Tree Frog Forestry News

Daily Archives: May 21, 2019

Today’s Takeaway

Bill 22 pits the big tenure holders against the smaller ones

The Tree Frog Forestry News
May 21, 2019
Category: Today's Takeaway

Bill 22 is a catch-22 for BC forest companies, according to Business in Vancouver’s Nelson Bennett. Also from his pen: stock shock amongst BC’s publicly traded companies; and no timber shortage in Fort Nelson. In related news: Vaughn Palmer says industry feels blindsided by Forests Act changes; and BC maintains its focus on China despite Huawei conflict. Elsewhere: the US framing market took a step back last week; and Chinese tariffs are taking a toll on Alaska log exports and the Appalachian hardwood industry.

In Forestry/Climate news: the Federal environment minister warns BC over caribou recovery; eastern forests shaped by Native American burning more than climate change; U of Toronto Faculty of Forestry on life support; and how green is mass timber anyway?

Finally, given forecasts and evacuation alerts in BC and Alberta, the fire season has truly begun. In light of the above, we’ve once again opened up a separate news section for Forest Fires under Safety.

Kelly McCloskey, Tree Frog Editor

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Business & Politics

Bill 22 is a catch-22 for B.C. forest companies, critics say

By Nelson Bennett
Business in Vancouver
May 20, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

…It is estimated that six to eight sawmills in B.C. will need to permanently shut down due to a shrinking AAC. When those mills close, the Crown tenure – cutting rights – associated with them would likely be up for sale or transfer. …But the BC NDP government plans to intervene in any future sales or transfers. …Doug Donaldson, minister of forests, said… “There was concern that there might have been moves by forest companies to further concentrate tenure while the debate in the legislature was happening”. …Before any sale or transfer of tenure is allowed, the Ministry of Forests will allow First Nations, workers and the general public to weigh in. …But the larger tenure holders are warning that the bill adds to uncertainty, which could curb investment in B.C. …COFI CEO Susan Yurkovich. “But now there is an added test, which is an unknown test. There’s a test of ‘public interest,’ which has not yet been defined.” Bill 22 appears to pit the big players – large tenure holders – against the smaller ones, which often can’t compete for logs to supply their mills.

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B.C. forestry’s stock shock highlights industry troubles

By Nelson Bennett
Business in Vancouver
May 21, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

Look at any stock chart of any publicly traded forest company in B.C. over a three-year period, and you may be struck by what you see: mountains. Whether it is a major player like West Fraser Timber Co.  or a medium-sized company like Conifex Timber Inc. , the stock charts for these B.C. companies over three years all have a similar shape – a mountain slope that starts rising in early 2017, peaks in the summer of 2018 and then slides down to three-year lows. Whereas some B.C. forestry companies were posting record profits one year ago, they have lately been posting losses. Canfor Corp. posted $126 million in operating income from lumber sales in the first quarter of 2018 and a $78 million loss in lumber sales for the first quarter of 2019. …In first-quarter financials, B.C. companies cite lower lumber prices in the U.S. and higher log costs in B.C. for the poor first-quarter showings.

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No timber shortage here

By Nelson Bennett
Business in Vancouver
May 20, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

FORT NELSON, BC — A lack of timber will likely close more mills in B.C. in the coming years, thanks to a dwindling annual allowable cut. But one area of the province that still has an adequate timber supply is Fort Nelson, which wasn’t affected by the mountain pine beetle the way Interior pine forests were and does not have the same conservation concerns over the mountain caribou that its neighbours to the south in the Peace region have. It just hasn’t had much luck getting idled mills in the area restarted. …Mike Gilbert, regional development officer for the Northern Rockies Regional Municipality, has been trying to hammer home the message to government and industry that the… area has an annual allowable cut of 1.6 million cubic metres that has been pretty much untouched for about a decade. …Gilbert said several forestry companies are considering potentially restarting the Fort Nelson mill.

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Industry feels blindsided by Horgan’s top-down changes to Forests Act

By Vaughn Palmer
Vancouver Sun
May 17, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

John Horgan

VICTORIA — The NDP government’s latest foray into regulating timber allocations and forest tenures has triggered a sharp-edged exchange of between the industry and Premier John Horgan. The industry started it off April 12, the day after the New Democrats tabled legislation giving the forests minister a veto over transfers of tenures and cutting rights between forest companies. Twice in the preceding week, Horgan had reached out to the industry, offering a chance to “work together” and an end to “top-down solutions” dictated from on high. But Bill 22, the aforementioned changes to the Forests Act, was tabled without any advance consultation, leaving industry feeling blindsided. “Given the magnitude of the potential impacts, we would have expected to have the opportunity to discuss with you before the changes were introduced, in keeping with the collaborative approach you have spoken about,” wrote West Fraser’s Ted Seraphim and Canfor’s Don Kayne, respectively the outgoing and incoming chairs of the Council of Forest Industries.

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B.C. forestry sector maintains full focus on Chinese market

By Chuck Chiang
The Prince George Citizen
May 17, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

Conflict over Canada’s detainment of Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. CFO Meng Wanzhou has brought repeated calls in government, trade promotion and academic circles for Canada and B.C. businesses to divert trade away from the Chinese market.  But for B.C.’s forestry-products sector – often seen as one of the province’s fundamental industries, contributing $12.9 billion in GDP to the B.C. economy – those calls to diversify beyond Canada’s largest Asian trade partner have been met with defiance.  Perhaps surprisingly, one of the more recent calls for diversification came at the 2019 COFI Convention in Vancouver last month, when a keynote speaker, Robert Johnston, managing director of the global energy and natural resources division of the Eurasia Group consultancy, told attendees that resource producers should look to alternative markets like India.

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BC and Canadian pulp industry doing better

by Jim Hilton, professional agrologist and forester
Quesnel Cariboo Observer
May 19, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

The recent announcement of the Tolko lumber mill closure in Quesnel this fall is not a surprise considering the imminent shortage of logs due to beetles and wildfires. With the anticipated loss of lumber production, one would assume a loss of wood chips for the pulp and paper industry would mean mill closures here as well. Some recent announcements of pulp mills would seem to indicate otherwise, so what is happening? Last fall, the premier noted that the recent sale of three paper mills was a vote of confidence in the industry and people of B.C. Investments and acquisitions have been taking place in all of the western provinces, with emphasis on pulp mills producing a wide variety of heavy paper products. …While the younger generation no doubt favours digital media, there are still enough people who like printed material to make hard copies a significant product.

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Galloway Lumber mill workers laid off as business changes ownership

By Paul Rodgers & Kimberley Vlasic
The Free Press
May 17, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

Lumber mill workers near Jaffray have been laid off as the business changes ownership. Galloway Lumber has been owned and operated by the Nelson family for the last 75 years, and has been sold to Brian Fehr. Fehr took ownership on April 1 and, at the time, the plant had 25 of a total 44 employees working and plans in place to retool the mill into a fabricating shop, sawmill timber mill and a cross-laminated timber (CLT) plant within the next couple of years. …According to United Steelworkers Local 1-405, all but a few employees were initially laid off, with plans to call back more over a period of several months and an increase to 80 employees possible over the next couple of years.

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Random Lengths Lumber and Panel Market Report

Random Lengths
May 20, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: United States

The framing lumber market took a step back after showing signs in prior weeks that it might break out of its longstanding malaise. Weather continued to play a role in some regions, but the consensus was that sluggish year-to-date sales had allowed too much supply to build up in the distribution system. Despite reports that consumption in some markets was picking up, ample supplies were available to meet most buyers’ immediate needs. …Structural panel prices fluctuated mildly amid lackluster sales. A quiet week of trading left prices of OSB unchanged across North America. Lean inventories spurred enough Southern Pine plywood sales to maintain a narrow trading range in rated sheathing, but mills struggled to obtain premiums. Recent trends prevailed in western Fir plywood, including price direction.

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Two of Alaska’s biggest exports are caught up in the US-China trade dispute

By Elizabeth Jenkins
KTOO.org
May 17, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: United States, US West

As President Donald Trump’s trade dispute with China continues to drag out, some of Alaska’s biggest exports expect to be hit with even steeper tariffs than they’ve seen in recent months.  Now the timber and seafood industries are trying to figure out how to do business as the pressure mounts.  …But the situation is very different for Eric Nichols at Alcan Forest Products in Ketchikan. “We don’t have many options to put that log in another marketplace,” Nichols said. “And so we’re very dependent upon what happens with that Chinese market.” Nichols will be on the hook for a 20% tariff for spruce trees shipped to his biggest customer: China. His company sends mostly barges of young-growth trees harvested from Southeast Alaska to the country, and he said that’s the problem: He doesn’t have enough high-value product to help ride out the volatility.

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Tariffs taking toll on hardwood industry

By Frank Stewart, West Virginia Forestry Association
The Intermountain
May 18, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: US East, United States

Retaliatory tariffs from China have been a buzz saw through Appalachian hardwood businesses and the families that own and operate them. The hardwood industry provides an estimated $60 billion economic impact in the 12-state region but that will change this year because of trade with China. Exports make up approximately 50% of the high value hardwood lumber sold and the top market for species like Red Oak is China. …The volume of lumber sales to China have been slashed in 2019 with first the threat of tariffs and then the actual retaliation. …Sawmill owners looked for alternative markets… There is no other market to absorb 32,025 shipping containers of American Red Oak that sold to China in 2017. …It will drive mills out of business this year, losing jobs and outlets for landowners to sell their timber.

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UK timber and forestry values rising – but is it sustainable?

By Gordon Davidson
The Scottish Farmer
May 17, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: International

James Anderson

UK FORESTRY plc is in rude health, with hungry sawmills and processors keen for product – with the result that softwood timber prices are rising, nearly 30% in 2017 and just under 50% over 2018… Head of forestry investment, James Adamson, commented: “the easy answer is to say that it is due to the weak value of Sterling… The actual answer lies in the fact that both global and UK timber supply should be considered relatively finite as replenishing global timber resources is unlikely to be able to keep pace with fellings. This combined with mounting pressure to limit climate change will provide strong friction to expanding the global timber harvest further into the natural forest resource.” “Finding a balance between not over exploiting our domestic timber resource with the ability to upscale domestic production is also limited, meaning from a supply standpoint, timber deliveries are relatively unresponsive to increasing demand, and therefore open to demand led price inflation.

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How a Chinese company plans to revitalize 2 struggling Maine mills

By Lori Valigra
The Bangor Daily News
May 21, 2019
Category: Business & Politics

A Chinese company is investing heavily to restore two Maine paper mills it bought last year and turn them into sustainable, long-term businesses. The head of the company’s U.S. operations said his company, ND Paper, wants to improve efficiency and update operations at the former Catalyst Paper Mill in Rumford and the former Expera Old Town pulp mill, both of which ND bought last year. To do so, the company is rolling up its sleeves, fixing oil leaks, repairing equipment and adding more efficient machinery. ND Paper is investing close to $500 million in the four U.S. plants it has purchased in the past year. That amount includes the purchase prices. Of the total, about $111 million is being directed toward upgrading the Rumford mill and another $40 million for Old Town.

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Wood, Paper & Green Building

New mass timber building in Des Moines is the nation’s first

By Kim Norvell
Associated Press
May 18, 2019
Category: Wood, Paper & Green Building
Region: US East, United States

DES MOINES, Iowa — A new building in Des Moines’ East Village is the first in the United States built using a unique type of mass timber — an eco-friendly material that is becoming more popular as developers look to reduce their carbon footprints. Scheduled for completion soon, the four-story building is also the first speculative office and retail building in downtown Des Moines in more than a decade. Roughly half of the 64,000-square-foot building has been leased, owner Tim Rypma told The Des Moines Register. …“Sustainability is a feature that prospective tenants like,” Rympa said. “It’s not just another office building.” …In this case, the timber was pressed together using dowels, said Gerald Epp Jr., business development engineer at StructureCraft, the Canadian company responsible for the project’s structural engineering.

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As mass timber takes off, how green is this new building material?

By Jim Robbins
Green Biz
May 21, 2019
Category: Wood, Paper & Green Building

The eight-story Carbon 12 building in Portland, Oregon is the tallest commercial structure in the United States to be built from something called mass timber. If the many fervent boosters of this new construction material are right, however, it is only one of the first mass timber buildings among many, the beginning of a construction revolution. …But big questions are being asked about just how sustainable the new building material is — especially about how forests that produce mass timber are managed, and how much CO2 would be emitted in the logging, manufacture and transport of the wood products used in the construction. So far, critics say, there aren’t good answers to these questions. “We want to debunk the myth…” said John Talberth, of the Center for Sustainable Economy, based near Portland. …Yet proponents say mass timber does have real promise as a way to sequester massive amounts of CO2. 

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Forestry

First Nations carver laments loss of western red cedars

By Bridgette Watson
CBC News
May 18, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: Canada

Dave Robinson

If the day were to come when western red cedar no longer existed, it would be “detrimental” to First Nations people, says Timiskaming First Nation carver Dave Robinson. Some of the trees, which are commonly found in coastal B.C. and the Canadian Rockies, are struggling to survive after repeated periods of drought. Experts say they could vanish entirely from areas with shallow, dry, rocky soil if current climate patterns continue. Robinson is a resident carver at the University of British Columbia and is currently working on a thesis project that includes a western red cedar sculpture. He spoke with CBC’s The Early Edition host Stephen Quinn about the integral role the tree plays in Indigenous culture and how that culture would adapt if the trees disappear forever.

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Student Scholarship available from Forest Friendly Communities

Forest Friendly Communities
May 21, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: Canada, Canada West

Forestry Friendly Communities is committed to celebrating the proud history and rich future of British Columbia’s forest sector. With forestry generating 1 out of every 17 jobs in the province, the training and education of forestry workers is essential to the industry’s future. In 2019, Forestry Friendly Communities will award three Education & Training Scholarships of up to $1,500 each to British Columbians pursuing forestry-related post-secondary education or technical training in BC. This includes forestry-specific training, as well as trades training leading to a job within the forest industry. Funding for the Education & Training scholarship was made possible through a program called Toques for Tuition. Forestry workers, their families, and others purchased $25 Forestry Proud toques from Forestry Friendly Communities, with 100% of proceeds directed to the scholarship fund.

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Taking Social Licence to the Next Level

By Lisa Marak
Federation of British Columbia Woodlot Associations
May 17, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: Canada, Canada West

Social Licence for Crown forests is becoming increasingly challenging today with more public demands on the same piece of land – recreation, visual beauty, cultural heritage, wildlife, range, water and trees for timber. As stated by John Horgan in his April 4th Vancouver Sun Op-ed piece, “Forestry is a foundational industry”… “Communities large and small, rural and urban, depend on a strong and sustainable forest sector.” So sustainably managed forests (areas managed for timber along with the other forest values) are part of the mix when considering social licence for forest that is earmarked as part of the timber harvest land base. Balancing all sides of social- environ-economic interests will be critical to the success of Horgan’s vision. BC’s Crown Woodlot Licences are a unique, long-term forest tenure well suited to social licence… They are licensed to locals who live in the community, First Nations, educational societies and communities. 

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It’s Forests Forever Grand-Opening Weekend

By Kyle Christensen
My Cowichan Valley Now
May 18, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: Canada, Canada West

It’s a grand opening, two years in the making as this weekend marks the beginning of a new era at the BC Forest Discovery Centre. The Forests Forever exhibit is open and people will have a chance to explore innovations in the forest industry and the exhibit includes a tree nursery, a chance to check out Lidar technology, and some of the products that come from wood. BC Forest Discovery Centre General Manager Chris Gale said this unveiling wouldn’t be possible without a tonne of local support. “We’ve had a tonne of people helping us, a tonne of groups helping us and it’s looking really good,” said Gale. “Our new catchphrase is “A new season and a brand new experience,” we’re expecting probably 75,000 people to come through (this year) and this weekend is a huge deal.”

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McKenna warns BC over caribou recovery deal

By Wendy Stueck
The Globe and Mail
May 19, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: Canada, Canada West

Catherine McKenna

Federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna has put the B.C. government on notice over its draft caribou recovery agreements, reminding the province that she could issue an emergency order if those agreements don’t proceed ”in a timely way.” The warning, contained in letter to the province and two B.C. First Nations …comes after BC extended a consultation process after public backlash over draft agreements unveiled in March. The two agreements… are both focused on southern mountain caribou, which were listed as a threatened wildlife species federally in 2003. Ms. McKenna triggered planning for both agreements … when she determined that southern mountain caribou were facing “imminent threats to their recovery” − opening the door to an emergency order under the federal Species at Risk Act. …After the draft documents were posted, area residents raised concerns about potential impacts on local forestry and mill jobs. Town-hall meetings about the plans drew hundreds of people. [The full story is only available to Globe and Mail Subscribers]

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Mountain pine beetle mortality has increased but we won’t know by how much until the summer

By Edward Moore
Edson Leader
May 17, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: Canada, Canada West

First the good news, aerial surveys indicate that mortality levels for the mountain pine beetle have increased due to the colder than average winter. Now the bad news, we won’t really know the impact on beetle numbers until mortality surveys are done later this spring. That’s the word from Carrie Sancartier, assistant communications director for Alberta Agriculture and Forestry. “Over-winter mortality surveys begin in mid-May and will be complete by mid-June,” said Sancartier. Aerial surveys indicate that beetle mortality has increased in the Edson, Whitecourt, Rocky Mountain House and Calgary forest areas.

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Red cedars dying in Prince Rupert from drought

By Jenna Cocullo
The Northern View
May 17, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: Canada, Canada West

During the golden hour when the sun is about to set over the mountains of Prince Rupert, the yellowish-gold outlines of trees can be seen on the horizon. About half of those trees are red cedar. Inside them nest bats, owls, and other birds who use their cavities as shelter. But the trees closer to the edge of the highway, exposed to the city’s boundaries, are not so beautiful. They are slowly dying from the top-down, turning a yellowish-brown that will remain there until the drought season ends. “With drought, comes a lot of stress on the trees,” said Amanita Coosemans, a plant ecologist in Terrace.  The red cedar tree, adopted as the official tree of British Columbia on February 18, 1988, thrive best in wet environments and are now decaying from the current drought season. Although Prince Rupert is one of the rainiest cities in Canada, the current amount of rain in the city is still not enough to keep them alive.

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Burned Falkland forest on the mend

Summerland Reveiw
May 17, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: Canada, Canada West

A greener future has been planted on the charred hillside in Falkland.  The large area near Falkland on Highway 97C, previously burned in a wildfire 14 years ago, was the focus of a local Natural Resource District staff and Tolko Industries Ltd. project funded by the Forest Enhancement Society of B.C. for forest rehabilitation and to improve the area for mule deer winter range.  “The Cedar Hills fire of 2005 in the Okanagan Shuswap Forest District burned approximately 1,200 hectares of forest land,” said Dave Conly, Operations Manager for FESBC. “Of the land affected by the fire, 830 hectares was salvage logged and reforested by Tolko Industries Ltd., BC Timber Sales, and local woodlot holders. There remained a significant area of land untreated, and until now, was severely degraded due to the intensity of the fire.”

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To save the species, conservationists work to build a tougher butternut tree

By Andrew Lupton
CBC News
May 20, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: Canada East, Canada

John Enright

Conservationists in southwestern Ontario are working to fight back against an insidious, tree-killing canker that threatens butternut trees across Eastern Canada. Never an overly abundant species, butternuts are revered by woodworkers and were an important food source for Indigenous people. But a canker first found in Wisconsin in 1967 had, by the early 1990s, taken root in Ontario. Butternuts are found throughout Ontario and as far east as New Brunswick. John Enright is a forester with the Upper Thames River Conservation Authority (UTRCA). He’s also a big fan of the butternut tree. One reason? He believes the nuts they drop in the fall exceed walnuts when it comes to flavour. “I know most people haven’t had a chance to eat a butternut but if you ever do get one, they are excellent, much better and sweeter than walnuts,” he said.

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Can a hands-on model help forest stakeholders fight tree disease?

By North Carolina State University
EurekAlert
May 19, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States

When a new, more aggressive strain of the pathogen that causes sudden oak death turned up in Oregon, scientists and stakeholders banded together to try to protect susceptible trees and the region’s valuable timber industry. Sudden oak death is a serious threat. Since 1994, the disease has killed millions of trees in California and Oregon. If the disease spreads from an isolated outbreak in Curry County, Oregon, to neighboring Coos County, the impact could be severe: a 15% reduction in timber harvest, loss of 1,200 jobs and about $58 million in lost wages, according to an Oregon Department of Forestry report. Researchers with North Carolina State University’s Center for Geospatial Analytics reached out to help in Oregon, offering Tangible Landscape, an interactive model that allows people of all skill levels to control complex simulation models with their hands and collaboratively explore scenarios of management decisions.

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Council formed to update Montana’s forestry action plan

By Tom Kuglin and Holly Michels
Helena Independent Record
May 21, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

The state of Montana is updating its plan for managing forests and working across jurisdictions to identify and address areas of wildfire and forest health concerns. Gov. Steve Bullock signed an executive order Monday forming the Montana Forest Action Advisory Council. The body, with membership including loggers, conservation groups, tribes and state and federal agencies, will meet over the next year to update the 2010 Montana Forest Action Plan. The plan is due for revision by 2020 and will implement programs aimed at increasing the state’s role in forest management statewide. “We’re charged with two things: one is to create an assessment of forest conditions for the state of Montana, and the second part is given those conditions, what do we need to do, what are priority areas for active forest restoration and management to mitigate wildfire risk?” said Montana State Forester Sonya Germann.

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Resilient forests bill a Trojan horse

By George Wuerthner
The Star Tribune
May 17, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

George Wuerthner

We live in an age of Orwellian Doublespeak. Such doublespeak is exemplified by the euphemistically named “Resilient Federal Forests Act” (RFFA) which will degrade our forests. Like previous versions, sponsors of this legislation including Rep. Liz Cheney assert RFFA will reduce massive wildfires and smoke and promote more “resilient” forests.In the name of fire reduction, RFFA is a Trojan Horse designed to expedite logging under the pretext of “reducing wildfires.” The flawed assumption behind this legislation is that fuels are driving large wildfires. However, numerous studies have found that extreme fire weather, not fuels, is mainly responsible for large blazes.Among other components, the RFFA would allow the Forest Service to log up to 30,000 acres using categorical exclusion rules that override the normal environmental review process.

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Tongass old-growth logging “plain violation” of environmental law

By Grant Robinson
KTUU
May 16, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

ANCHORAGE, Alaska- The U.S. Forest Service now faces a lawsuit from eight environmental non-profits claiming the agency failed to follow federal regulations in creating its environmental impact statement for a project that includes old-growth logging on Prince of Wales Island. In March, Tongass National Forest Supervisor Earl Stewart signed a record of decision on the Prince of Wales Landscape Level Analysis project. The project covers 1.8 million acres and includes management activities ranging from hundreds of miles of stream improvement, three new cabins, and a dozen shelters. The project would also allow logging up to 225 million board feet of old-growth timber over 15 years. In March, Stewart told KTUU the project is a “holistic effort to recognize all resources and resource needs,” and that it was formed with all communities on Prince of Wales.

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Bid to save Scotland’s ancient rainforest

BBC News
May 20, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: International

Scotland’s ancient rainforest is under threat, conservationists have warned. Almost 75,000 acres (30,351ha) of woodland on the west coast is designated Atlantic rainforest because of the rare oceanic plant life. But the forest is being lost to overgrazing by deer and livestock, invasive plant species and disease. The dangers, and plans to regenerate the forest, have been set out in a new report by the Atlantic Woodland Alliance. The alliance of 16 charities and organisations has proposed eradicating exotic species of plants, such as Sitka spruce and Rhododendron ponticum, from thousands of acres of rainforest, and also neighbouring woodlands to prevent re-invasion. …Adam Harrison, of Woodland Trust Scotland, one of the members of the Atlantic Woodland Alliance, said: “Scotland’s rainforest is just as lush and just as important as tropical rainforest, but is even rarer.

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Carbon, Climate & Bioenergy

Save the Faculty of Forestry at the University of Toronto

By Peter Kuitenbrouwer
The Varsity
May 20, 2019
Category: Carbon, Climate & Bioenergy
Region: Canada East, Canada

U of T is in the final stages of its plan to eliminate the Faculty of Forestry and move its staff, faculty, students, and programs into the John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design as of this July. A news release from the university said that “The proposal would go through the governance process beginning on May 9.” The abolition of the Faculty of Forestry as a standalone faculty is one of the worst ideas in U of T’s history. In an era of climate change, forests are the key to sustaining life on Earth. …We need forests. U of T should show pride in the Faculty of Forestry, and invest in it. …The Faculty of Forestry has gained recognition across Canada for its expertise in promoting the bioeconomy; for example, researchers have succeeded in making car parts out of nano-cellulose.

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Arizona Public Service says it can convert coal plant to biomass quickly

By Peter Aleshire
Payson Roundup
May 17, 2019
Category: Carbon, Climate & Bioenergy
Region: United States, US West

Converting a coal-burning power plant to biomass could produce 84 megawatts of electricity annually by 2022 — likely saving a faltering effort to thin a million acres of forest in the next 20 years, according to a just completed study by Arizona Public Service.The massive utility said if the Arizona Corporation Commission gives the go-ahead and requires utilities to buy at least 90 megawatts of biomass power annually, it could start on getting permits for the conversion from coal to biomass immediately.Local officials who have spent the last decade supporting the Four Forest Restoration Initiative (4FRI) greeted the announcement with joy. …4FRI aims to protect thousands of miles of streams from the effects of catastrophic wildfires in the thick, overgrown forests.He noted that 70 percent of the thinning projects actually completed in the past decade have been in the White Mountains, thanks to the existing Novo Power biomass burning plant.

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Eastern forests shaped more by Native Americans’ burning than climate change

By Jeff Mulhollem
Penn State News
May 21, 2019
Category: Carbon, Climate & Bioenergy
Region: US East, United States

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Native Americans’ use of fire to manage vegetation in what is now the Eastern United States was more profound than previously believed, according to a Penn State researcher who determined that forest composition change in the region was caused more by land use than climate change. …Over the last 2,000 years at least, according to Abrams — who for three decades has been studying past and present qualities of eastern U.S. forests — frequent and widespread human-caused fire resulted in the predominance of fire-adapted tree species. And in the time since burning has been curtailed, forests are changing, with species such as oak, hickory and pine losing ground. …But this phenomenon does not apply to other regions, Abrams noted. In the western U.S., for example, climate change has been much more pronounced than in the East. 

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Health & Safety

Composite Panel Association awards composite panel plants for safety

The Woodworking Network
May 20, 2019
Category: Health & Safety
Region: US East, United States

NAPLES, Fla. – The Composite Panel Association recognized more than a dozen companies for safety achievements during the group’s spring meeting held recently in Naples, Florida. …The awards for the best long-term safety record over the past three years were given to Arauco North America, Moncure, North Carolina and Louisiana-Pacific Corp., Roaring River, North Carolina. …The annual safety awards for having zero incidents in 2018 were given to Arauco North America, Moncure, North Carolina and Timber Products, Martell, California for Class I plants, and Panolam, Huntsville, Ontario and Louisiana-Pacific, Roaring River, North Carolina for Class II plants. Two plants recognized for safety improvement were West Fraser Mills, Whitecourt, Alberta and Panolam, Huntsville, Ontario.

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Forest Fires

Has British Columbia’s fire season already begun?

By Justine Hunter
The Globe and Mail
May 17, 2019
Category: Forest Fires
Region: Canada, Canada West

…The early start to this year’s wildfire season could be a harbinger of another challenging summer for the province. The devastating fires in the summer of 2017 were unprecedented in scale and cost. …Then, last summer, things got worse. For the second year in a row, a state of emergency was declared, as wildfires blazed in almost all regions of the province. A new record was set – 1,354,284 hectares of land were consumed by fire. “People realize this may be the new norm,” said Fraser Lake Mayor Sarrah Storey, whose community in central B.C. faced evacuations last weekend because of the Lejac fire. …“You can never be prepared for this, you hope for the best each day,” Ms. Storey said. “But we have to make sure we are focused on preparing the community.” What is different this year is that B.C. is mobilizing its wildfire-fighting teams earlier.

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As wildfire nears Alberta town, residents prepare to flee

By Jeffrey Jones
The Globe and Mail
May 20, 2019
Category: Forest Fires
Region: Canada, Canada West

Residents of High Level, Alta., were ordered to evacuate their homes on Monday as the largest of several wildfires in the province bore down on the small northern community. The out-of-control fire in the northwestern corner of Alberta expanded through the long weekend to cover 690 square kilometres, blocking two highways and burning as close as three kilometres to High Level, a town of about 3,100 people. …“People are, of course, afraid, because they remember the wildfires of Fort McMurray,” Crystal McAteer, High Level’s mayor, told reporters. “But we talked to a lot of the residents and reaffirmed that we were being pro-active. I’m very optimistic with the resources that we’ve got here, the good intelligence that we’re getting and our fire chief, who has been excellent with his crew.” …Officials said the fire was moving in a northwesterly direction and should spare the town, but the evacuation was ordered as a precaution. [Full story only available to Globe and Mail subscribers]

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Community Forest launching wildfire awareness initiative

By Sean Eckford
The Coast Reporter
May 19, 2019
Category: Forest Fires
Region: Canada, Canada West

A stretch of cool rainy weather in mid-May has allowed the Coastal Fire Centre to drop the wildfire danger rating to low for the Sunshine Coast, but the season has already gotten off to a busier start than last year. As of May 15 there had been 27 wildfires in the Coastal Fire Centre, including two on the Sunshine Coast, and all were person caused. By the same time last season there had been 13 fires in the Coastal zone. A stretch of cool rainy weather in mid-May has allowed the Coastal Fire Centre to drop the wildfire danger rating to low for the Sunshine Coast, but the season has already gotten off to a busier start than last year. 

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Federal fire officials update forecast for this year’s wildfire season

Canadian Press in CKPGToday
May 17, 2019
Category: Forest Fires
Region: Canada, Canada West

EDMONTON — This year’s fire season forecast is normal across the country for the month of May, but the hazard is expected to increase for much of Western Canada this summer. Natural Resources Canada’s Northern Forestry Centre in Edmonton, one of five research centres with the Canadian Forest Service, provided the update on Wednesday. “For the month of May, we are showing normal or below-normal levels of expected fire severity through the entire country,” said Richard Carr, a wildland fire research analyst. “However, through the summer beginning in June and extending through August, we’re seeing the western-most regions — British Columbia, Yukon, western Alberta — that have increased risk of fire severity and therefore the possibility of more fires.” 

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Norbord Reports Fire Near High Level, Alberta OSB Mill

By Norbord Inc.
Cision Newswire
May 21, 2019
Category: Forest Fires
Region: Canada, Canada West

TORONTO – Norbord Inc. today reported that its OSB mill in High Level, Alberta has temporarily suspended production due to the wild fires burning nearby in the region and in order to comply with evacuation orders in the town of High Level. All non-essential mill employees have been safely evacuated and no injuries have been reported. At this time, Norbord is assessing the impact to its production schedule. The mill was secure at the time of evacuation. The High Level, Alberta mill has a stated annual production capacity of 860 million square feet (3/8-inch basis) and has been ramping up toward full production since resuming operations in late 2013. High Level is located approximately 720 kilometres northwest of Edmonton and 400 kilometres west of Fort McMurray. [End]

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Growing wildfire prompts warning for Alberta town to prepare for evacuation

Canadian Press in Vancouver Sun
May 20, 2019
Category: Forest Fires
Region: Canada, Canada West

Residents of a northern Alberta town are being told to be ready to evacuate at any time as an out-of-control wildfire, fanned by strong winds and dry conditions, continues to grow. The Town of High Level announced Monday that residents should fill their gas tanks, gather important documents and prepare food and water in case an evacuation order is issued. The town also says fire crews will be setting up sprinklers in various places. The province’s wildfire information centre says the Chuckegg Creek fire has grown to approximately 69,000 hectares in size and is now just five kilometres south of High Level. On Sunday, the blaze was about 25 kilometres away and officials estimated it at about 25,000 hectares. It says that the town, which has over 3,000 residents, isn’t in immediate danger but that residents should be vigilant as the situation could change rapidly.

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