Tree Frog Forestry News

Daily Archives: August 22, 2018

Today’s Takeaway

Smoke from wildfires is affecting the public’s mental as well as physical health

The Tree Frog Forestry News
August 22, 2018
Category: Today's Takeaway

Smoke from BC wildfires is affecting the public’s mental as well as physical health, according to the Canadian Mental Health Association. Related air quality headlines include: breathing Seattle’s air is like smoking 7 cigarettes; smoke poses health risks across the US West; and instant air quality updates are available via wifi in Victoria, BC

In Forestry news: BC’s Premier says forest fuels need to be reduced; a Nova Scotia report calls for less clear-cutting; a Canadian scientist says we need to get used to fires seasons like this; a Missoula researchers says summer rainfall has 17 times more impact than snowpack on acres burned; and temperate forests in the US East show strong adaptation to changes in climatic conditions. 

Finally: new home construction slowed in Oakland due to increased costs; Plastic’s Today says lumber tariffs are a boon for their members; and UC Berkley’s Peter Berck—one of the world’s foremost forestry economists—has died of cancer.

–Kelly McCloskey, Tree Frog Editor

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Business & Politics

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to visit first responders, evacuees of B.C. wildfires

By Maryse Zeidler
CBC News
August 21, 2018
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will meet with first responders and British Columbians displaced by the wildfires scorching the province on Thursday. Trudeau made the announcement during a photo op with B.C. Premier John Horgan in Nanaimo late Tuesday afternoon, ahead of a retreat with his newly shuffled cabinet. “Our thoughts are with the first responders, the firefighters and the residents who are struggling through the wildfires that are raging across the province,” Trudeau said. “Obviously this is something that is very much a topic of conversation that we’ll be engaged in.”  …Fire behaviour specialist Dana Hicks made it clear at the meeting that the area around Burns Lake is so dry and the fires so hot, that there isn’t much firefighters can do to quell the flames. “The intensity that’s putting off; we can’t put firefighters near it, water’s no good,” he said.

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Update on Conifex Operations at Fort St. James

Conifex Timber
Global Newswire
August 20, 2018
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

VANCOUVER — The Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako has issued an evacuation alert due to wildfire activity for an area which includes the town of Fort St. James and our mill site.  As wildfire conditions continued to deteriorate, Conifex Timber temporarily suspended operations Friday of last week. The wildfires in British Columbia are volatile and continue to evolve, with the Province recently declaring a provincial state of emergency on August 15, 2018.  Conifex currently expects to restart operations at the Fort St. James mill later this week but will continue to assess the wildfire situation and make further operational decisions accordingly. 

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Oakland County new home prices climb as tariffs on Canadian lumber continue

By Mark Cavitt
The Oakland Press
August 21, 2018
Category: Business & Politics
Region: United States

New home construction has slowed due to an increased in material and labor costs. According to The Associated Press, U.S. new home construction increased just 0.9 percent in July compared to June, a sign that rising lumber, land and labor costs might be weighing on homebuilders and constraining new construction. Lumber prices have shot up by about $7,000 per home since the start of 2017, largely due to tariffs on Canadian softwood lumber by the Trump administration, according to the National Association of Home Builders. In July, Oakland County residential building permits, an indicator of future construction, dipped 7 percent from 229 issued in June to 211 in July, according to the Home Builders Association of Southeast Michigan. In 2018, Orion Township, Oakland Township and Novi continue to lead all county communities in residential permits issued with 140, 135 and 117 respectively.

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‘He brought us all together’: UC Berkeley professor, forestry economist Peter Berck dies at 68

By Amanda Bradford
The Daily Californian
August 19, 2018
Category: Business & Politics
Region: United States, US West

Peter Berck

Peter Berck, one of the world’s foremost forestry economists and a professor in UC Berkeley’s Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, or ARE, died of cancer Aug. 10 at age 68. Berck earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from UC Berkeley and a doctorate in economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He returned to campus as an assistant professor in 1976, where he remained for the duration of his career. Berck never retired, continuing to advise students and conduct research even as his illness worsened, according to his wife, Cyndi Berck. …Peter Berck recently developed a computer model to simulate impacts of environmental regulation on the California economy, which is now widely used by the California government to inform the state’s fiscal policy… Though a prominent researcher, Peter Berck was also well-known for his dedication to his students

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Wood, Paper & Green Building

Winners and losers: High lumber prices, tariffs on Canadian softwood a boon for plastics

By Clare Goldsberry in Materials, Recycling, Building & Construction
Plastics Today
August 21, 2018
Category: Wood, Paper & Green Building
Region: Canada, United States

Data from the Thomasnet.com platform show that sourcing activity for lumber by users is up 11% over its historical average during the past 12 weeks. …With more wildfires consuming forests in the western United States, U.S. lumber soon could be in short supply. …But will that be enough to satisfy homebuilders and remodelers? Canada is the largest supplier of softwood, and the tariffs are putting pressure on builders, some of whom have had to absorb higher costs. Maybe it’s time to consider plastics’ role in construction. While plastics have been increasing in those applications over the past couple of decades, there is room for more growth as a market for recycled plastics. Trex, for example, uses 95% recycled wood, sawdust and plastics from overwrap packaging for paper towels, toilet paper, dry cleaner bags, and grocery and shopping bags.

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First mass timber panel made from structural composite lumber gets APA certification

By Peter Fabris
Building Design + Construction
August 21, 2018
Category: Wood, Paper & Green Building
Region: United States, US West

Freres Lumber Company says it has achieved Mass Plywood Panels (MPP) certification under the APA – The Engineered Wood Association’s ANSI/APA PRG 320 standard. The product is the first Mass Timber Panel constructed entirely out of Structural Composite Lumber (SCL) worldwide, making it much more cost effective than CLT (cross-laminated timber) options, according to a Freres news release. Mass Timber Panels will allow rapid construction of multi-story structures with pre-fabricated structural wood panels, the release says. The predictable char rate of mass timber panels allows buildings to be built taller with wood, allowing multi-story structures out of wood up to 18 stories anticipated in the next iteration of the International Building Code (IBC).

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Challenging the case for plastics over paper

By Henry Coppens, pulp and paper industry expert
Daily Maverick
August 22, 2018
Category: Wood, Paper & Green Building
Region: International

For anyone wanting to do their bit against climate change, consuming paper products is a very simple and effective way. After all, the more paper we use, the more trees have to be planted, the more carbon in the atmosphere gets prevented from doing global warming harm. Unless plastics are 100% recycled worldwide, a virtual impossibility, they will continue to harm the planet. Although I would agree with most aspects in Ivo Vegter’s article in “Save the planet: Choose plastic shopping bags“, some points need challenging. First… is that the carbon in plastic comes from coal and oil and adds to the above ground carbon burden of the planet, whereas paper and cotton use and remove above ground carbon… from the atmosphere – thus also helping to alleviate the effects of anthropogenic greenhouse gases. Life Cycle Analyses do not often taken into account the source of the carbon, if they deal with it at all. 

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Forestry

Ontario, and Canada, should get used to more fire seasons like this one: federal scientist

By Megan DeLaire
Yahoo Canada News
August 21, 2018
Category: Forestry
Region: Canada

If you’ve felt lately like forest fires in Ontario are becoming more frequent and more intense, it’s not your imagination. Federal scientist Lynn Johnston warns summers like this one will be increasingly more common in the future, and says the people in charge of putting out fires in Ontario and across the country lack the resources to deal with this potential new reality. After what the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources refers to as a 10-year interlude of fewer forest fires and less land burned, this year’s intense fire season reminds Ontarians seasonal weather patterns, human activity and climate change can come together to turn a trend on its head. “This fire season has been pretty crazy,” confirmed Johnston, a forest fire research specialist with the Canadian Fire Service.

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Surrey resident wants ‘old-growth’ trees saved from redevelopment

By Kevin Griffin
Vancouver Sun
August 21, 2018
Category: Forestry
Region: Canada, Canada West

A Surrey resident who says the city may have already lost up to 10,000 trees to redevelopment this year wants to save a stand of cedars that includes one tree that is nearly 400 years old. Richard Landale said that if the stand of 10 old-growth trees on the site of King George Mobile and Trailer Park are saved, they would provide a “valuable shade and habitat” connection to Bear Creek Park. “In Surrey, we do not have many old-growth trees,” said Landale, a resident of Fleetwood. “When I see a tree that’s 400 years old, that’s something to be valued.” …Landale has been keeping track of the urban canopy in Surrey. He says in 2018 the city has approved 107 development applications that allow for the removal of more than 10,000 trees. He said Surrey council is “absolutely out of control when it comes to approving trees to be chopped down because of developers’ requests to build.

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Forest fuel work needed to slow wildfires, B.C. premier says

Tom Fletcher
BC Local News
August 21, 2018
Category: Forestry
Region: Canada, Canada West

Harjit Sajjan, John Horgan, Terry Teegee

The second straight season of severe wildfire conditions is a call to action for renewed efforts to deal with accumulated forest fuels around communities, Premier John Horgan says. Horgan spoke in Prince George Tuesday with federal Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan after a tour of northern B.C. fire zones. …“Over the decades, I don’t want to blame anyone, but we have not been cleaning our forests,” Horgan said as he described the severe smoke and fire conditions B.C. is battling for a second summer. “There is too much fuel being left behind, and we need to address that.” Horgan thanked Sajjan for the quick response of the Canadian Forces to B.C.’s call for assistance, after 200 troops and equipment were dispatched to a base in the Okanagan last week.

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Hunting ban sought throughout Tahltan territory

Whitehorse Daily Star
August 21, 2018
Category: Forestry
Region: Canada, Canada West

An immediate hunting ban throughout Tahltan territory is being urged due to the continuing fire devastation throughout northwest British Columbia. Chad Norman Day, the president of the Tahltan Central Government, has written a strongly worded letter to the province asking for the ban. Day has also spoken to senior staff at the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development and minister Doug Donaldson. The Tahltan territory has been under a state of emergency since early August, with approximately 300 evacuees forced to relocate to areas throughout B.C. and the Yukon.  The fires have already destroyed nearly 30 homes in Telegraph Creek, and many cultural structures and graveyards. They continue to threaten further properties and areas of cultural significance. “Animals have been forced to rapidly flee and are demonstrating abnormal behaviours,” Day said.

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Spraying in Nova Scotia forests soon to begin

By Francis Campbell
The Chronicle Herald
August 21, 2018
Category: Forestry
Region: Canada East, Canada

It’s spray time again in Nova Scotia forests. More than 2,000 hectares of privately owned woodland is to be sprayed, mostly with the herbicide VisionMax. The active ingredient in VisionMax and Roundup is the controversial chemical glyphosate. “We think that the public should be consulted,” said Lenore Zann, the MLA for Truro, Bible Hill, Millbrook and Salmon River. …“The stuff should be banned worldwide,” said Raymond Plourde of the Ecology Action Centre. …Northern Pulp, the company that runs the Pictou County mill in Abercrombie Point, has applied to spray 794 hectares of forest… “Glyphosate is one of the most extensively studied herbicides,” said company spokeswoman Kathy Cloutier. “It’s been approved for use in Canada since 1987. We trust those scientists that deem it safe.”

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What’s in a name? Department of Natural Resources rebrand could cost more than $1M

By Michael Gorman
CBC News
August 21, 2018
Category: Forestry
Region: Canada East, Canada

Changing the name of the Department of Natural Resources to the Department of Lands and Forestry could eventually cost more than $1 million. Last month, Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil shuffled his cabinet and, in the process, announced the department name change as he moved responsibility for the mining sector to the Energy Department. Cost estimates of the name change, received following a freedom of information request, list the total changes to be a little more than $1.1 million and relate mostly to various signage changes. A department spokesperson said there are several other “small scale” costs not included in that estimate, such as letterhead, although it isn’t widely used in the department anymore. …By far the two biggest expenses would be changing provincial park entry signs, pegged at $650,000, and updating uniform clothing, which would cost $171,000.

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Nova Scotia report calls for restrictions on clear-cutting, ‘ecological forestry’

By Keith Doucette
The Canadian Press in The Globe and Mail
August 21, 2018
Category: Forestry
Region: Canada East, Canada

A new review of Nova Scotia’s forestry practices is calling for fundamental changes to the way trees are harvested in the province — including reducing the controversial practice of clearcutting. The report by University of Kings College president Bill Lahey says forest practices should be guided by a new paradigm called “ecological forestry” which treats forests “first and foremost” as ecosystems. It says the province should adopt a so-called triad model that sees some areas protected from all forestry; some forests that are dedicated to high production forestry including clearcutting; and forests that are harvested with a “lighter touch” and limited clearcutting. …Lahey’s report says clearcutting would be acceptable in some even-aged forests of predominantly single softwood species. …It says the recommended changes are estimated to reduce clearcutting from 65 per cent of all harvesting on Crown land to between 20 and 25 per cent.

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Assemblyman Jim Wood: California should spend $300 million a year on wildfire prevention

By Guy Kovner
The Press Democrat
August 21, 2018
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

Jim wood

Assemblyman Jim Wood, a member of the special legislative committee working on a major wildfire response bill, said he won’t support anything that falls short on funding for prevention and preparedness. “We’ve lost 58 people to wildfires in the past two years,” Wood, a Santa Rosa Democrat, said in a statement. “What more of a wake-up call do we need?” Specifically, Wood said the committee’s proposed law — due for release no later than next week — should include $300 million every year in guaranteed funding for vegetation management and fuel reduction. Going a step further, Wood said the money could come from the existing Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund, which has historically spent “a measly 2 percent” on fire prevention.

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Cooperation will be crucial in order to address Western wildfire crisis

By Jamie Johansson, president California Farm Bureau Federation
AgAlert California
August 22, 2018
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

Jamie Johansson

Already, here in August, nearly 1 million acres of California land has burned as a result of wildfires. During all of 2017 … the total acreage burned was about 1.2 million. …With numbing regularity, California has set records for the largest wildfires in recorded history; [people] have died; billions of dollars’ worth of property has been lost; our environment has been scarred and our much-touted success in reducing greenhouse-gas emissions has been negated. What makes this even sadder is that we know what to do to help prevent wildfires. We know how to manage forests and rural land to assure healthy forests, watersheds and communities. But important management tools, including forest thinning, livestock grazing and controlled burns, have become unavailable because of ineffective land-management policies. A decades-long emphasis on fire suppression, timber harvest limitations and additional restrictions on grazing have tied the hands of both public and private land managers.

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USDA announces new strategy to improve forest conditions

By George Plaven
Capital Press
August 21, 2018
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

The fury and intensity of the 2018 wildfire season has sparked a renewed push for more active management of federal forests. Three days after visiting the site of the Carr fire near Redding, Calif. — USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue announced a new strategy for treating overstocked forests to reverse the trend of increasingly large and destructive “megafires.” Perdue outlined the plan in a 28-page report Aug. 16 at the U.S. Capitol, joined by Forest Service Interim Chief Vicki Christiansen and a bipartisan group of senators including… …Perdue said. “We commit to work more closely with the states to reduce the frequency and severity of wildfires. We commit to strengthening the stewardship of public and private lands.” The strategy, titled “Toward Shared Stewardship Across Landscapes,” calls for the Forest Service to coordinate with states to prioritize restoration projects where they can have the greatest benefit on the landscape…

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Timber-sale delays cause jobs and revenue to go up in smoke

By Simon Hare, Josephine County Commissioner and Association of O&C Counties
The Register-Guard
August 21, 2018
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

Simon Hare

The Taylor Creek Fire in Josephine County illustrates how obstructionist tactics by fringe groups result in real consequences for our forests, communities, and the quality of our air and water. Our federal agencies are alarmed by the poor health of our public forests lands. Yet our federal land managers’ hands are often tied by those who exploit well-intentioned environmental laws to block necessary and beneficial forest projects. It’s time for a change. For over a year, fringe groups sought to stop the Bureau of Land Management’s Pickett Hog timber sale northwest of Grants Pass. …A year of expensive and time-consuming paperwork came to nothing as a large portion of the Pickett Hog project area went up in smoke in a matter of days, consumed by Taylor Creek Fire. Without the delay, the project area would have likely been treated before the fire started. …It doesn’t have to be this way.

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‘Active’ management wrong answer trying to stop big wildfires

By George Wuethner
The Herald and News
August 21, 2018
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

George Wuethner

With the Taylor and Klondike fires growing, there are continuous comments, including from Congressman Walden and our Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke, that if we only did “active” forest management these kinds of blazes could be reduced in size or even precluded. The science does not support such assertions. Rather climate/weather drives all large fires, not fuels. Of course, one needs some fuels for an ignition, but what happens after ignition depends on the prevailing weather conditions. If you have drought, high temperatures, low humidity and in particular, wind, you have the recipe for large and unstoppable blazes — at least until the weather changes. For instance, a great deal of research supports the notion that fuel treatments are largely ineffective under extreme weather conditions. Here are some research findings.

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Summer rainfall has greater impact than snowpack for fire predictions, study shows

By Rob Chaney
The Missoulian
August 21, 2018
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

Monday’s little rainshowers didn’t end the 2018 fire season, but they may have had a much bigger effect than last spring’s big snowpack. A new study from the U.S. Forest Service’s Rocky Mountain Research Station in Missoula found that summer rains, or their lack, have 17 times more impact on forest fire acres burned than how much snow got stockpiled in the mountains the previous winter. …“In the last 37 years, we’ve seen a substantial reduction in summertime precipitation,” said Zach Holden. ..Fire forecasters have long measured winter snowpack and summer temperature levels to predict the severity of the coming fire season. …Summer rains could have a big effect on how long the season lasted and how much got burned. In addition to dampening fuels, the cloudy weather increased humidity, cooled the ground and generally slowed fires.

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77,000 acres of forest treated under 4FRI so far in 2018

By Karen Warnick
White Mountain Independent
August 21, 2018
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

WHITE MOUNTAINS — The Four Forests Restoration Initiative (4FRI) is an ongoing collaborative, landscape-scale initiative designed to restore 2.4 million acres of fire-adapted ecosystems in the Apache-Sitgreaves, Tonto, Coconino, and Kaibab National Forests. Reducing destructive wildfires is one of the main goals, as is creating and developing sustainable wood products industries. Other goals include restoring the forests to healthy conditions, springs and stream projects, planting for trees, meadow restoration, road and trail work (construction, maintenance, and decommissioning), and more. Mechanical thinning and prescribed fires are the main two ways of reducing the overloaded forests of dense foliage and small trees that can increase fire danger. …While the initial goal of treating 50,000 acres a year hasn’t been reached during the eight years of the initiative, there has been some progress and 4FRI releases a monthly report of that progress.

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California bipartisan natural resource legislation passes unanimously

By Sierra Business Council
The Union of Grass Valley
August 21, 2018
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

As California’s unprecedented wildfire season marches on, Sierra Nevada forests and watersheds stand at a critical point. Bipartisan legislation passed today, however, will increase the pace and scale of restoring the region’s forests and watersheds.  AB 2849… formally recognizes the Sierra Nevada Conservancy’s (SNC) Watershed Improvement Program, broadens SNC’s legislative partners, and ensures California tribes can apply for SNC grant funding. The bill passed unanimously. “While historic wildfires rage throughout the state, we must pass this bipartisan measure to protect our state’s most important watershed in the Sierra Nevada region. This bill will help restore habitats, water sources, and local communities after the fires have been put out,” stated co-author and Assembly member Mark Stone. Under current law, SNC is able to grant funds and carry out projects that support the improvement of the environmental, economic, and social well being of the Sierra Nevada region.

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In Eastern US, adult trees adapt and acclimate to local climate

Cary Institue of Ecosystem Studies
Science Daily
August 21, 2018
Category: Forestry
Region: US East, United States

Trees growing in temperate forests in the eastern US show strong adaptation or acclimation to local climate. So reports a new study that analyzed more than 23,000 tree cores to investigate how adult trees respond to changes in climatic conditions. …Charles Canham, a forest ecologist at Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, led the research team. “By looking at data in tree rings, we were able to reveal how individual trees responded to variations in climate during a roughly 40 year period. There is evidence of pervasive local adaptation.” …For all 14 species, models that used deviation from the local, long-term mean were superior, with all 14 species showing strong adaptation or acclimation to local climate.” For most species, growth was highest in years that were cooler and wetter than the long-term average at a site. 

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Species-rich forests better compensate environmental impacts

By University of Zurich
EurekAlert
August 21, 2018
Category: Forestry
Region: International

Forest ecosystems are elementary for a climatic balance. Countries such as China have recognized this fact; for years, they have been conducting extensive afforestation programs to compensate their rising CO2 emissions. As part of the global carbon cycle, forests take up about 45 percent of the carbon from the environment and bind it in the soil and as biomass over long periods of time. At the same time, trees can take up or release carbon in the short term, as well. Until now, however, there has been little research into whether the number of tree species in a forest has an influence on the carbon cycle in the ecosystem. …The researchers discovered that species-rich forests have a faster carbon cycle than those with just a few species. With increased species richness, more carbon is stored both above and below ground in trunks, roots, deadwood, mold and soil.

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Forest Fires

B.C. firefighters can’t do much more than ‘get out of the way,’ says expert

CBC News
August 21, 2018
Category: Forest Fires
Region: Canada, Canada West

When wildfires get as ferocious as the ones ravaging Western Canada right now, firefighters can’t do much more than let them run their course, according to an expert in risk management. “When you see, in the news, these towering columns of black smoke, there’s nothing that can be done except get out of the way,” Al Beaver told The Current’s guest host Ioanna Roumeliotis. “Manage your exposure, get them out of the way of that,” said Beaver… While the smoke poses a health risk for the public, Beaver said it can also stymie suppression efforts, by limiting the tactics that firefighters can use. “Current fire suppression technology is vastly inferior to the extremes of nature,” he said, adding that there are no fire-season-ending events on the near horizon. “They need rain,” he said.

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Wildfires consuming less forest in the Kamloops Fire Centre this year

By Greg Fry
CFJC Today Kamloops
August 21, 2018
Category: Forest Fires
Region: Canada, Canada West

KAMLOOPS — Wildfire crews in the Kamloops Fire Centre have been busy battling more blazes this year, though those fires have been significantly smaller than last year. Since the season began April 1, Fire Information Officer Shelley Zupp says there have been 389 fires to date in the Kamloops Fire Centre — about double the 192 at this time last year. Interestingly however, the 389 fires this year have burned 38,031 hectares of forest, far less than the 176,460 hectares of forest burned by this point last year. And though there are currently nine fires of note in the Kamloops Fire Centre, she says none are located close to the City of Kamloops. Zupp says one of the busier areas for wildfires has been the Monashee Complex.

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Merging wildfires prompt Klinaklini Lake evacuation order in West Chilcotin

Monica Lamb-Yorski
Williams Lake Tribune
August 21, 2018
Category: Forest Fires
Region: Canada, Canada West

Fourteen seasonal properties in the West Chilcotin are the latest to be under an evacuation order due to wildfires. …Coastal Fire Centre information officer Dorthe Jacobsen said the Klinaklini Lake evacuation order comes as the Kleena Kleena Fire and Upper Kleena Kleens River fires are expected to merge. …The BC Wildfire Service is not fighting the fire at this point as it is a “modified response.” “But we are monitoring it very carefully,” Jacobsen said. “What happens with modified response fires is that we talk with local land managers and owners and stakeholders and we figure out triggers. If the fire moves beyond those triggers we start assessing when we do need to take action.”

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B.C. wildfires prompted unprecedented second state of emergency, Horgan says

By Camille Bains
Canadian Press in Globe and Mail
August 21, 2018
Category: Forest Fires
Region: Canada, Canada West

Premier John Horgan says successive B.C. governments have budgeted “laughable” amounts of money to fight wildfires that are becoming all too common through the ravages of climate change. … “We have serious challenges for public health and we need to adapt our policy making, working with all levels of government to make sure that as we go forward we’re better prepared,” said Horgan, flanked by federal Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan, Mayor Lyn Hall and Grand Chief Ed John of the First Nations Summit. …British Columbia budgeted $63-million for wildfire suppression for the 2018-19 season but has already spent $274-million, according to figures from the Forests Ministry. It said last year’s budget allocated the same amount of money, but the firefighting efforts cost $649-million.

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Watson Creek and Stone fires expand and threaten homes

By Kurt Liedtke
The Herald and News
August 21, 2018
Category: Forest Fires
Region: United States, US West

OREGON — A busy fire season once again in the western United States has filled the region with smoke, but much of the damage has been from fires afar until now. New blazes in Lake and Modoc counties have rapidly expanded to encompass thousands of acres and are now threatening homes. A public meeting was held in Paisley Sunday evening to address ongoing fire suppression efforts, evacuation notices and other concerns related to the Watson Creek Fire, which, as of Monday afternoon, had expanded to 25,788 acres burned 13 miles west of the small Lake County community. Similarly, a community meeting was scheduled for Monday afternoon at Canby Community Hall to address the Stone Fire in Modoc County, which had at last reported burned 22,610 acres in northern California.

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‘Confident we can hold our own’: Firefighters optimistic about progress in Glacier

By Patric Reilly
The Missoulian
August 21, 2018
Category: Forest Fires
Region: United States, US West

GLACIER NATIONAL PARK — McDonald Creek has shrunk to a few low trickles running between dry gravel berms. Looking west from the Going-to-the-Sun Road, it was possible to see the creek, the trees fronting its far shore and, on the slope above them, smoke plumes from the Howe Ridge fire. At a community meeting on Saturday, fire officials identified Going-to-the-Sun Road as one of the Glacier features they’re focused on protecting. Tuesday morning, Missoula smokejumper Shane Ralston estimated that the fire’s edge is “at least a half mile away [from the road] at the closest.” …The fire’s most recent estimated size was about 11,000 acres, and Ralston said that Monday morning’s rain shower had “minimal effect’ on conditions.

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Health & Safety

How smoky skies from wildfires is affecting British Columbians’ mental health

By Clare Hennig
CBC News
August 21, 2018
Category: Health & Safety
Region: Canada, Canada West

For some, the impact goes beyond merely feeling ‘bummed,’ says Canadian Mental Health Association director.  Extreme smoke seems to be a new feature of summers in British Columbia with back-to-back years of heavy wildfires in the province and, for some, the overcast skies are taking a toll on mental health. Across the province, air quality alerts have been issued, and health officials are advising British Columbians to avoid outdoor exercise. …Keeping to a regular routine, continuing to exercise — but indoors — and spending time with friends can help, she told Shelley Joyce, the host of CBC’s Daybreak Kamloops. …”On a serious note, there are a lot of people who are triggered by the smoke. If people are feeling as though this isn’t just, ‘oh, I’m having a grumpy day,’ they need to reach out for help,” emphasized Christa Mullaly, executive director of the Canadian Mental Health Association in Kamloops, B.C. 

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Smoke from wildfires delivers jolt to Greater Victoria air quality

By Travis Paterson
Victoria News
August 21, 2018
Category: Health & Safety
Region: Canada, Canada West

As the smoke from wildfires settled into the air space of Greater Victoria on Monday the reading from the air quality monitor hanging off the back of Ian Gillespie’s house shot up to 280 PM2.5. …But there’s another place to check air quality. It’s called SensorUp, and it relies on members of the public to install and plug in air quality monitors, which then relay instant updates via wifi to an online map open to anyone. …While still not visible to the human eye, the particulate matter that we’re breathing in is quite sizable. A quick backgrounder on PM2.5, it stands for particulate matter that’s 2.5 micrometers in size. …Victoria’s readout so far is still much lower than what was being reported in Kamloops, which has been “very unhealthy” with PM2.5 readings as high as 483 over the past 10 days.

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Breathing Seattle’s air right now is like smoking 7 cigarettes. Blame wildfires.

By Umair Irfan
Vox
August 21, 2018
Category: Health & Safety
Region: United States, US West

Ash and smoke are choking Seattle’s air for the second week in a row, as wildfires smolder in the Cascades and in British Columbia. As of Tuesday morning, the Air Quality Index in Seattle was at 181, a rating classified as “unhealthy.” In parts of the city, the index rose as high as 220, which is “very unhealthy.” … To put it in perspective, an AQI of 150 is roughly equal to smoking seven cigarettes in a day. That means residents should avoid being outside and exerting themselves, particularly people with heart and lung problems, the elderly, and children. The air quality in Seattle this week has been worse than in Beijing. …Though wildfires throw off particles of all shapes and sizes, the biggest health dangers come from the smallest ones, 2.5 microns or less in diameter. Known as PM2.5, these particles penetrate deep into the airways, causing inflammation, asthma attacks, and cancer.

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Wildfire smoke covers U.S. West, poses health risks

By Holly Owens
The Associated Press in the Herald and News
August 21, 2018
Category: Health & Safety
Region: United States, US West

SEATTLE — Smoke from wildfires clogged the sky across the U.S. West, blotting out mountains and city skylines from Oregon to Colorado, delaying flights and forcing authorities to tell even healthy adults in the Seattle area to stay indoors. As large cities dealt with unhealthy air for a second summer in a row, experts warned that it could become more common as the American West faces larger and more destructive wildfires because of heat and drought blamed on climate change. Officials also must prioritize resources during the longer firefighting season, so some blazes may be allowed to burn in unpopulated areas. Seattle’s Space Needle was swathed in haze, and it was impossible to see nearby mountains.

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