Tree Frog Forestry News

Daily Archives: August 20, 2018

Today’s Takeaway

Wildfire season dominates business, forestry, climate and health & safety news

The Tree Frog Forestry News
August 20, 2018
Category: Today's Takeaway

The 2018 wildfire season across the West continues to dominate the news, be it business, forestry, climate or health & safety related. Here are the headlines: 

  • BC declares state of emergency as hundreds of wildfires burn (CBC News)
  • Push back on Trump blaming fires on Canadian lumber (CTV News)
  • Wildfire smoke in BC causing health concerns (Globe and Mail)
  • Hard on water: Smoke not the only long-range effect of wildfires (Can Press)
  • Forest fires in northern Ontario provincial park essential to ecosystem (CBC News)
  • Climate has a role in wildfires? No. Wait, yes. (New York Times)
  • Clear-cutting forests won’t solve California’s wildfire problem (Sacramento Bee)
  • Too few ‘fire bombers’ as Western states burn this summer (Washington Post)
  • Zinke blames environmentalists not climate change for wildfires (Time Magazine)
  • Record-breaking fire tornado killed California firefighter (Helena Independent)
  • Science Says: hotter weather turbocharges US West wildfires (Associated Press)

In other news: BC Steelworkers give negotiators a strike mandate; Kruger plans to build a tissue plant in Quebec; and Seattle’s mayor pressures BC to halt logging near the border. Finally, as steel and concrete costs rise, mass timber continues to make progress, despite fears promoted by the concrete industry.

A special thanks to our readers who passed on best wishes during our brief sojourn. Other than Christmas—it was the first publication break we’ve taken in our ten year history!

–Kelly McCloskey, Tree Frog Editor

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Business & Politics

Housing Rebound Approaches a Crossroads

By Lauren Pollock
The Wall Street Journal
August 19, 2018
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, United States

Investors will be watching this week for further signs that the housing market is cooling. Data on existing- and new-home sales for July are on tap for Wednesday and Thursday. Existing-home sales slumped in June for the fifth time in the first six months of the year, while new-home sales fell that month to the weakest pace in eight months. Those are worrisome trends for investors who consider housing a crucial indicator of overall economic health. Shares of home builders have tumbled this year on higher costs for labor and materials, particularly lumber, and as a rise in mortgage rates has discouraged some buyers. Lumber prices surged to an all-time high in May, driven by a trade dispute with Canada, wildfires and limited rail capacity, before pulling back this summer. Mortgage rates, meanwhile, have also hovered near multiyear highs. [This story is only available to Wall Steel Journal subscribers]

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FPAC Statement on President Trump’s comments regarding California forest fires

By the Forest Products Association of Canada
Cision Newswire
August 17, 2018
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada

OTTAWA – Forest Products Association of Canada CEO Derek Nighbor issued the following statement today after U.S. President Donald Trump’s comments partially blaming Canadian lumber imports for forest fires in California. “First and foremost our thoughts are with people in Canada and the U.S. who have been displaced from their homes or are on evacuation alert, and with our first responders who are valiantly battling fires on both sides of the border,” said Nighbor.”The U.S. simply does not have the milling capacity to meet consumer needs and are only able to satisfy about 75 per cent of American wood demand. Unfortunately, Americans are being forced to pay higher prices for wood products because of U.S. tariffs on Canadian lumber. The U.S. could provide an immediate discount to Americans rebuilding after fires by rescinding tariffs on Canadian lumber, which has increased the cost of lumber by 20 per cent.”

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Forestry industry pushes back on Trump blaming fires on Canadian lumber imports

By Ian Bickis
Canadian Press in CTV News
August 17, 2018
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, United States

Canada’s forestry industry is pushing back against comments by U.S. President Trump that lumber imports are partially to blame for intense forest fires in California. Trump said a at cabinet meeting Thursday that the U.S. should harvest fallen trees from the forest floor, which he says are making fires worse, rather than import wood when “Canada is charging us a lot of money to bring their timber down into our country.” The comments were troubling and a bit ridiculous, said Forest Products Association of Canada CEO Derek Nighbor. “At a number of levels the president’s comments are just really off-base yet again.”  … Susan Yurkovich, president of the BC Lumber Trade Council, said Trump has the option at any time to lower the premium on lumber prices that the U.S. National Association of Home Builders estimates is adding US$7,500 to the cost to build an average home.

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Rebuild of fire-damaged Lakeview mill aiming for full-production by Feb. 2019

By Monica Lamb-Yorski
Williams Lake Tribune
August 14, 2018
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

Nine months after a fire destroyed Tolko’s Lakeview Division sawmill in Williams Lake the company said it hopes to resume full production by February 2019. Randy Chadney, Tolko Industries general manager BC Lumber, told the Tribune the demolition was completed in April and the rebuild is underway, noting the source of the fire could not be determined by the fire inspector, but it was confirmed it was not caused by combustible dust. “We are reconstructing the sawmill and expect to start testing some of the equipment in November,” Chadney said. Compared to the previous three-line sawmill at Lakeview, the new one will be a two-line sawmill with a canter line and a head rig.

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Lumber workers vote in favour of strike

By Frank Peebles
The Prince George Citizen
August 15, 2018
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

A forest of lumber workers have voted in favour of strike action, sending a message to more than a dozen regional mill operations.  More than 1,600 workers voted in the strike poll (held Aug. 3-11). According to United Steelworkers (USW) Local 1-2017 president Brian O’Rourke, 1,509 members voted in favour of a strike, which was a 93 per cent affirmation. It gives the workers the ability to issue 72-hour strike notice should they wish to withhold services due to a contract impasse, but they have not hit such an impasse. “I’m not anticipating anything like that,” he said. “We started off negotiations with what we considered small hurdles. We didn’t seem to be making any headway whatsoever. We talked it over internally and concluded the only way forward then was to test the membership and see if there was a mandate from them for a strike. Now we have that mandate.”

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Kruger Products to Invest $575 Million to Build a New Tissue Plant

By Kruger Inc.
Cision Newswire
August 16, 2018
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada East, Canada

SHERBROOKE, QC – KP Tissue Inc. and Kruger Products L.P.  today announced its plan for a capital investment of $575 million in the Brompton area of Sherbrooke, Québec, to build a new, state-of-the-art tissue plant featuring Canada’s largest and most modern through-air-dry machine. The project will create more than 180 new jobs in the region. …The new plant, which will be adjacent to an existing facility of the Kruger Group, will produce at maturity approximately 70,000 metric tonnes per annum of bathroom tissue and paper towels which will enable Kruger Products to increase its offering of ultra premium and innovative tissue products under the Cashmere®, SpongeTowels® and Purex® brands. The project is supported by the Government of Québec through Investissement Québec, which has agreed to invest $105 million by way of a convertible debenture. The remaining financing for the project is currently being finalized.

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Northwest First Nations build a future in forestry

By Ian Ross
Northern Ontario Business
August 16, 2018
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada East, Canada

A walk through the Nakina sawmill in early August got Mark Bell excited. A decade after the operation had been shuttered, Buchanan Sawmills had reopened the mill in January and was back in business as staff painstakingly worked out the mechanical bugs at the northwestern Ontario sawmill and planer facility. Of the 60 workers on shift, most were Aboriginal workers drawn from the nearby Aroland First Nation. “It was great to see our community members are working and doing a good job,” said Bell, president of the Agoke Development Corporation. “We have members at the mill who are doing greasing and they have aspirations to become electricians and millwrights.” Having a meaningful role within the forestry sector with burgeoning career opportunities was not always available to them.

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Former top bureaucrat at Department of Natural Resources lands job at Port Hawkesbury Paper

By Aaron Beswick
The Chronicle Herald
August 14, 2018
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada East, Canada

Allan Eddy

A former top bureaucrat at the Department of Natural Resources starts his new job at Port Hawkesbury Paper on Monday. Allan Eddy, who long served as a senior executive with the department tasked with regulating the mill’s forestry activities, rose to the job of associate deputy minister. He held that title from April 2014 until December 2016 when he took over the same position at the Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture. “We went looking for someone with experience in the industry who knew both the perils and opportunities,” said Bevan Lock, who has been serving as the co-operations manager at Port Hawkesbury Paper. “Allan, with his experience in forestry, fit that bill.” … While it may be a good hire for the mill, not everyone in northern Nova Scotia is as comfortable with the close ties that have developed between the industry’s two biggest players and the government regulator.

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Wood, Paper & Green Building

Wood construction pushes forward on both sides of the border

By Warren Frey
Journal of Commerce
August 15, 2018
Category: Wood, Paper & Green Building
Region: Canada, United States

Mass timber construction is making waves on both sides of the Canada-U.S. border, but factors in each country mean a different pace of progress. The state of Washington is rapidly moving forward on both green construction and use of advanced wood products, but Washington State Department of Commerce forest products sector lead Brian Hatfield said the state isn’t necessarily ahead of its Canadian neighbour. “In some ways, British Columbia is ahead of us in terms of low carbon building materials,” he said. …While Washington is taking steps to increase wood use in construction, the Province of BC has pushed for mass timber and wood-focused design for the previous decade. In 2009, the Province of British Columbia put the Wood First Act into practice, which requires provincially funded projects to use wood as a primary construction material. 

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Alphabet’s ‘Digital City’ Eyes World’s Biggest Timber Project

By Stefanie Marotta and Natalie Wong
Bloomberg
August 14, 2018
Category: Wood, Paper & Green Building
Region: Canada East, Canada

Larry Page’s ‘city of the future’ on Toronto’s waterfront may end up having one foot rooted firmly in the past. Sidewalk Labs LLC, the urban innovation unit of Alphabet Inc., is considering constructing buildings in the 4.9-hectare (12-acre) high-tech community entirely with tall-timber technology — engineered wood products that proponents say are as strong and fire-resistant as those made from steel or concrete. If the proposal goes through, Quayside, which will include about 3,000 residential units, would be the largest development built primarily with tall timber… “It’s such an audacious concept to build this many buildings with 3 million square feet of timber all at once” that the project would need developer support to make it happen, Khalifa said in an interview… Sidewalk Labs has talked to developers …about collaborating on tall timber, which allows for less carbon intensity … is more sustainable, faster to erect and cheaper to fund, Khalifa said.

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As costs rise, builders taking fresh look at timber

By Kyle Campbell
Real Estate Weekly
August 15, 2018
Category: Wood, Paper & Green Building
Region: United States

As costs and concerns tied to cement and steel construction continue to rise, some regulators, builders and environmentalists are taking a fresh look at an old material. Timber high-rises have been drawn up and executed around the world, from far-flung locales such as London, Paris and Vancouver to nearby Newark. Proponents praise these projects as healthier options for the planet at large as well as individual occupants. “People naturally gravitate toward wood buildings, they feel more comfortable in wood environments,” Michael Green, one of the leading timber architects in North America, said. “All the social science shows that it helps people learn better, work better and heal faster.” With its history of horrific blazes, New York has not jumped on the wooden bandwagon. Citywide, timber buildings can’t be more than six stories tall and there are additional restrictions in the designated fire district…

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National Poll: Three in Four Americans Think Tall Wood Construction is a Threat to Public Safety

By the Portland Cement Association
Cision Newswire
August 14, 2018
Category: Wood, Paper & Green Building
Region: United States

WASHINGTON — Three in four or 74 percent of Americans say proposals to allow taller buildings to be constructed with wood raise serious concerns for public safety, according to a new national public opinion poll. When asked about proposals to change the nation’s model building codes to raise to 18 the number of stories that can be built using wood products, respondents expressed worry over building structure and fire safety. These proposals will be voted on in October by the International Code Council (ICC), which develops the model building code. “Most people don’t know what materials were used to build their home, school, hospital or office building – so the building codes that shaped those construction decisions are way off their radar,” said Portland Cement Association (PCA) President and CEO Michael Ireland.

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Columbia Pulp Opens Pilot Plant Producing Paper Pulp from Waste Straw in Washington

By Columbia Pulp
Business Wire
August 15, 2018
Category: Wood, Paper & Green Building
Region: United States, US West

DAYTON, Washington – Columbia Pulp I, LLC, announced Wednesday that the company has completed construction on its 18,000-square-foot pilot plant in Pomeroy, Washington. While construction is still underway for North America’s first tree-free pulp mill outside of neighboring Starbuck, Washington, this pilot plant will replicate Columbia Pulp’s innovative pulp-making process on a smaller scale. Columbia Pulp expects the pilot plant to produce 10 tons of pulp per day, and to be fully operational by September. …Ultimately, the first-of-its-kind … Lyons Ferry Pulp Plant is planned to produce 400 tons of pulp per day in its 140,000-square-foot facility. Along with producing pulp for use in papermaking, the mill will produce environmentally friendly biopolymers, which can be used on roads, in animal feed and more.

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Oregon State University’s problem with CLT panels no more than a blip

By Erin Isselmann, Oregon forest Resources Institute
The Register Guard
August 19, 2018
Category: Wood, Paper & Green Building
Region: United States, US West

The Register-Guard’s Aug. 15 editorial critical about a proven wood products technology being embraced by architects, engineers and contractors throughout North America sends a false alarm to the construction community and general public (“OSU’s CLT building rings an alarm bell”). The technology is cross-laminated timber, or CLT… The technology is not new; in Europe, it’s been used for decades. It’s now catching on in the United States and in Canada, and, of course, represents a competitive threat to established industries such as steel and concrete. At issue is an unfortunate manufacturing defect that caused one CLT panel to fail at an Oregon State University construction project. …Engineers zeroed in on the problem and corrected it.  …In no way should we minimize what happened at Peavy Hall. But failures lead to learning that leads to better products and processes.

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Peavy faces additional scrutiny as timber showcase

By Mike McInally
The Albany Democrat-Herald
August 14, 2018
Category: Wood, Paper & Green Building
Region: United States, US West

Few, if any, construction projects on an Oregon campus have undergone the kind of scrutiny that Oregon State University’s Peavy Hall has faced. But then again, few projects are carrying the load that Peavy Hall has shouldered: Not only is the new building intended to be the home of OSU’s College of Forestry, it also is intended to showcase a technology that could help revitalize the state’s wood-products industry. Peavy was meant (and still is meant) to be a poster project for the use of cross-laminated timber panels, glu-lam columns and other engineered wood products rather than steel and concrete for structural support. It hasn’t worked out that way thus far for Peavy, the centerpiece of a planned three-building Oregon Forest Science Complex.

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Forestry

Glyphosate – Monsanto reaps what it sows in legal case

By Peter Ewart
The Prince George Daily News
August 16, 2018
Category: Forestry
Region: Canada, Canada West

It is an astounding settlement in California.  $289 million was awarded in damages to a school groundskeeper, Dewayne Johnson, who argued that Monsanto’s Roundup weedkiller caused him to develop terminal lymphoma cancer covering 80% of his body in lesions.  …In the trial proceedings leading up to the verdict, much damning evidence emerged.  …Court records also show that a top US government E.P.A. official collaborated with Monsanto to stop a review of glyphosate.  “If I can kill this,” he said, “I should get a medal.” …As discussed in the previous article in PG Daily News, “Death from the sky in Northern BC,” glyphosate is used on a massive scale in forestry operations in the Central Interior region and other parts of the province with between 10,000 to 20,000 hectares of forest sprayed each year.  How long will this practice continue unabated especially as more damning information about this chemical comes to light?

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Seattle mayor pressures Premier Horgan for ‘immediate halt’ to logging near Canada-US border

By Larry Pynn
Vancouver Sun
August 17, 2018
Category: Forestry
Region: Canada, Canada West

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan has written Premier John Horgan to express “grave concern” over logging in a critical watershed near the B.C. border, urging that the work be stopped immediately. The letter from Durkan tells Horgan that the logging is taking place in the Silverdaisy area of the upper Skagit watershed, an area known as the “donut hole, created when the western boundary of Manning Provincial Park was moved to exclude some mining claims.” Durkan said the logging is “inconsistent with the spirit and intent” of the Canada-U.S. High Ross Treaty signed in 1984. …“One of the main purposes of the Treaty was to maintain the environmental integrity of the Watershed,” Durkan wrote… Donaldson said … that current logging in the … Silverdaisy area is from an active Timber Sale Licence awarded under the previous Liberal government in 2015, [and he] is unable to stop the logging once a licence is issued.

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‘Hard on water:’ Smoke not the only long-range effect of wildfires

The Canadian Press in The Northern View
August 19, 2018
Category: Forestry
Region: Canada, Canada West

Smoke isn’t the only way wildfires affect people and places far from the flames. Researchers are studying how blackened forests affect ecosystems and water quality far downstream just as hundreds of blazes in British Columbia are darkening skies as far east as Manitoba. “Fires are particularly hard on water,” said Monica Emelko, a water treatment engineer at the University of Waterloo and a member of the Southern Rockies Watershed Project. “If the intensity is there and enough of the watershed is burned, you can have a very significant impact on the water supply and that impact can be long-lasting.” …Fires and forests have always gone together. But… “Fire managers started to see wildfire behaviour that was at the extreme end or beyond anything that had been previously observed,” said Uldis Silins, a University of Alberta hydrologist.

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Forest Practices Board audits Skeena Sawmills

By Quinn Bender
Northern Sentinel
August 16, 2018
Category: Forestry
Region: Canada, Canada West

The Forest Practices Board is conducting an audit of Skeena Sawmills’ tree farm and forest licences this week. Announcing the audit earlier this month, the FPB said the audit is a common practice in the forest industry. “It’s not based on past performance or anything like that,” said FPB spokesperson Kairry Nguyen. “We look at operational and strategic priorities. Maybe there are risks occurring —we look at everything and make sure they’re doing everything they’re required to do.” In selecting Skeena Sawmills the independent watchdog first chose an assortment of companies at random from the eight natural resource districts in B.C. After a review of operations the list was shortened for an audit of compliance with the Forest & Range Practices Act and the Wildfire Act.

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Northwest First Nations build a future in forestry

By Ian Ross
Northern Ontario Business
August 16, 2018
Category: Forestry
Region: Canada East, Canada

A walk through the Nakina sawmill in early August got Mark Bell excited. A decade after the operation had been shuttered, Buchanan Sawmills had reopened the mill in January and was back in business as staff painstakingly worked out the mechanical bugs at the northwestern Ontario sawmill and planer facility. Of the 60 workers on shift, most were Aboriginal workers drawn from the nearby Aroland First Nation. “It was great to see our community members are working and doing a good job,” said Bell, president of the Agoke Development Corporation. “We have members at the mill who are doing greasing and they have aspirations to become electricians and millwrights.” Having a meaningful role within the forestry sector with burgeoning career opportunities was not always available to them.

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Liberals’ 11th-hour forest strategy a product of talks — here and there

By Connell Smith
CBC News
August 17, 2018
Category: Forestry
Region: Canada East, Canada

Rick Doucet

NEW BRUNSWICK — It was three years and 11 months coming, but big questions remain about the Liberal government’s review of the previous provincial government’s forest management strategy. The results of the review were announced Tuesday. They leave in place controversial Crown forest cutting allocations set by the previous government of David Alward and they increase the amount of forest being set aside for conservation by 1,500 square kilometres. Energy and Resource Development minister Rick Doucet addressed the delay in releasing the review in his opening remarks Tuesday by claiming much of the department’s energy has been devoted to solving trade tariffs issue with the United States. But the looming provincial election — the writ is to be issued next Thursday — is a more likely explanation, according to some, including Green Party Leader David Coon and former Progressive Conservative natural resources minister Bruce Northrup.

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Climate Has a Role in Wildfires? No. Wait, Yes.

By Henry Fountain
The New York Times
August 17, 2018
Category: Forestry
Region: United States

Ryan Zinke

With his comments this week on California’s recent spate of vicious wildfires, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke waded into a longstanding debate over how forests are managed. Mr. Zinke also dismissed the impact of global warming on the fires. But the secretary later clarified his comments, responding “of course” when asked if he accepted that climate change was part of the problem. …But he said what was driving this summer’s severe blazes was “fuel load,” or the presence of dead and dying trees that have not been cleared from forests. In one interview, with Breitbart Radio, Mr. Zinke blamed “environmental terrorist groups” for the situation, saying their legal efforts had prevented the widespread harvesting of dead timber. But John Barnwell with the Society of American Foresters, said there was no single reason this summer’s fires have been so severe.

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Appeals court ruling halts giant forest project in Idaho

By Keith Ridler
Associated Press
August 16, 2018
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

BOISE, Idaho — A giant forest project in Idaho is on hold following a ruling by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The decision Monday halts the 125-square-mile (325-square-kilometer) project on the Payette National Forest that includes commercial timber sales, work to improve fish passage, prescribed burning to reduce forest fire risks and the closing of some roads. The Alliance for the Wild Rockies filed the lawsuit and appeal. It contends the project allows more logging of mature forests, which harms species that rely on old-growth. The group also said the project harms fish habitat for federally protected bull trout. Other environmental groups the backed the project. The appeals court didn’t delve into whether the project was good or bad. The court ruled that parts of the project weren’t in line with the 2003 Payette National Forest Land and Resource Management Plan that had gone through a public environmental review process.

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Clear-cutting forests won’t solve California’s wildfire problem. But this will

By The Editorial Board
The Sacramento Bee
August 18, 2018
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

Now nearly everyone, it seems, is in favor of more “forest management” to reduce fuel for California’s record wildfires. But there is a big difference between clearing overgrown brush and thinning dead trees, and neither is the same as clear-cutting acres of pristine forest. …California’s forests are far more than fuel for fires. Properly managed, they provide habitat for wildlife, clean carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and are essential to watershed quality, especially in the Sierra Nevada. In clear-cutting, an extreme form of logging, all trees in an area are cut down, then herbicides applied before new seedlings are planted. …Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, surveying fire damage near Redding recently, called for culling more trees from national forests and slammed environmental groups for blocking timber harvesting. 

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Too few ‘fire bombers’ as Western states burn this summer

By Jennifer Oldham
The Washington Post
August 19, 2018
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

DENVER — The captain lined up his 747 airtanker with the Holy Fire incinerating California’s Cleveland National Forest and prepared to steer the retrofitted freighter straight into the jaws of hell. …Dubbed the “Spirit of John Muir,” the jumbo jet has attained Hollywood-like celebrity on social media and television this summer. Between July 7 and Aug. 9, it flew 41 sorties over 10 massive blazes scorching the Pacific Coast. Jittery residents pleaded for it to be sent to save their homes. “We’ve had phone calls from individuals on our line…  asking us, ‘Why isn’t the plane flying?’ ” said Roger Miller, a managing partner at Alterna Capital Partners, which counts Global SuperTanker Services among its aviation assets. The “fire bomber” is among the scores of airtankers and helicopters attacking record-breaking wildfires in states across the West. Yet demand for such resources far exceeds supply.

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Secretary Zinke Says Climate Change Is Not Responsible for California Wildfires, Blames Environmentalists

By Alix Langone
Time Magazine
August 13, 2018
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

Ryan Zinke

Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke on Sunday said that “extreme” environmental groups are contributing to the rise of wildfires in the West. During a visit to parts of California that have been devastated by wildfires, he blamed environmentalist and their attempts to lessen logging in forests for the deadly blazes. He also said that climate change had nothing to do with the increasing frequency and intensity of the fires. “America is better than letting these radical groups control the dialogue about climate change,” Zinke said in an interview with local TV news station KCRA. “Extreme environmentalists have shut down public access. They talk about habitat, and yet they are willing to burn it up.” Zinke continued, saying he’s heard, “the climate change argument back and forth,” but that the California wildfires have “nothing to do with climate change.”

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Forest fires in northern Ontario provincial park essential to ecosystem, official says

By Heather Kitching
CBC News
August 20, 2018
Category: Forestry

More than 23,000 hectares of Woodland Caribou Provincial Park are currently burning due to wildfires in the region, but the acting park superintendent says that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It is an ecosystem that is fire-driven, Kent Fraser told CBC News. “That’s why we’re monitoring them and not suppressing them,” he said.  “We’re just allowing what mother nature wants to see on the landscape.” A fire two years ago consumed around the same amount of forest, Fraser said. What’s different this year is the unusually high number of starts and the amount of fuel. …The park, as its name suggests, is home to two groups of endangered caribou, and Fraser said it’s unlikely they would have been consumed by the fire. 

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Forest Fires

B.C. resource and tourism industries brace as wildfires rip through forests

Canadian Press in Victoria Times Colonist
August 17, 2018
Category: Forest Fires
Region: Canada, Canada West

…Wildfires that have destroyed thousands of hectares of trees and filled the sky with thick smoke have put companies in B.C.’s resource and tourism industries on high alert. …”There are areas that are obviously curtailed for harvesting (wood) because of the wildfire conditions,” said B.C. Forests Minister Doug Donaldson during the same call. “At this point we haven’t seen any curtailments as a direct result of the fire, in mills, but if the fire season persists, we likely will see an impact on log supply until we can make it safe to get back into the woods again.” …Vancouver-based Conifex Timber announced on Thursday that it was temporarily shutting down operations at its mill in Fort St. James, B.C., due to an anticipated evacuation order. …West Fraser Timber Co. Ltd. says it will keep its B.C. lumber, pulp and panel manufacturing mills operating as long as it is safe…

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Fires burning in north-central BC ‘ugly,’ threatening ranches and farms: Evacuee

Gordon Hoekstra
Vancouver Sun
August 19, 2018
Category: Forest Fires
Region: Canada, Canada West

…Mike Robertson is among the approximately 1,500 “South siders,” as they call themselves, who live in an area about 40 kilometres south of Burns Lake, where wildfires are burning hundreds of square kilometres of tinder-dry forest. Some structures have been burned but Robertson did not know all the details. The wildfires are also threatening other communities in north-central B.C.: Fraser Lake and Fort St. James. …In the area south of Burns Lake, accessible only by ferry across Francois Lake or remote forest service roads, some residents have stayed behind, including logging contractors, to create fire guards, often done by scraping or plowing the ground of any fuel, to create kilometres of fire breaks. …This year’s fire season is now the third worst on record since 1950. More than 1,800 fires have already burned nearly 5,800 square kilometres, 70 per cent of that in northern B.C.

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B.C. declares state of emergency as hundreds of wildfires burn across province

By Mike Laanela
CBC News
August 15, 2018
Category: Forest Fires
Region: Canada, Canada West

The British Columbia government has declared a provincewide state of emergency in response to the ongoing wildfire situation. Minister of Public Safety Mike Farnworth made the declaration on Wednesday morning. “Public safety is always our first priority and, as wildfire activity is expected to increase, this is a progressive step in our wildfire response to make sure British Columbia has access to any and all resources necessary,” Farnworth said in a statement. The state of emergency is initially in effect for 14 days, once issued, and may be extended or rescinded as necessary. It applies to the whole province and ensures federal, provincial and local resources can be delivered in a co-ordinated response to protect the public.

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Alberta firefighters, RCMP head to B.C. to assist with raging wildfires

By Anna McMillan
CBC News
August 19, 2018
Category: Forest Fires
Region: Canada, Canada West

About 100 first responders have temporarily left Alberta’s smoke-filled air behind, moving a province west, where conditions are much worse. Firefighters and RCMP members have been deployed to British Columbia to help local crews deal with hundreds of fires burning across the province.  A total of 47 Alberta firefighters and support staff have been sent to B.C., said Lynn Daina, an information officer for the Fort McMurray forest area. …”Right now, Alberta is quite quiet wildfire-wise,” Daina said. “We don’t have really anything on the go, so our crews are available to go where they’re needed.”

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Wildfire smoke from B.C. gets in the way of mountain scenery for tourists

The Chronicle-Journal
August 19, 2018
Category: Forest Fires
Region: Canada, Canada West

JASPER, Alta. – Smoke from wildfires that’s blanketing parts of Alberta does more than just irritate the eyes and throats of visitors to the province’s mountain parks — it obscures the spectacular scenery that many have travelled thousands of kilometres to see. …Jasper is designated a dark sky preserve due to its limited light pollution and the planetarium typically has telescopes set up on summer nights. But the universe is obscured by thick haze these days. …The thick smoke from hundreds of wildfires that continue to burn through British Columbia’s forests and brush is also creating air-quality problems for much of Alberta, Saskatchewan and southwestern Manitoba as winds drive it eastward from B.C.

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Record-breaking fire tornado killed California firefighter

By Jocelyn Gecker and Olga Rodriguez
Helena Independent Record
August 16, 2018
Category: Forest Fires
Region: United States, US West

SAN FRANCISCO — In the history of California wildfires there has never been anything like it: A churning tornado filled with fire, the size of three football fields. An official report describes in chilling detail the intensity of the rare fire phenomenon and how quickly it took the life of Redding firefighter Jeremy Stoke, who was enveloped in seconds as he tried to evacuate residents on July 26. Three videos released with the report late Wednesday show the massive funnel of smoke and flames in a populated area on the edge of Redding, about 250 miles (400 kilometers) north of San Francisco. The smoke-and-fire tornado was about 1,000 feet (300 meters) wide at its base and shot approximately 7.5 miles (12 kilometers) into the sky; it reached speeds of up to 165 mph (265 kph), with temperatures that likely exceeded 2,700 degrees Fahrenheit (1,480 degrees Celsius), said the report by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

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Colorado’s 2018 wildfire season one of worst on record: 431k acres burned, 450 homes affected

By Kirk Mitchell
The Aspen Times
August 18, 2018
Category: Forest Fires
Region: United States, US West

Halfway through the summer, at least 1,585 wildfires have torched more than 431,600 acres of Colorado forest and grasslands and destroyed or damaged about 450 homes, making 2018 one of the most destructive fire seasons in history — and it isn’t over yet. The only larger wildfire season in Colorado in terms of acres burned was in 2002, when 926,502 acres were destroyed, according to statistics kept by the Rocky Mountain Coordination Center in Lakewood. …Helmerick said that relatively speaking, 2018 hasn’t had as many wildfires as some past years in Colorado. For example, there were 4,600 wildfires in Colorado in 2002. What separates 2018 from past years has been the size of the wildfires.

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Carbon, Climate & Bioenergy

Science Says: Hotter weather turbocharges US West wildfires

By Seth Borenstein
The Associated Press in the Washington Post
August 19, 2018
Category: Carbon, Climate & Bioenergy
Region: United States, US West

As temperatures rise in the U.S. West, so do the flames. The years with the most acres burned by wildfires have some of the hottest temperatures. As human-caused climate change has warmed the world over the past 35 years, the land consumed by flames has more than doubled. Experts say the way global warming worsens wildfires comes down to the basic dynamics of fire. …“Hotter, drier weather means our fuels are drier, so it’s easier for fires to start and spread and burn more intensely,” said University of Alberta fire scientist Mike Flannigan. …The five hottest Aprils to Septembers out West produced years that on average burned more than 13,500 square miles, according to data at the National Interagency Fire Center and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration . That’s triple the average for the five coldest Aprils to Septembers.

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Health & Safety

Wildfire smoke blanketing much of B.C. causing health concerns, traffic warnings

By Wendy Stueck
The Globe and Mail
August 20, 2018
Category: Health & Safety
Region: Canada, Canada West

From his home on the Stellat’en First Nation in B.C., about 160 kilometres west of Prince George, David Luggi can usually see the nearby Fraser Lake and trees on the shoreline. On Sunday, those landmarks were hidden, shrouded by wildfire smoke that has blanketed much of B.C. and spread through neighbouring Alberta and beyond. The smoke has pushed pollution in Calgary and other cities to dangerous levels, and cast an unsettling, spooky haze over almost every part of B.C. …The smoke, meanwhile, is causing health concerns and traffic warnings. Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley are under an air quality advisory, with people with medical conditions advised to postpone strenuous exercise. Environment Canada on Sunday issued a similar advisory for Calgary.

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Nova Scotia family’s lawsuit in workplace death could set precedent

By Sherri Borden
CBC News
August 15, 2018
Category: Health & Safety
Region: Canada East, Canada

Chad Smith

A wrongful death lawsuit by the family of a Nova Scotia man killed on the job in 2016 could set a precedent in this province, the family’s lawyer says. Chad Smith was 28 when he was killed at J.D. Irving’s lumber mill in Valley, N.S., near Truro, on June 27, 2016. He was struck by a front-end loader while crossing a bridge for vehicles and pedestrians at the mill. Smith’s parents, Nancy and Kevin Smith, of Ellershouse, and his grandparents, Frances and Robert Chambers, are suing Chad’s employer, J.D. Irving, and the driver of the loader. The Smiths’ lawyer, Stacey England, said Irving is challenging the claim.  The Fatal Injuries Act allows parents or grandparents to sue the at-fault party if a child or grandchild is fatally injured.

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