where many concerned residents spoke against the plan. While the five-hectare (12-acre) parcel of property at 140 Street and Green Timbers Way is not technically inside the heritage forest, it is located next to the mammoth 183-hectare (452-acre) park in North Surrey.

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Greenest city? Vancouver’s conflicted relationship with trees

By Pete McMartin
Vancouver Sun
May 10, 2016
Category: Forestry
Region: Canada, Canada West

In December 2006, when a windstorm slammed into Vancouver on Hanukkah Eve, the public’s attention focused on the blow-down that felled hundreds of trees in Stanley Park. A much greater destruction would happen later outside the park. Not only did scores of trees on private properties fall during the storm, but a greater number of perfectly healthy trees would come down in its wake. Throughout Metro Vancouver, homeowners, spooked by the images of the park’s splintered piles of big cedars and firs, looked at the trees on their properties as potential threats. …In Vancouver, the loss of trees has been in direct contradiction to the city’s goal of being the greenest city in the world by 2020. Vancouver’s tree canopy has shrunk, not grown.  “What we have numbers for are from 1995 to 2013,” said park board biologist Nick Page, “and we know there’s been a decline of the canopy in that time period. And we found that most of the decline is on private land. 

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Logging roads in Cree territory get green light amid concerns about woodland caribou herds

Montreal Gazette
May 10, 2016
Category: Forestry
Region: Canada East, Canada

The provincial government has green-lit a logging project it hopes can strike a balance between appeasing the needs of industry and respecting the territorial rights of the Waswanipi Cree. Last week, the Liberal government authorized the construction of two logging roads that cut deep into Cree territory but imposed a number of environmental safeguards on them. The Waswanipi band council says it’s satisfied with the outcome and willing to work alongside sawmill operator Matériaux Blanchet to mitigate the environmental harm caused by their roads. But will these measures be enough to help ensure the survival of Quebec’s rapidly declining woodland caribou herds, whose habitat would be transformed by the project?

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OSU professor wins forestry research award

Corvallis Gazette-Times
May 11, 2016
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

Oregon State University College of Forestry Prof. Doug Maguire has received a research award from the Oregon Society of American Foresters (OSAF). Maguire, who has taught at OSU since 1996, now has won the award three times. The award recognizes outstanding achievement in any branch of science leading to advancement in either the science or practice of forestry in Oregon. Maguire, who received the award at the OSAF annual meeting April 28 in Coos Baty, also has taught at the University of Maine and the University of Washington. Since 1988 he has been the author or co-author of 94 articles in peer-reviewed journals. He has served as the major professor for 37 graduate students and as a graduate committee member for an additional 88 students.

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13.4 percent of Missoula is covered by urban forest, study finds

The Missoulian
May 10, 2016
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

Nearly a third of Missoula is covered by impervious surfaces such as streets, parking lots or buildings, but another 13.4 percent is covered by trees – an estimated 2,053 acres. Some neighborhoods in Missoula are less green than others, and there’s a clear economic advantage to having trees in your yard. An assessment of Missoula’s urban forest canopy by the Parks and Recreation Department has found that these trees provide roughly $8.6 million in annual environmental service benefits, such as energy savings, carbon capture, air filtering and stormwater diversion. “Missoula’s early investment in a healthy urban forest helped our city claim the nickname the Garden City, and our community has since reaped the rewards,” wrote Chris Carlson, the city’s research program specialist, in a report to the city parks and recreation board.

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Invasive insects are ravaging U.S. forests, and it’s costing us billions

By Chris Mooney
Washington Post
May 10, 2016
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

Last week, a group of researchers published saddening news about “sudden oak death,” spread by an invasive water mold, that has killed over a million trees in coastal California. The pathogen, they found, simply cannot be stopped — though it can still be contained, and the harm mitigated. But it is too extensively established now in California to eradicate. Unfortunately, it’s a familiar story. The U.S. is subject to the introduction of 2.5 new invasive insects into its forests ever year, according to a comprehensive new analysis of this problem, in the journal Ecological Applications, by Gary Lovett of the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies and a group of 15 colleagues from Harvard, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and numerous other institutions. And that number is just for insects — it doesn’t count diseases, like sudden oak death.

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Proposed change would allow more timber harvesting in Kettle Moraine State Forest Southern Unit

Lake Country Now
May 9, 2016
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

The annual allowable amount of timber that could be harvested from the Southern Unit of the Kettle Moraine State Forest would be increased under a proposed master plan variance that is open for public comment until May 24. The forest’s 1991 master plan calls for some 50 acres of hardwood and 100 acres of softwood annually. The proposed variance would allow for approximately 360 acres of hardwood stands and conifer plantations may be harvested each year. “The current allowable harvest is not sufficient to meet property objectives for forest health, ecological restoration, and sustainable forest products,” said Craig Anderson, an ecologist with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Bureau of Parks and Recreation, which oversees management of the forest.

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Will restoration projects stop catastrophic wildfires?

The Daily Courier
May 10, 2016
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

PNF and the Highlands Center conducted a media event this past month to demonstrate how forest restoration projects work. The goal of these programs is to minimize devastating wildfires that could overtake communities. Sending in crews to thin vegetation by hand is one way to curtail vegetation. Mastication – using equipment to cut and chew up timber and brush – is another. “Our treatments are intended to mimic the effects of fire by changing the vegetation structure through mechanical manipulation until the vegetation structure more closely represents the natural arrangement that supported the rhythm of fire on the landscape,” said Noel Fletcher, PNF wildlife biologist. “Then we can consider putting fire back into the natural rhythm of the landscape when and where it is safe to do so.”

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Stop clear cutting in the forests

by Patty Gomez
Record Searchlight
May 9, 2016
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

…One major timber company continues to clear-cut forests in Shingletown and all over California, where it owns 1.5 million acres of forest. While Shasta County residents will argue that we need the timber companies for jobs, the practice of forest clear-cutting eventually destroys jobs. After a clear-cut, they apply herbicides to destroy native plants and then they plant tree farms. The herbicides contain cancer-causing chemicals like Glyphosate and 2,4-D….Tree farms do not have the biodiversity necessary for a healthy
forest. Industries of fishing, water recreation and tourism are eventually affected. And even more important, drought and climate change are affecting our quality of life and the futures of our children. We need to encourage the timber companies to stop clear cutting and to use more sustainable practices like selective harvesting.

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Regional Forest Agreements deemed a failure by NSW National Parks Association

ABC News, Australia
May 11, 2016
Category: Forestry
Region: International

A report assessing the effectiveness of the state’s Regional Forest Agreements (RFAs) has deemed them to be a failure as a model for native forest management. The report, developed by the National Parks Association and the NSW Conservation Council, said the agreements had failed, wholly or substantially, to meet any of their goals. The RFAs are 20-year agreements between State and Federal Governments which allow for the logging of native forests on public land, and provide an exemption to Commonwealth environment laws. They were designed to bring certainty for the timber industry whilst enabling nature conservation efforts and providing recreation opportunities.

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Forest Fires

Owner looking for new home for Martin Mars water bomber

By Amy Smart
Victoria Times Colonist
May 10, 2016
Category: Forest Fires
Region: Canada, Canada West

The owner of the Port Alberni-based Martin Mars said he’s taking the water bomber to an air show this summer in hopes of finding it a new home. Neither the B.C. nor Alberta governments have requested support from the retired air tanker, said Wayne Coulson, chief executive of the Coulson Group of Companies. “Based on the fact no government has any interest whatsoever in the aircraft fighting fire, we have decided to take the Mars to the Oshkosh Air Show in Wisconsin in late July in hopes of finding another business or home for it, keeping it somewhat operational,” Coulson said in an email. The Martin Mars was retired from firefighting service in 2013, but was brought back last summer for the forest-fire season on a $600,000 contract. Coulson said it can’t be used to fight fires without government support.

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Manitoba fires grow overnight near Beresford, Caddy Lake

Rain arrived near Caddy Lake, West Hawk Lake Tuesday night
CBC News
May 11, 2016
Category: Forest Fires
Region: Canada, Canada West

Two wildfires burning along the Manitoba-Ontario border grew from Tuesday night to Wednesday morning. Despite the growth, no cottages or homes were lost in the area overnight. On Tuesday, the province said the fire at Beresford Lake was 56,000 hectares, and the one just northeast of Caddy Lake was more than 5,000 hectares. Those numbers are larger this morning, but it’s not yet clear by how much. Smoke forced the closure of Highway 312 east of Highway 44 to the Ontario border Wednesday morning. Officials said visibility was too poor for the highway to remain open. Shawn Harbottle runs cottage rentals at West Hawk Lake. He said a significant amount of rain fell overnight, soaking the area.

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SHOCKING: Here’s why Canada’s largest water bomber wasn’t “available” to fight wildfire in Fort Mac

By Sheila Gunn Reid
The Rebel
May 10, 2016
Category: Forest Fires
Region: Canada, Canada West

The Martin Mars is Canada’s largest water bomber. It’s staged at Sproat Lake BC, a short flight away from Fort McMurray and could have been used in the fight against the massive wildfire nicknamed “The Beast” by Fort Mac fire chief Darby Allen. But it wasn’t. The bomber wasn’t there because the company that owns it wasn’t asked by Alberta government officials to make it available to fight fires in Alberta. In response to a deluge of questions from concerned people wondering why the company hasn’t sent their massive water bomber to help, Coulson Flying Tankers released this statement: “Firstly, if there was a request by the Alberta Government to contract the Martin Mars, we would do everything in our power to support the request. In fact, we have offered one of our C-130’s that could be made available immediately, to the Alberta Government however they currently do not see a need for it at the moment.

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Parksville man flees the flames of Fort McMurray

Parksville Qualicum Beach News
May 10, 2016
Category: Forest Fires
Region: Canada, Canada West

“I thought there might be a few items left, but all I could find was nails, there’s nothing left there at all,” said Adam Fras of his house in Fort McMurray last week. The 31-year-old Parksville firefighter had just returned north days earlier for his 10th year of seasonal work as a bush pilot. On Sunday, May 1 there was smoke in the distance as Fras got back into the swing of things, shuttling people and supplies to the remote communities north of Fort McMurray. …Police directed him toward the initial evacuation centre on McDonald Island, across downtown from the fire. “As I turned down the highway and looked back toward Beacon Hill you could see flames coming through the trees among the houses and — because there’s only that one road out — people were getting stuck trying to drive over the embankment to get onto the highway. They started abandoning vehicles on the side of the road.”

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Full Pundit: Overthinking the Fort McMurray wildfire

National Post
May 10, 2016
Category: Forest Fires
Region: Canada, Canada West

The Globe and Mail’s Gary Mason cannot imagine what would cause anyone to editorialize
on the supposed justice of a supposedly climate change-induced forest
fire decimating a Canadian city, even as tens of thousands of its
residents were on the run — especially since the community has given us
all so much. …The Edmonton Journal’s Paula Simons takes issue with a rather unfortunate headline to Mason’s piece: “Used by many and loved by few, Fort McMurray deserves only our support.” …It’s entirely possible climate change was a factor, Jen Gerson writes in the Post. But framing the fire as some kind of “karmic destiny is not only insensitive,” she says; it’s ludicrously hypocritical.

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Minnesota sends planes to fight Caddy Lake wildfire

Planes dropping fire retardant on homes, cottages near Caddy Lake, as well as hydro line
CBC News
May 10, 2016
Category: Forest Fires
Region: Canada, Canada West

The Manitoba government is thanking Minnesota for sending firefighting airplanes to the wildfire at Caddy Lake on the Manitoba-Ontario border. State officials have dispatched an “interagency aviation package” that includes two fire retardant tankers contracted by the U.S. Forest Service and an observation plane, also known as a “bird dog.” The Caddy Lake wildfire was last estimated to be 5,100 hectares in size on Tuesday and continues to grow. It is about 55 kilometres west of Kenora, Ont. The planes flew out to the Caddy Lake area on Tuesday afternoon and started dropping fire retardant to protect “high-value homes and cottages” and a rail line near the lake, as well as a power line that provides electricity to Kenora, according to an update from Ontario fire officials. The Manitoba government took to social media to thank Minnesota for the support.

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‘The boreal forest is very resilient’: how wildlife is impacted by the fires

660 News
May 11, 2016
Category: Forest Fires
Region: Canada, Canada West

It wasn’t just humans that had to escape from the blaze up in Fort McMurray: hundreds of different species of animals live in the area. While there may be some short term challenges for their habitat, one expert says the blaze may eventually help it flourish. Dave Kay, Alberta Environment and Parks, says different animals would have had different responses to the burning. “Larger mammals can escape just by walking or running into non-burned areas. Some of the young animals and animals that aren’t quite as mobile like small rodents and amphibians and stuff. They’ll try to find local refuge around wetlands, that kind of thing,” he explained.

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What is it like to fly a water bomber? This Manitoban can tell you

‘You’re flying right on the treetops all the time,’ says retired pilot Gordon Watt
CBC News
May 10, 2016
Category: Forest Fires
Region: Canada, Canada West

As water bomber crews fight wildfires across western Canada this week, a retired water bomber pilot in Manitoba explains what it’s like to fly the giant firefighting airplanes. Gordon Watt spent 36 years as a pilot with the Manitoba Government Air Service, including a decade flying water bombers, before he retired in 2008. …”You don’t get bored, I tell you, because you’re flying right on the treetops all the time, pretty much,” Watt said. “We don’t climb very much when we’re going back to the lake and it just keeps you alert, and there’s always that one tree sticking up out of the bush … you got to keep an eye out for that stuff.”

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Debunking the Fort McMurray rumours: No, the fire wasn’t started by ISIL, eco-terrorists or Rachel Notley

By Tristan Hopper
National Post
May 10, 2016
Category: Forest Fires
Region: Canada, Canada West

With the dramatic opening stages of the Fort McMurray response now coming to a close, select corners of Alberta are catching their breath — and barraging the Internet with bizarre rumours, speculation and the occasional pointed finger. Coming directly after one of the most inspiring outpourings of generosity in Canadian history, it’s not a pretty sight. Below, find a round-up of the most common myths — and why they’re utter bull ploppy. 

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Relief for Saskatchewan: Fort McMurray fire not moving towards province

Canadian Press in Saskatoon Star Phoenix
May 10, 2016
Category: Forest Fires
Region: Canada, Canada West

REGINA — Emergency officials say the predicted movement of large wildfires in northern Alberta toward northwestern Saskatchewan has not happened. Saskatchewan emergency management commissioner Duane McKay says the fires, including a blaze that raced through Fort McMurray, haven’t advanced much and that’s a relief. “It’s cautious relief,” McKay said Tuesday in a conference call. “When we’re going into a season that started significantly earlier than normal, and the extreme forest and grass fires that we’ve seen over the last few days, I think we’re remaining vigilant. …The Saskatchewan government recalled firefighting crews two weeks earlier this year and hired eight new crews in preparation for an early start to the wildfire season. The winter saw below average snowfall and above normal temperatures in much of Western Canada. However, much needed rain soaked southern Saskatchewan on Tuesday and lowered the fire risk.

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How big of a beastly fire will it take to wake us up?

By David Staples
Edmonton Journal
May 10, 2016
Category: Forest Fires
Region: Canada, Canada West

When firefighter Jamie Coutts drove through Fort McMurray in the wake of the fiery beast, he saw some houses standing in mostly burned neighbourhoods. Coutts realized the homes were still there for a reason. They tended to have non-flammable roofing material, stucco walls, no trees touching them, no wood fences attached, no wood mulch around them, nothing for the blizzard of tiny burning embers to land on, ignite and spread to the home. …Coutts has taken a crash course in the latest techniques of FireSmart, the new approach to battling wildfires that preaches homeowners and communities in the boreal forest aren’t helpless or defenceless against the wildfire threat. Instead, they can pursue preventive building and landscaping strategies that will increase a structure’s odds of surviving a wildfire. The provincial government got involved in pushing the FireSmart program after the nasty 2001 Chisholm wildfire, but not all communities have embraced the plan or had the funding to do so.

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Where the Fort McMurray wildfire is now and why it will take months to extinguish

‘It’s really, really gruelling work out there,’ Alberta wildfire information officer says
CBC News
May 10, 2016
Category: Forest Fires
Region: Canada, Canada West

Enormous flames are no longer consuming the city of Fort McMurray, but the wildfire is still active and classified as “out of control” by the Alberta government. CBC News asked Alberta wildfire information officer Travis Fairweather to explain what is happening now and why officials say it will take months to extinguish the fire. As of Tuesday afternoon, the Fort McMurray wildfire was 2,290 square kilometres. That’s up from about 2,040 square kilometres on Monday. ..The Fort McMurray wildfire has been travelling east and is about 25 to 30 kilometres from the Saskatchewan boundary, according to the Alberta government’s latest update on Tuesday. …About 700 firefighters are working on the Fort McMurray wildfire. Twenty-six helicopters are being used to transport crews and to pick up and drop water and 13 air tanker planes are carrying water or fire retardant.

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‘Pyro’ bugs will help restore burned Fort McMurray forest

‘They lay their eggs on burned logs, while they are still hot … they want barbecued wood’
CBC News
May 10, 2016
Category: Forest Fires
Region: Canada, Canada West

The blackened landscape around Fort McMurray is far from a dead zone, despite a wildfire that has reduced more than 229,000 of hectares of boreal forest to cinders and ashes. Amid the charred skeletons of spruce and still smouldering muskeg, Alberta’s fire-loving insects are on the move. Some bugs thrive in burned landscapes, and Heule said these pyrophilus creatures are critical to rejuvenating the boreal forest. The most famous of these fire-loving insects is the white-spotted long-horn beetle. The pitch-black, long-antennaed critters feed on conifers like spruce, pine and fir trees in forests across North America. “These guys are attracted to dead and dying trees, especially post-burn,” said Heule.

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‘Fort McMurray is alive’: First media tour inside embattled oil sands capital reveals scars of the heroic battle to save it

By Tristan Hopper
National Post
May 10, 2016
Category: Forest Fires
Region: Canada, Canada West

FORT MCMURRAY, Alta. – One of Canada’s most consequential regions is empty. Highway 63, a road famous for its heavy traffic and high crash rate, now crawls with only the occasional fuel truck and firefighting vehicle. The FM dial is all emergency broadcasts. Oilsands camps that normally echoed with the blue language of oil workers are deserted. Even the bugs are gone; they’ve been smoked out by one of the largest citronella candles in history. “It was a beast, it was an animal, it’s like nothing I’ve ever seen,” said local fire chief Darby Allen as a bus carried the first media officially allowed into Fort McMurray. The Fort McMurray Fire Department is a municipal fire department. Under normal conditions, they do the things expected of most fire departments in small cities. Car fires, medical calls, brush fires, that sort of thing. But on Tuesday, they were asked to hold off a conflagration so big it would soon be generating condolences from the Queen and prayers from the Pope.

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40 wildfires burning in B.C.

Kelowna Now
May 10, 2016
Category: Forest Fires
Region: Canada, Canada West

Amid wildfire season, the Prince George area continues to be the hardest hit in British Columbia. Out of the 39 wildfires actively burning in the province, 35 are in the Prince George Fire Centre area. Two main fires, the Beatton Airport Road and the Siphon Creek fire, are still cause for concern. The Beatton Airport Road fire, 45 kilometres north of Fort St. John, is 15,000 hectares in size. An evacuation alert has been downgraded, although it is still in effect. According to the BC Wildfire Service, this fire is not out and they are continuing to fight against it. Crews are still putting in control lines and mopping up the area.

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Preparing for wildfire season

Whistler Question
May 10, 2016
Category: Forest Fires
Region: Canada, Canada West

The images of the massive fire that ripped through Fort McMurray last week were devastating to see. Vehicles crawled down Highway 63 — the only road out of town — as flames appeared to lap at the side of the road. …The disaster drove home how important it is to be prepared for the unknown — smack dab in the middle of Emergency Preparedness Week. The wildfire — the way it turned so quickly from a distant threat to a full-blown mandatory evacuation — hits particularly close to home for Whistler. We fear wildfire here because our town is nestled directly into a forest. If a blaze were to break out like the one in Fort Mac, it’s possible the effects would be even more difficult to bounce back from.

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It’s not just Alberta: Warming-fueled fires are increasing

Atlanta Journal Constitution
May 10, 2016
Category: Forest Fires
Region: US East, United States

WASHINGTON — Alberta’s unusually early and large fire is just the latest of many gargantuan fires on an Earth that’s grown hotter with more extreme weather. Earlier this year, large wildfires hit spots on opposite ends of the world — Tasmania and Oklahoma-Kansas. Last year, Alaska and California pushed the U.S. to a record 10 million acres burned. Massive fires hit Siberia, Mongolia and China last year and Brazil’s fire season has increased by a month over the past three decades. It got so bad that in 2009, Australia added a bright red “catastrophic” to its fire warning index. “The warmer it is, the more fires we get,” said Mike Flannigan, a professor of wildland fire at the University of Alberta. …Worldwide, the length of Earth’s fire season increased nearly 19 percent from 1979 to 2013, according to a study by Mark Cochrane, a professor of fire ecology at South Dakota State University.

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Carbon, Climate & Bioenergy

Air Canada and Biojet Supply Chain Initiative Choose Montréal-Trudeau Airport for Aviation Biofuel Project

Canada Newswire press release
May 10, 2016
Category: Carbon, Climate & Bioenergy
Region: Canada East, Canada

Air Canada today announced Canada’s Biojet Supply Chain Initiative (CBSCI) will be held at Montréal-Trudeau Airport. It is a three-year collaborative project with 14 stakeholder organizations to introduce 400,000 litres of sustainable aviation biofuel (biojet) into a shared fuel system. Previous Air Canada biofuel flights used biojet that was segregated from regular jet fuel and loaded separately into an aircraft via tanker truck. By contrast, CBSCI’s objective is to start developing a more efficient operational framework that will introduce biojet into a multi-user, co-mingled airport fuel supply system.

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