Tree Frog Forestry News

Monthly Archives: May 2019

Today’s Takeaway

Lumber curtailments not enough to fix ‘ugly market’: BMO

The Tree Frog Forestry News
May 31, 2019
Category: Today's Takeaway

Bank of Montreal’s Mark Wilde says curtailments are not enough to fix weak lumber pricing. In related news: Bloomberg’s Amanda Lang interviews Eric Miller on US trade action and how Canada’s forest industry can fight back; Pence tells Trudeau that US will approve USMCA; and Aspen Planers is down to one shift in Merritt, BC.

In other news: Nova Scotia promises reduction in clear cutting; a tentative labour agreement ends the longshoremen lockout in Vancouver; Tolko suspends operations in Alberta due to Slave Lake evacuation alert; Columbia Forest Products modernizes in Hearst, Ontario; and IP sells its India paper business. 

Finally, the ‘apocalypse is back‘ in Alberta (i.e., wildfire smoke), while 10,000 are forced from their homes

Kelly McCloskey, Tree Frog Editor

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Canada invests in Toronto’s Tall Wood future

The Tree Frog Forestry News
May 30, 2019
Category: Today's Takeaway

Tall Wood is on the Up-and-Up in Toronto as evidenced by Canada’s investment in a planned 10-storey timber building. In related news: Northern Ontario needs a wood pipeline strategy; Australian-made CLT is put to the test; and US fire testing goes high-tech with 360-degree video.

In Business news: lumber shippers are feeling the pain of a possible lockout at Vancouver’s port; the US-China trade war cut Astoria’s log exports; Tolko’s Louisiana mill is now open for business; and a timber Ponzi scheme snags United Parcel Service workers in Mississippi. In Forestry/Climate news: Alberta declares disaster, public emergency due to wildfires; the Boreal forest experiences two district wildfire seasons; and a California study says thinning and prescribed fire reduced tree loss across the Sierra Nevada.

Finally, Bigfoot replaces Smokey Bear, and why banning paper receipts is nonsense legislation

Kelly McCloskey, Tree Frog Editor

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Froggy Foibles

Bigfoot leads state’s effort to prevent wildfires, asks Oregonians to ‘believe’

By Douglas Perry
Oregon Live
May 29, 2019
Category: Froggy Foibles
Region: United States, US West

Everybody knows Smokey Bear and his famous saying, “Only you can prevent forest fires.” The Oregon state fire marshal has decided his office can do even better. …Oregon Fire Marshal Jim Walker has recruited an even bigger celebrity – who happens to be a local resident – for his own fire-safety-awareness campaign: Bigfoot. …“Wildfires can easily be ignited by backyard burning; an unattended campfire; a hot car on tall, dry grass; or from dragging tow chains — and they spread fast,” Walker said in a statement. “We hope our Bigfoot campaign will draw attention and create a bigger ‘footprint’ of wildfire prevention efforts around the state.”Get it? A bigger footprint. 

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Business & Politics

Brushing off doubts, Pence says U.S. will approve USMCA ‘by summer’

By Naomi Powell
Canada.com
May 30, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, United States

Mike Pence & Justin Trudeau

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence has pledged to win Congressional approval for the new North American free trade agreement “by the summer,” even as a heated public fight between U.S. President Donald Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi adds a new hurdle to the deal’s passage. Touting the revamped trade pact as a “win-win-win” agreement… suggesting the deal represented a historic opportunity to strengthen ties between Canada and the U.S. …The ongoing softwood lumber dispute, the detention of two Canadians in China and continued Canadian access to the U.S. market for uranium — currently the subject of a U.S. Commerce Department national security investigation — were also discussed during Pence’s meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. …Even so, ratification by a Democrat-controlled Congress remains far from certain, analysts say. Those lawmakers still want changes to the deal’s provisions on pharmaceuticals, labour and the environment.

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Lumber’s horrible market can’t be fixed ‘with Band-Aids’: Bank of Montreal

By Aoyon Ashraf
BNN Bloomberg
May 30, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada

Lumber companies curtailing near-term production to fix weak pricing is like “medics treating battlefield wounds with Band-Aids,” according to Bank of Montreal analyst Mark Wilde. Cuts have so far amounted to about 0.8 per cent of annual production, but it is not enough, Wilde writes in a note. “They won’t stanch the bleeding in a horrible market” as the lumber “market is ugly — very ugly,” due to higher supply and weaker-than-expected demand, he said. Lumber prices have fallen about 52 per cent from their peak in May of last year, while the S&P/TSX Composite Forest Products index has followed along. This sell-off could be an opportunity, according to a note by Royal Bank of Canada analyst Paul Quinn. Canadian lumber producers have significantly underperformed and “analysis suggests that periods of weakness tend to be followed by higher than average returns for the industry,” he added. [The video below is six-minute interview with Eric Miller, President, Rideau Potomac Strategy Group, hosted by Amanda Lang]

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Ratification of USMCA to dominate agenda as Trudeau, Pence meet in Ottawa

The Canadian Press in The Globe and Mail
May 30, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, United States

Justin Trudeau & Mike Pence

The ratification of the new North American trade agreement will dominate a packed agenda when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence meet today in Ottawa. …Trade will dominate their initial discussion, and while their focus will be on the pending ratification of the new continental trade pact, other remaining irritants will also be on the agenda, said a senior government official speaking on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak on the record about the talks. The ongoing softwood lumber dispute and future U.S. plans for tariffs on uranium imports, which would have a big impact if they applied to Canada, will also be raised, the official said. Pence and Trudeau will also discuss some larger, shared international concerns, including Canada’s ongoing tension with China, which has detained two Canadians on unspecified national security violations, said the official.

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Teal Jones Curtails 2nd Growth Harvesting on Vancouver Island

By Hanif Karmally
Teal Jones Group
May 31, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

Teal Jones announced that, effective immediately 2nd growth harvesting will be shutdown at its Honeymoon Bay – TFL46 operation due to excessive stumpage rates. Stumpage rates, derived from a history of log export premiums and speculative bidding, are well in excess of what would be an economic rate for a 2nd growth harvesting operation focused on providing logs for domestic saw mills. These high rates are incurring significant losses for the company, at a time of weak markets for lumber, shakes and shingles in Canada, the U.S. and abroad. The provincial government, as part of its Coastal Revitalization initiative, has recognized that while log exports will be addressed by changes to the fee-in-lieu rates, stumpage rates should be adjusted to be more in line with harvesting for domestic consumption. However, the changes to the stumpage system to reflect this reality will not come into place until 2020. In the interim, the mounting losses are requiring the company to curtail the 2nd growth harvesting operations.

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Kootenay-Columbia MP Calls for Softwood Lumber Agreement to be Prioritized

By David Opinko
The Summit 107FM
May 31, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

Wayne Stetski

Wayne Stetski claims that the failure to remove tariffs on softwood lumber with the U.S. continues to be a burden on Canadian lumber mills. Stetski joined South Okanagan-West Kootenay MP Richard Cannings and Abitibi-Témiscamingue MP Christine Moore in writing to Foreign Affairs and the Minister for Natural Resources Amarjeet Sohi. Together, they are calling on the federal government to prioritize securing a fair deal on softwood lumber, while Stetski raised the issue in the House of Commons, specifically bringing to attention the importance the forestry sector has on rural communities like those in the Kootenays. …Until a new deal is reached with the U.S. on the imports and exports of Canadian lumber, the MP’s say that the industry’s financial sustainability will continue to be threatened.

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Aspen Planers Reduces Production in Merritt

By Brian Menzies
Aspen Planers Ltd.
May 30, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

Merritt, BC – Today, Aspen Planers Ltd. announces further production curtailments at their Merritt sawmill reducing operations from two shifts per day to only one shift. “Due to the ongoing lack of access to logs, increased log costs and weakening lumber markets, Aspen Planers will curtail production and reduce operations to one shift per day starting Monday, June 3,” said Aspen Planers’ executive vice president, Bruce Rose.“The decision to curtail production does not reflect the commitment or hard work demonstrated by our employees,” said Rose. “Our decision to reduce production is a result of the challenging industry conditions in BC.” “As the major employer in this area, we have a responsibility to our employees, our community and the hundreds more that depend upon Aspen Planers for their economic livelihood here in Merritt and other areas including Savona and Lillooet,” said Rose.

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Mill workers facing layoffs as shifts reduced at Aspen Planers

By Cole Wagner
Merritt Herald
May 30, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

At least 50 employees will be laid off at the Aspen Planers sawmill in Merritt, after the company announced plans to move to a single shift per day schedule. “Due to the ongoing lack of access to logs, increased log costs and weakening lumber markets, Aspen Planers will curtail production and reduce operations to one shift per day starting Monday, June 3,” said Aspen Planers’ executive vice president, Bruce Rose in a news release on May 30. The curtailment is aimed at restoring a regular schedule at the mill, which has been plagued by week-long shutdowns since last November… Marty Gibbons, president of the Local 1-417 of the United Steelworkers Union said the current state of forestry in B.C. can be traced back to a lack of planning and foresight on the part of previous provincial governments. A lack of timber supply has driven up the price of logs, he said, while access issues specific to the Nicola Valley have compounded issues.

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Tolko’s Athabasca division in Slave Lake, Alberta suspends operations due to wildfire

The Terrace Standard
May 30, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

Tolko’s Athabasca OSB division in Slave Lake, Alberta has temporarily suspended operations as the province has issued an eight-hour evacuation alert for the town. “All employees, other than those who have been identified as essential to asset protection, have been evacuated and sent home. With the town on an eight-hour evacuation notice, we want people to be prepared in case a mandatory evacuation order is issued,” says VP, Strand-based Business, Jim Baskerville. …Tolko’s essential employees will now initiate fire suppression activities to protect the mill and will coordinate efforts with the town, the municipal district, and the province as the situation develops. Tolko will be communicating with employees through their direct supervisors and via its Facebook page (www.facebook.com/TolkoIndustries).

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Labor Spat at Vancouver Ends as Deal Reached

By Rod Nickel and Kelsey Johnson
Marine Link
May 30, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

A tentative agreement on a new contract was reached with the BC Maritime Employers Association, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Canada said in a statement. …Earlier in the day, shippers across the region were concerned.”We’ve got trucks sitting for hours now at the terminals waiting to get in,” said Joel Neuheimer, vice president of international trade and transportation at Forest Products Association of Canada, whose members include Canfor Corp and West Fraser Timber. “We even have vessels saying they won’t be stopping, they’ll be going to Seattle and other West Coast ports. If you’ve shipped cargo to Vancouver, it’s stranded now.” Canadian National Railway and Canadian Pacific haul cargo to the port. …The employers association, which represents 55 companies… issued a notice this week that it would lock out some 6,000 workers who load and unload ships due to a labor dispute.

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Vancouver lockout of longshoremen ends; shipping disruption avoided

By Rod Nickel & Kelsey Johnson
Reuters
May 30, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

WINNIPEG, Manitoba/OTTAWA — A lockout of longshore workers at Canada’s biggest port, the Port of Vancouver, ended in a deal on Thursday after a few hours, averting a potentially massive shipping disruption, the workers’ union and employers association said. The lockout was immediately lifted and the union also withdrew its strike notice. …Details of a tentative agreement… were not released. At issue was the employers association’s introduction of automation that could eliminate jobs, the union said. The port is a major gateway to Asia for Canadian goods, moving large volumes of coal, grain, potash and forest products. Despite its short duration, the lockout led to lineups of trucks outside terminals and vessels being rerouted to other West Coast ports, said Joel Neuheimer, vice president of international trade and transportation at Forest Products Association of Canada, whose members include Canfor Corp and West Fraser Timber.

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Businesses are already feeling the pain of a possible lockout at Canada’s biggest port

By Jen St. Denis
The Star Vancouver
May 29, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

VANCOUVER—Somewhere at the Deltaport terminal, three containers full of lumber are sitting on the dock, waiting to be shipped to Pakistan. The abandoned containers were left behind when the vessel they were supposed to be loaded on suddenly pulled away from its berth earlier this week, taking only seven of a 10-container order from SPF Precut Lumber in Coquitlam. It’s an example of how a possible lockout, which could take effect at all B.C. ports on Thursday, is already affecting businesses that rely on the Port of Vancouver. Port labour is required for vessels to leave the terminal, said Mo Amir, office and sales manager for SPF Precut Lumber. …When the International Longshore and Warehouse Union issued a strike notice on May 10, SPF Precut expected… it could still ship through Centerm in downtown Vancouver or Fraser Surrey Docks.

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Columbia Forest Products nets $3.2M to modernize Hearst plant

Northern Ontario Business
May 30, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada East, Canada

Columbia Forest Products will use $3.2 million in provincial funds to help modernize and streamline its Hearst hardwood plywood mill. John Yakabuski, minister of natural resources and forestry, announced the funding on May 30 while touring the mill. “Since we were elected, one of our top priorities has been to make Ontario open for business and open for jobs,” said Yakabuski in a release. …The funds will be doled out over a five-year period. While modernizing the plant, it’s also expected the funds will help create or retain 350 jobs in Hearst and in Rutherglen, where the company operates a hardwood veneer plant. Columbia Forest Products operates 13 manufacturing facilities across North America.

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Market Forces of Fiber

By Anna Simet
Biomass Magazine
May 31, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: United States

Anna Simet

…The idea for the story began last fall when I was made aware of the potential impact of Chinese hardwood lumber tariffs. …I discovered the real story is not in the tariffs alone; rather, that issue plus a culmination of factors that could very well impact fiber supply and price for a swathe of domestic market pellet manufacturers. …What I heard… is that if pellet users bought product year-round or early on, it could make a difference. The question is: How do we get the the word out, and explain it in a simplified way? …In these times where fiber sourcing is largely misconstrued by environmental groups and the media, and not well understood by consumers. …How many pellet consumers know their product was made from waste sawdust from lumber operations, for example.

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International Paper to Depart From India-Based Paper Business

By Zacks Equity Research
Nasdaq
May 30, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: United States, International

International Paper (IP) has entered into an agreement to sell its controlling interest in its India-based paper business, International Paper APPM, to West Coast Paper Mills (WCPM). Currently, IP owns 75% stake in APPM. The transaction is anticipated to be completed by the end of the current year, subject to customary closing conditions, which include obtaining approvals from government and West Coast Paper Mills Limited’s tender offer. …Based on the results of that tender offer, WCPM will acquire between 51% and 60% of the APPM’s outstanding shares from IP at a price per share of INR 275. IP’s strategic move to exit from APPM, reflects its focus on expanding its global packaging and cellulose fibers businesses.

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Trade war chops off log revenue at Port of Astoria

By Edward Stratton
The Astorian
May 29, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: United States, US West

The trade war between the U.S. and China could chop about one-third of the Port of Astoria’s projected pier revenue in the coming fiscal year. The Port… estimates Astoria Forest Products will send out 6.5 log ships over the coming year. Chad Niedermeyer… said the company would usually expect to send out between eight and 10. Port staff projected $1.3 million in pier revenue, down more than 28 percent from this year. …The majority of the loss in pier revenue comes from the lack of regular log ships. …With the decrease in ships, Astoria Forest Products has cut its workforce by 40 percent, Niedermeyer said. Chris Connaway, the president of the local longshore union, has reported members having to go far afield to find work.

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Economic impact of fire at Georgia-Pacific unknown

By Linda Green
The McDuffie Progress
May 30, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: US East, United States

The economic impact of a fire at Georgia-Pacific is yet unknown. “It is a huge economic impact,” said McDuffie County Commission Chairman Charlie Newton. “There is the loss of the operation and loss of jobs for a period of time.  There is a loss to the property tax digest,” he said. …Georgia Pacific paid $190,657.01 in personal and real property taxes in 2018. …The May 29 fire at the particle board facility began around 2 p.m. in the raw material storage shed, then quickly spread and built up so fast that the fire suppression system was unable to contain it, said company spokesperson Rick Kimble. The cause of the fire that damaged nearly 80 percent of the facility… is unknown and the job status of the 95 employees who work there is also unknown at this time, Kimble said. …employees working at the time of the fire were evacuated, and no one was injured.

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Urania sawmill begins operation

By Jeffrey Matthews
The Alexandria Town Talk
May 30, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: US East, United States

A new sawmill in Urania has been completed and is fully operational. LaSalle Lumber Company shipped its first load of lumber in early March. The mill employs 115 people and is expected to source approximately 850,000 tons of wood and produce about 200 million board feet of lumber annually. Gov. John Bel Edwards was at the mill for a dedication Wednesday, along with representatives from Hunt Forest Products and Tolko Industries, the partners in the company. Edwards said the mill “represents the resurgence of a great forest products manufacturing center for which this region of our state is well known.” “We view this project as a great next-generation investment in our sustainable forest products industry,” Edwards said. “We are so happy that Urania is home to LaSalle Lumber Company, and we welcome them to our little town,” said Urania Mayor Terri Corley.

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Nearly $1 million to be invested into timber jobs in Henry County

By Nathaniel Rodriguez
WDHN Dothan First News
May 29, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: US East, United States

ABBEVILLE, Ala. — The Henry County economy will soon see a boost in job opportunities, thanks to a grant from Gov. Kay Ivey. The Community Development Block Grant will now invest $850,000 dollars into a timber business in Abbeville, providing at least 105 jobs to residents in the area. The money, which was given to the Henry County Commission, will “provide transportation construction assistance to ship lumber, timbers and posts produced at the new Abbeville Fiber plant.” The soon-to-be opened plant, a division of Great Southern Wood Preserving Inc., is set to produce 200,000 feet of finished wood per day. To supply this demand for finished wood, the sawmill will buy around $14-15 million of timber per year. This, in turn, will improve the market for timber suppliers from a 50-mile radius.

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Wood, Paper & Green Building

No Makeover Desired – French Senate Votes on Notre Dame Restoration

By Nancy Bilyeau
The Vintage News
May 31, 2019
Category: Wood, Paper & Green Building
Region: International

The restoration of Notre Dame has been voted on by the French Senate. The massive fire in Paris’ Notre Dame Cathedral that proved so devastating is now leading to difficult questions on not only how to pay for repairs but what plan to follow in restoring the 850-year-old landmark to glory. On May 27th, 2018, the French Senate voted to restore the Parisian cathedral to its “last known visual state” prior to the fire,  contradicting other government officials’ hopes for a contemporary design. …Worth noting is that if Notre Dame’s roof were rebuilt exactly as it once existed, 3,000 tall oak trees would be needed to replace it in its entirety. Given the reduced number of forests in Europe today, this wood requirement poses a challenge, though one medieval historian has pointed out that the Baltic states may hold enough tall trees for the project.

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“Self-shaping” Urbach Tower twists itself into a unique, curvaceous shape

By Lucy Wong
Inhabitat
May 29, 2019
Category: Wood, Paper & Green Building
Region: International

Wood warping typically creates unwanted and undesirable effects, yet the creators behind a unique new landmark in Urbach, Germany have found a way to harness the naturally occurring deformity into an unexpected architectural possibility. The University of Stuttgart completed a nearly 47-foot-tall timber structure that gets its curvaceous form from the “self-shaping process” of its curved wood components. Constructed from spruce wood cross-laminated panels, the Urbach Tower is the first wood structure made from self-shaped components and offers a more sustainable alternative to energy-intensive, mechanically formed structures. …The landmark building’s prefabricated, self-shaping components are made from spruce wood CLT sourced regionally from Switzerland and CNC cut into 12 flat panels that deform autonomously into predicted curved shapes when dried. Computational models were developed to design, predict and optimize the material arrangement that would achieve the desired look through moisture-induced swelling and shrinking.

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Forestry

Green Jobs in Green Spaces taking wooden bikes across Canada

By Greg Sabatino
The Williams Lake Tribune
May 30, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: Canada

Two wooden bikes, 34 stops and more than 8,750 kilometres: all for green jobs across Canada. …brothers Zac Wagman and Nick Wagman made a stop in Williams Lake this week on their journey from Victoria to St. John’s, N.B. — all while riding bicycles made from wood. The Wagmans work for Project Learning Tree Canada and run a funding program called Green Jobs in Green Spaces helping place youth aged 15-30 in outdoor jobs across Canada in fields such as ecosystem and wildlife management, forest management, Indigenous forest-based program, recreation and interpretation, conservation and research, education and jobs with provincial and territorial parks. Zac said they provide a 50 per cent wage match to employers to help them hire more youth… which is paying off directly in Williams Lake at both the UBC Alex Fraser Research Forest and with the Invasive Species Council of BC, who will hire summer students partly thanks to the funds.

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Public Concern Mounts over Municipal Forest Reserve

By Kyle Christensen
My Cowichan Valley Now
May 30, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: Canada, Canada West

A crowd of more than 50 people gathered outside the North Cowichan municipal offices yesterday to protest what is going on in the municipal forest reserve. Staff and council have said that two things, in particular, were going to happen in the reserve, the blowdown from the December windstorm will be harvested, and existing contracts will be completed. Cowichan Tribes Elder Robert George said, “I think we just need to preserve the forest and consultation is the most important thing”. North Cowichan Mayor Al Siebring said there is a fundamental misunderstanding that the public expects consultation on what the municipality is doing in the forest reserve in 2019. …Many feel the blowdown should be left alone, but Shaun Mason the Municipal Forester said if it’s left where it is, it will increase the wildfire risk and the risk of beetle infestation

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B.C. forests ministry tracks Douglas fir beetle outbreak

By Tom Fletcher
BC Local News
May 30, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: Canada, Canada West

An outbreak of Douglas fir beetle in the West Kootenay is being monitored and treated, but it’s tiny compared to the mountain pine beetle outbreak that has driven declining harvest and large forest fires elsewhere in the B.C. Interior… Regular aerial surveys are conducted to track conditions in fir, pine and other forests, and the 2018 map shows a fir beetle infestation across the province has declined in size since 2016, Minister Donaldson told Black Press. That includes cyclical fir beetle outbreaks that are tracked in the Cariboo region. Fir and other beetles are naturally occurring throughout B.C. forests. “There’s always a background population level, and in a cyclical nature there are outbreaks,” Donaldson said. …Affected areas are also selectively logged to reduce their fire risk, in conjunction with forest companies operating in each region. “You get a volume out that might not otherwise have been harvested because of concerns of neighbours,” Donaldson said. 

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College of Applied Biology Follows up on 2019 Conference Questions

College of Applied Biology
May 31, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: Canada, Canada West

The College of Applied Biology held its Annual General Meeting and Conference on April 5, 2019. The conference theme (“Right to Practice: What’s the Future?”) and panels addressed the important transition for applied biologists – and other resource management professionals – from the College of Applied Biology Act to the Professional Governance Act. The audience reported its positive impression of the conference content, and the College was impressed by the information that was presented by each of the day’s speakers. The panel conversation elicited excellent questions from the audience; the only negative feedback from attendees seemed to be that there simply wasn’t enough time to answer all the questions posed. See Pigeonhole Question follow-up here.

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Forestry minister promises ‘dramatic reduction’ in clear cutting

By Michael Gorman
CBC News
May 30, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: Canada East, Canada

Iian Rankin

Lands and Forestry Minister Iain Rankin says there will be a “drastic reduction” in clear cutting once Nova Scotia’s new forest management guide is complete, something he expects will happen by late November or early December. “But really, it’s about outcomes in the forest and that takes time, obviously,” Rankin said in an interview Thursday. “This is going to be a 10-, 20-, 30-year process where you’ll see the actual look of the forest change into a more multi-aged and multi-species forest.” Last August, University of King’s College president Bill Lahey delivered his review on forestry practices, a document that called for less clear cutting and more focus on biodiversity and ecological forestry. …Rankin said people who participated in the process to develop Lahey’s report will soon be receiving invitations for a June meeting with the minister and his staff to learn more about what’s been done to date.

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Caribou protest slows Nipigon bridge traffic

By Michael Charlebois
Thunder Bay News Watch
May 30, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: Canada East, Canada

NIPIGON, Ont. – A peaceful protest for proposed caribou legislation caused traffic to slow across the Nipigon bridge this afternoon. Roughly 50 protesters, rallied against the province’s Caribou Recovery Strategy. “This is not against the conservation of caribou, this is against the changing of our forestry landscape,” said chief of the Red Rock Indian Band, Matthew Dupuis. The province is planning to create what’s called a “discontinuous zone” that slashes across most of Northwestern Ontario. This would allow safe passage from the shore of Lake Superior to the Far North. The woodland caribou species is currently listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. Dupuis and fellow protesters were united in saying that caribou don’t inhabit the region. They couldn’t tell that to the government because no consultation between First Nation communities and municipalities in the region took place.

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J.D. Irving inks trail agreement with New Brunswick ATV riders group

The Canadian Press in Global News
May 30, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: Canada East, Canada

New Brunswick-based J.D. Irving, says it has signed an agreement that will allow access to more than 800 kilometres of company-owned trails and woodlands by all-terrain vehicle users in the province. Irving says the agreement will bring the over 22,000 members of the New Brunswick All-Terrain Vehicle Federation closer to realizing a province-wide trail network. The company says the land in the agreement represents 18 per cent of the 4,400 kilometres of managed ATV trails in the province.

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Fighting last summer’s wildfires cost $212M, but province saying little else

By Erik White
CBC News
May 30, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: Canada East, Canada

Natural Resources and Forestry Minister Jeff Yurek told the provincial legislature in the midst of last summer’s busy fire season that resources were in “good supply” and that crews “received the support they require.” He didn’t mention how much that would cost taxpayers. The next day, he announced an investment of an extra $100 million in forest fire fighting. In the past, Ontario governments didn’t make funding announcements when forest fire crews needed more than the base budget of $70 million. The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry refused to answer CBC’s questions about how that emergency funding is allotted. But the ministry is saying that forest firefighting was $142 million over budget in 2018, for a total of $212 million. That’s about twice as much as each of the last five years.

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Idaho, Oregon senators seek to help with rural timber losses

Associated Press in The Coeur d’Alene Press
May 30, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

Mike Crapo and Jim Risch

BOISE, Idaho — U.S. senators from Idaho and Oregon on Thursday touted legislation they introduced to create an endowment to replace revenue lost by rural counties due to declines in timber cutting on federal lands. Republicans Jim Risch and Mike Crapo of Idaho and Democrat Ron Wyden of Oregon… say the legislation would create an endowment to give at least $300 million annually to rural counties in 40 states for schools, roads, law enforcement and other essential services. Rural counties, particularly in the Pacific Northwest, have suffered economically as commercial timber cutting on federal land fell to about a fourth of what it was in the late 1980s. …Rural communities receive a share of the money from timber harvest on federal land. But federal land is not subject to property taxes by counties. So when timber harvest declined, rural counties not only lost timber revenue, but they couldn’t make that up with property taxes.

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Carbon, Climate & Bioenergy

Climate change is a big factor in Alberta’s wildfires – but not in the way you might think

By Glenn McGillivray, Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction.
The Globe and Mail
May 29, 2019
Category: Carbon, Climate & Bioenergy
Region: Canada, Canada West

Glenn McGillivray

A large wildfire in Alberta in May? This must be the work of climate change, right? …Much of Western Canada actually experiences two distinct wildfire seasons. There’s the late summer/early fall season that most people are familiar with. But areas close to or in the boreal forest, like northern Alberta, are currently in the midst of the lesser-known wildfire season, the period after the snow stops but before the forest greens up and sequesters the moisture that makes intense fires less likely. …Climate change is a force multiplier: It doesn’t directly produce severe weather, but it does nurture and amplify it. It takes something that likely would have happened anyway and makes it worse. …making severe-loss events more likely to happen. …Fire has been a critical part of our ecosystem since long before we came around. [Fire doesn’t] seek out our communities – it’s that humans have put communities in its way.

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Forests ‘in the front line of Ireland’s response to climate change’

By Tim O’Brian
The Irish Times
May 30, 2019
Category: Carbon, Climate & Bioenergy
Region: International

Andrew Doyle

Forests “are in the front line” of Ireland’s response to the climate change emergency – but State targets for afforestation are weak and compare unfavourably to near neighbours like Scotland. Mairi Gougeon, Scotland’s minister for rural affairs and natural environment, said there was “a growing understanding that forestry and forests are in the front line of our national response to the climate change emergency that faces us all”. …Ireland has 11 per cent of land under forest and has a target of 18 percent by 2050. In contrast to Ireland, Scotland already has 18 per cent forest cover and aims to have 20 percent 2032. …Architect Mike Hasla said while wood energy is important, “the production and processing of wood for construction and other uses is regarded as highly energy-efficient”. “Engineered wood is now an integral part of tall building construction,” he said.

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Health & Safety

‘The apocalypse is back’: Air quality advisory in effect as wildfire smoke blankets city

By Trevor Robb
The Edmonton Journal
May 31, 2019
Category: Health & Safety
Region: Canada, Canada West

Environment Canada issued a special air quality statement for Edmonton and much of central, north Alberta. “Smoke from wildfires in northern Alberta is causing poor air quality and reducing visibility in some areas,” the statement reads. “In central parts of the province smoke is expected to move back north by Friday morning as the flow shifts to southeasterly. …The Air Quality Health Index for Edmonton jumped to 10+ — the very high risk category — as of 4 p.m. after fluctuating throughout the morning and afternoon with moderate to high risk measurements of four to seven on the 10 point scale. The blanket of wildfire smoke left eyes stinging and forced several organizations to cancel outdoor activities. Alberta Health Services is advising people to take precautions to minimize the health risk posed by the wildfire smoke.

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Forest Fires

Northwest Fire Centre updates wildfire situation

By Carolyn Bartos, BC Wildfire Service, Northwest Fire Centre
Government of British Columbia
May 30, 2019
Category: Forest Fires
Region: Canada, Canada West

The BC Wildfire Service is responding to several wildfires within the Cassiar Fire Zone of the Northwest Fire Centre and is preparing for potential new wildfire activity in the region, due to higher-than-normal temperatures and drought conditions. Three new wildfires started this week in the Cassiar Fire Zone. Firefighting crews are also continuing to work on holdover fires associated with the 2018 Alkali Lake fire and the 2018 Schaft Creek fire. A holdover fire (or overwintering fire) can occur when a wildfire that burned deep underground last year continues to smoulder all winter long. Some residual hotspots can emerge with the arrival of warmer and drier weather. …Hot and dry weather, high to extreme fire danger ratings and all-time-high drought codes in some areas of the Cassiar Fire Zone are a concern for the Northwest Fire Centre. 

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Alberta says 10,000 people are out of their homes because of wildfires

By Colette Derworiz
The Canadian Press in the Daily Courier
May 30, 2019
Category: Forest Fires
Region: Canada, Canada West

The Alberta government says wildfires raging across the northern part of the province have forced about 10,000 people from their homes. The updated figure was provided Thursday afternoon, after a day of hot temperatures and gusty winds led to the explosive growth of several blazes burning out-of-control. About 5,000 people have been out of their homes in and around High Level for more than a week. …People in Slave Lake… have been told to be prepared to leave with eight hours notice because of a fire that the mayor says is burning about 30 kilometres away. Smoke from the fires enveloped points south, including Edmonton, in a thick, acrid, haze that limited visibility and made it difficult to breathe. The government said weather forecasts for the next two weeks will make fighting the fires difficult.

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Northern Alberta wildfires prompt Kenney government to declare disaster, public emergency

By Phil Heidenreich
Global News
May 30, 2019
Category: Forest Fires
Region: Canada, Canada West

As wildfires continue to rage in northern Alberta, and prompting more evacuation orders on Wednesday, the provincial government has officially declared the situation both a public emergency and a disaster. The public emergency order was declared by Alberta’s agriculture and forestry minister while the disaster order was declared by the municipal affairs minister. The orders, declared under Section 7 of the Fiscal Planning and Transparency Act, were prompted by what the government called the “extraordinary losses, damages and costs, including prevention, presuppression, suppression, reclamation and reforestation costs, resulting from wildfires” this year. The government also cited the emergency response costs. …According to Alberta Wildfire, there were 25 active wildfires across the province as of 10 a.m. on Wednesday. Of those, six had been sparked in the last 24 hours and seven were considered to be out of control.

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Prescribed burns among measures West Kelowna to use to cut fire risk

By Ron Seymour
The Kelowna Daily Courier
May 29, 2019
Category: Forest Fires
Region: Canada, Canada West

Fires that are deliberately set and controlled could save West Kelowna from a devastating conflagration in the future, members of city council say. So-called prescribed burns… will be lit to better fire-proof the community even though councillors know the practice could be controversial. Some people may not like the smoke produced by deliberately set fires and they may worry about the potential of deliberately set blazes to get out of control, Coun. Doug Findlater said. …Fire Chief Jason Brolund outlined the ways in which the department will attempt to reduce the wildfire risk in West Kelowna, working on both public land and — for the first time — on select private properties….Twenty grants of $500 each will also be available.

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Pikangikum First Nation calls for more evacuation help as fire nears

CBC News
May 30, 2019
Category: Forest Fires
Region: Canada East, Canada

As the forest fire continues to grow in Pikangikum First Nation, officials at the City of Thunder Bay are preparing to host approximately 300 people from the northwestern Ontario First Nation community over the next 48 hours. Officials in the fly-in community, which is located approximately 500 km northwest of Thunder Bay, called for more planes Thursday morning to help people get out of the community as a forest fire makes its way closer. According to a written release from the city, Thunder Bay will also serve as a transportation hub to assist with travel to other host communities across the province. “Thunder Bay’s Emergency Operations Control Group is very experienced in dealing with these types of emergencies,” Mayor Bill Mauro stated in Thursday’s release.

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