Tree Frog Forestry News

Daily Archives: September 4, 2018

Today’s Takeaway

Climate change, forest practices and urban sprawl in the wildfire-prone West

The Tree Frog Forestry News
September 4, 2018
Category: Today's Takeaway

Climate change, forest practices and urban sprawl are being impugned in the wildfire-prone West. Here are the top headlines:

In other news: the US/Canada NAFTA talks stall with Chapter 19 as a possible deal-breaker; research on the fate of Canada’s boreal forest is like a climate time machine; reaction times among firefighters is shown to decline over the fire season; and Alaska’s roadless rule is open for public comment. 

Finally, a Stockholm architect’s winning design includes 31 cross-laminated timber towers!

–Kelly McCloskey, Tree Frog Editor

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Business & Politics

Trump threatens to leave Canada behind on NAFTA, warns Congress not to ‘interfere’

By Heather Long
The Washington Post
September 2, 2018
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, United States

President Trump on Saturday threatened to withdraw the United States from NAFTA, asserting his right to broker a new trade pact that does not include Canada despite opposition from lawmakers and questions over his legal authority to do so. Trump on Friday formally informed Congress of his intent to enter into a trade deal with Mexico, with the notice adding the administration hopes Canada would be added to the new pact later. U.S. and Canadian negotiators worked throughout the week on adding Canada to Friday’s notice, but the negotiations failed to produce an agreement ahead of Trump’s own Friday deadline. Negotiations with Canada are set to continue Wednesday in the hopes of adding Canada to the deal. Lawmakers have told Trump they will only sign onto a new NAFTA deal that includes all three North American nations.

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Will Chapter 19 be a deal-breaker for Canada in NAFTA talks?

By Jesse McLean
The Hamilton Spectator
September 3, 2018
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, United States

It was the crown jewel of Canada’s original free trade negotiations with the United States, a testament to refusing to capitulate even when talks almost died. …Roughly 30 years later, Chapter 19 again finds itself at the centre of heated trade negotiations between the two countries. …Outside the negotiating room, trade lawyers and experts are divided over whether the future of Chapter 19 is worth fighting for. …Critics in the U.S. have long despised Chapter 19, and view its bilateral panels as unconstitutional infringements on national sovereignty. ..To some, it’s a valuable tool to challenge U.S. tariffs on softwood lumber or other Canadian exports, especially considering the unpredictability of the Trump administration; for others, it represents an outdated mechanism that is of dwindling use. …Ritchie, one of the architects of the provision, believes Chapter 19 is worth fighting to keep. …But the system has its limits, he admitted.

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NAFTA agreement possible, but U.S. must bend on Chapter 19

By John Ibbitson
The Globe and Mail
September 3, 2018
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, United States

…So, the fundamental question will be: Is Chapter 19 in or out? Because that’s just another way of saying: Do the Americans want a deal or don’t they? …Will Canadian negotiators go further with the U.S. than it went with the EU or Pacific countries on dairy concessions? Faced with the possibility of President Donald Trump imposing revenge tariffs on Canadian autos exports, yes, they probably will. But dispute resolution is a tool the Liberal team can’t surrender, even though some experts point out that the Americans have found ways to get around the panel rulings. …The good news is that, by all accounts, United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and his team seem genuinely committed to reaching an agreement, and with good reason. Just about every American with a stake in the talks wants Canada to be part of this deal.

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Wood, Paper & Green Building

FPInnovations scientist Lin Hu receives the 2018 Wood Engineering Achievement Award

FPInnovations
August 31, 2018
Category: Wood, Paper & Green Building
Region: Canada

Lin Hu

FPInnovations is very proud to share the news that Lin Hu, Senior Scientist in the Building Systems team, has been rewarded the 2018 Wood Engineering Achievement Award: Engineering Innovation for her contributions in the area of floor vibrations! The award is presented by the Forest Products Society and recognizes achievements and innovations in the discipline of wood engineering, including structures, structural elements, building codes, consensus standards, design procedures, and education. … “I see this award as not really for me, but for everyone at FPInnovations, especially at Building Systems. Without the Building Systems’ managers and colleagues as well as the long-lasting collaborators in Canada, U.S., and Europe, I would have achieved nothing”, said Lin.

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First PAPTAC International Lignin Conference : Fostering a global lignin culture

FPInnovations
August 31, 2018
Category: Wood, Paper & Green Building
Region: Canada, Canada West

On September 18 to 20, 2018, delegates from around the world will congregate at Alberta Innovate’s facilities in Edmonton, Alberta where PAPTAC will be hosting the first International Lignin Conference. Researchers, industry representatives, government officials and business executives are invited to discuss and showcase recent developments in all aspects of lignin chemistry, lignin production, and commercial utilization. …With confirmation of a significant industry interest in lignin, it was decided to organize a lignin-focused conference. “Abstracts from all over the world have been submitted; solicited speakers, members of the organizing and program committees, and numerous session chairs have all happily accepted,” says Michael Paleologou (Program Chair for the conference and lead scientist in the Innovative Bioproducts Centre of Excellence at FPInnovations). “We have put together an excellent program that covers all aspects of lignin targeted not only at research organizations, but also industry and business.” 

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Columbia Pulp mill expects to inject $71 million into local economy

By Vicki Hillhouse
The Union Bulletin
September 2, 2018
Category: Wood, Paper & Green Building
Region: United States, US West

New industry rises on more than 400 acres of winter pasture and a former cattle ranch, below the jagged basalt cliffs of northern Columbia County… Columbia Pulp. …When it’s running — likely mid-December — its economic tentacles will reach throughout the Pacific Northwest. …Wheat and seed alfalfa straw from a 75-mile radius will be converted into pulp at the plant for eventual use as consumer and molded-fiber products. …The project has been described as the first of its kind in North America, although not in the world. The creation of a pulp mill may seem unusual at a time when traditional pulp-and-paper mills have consolidated or closed. But the use of straw as an alternative to wood brings a new approach. Unlike graphic papers that have endured declining demand, such as newsprint and coated papers, consumer products are not subject to the same market volatilities.

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5,000-home Stockholm district planned with 31 wooden skyscrapers

By Joe Quirke
Global Construction Review
September 3, 2018
Category: Wood, Paper & Green Building
Region: International

Stockholm’s Centre Party has selected local firm Anders Berensson Architects to design a neighbourhood in the city’s central dock area that will include 31 cross-laminated timber towers. The new Masthamnen district will be divided into three main parts: The lower block city: Built on the dock level, it will consist of 19 blocks containing 2,500 apartments, 60,000 sq m of office space and 90 shops and restaurants. Skyscraper city: This will add 31 narrow wooden towers to the lower block, each with 25-35 floors, containing 3,000 apartments and 30 shops and restaurants. …Anders Berensson Architects commented on its website that the low carbon content of wood made it the obvious choice of material for the development.

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Forestry

In wildfire-prone B.C. and California, urban sprawl and bad planning are fuelling future infernos. What can we do?

By Tamsin McMahon
The Globe and Mail
September 3, 2018
Category: Forestry
Region: Canada, United States

Hundreds of wildfires are raging across Western Canada and the U.S., sending residents fleeing from their homes as firefighters risk their lives to contain the infernos. Such scenes have become increasingly familiar as wildfires have gotten more frequent and fire seasons once concentrated in summer now stretch into spring and fall.  Climate change bears much of the blame for longer, drier and more lightening-prone fire seasons. But other aspects are under more immediate human control: Decades of forest management policies that called for extinguishing naturally occurring fires as quickly as possible have made forests denser and more susceptible to major blazes. At the same time urban sprawl is pushing housing development farther into the wilderness. An examination of two of the most fire-prone regions in North America – California and British Columbia – reveals the complex mix of factors that have come together to make wildfires a growing threat.​

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Balance: Key to success in forest industry

By Colin MacGillivray
The Williams Lake Tribune
August 31, 2018
Category: Forestry
Region: Canada, Canada West

Steven Kozuki

For Steven Kozuki, the executive director of the Forest Enhancement Society of British Columbia (FESBC), finding that perfect medium between economic support and natural resource conservation is key when looking into the future of British Columbia’s forest industry. “For all of the work we do, we want it to be both win-win for the economical side and the environmental side,” said Kozuki. “We strive for multiple benefits for every community project we are fortunate enough to fund.” …“With the wildfires in the Cariboo region, and throughout B.C., we believe it’s incredibly important to share the good work being done by the proponents who have received FESBC funding to mitigate and prevent future wildfire incidents. The projects we fund will reduce wildfire risk, rehabilitate damaged forests, improve forest carbon management to mitigate climate change, and enhance wildlife habitat.”

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Hungry and homeless: B.C. wildfires are forcing bears out of critical habitats

By Joel Ballard
CBC News
September 3, 2018
Category: Forestry
Region: Canada, Canada West

Angelika Langen

Angelika Langen has been rehabilitating bears at the Northern Lights Wildlife Society in Smithers, B.C., for 27 years. But this summer proved especially difficult, after a number of animals she’d been treating died unexpectedly. With each death, she could feel her resolve crack. …”But then there’s another animal that comes and you just pick back up again and on you go.”  After B.C.’s record-setting wildfire season, Langen is bracing to treat a number of animals, specifically bears, that have been displaced by the blazes. While many people across the province have been forced to flee their homes due to wildfires, so too have wildlife. Fires rip through forests, destroying habitats and burning food sources. …Langen typically sees bears in need of aid once the wildfires have ended, so she’s using this period to remind the public that the best way to help is to leave bears alone.

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Partnership and collaboration with First Nations communities

By BC Wildfire Service
Government of British Columbia
August 31, 2018
Category: Forestry
Region: Canada, Canada West

The BC Wildfire Service and its ministry partners are working to improve their collaboration and partnerships with First Nations governments related to wildfire response and recovery efforts. Working with First Nations peoples as true partners at all levels of planning, decision-making and implementation is important to the BC Wildfire Service, especially in light of the wildfires this year in the Fraser Complex and Babine Complex. After discussions with local First Nations communities, the Northwest Fire Centre will be taking a more collaborative approach to wildfire recovery efforts this year. The focus will be on working closely with First Nations communities to develop mutually agreed-upon plans for recovery that support broader ministry goals of reconciliation and government-to-government collaboration. The BC Wildfire Service is committed to improving rehabilitation and recovery efforts in a way that incorporates and respects First Nations jurisdiction, knowledge and cultural values.

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When one big tree is left standing in a forest, can we hear its message?

By Robert Collison
The Toronto Star
August 31, 2018
Category: Forestry
Region: Canada, Canada West

When one thinks of skyscraping icons of contemporary Canada, the Peace Tower or the CN Tower spring to mind, but these man-made structures face competition from a thousand-year-old Douglas fir on Vancouver Island called Big Lonely Doug. At 20 storeys high, it is the second tallest fir tree in the country, but it has come to represent something more than its status as a statistical superlative. As Harley Rustad notes in his book, Big Lonely Doug: The Story of One of Canada’s Last Great Trees, the struggle to save our country’s ancient trees has sparked “an internal confrontation within many Canadians between what kind of country Canada had always been — rich through its resources — and what it was working to become: environmentally progressive.” And Big Lonely Doug has come to represent that struggle.

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Wildfires put water quality at risk

By Monique Keiran
The Times Colonist
September 2, 2018
Category: Forestry
Region: Canada, Canada West

More than 790,000 hectares of forests in B.C. have burned so far this year. Last year, 1.2 million hectares burned. Floods in the Interior followed the 2017 fire season. The connections between forests, fire and floods are clear, but we’re now beginning to understand that the kind of intense wildfires we’ve been seeing threaten far more less-obvious resources. …Most British Columbia communities rely on water from the province’s forests. …When forests are burned intensely and extensively, a landscape’s relationship with precipitation changes. Trees soften the impact of rain or hail on the ground. …These services reduce erosion, slow the release of water into creeks and rivers, and help dampen the extremes of seasonal and extreme weather-event flooding. …Results from the watershed studies showed that the loss of healthy tree cover by the beetle would increase erosion, sediment loads and water temperatures along local streams and rivers.

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Wildlife advocates fear Trump administration is de-clawing Endangered Species Act

By David Goldstein
The Bellingham Herald
August 31, 2018
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

The marbled murrelet is a small seabird whose diminutive size belies a fierce imperative to survive. …Below, the western pond turtle, with its low and broad carapace, paddles in the placid waters of lakes, rivers and streams. But both are in danger of disappearing as logging gradually destroys the old forest canopy, and pollution, predators and development foul water habitats. Adding them to the Endangered Species Act has been a way to forestall the decline of animals and plants imperiled in an increasingly unforgiving environment. But the law that has been a bulwark against wildlife extinction for more than four decades could be undergoing changes that advocates worry will weaken its protections.

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California approves measure to pass on wildfire costs

By Jonathan Cooper
The Associated Press in the Idaho Statesman
September 1, 2018
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

The California Legislature voted Friday to allow power companies to raise electric bills to cover the cost of lawsuits from last year’s deadly wildfires amid fears that Pacific Gas & Electric Co., would otherwise face financial ruin. The measure is part of a wide-ranging plan to reduce the threat of wildfires, which have killed dozens of people and destroyed thousands of homes in recent years. Consumer advocates and large energy users blasted legislation they say is a bailout for PG&E, which expects to pay billions of dollars due to fires started by the company’s equipment in Northern California last year. The company would be allowed to charge their customers even if the fires are linked to mismanagement by the company.

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Tensions Mount in Rainbow Ridge Protests

The North Coast Journal
September 1, 2018
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

Humboldt County — Several days of protests over plans to log in a grove that contains old growth Douglas fir on Rainbow Ridge reached a peak just before 3 p.m. yesterday after demonstrators blocked the southernmost exit/entrance from U.S. Highway 101 to Scotia and the Humboldt Redwood Company Lumber Mill. Video by Earth First in Humboldt uploaded to YouTube and embedded above shows a trucker with empty trailers driving through a large banner — held by two protesters who were blocking Main Street — in order to enter the highway. …Humboldt Redwood Company Forest Policy Director John Andersen said protests have been occurring on and off for the last week or so. But he said that when protesters started moving to block the freeway on and off ramps, safety became a concern and the company called police.

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Climate change is going to make wildfires worse. Cutting trees and controlled burns can help

By the Editorial Board
The Los Angeles Times
September 1, 2018
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

Californians are already facing long fire seasons and record-setting blazes that have scorched the landscape and created clouds of soot. But this is just a hint of what’s to come as the planet gets hotter. …California used to burn with regularity, and low-intensity fires are vital in some ecosystems to clear excess brush and small trees from the landscape. But there’s been a change in fire behavior over the last century, as the state and federal government began dousing the blazes. …California can reduce the risk of catastrophic fires and lessen the climate impacts when fires inevitably occur, but that requires spending a lot of money and time on forest management and fuel reduction. That means using controlled burns and cutting some trees to reduce forest density, both of which have been controversial practices.

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Driven by climate change, fire reshapes US West

The Associated Press
September 2, 2018
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

Wildfires in the U.S. have charred more than 10,000 square miles so far this year, an area larger than the state of Maryland, with large fires still burning in every Western state including many that are not fully contained. Whether sparked by lightning or humans, fire has long been a force shaping the landscape of the U.S. West. Hot, dry winds can whip flames into firestorms that leave behind charred wastelands prone to erosion and mudslides. Other fires clear out underbrush, open the forest floor to sunlight and stimulate growth.  Government agencies in recent decades effectively upended that cycle of destruction and rebirth. Fire suppression policies allowed fuels to build up in many Western forests, making them more susceptible to major fires.

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Alaska roadless rule opens for public comment

By Kein Gullufsen
The Juneau Empire
August 30, 2018
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

More timber may soon be harvested on the Tongass National Forest and the U.S. Forest Service wants to know what the public thinks about that. A new rulemaking process for an Alaska specific version of the 2001 Roadless Rule — which prevents timber harvest and the building of roads on 7.4 million acres of roadless lands in Southeast Alaska — is now open for public comment. A Thursday notice published in the Federal Register opens the first official venue for the public to voice its opinion on what opening up new land to timber harvest would mean for the region and the state. …About 45 percent of the 17-million-acre Tongass National Forest isn’t open to timber harvest or the construction or reconstruction of roads under the Roadless Rule.

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Forest Fires

B.C. should stiffen penalties for those who start wildfires

Geoff Johnson – former superintendent of schools
Victoria Times Colonist
September 4, 2018
Category: Forest Fires
Region: Canada, Canada West

By the end of June, there had been more than 560 wildfires in British Columbia. …In Australia, intentionally or even unintentionally causing a bushfire… is a serious offence that carries a maximum penalty of 14 years imprisonment. …In Hood River, Oregon, in May, a judge ordered a Vancouver, Washington, teenager who threw two firecrackers to pay nearly $37 million in restitution over at least 10 years after he started a major wildfire last year. Here in B.C. last year, the fine for ignoring fire restrictions was increased to a measly $1,100; even then, it was an increase of 218 per cent from previous fines. Failing to properly dispose of burning substances, such as cigarette butts, now carries a ticket of $575. …A solution: Take people convicted of carelessness with burning substances… to the sites of human-caused fires to see what stupidity looks like…

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Large blaze in northwestern B.C. not expected to grow further, wildfire service says

Canadian Press in the Globe and Mail
September 2, 2018
Category: Forest Fires
Region: Canada, Canada West

The BC Wildfire Service says precipitation and favourable weather have allowed it to contain one of the province’s largest active wildfires, more than a month after it was initially discovered. After growing to more than 900 square kilometres, the fire burning near Shovel Lake in northwestern B.C. was hit with scattered showers overnight, and Claire Allen of the BC Wildfire Service said any further growth is unlikely. “We’re not under control yet, seeing as there is still a lot of internal activity and a lot of work for crews to do over the next few weeks here,” Ms. Allen said on Sunday. That work includes clearing up hotspots, perimeter patrols and assessing potentially-dangerous tree falls. The nights in the northwest part of B.C. are becoming quite cool and dropping to near-freezing levels, which Ms. Allen said reduces their burning window considerably, although the turn of seasons does not necessarily mean the end of the wildfire season.

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Drive home message about fire safety

The Editorial Board
Times Colonist
September 2, 2018
Category: Forest Fires
Region: Canada, Canada West

According to the B.C. Wildfire Service, 420 of the 1,950 wildfires that created havoc across our province this year were caused by humans. …It has been estimated that about 40 per cent of forest fires over the past 10 years were caused by humans. That translates into about 660 fires a year, on average. It’s hard to put a total dollar value on the costs involved. Last year, the province spent $568 million fighting fires. This year, the figure is $275 million and counting. …Part of the problem is the aging of our forests. Forty years ago, B.C. had 18 million hectares of trees more than a century old. Today, that number is 25 million. The mountain pine beetle infestation that peaked in 2005 has also played a role. 

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Forest Minister With A Fire Update

By Olivia McDonald
CKPG Today
September 2, 2018
Category: Forest Fires
Region: Canada, Canada West

Doug Donaldson

PRINCE GEORGE – Approximately 500 fires are still burning across BC but the fires of note have come down to roughly 18. Forest Minister, Doug Donaldson stopped by Prince George on the weekend to give an update on the fires throughout the Province. “The fires across the Northwest Centre and Prince Geroge Centre are looking better, we’ve had a bit of rain. Rain doesn’t put fires out, it’s the crews on the ground that actually put the fires out but rain helps because it allows them to take a more aggressive attack on fires doing back burning for instance, really doing a direct attack on the fires.” …Donaldson says this is a big fire season in terms of the number of hectares burnt. It’s the largest number the province has seen on record. 

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Wildfire forces evacuations in Tahoe National Forest

By Dominic Fracassa
SF Gate
September 3, 2018
Category: Forest Fires
Region: United States, US West

A fast-moving wildfire that ignited in the Tahoe National Forest on Monday quickly grew to 650 acres, prompting the evacuations of several campgrounds at the end of the Labor Day holiday weekend. The blaze started around 4:30 p.m. in the North Fork campground, south of Emigrant Gap, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. By Monday evening, the Placer County Sheriff’s Department began evacuating the North Fork, Onion Valley and Tunnel Mills campgrounds on Texas Hill Road. The area around Lake Valley Reservoir was also being evacuated. Firefighters received assistance from helicopters and air tankers to battle the blaze, about 70 miles northeast of Sacramento. The cause of the fire is under investigation, according to Tahoe National Forest District Ranger Michael Woodbridge. But because the flames were first spotted near a popular campground and swimming hole, Woodbridge said human activity could have contributed.

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Hirz Fire near Lake Shasta burns nearly 4,000 acres in a day

By Damon Arthur
Redding Record Searchlight
September 2, 2018
Category: Forest Fires
Region: United States, US West

The Hirz Fire near Lake Shasta continued to burn out of control Sunday, torching nearly 4,000 over the previous 24 hours. While the fire grew to 42,064 acres, the percentage of containment on the fire remained at 42 percent, according to the U.S. Forest Service. Firefighters worked on the western edge of the fire Saturday and overnight to keep the fire from spreading west, the forest service said in an update on the blaze. Wind, along with warmer and drier conditions Sunday, however, could increase fire activity, officials said.

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Carbon, Climate & Bioenergy

Glass domes help forecast the fate of Canada’s boreal forests

CBC News
September 3, 2018
Category: Carbon, Climate & Bioenergy
Region: Canada, United States

The boreal forest is Canada’s first line of defence against climate change, but warming temperatures could soon put our greatest carbon sponge at risk. Black spruce, one of our country’s most common boreal tree species, will be smaller in future climate conditions, according to Western researchers. “When you increase growth temperatures, basically what you find is a decline in growth in the species,” said Professor Danielle Way, a plant biologist at Western University. Her work is just one component of the SPRUCE initiative, a massive environm​ental research project based out of Minnesota’s Oakridge National Labs. Like a climate time machine, the SPRUCE project is using huge glass enclosures to simulate climate conditions a century from now. Half remain at current conditions, and half are being tested at varying stages of global warming.

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Pro-Con: Is climate change sparking America’s record-breaking forest fires?

By Iris Stewart Frey, Merrill Matthews
The Daily Astorian
August 31, 2018
Category: Carbon, Climate & Bioenergy
Region: United States, US West

SANTA CLARA, Calif. — California is burning, but it is hardly alone. Up and down the western half of the country, 92 wildfires are currently raging in states as diverse as Oregon, Alaska, Idaho and Arizona. …And while part of our current fire crisis most certainly has its roots in forest management practices and human settlement patterns, we now have an opportunity to plan for a fire future without putting on blinkers when it comes to climate. …DALLAS — California is suffering, yet again, through a horrendous summer of wildfires that are destroying forests, homes — and lives. Many in the media seem to blame the size of the fires on climate change. …For decades the U.S. Forest Service allowed logging companies to enter forests and clear out dead, stressed and diseased trees and underbrush — all of which are kindling for wildfires.

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Proponent of ditched Dover woodchip mill sets sights on building $25m wood pellet plant

By Laura Beavis
ABC News Australia
September 4, 2018
Category: Carbon, Climate & Bioenergy
Region: International

The company that abandoned a planned woodchip export facility in southern Tasmania in July is now proposing to build a $25 million mill to turn forestry residues into heater pellets. Neville Smith Forest Products is part of the same group of companies as Southwood Fibre, which scrapped the proposed Dover export facility over its proximity to Tassal’s salmon lease. Chief executive of Neville Smith Forest Products Andrew Walker said the company was considering investing in a heater pellet mill that could process up to 100,000 tonnes of waste timber products each year. He said the mill would be built at the company’s existing Southwood site at Lonnavale, about 23 kilometres west of Huonville. …”At this stage, we’re not considering exporting these pellets — the aim is to satisfy the underlying demand in the Tasmanian economy.”

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Health & Safety

Study shows health, reaction-time declines in firefighters

By Keith Ridler
The Billings Gazette
September 2, 2018
Category: Health & Safety
Region: United States, US West

BOISE, Idaho — Randy Brooks’ son had a request three years ago: What could his dad do to make wildland firefighting safer? To Brooks, a professor at the University of Idaho’s College of Natural Resources who deals with wildland firefighting, it was more of a command. His son, Bo Brooks, is a wildland firefighter who a few days earlier during that 2015 fire season fled a wall of flames that killed three of his fellow firefighters in eastern Washington. The result of the conversation was an online survey that drew some 400 firefighters… That led to an ongoing health-monitoring study involving wrist-worn motion monitors and body composition measurements that last year found health declines and deteriorating reaction times among firefighters as the season progressed.

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