Tree Frog Forestry News

Daily Archives: August 2, 2019

Today’s Takeaway

US construction spending falls as trade war with China heats up

The Tree
August 2, 2019
Category: Today's Takeaway

US construction spending posted its biggest drop in seven months, as Trump announced more tariffs on Chinese imports and the Commerce Dept. upped its wood flooring antidumping rates. Meanwhile—on the BC front: job fairs in Fort St. James and the Peace Valley; employee relocation efforts at Chasm; voices of concern in VernonKelowna, and Clearwater; and a 21-mayor call for federal action.  Elsewhere, Q2 earnings are down at Western and Mercer. 

In other news: mass timber highlights the benefits of wood; an unlikely partnership in Nelson BC; public consultation in Cowichan BC; a bipartisan wildfire bill for the US; and Russia and Indonesia respond to their massive wildfires.

Finally, the Frogs are off on Monday as it’s a Civic holiday for most of Canada. Back Tuesday!

Kelly McCloskey, Tree Frog Editor

Read More

Business & Politics

‘It’s a perfect storm’: Kelowna meeting addresses downturn crisis plaguing B.C.’s forestry sector

By Shelby Thom
Global News
August 1, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

One hundred and 40 workers at Tolko’s Kelowna, B.C., mill are the latest to receive layoff notices for six weeks. The company is blaming the high cost of logs and weak market conditions. Industry representatives gathered in Kelowna on Thursday to brainstorm solutions to the crisis plaguing B.C.’s forest sector. “Our membership alone has close to 1,000 layoffs right now and there is no future right now. They’re worried,” said Todd Chamberlain, general manager of the Interior Logging Association. The downturn is being described as the worst in four decades. “Many of our members who have been in this industry for generations haven’t seen [anything] like this before,” said Dan Battistella, president of the Interior Lumber Manufacturers’ Association. …Opposition Liberal MLAs in the Okanagan, …are calling for relief for logging companies. John Rustad, BC Liberal forestry critic, suggested reduced stumpage fees that businesses must pay to harvest timber on Crown land.

Read More

Employee relocation efforts still in the works as Chasm Sawmill approaches September shutdown

BC Local News
August 1, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

In September, West Fraser’s Chasm sawmill… will permanently close and the site will be dismantled. As the end draws near, West Fraser’s management team is still navigating the process of relocating their employees to other locations within B.C. and beyond. Brian Balkwill is West Fraser’s Vice-President of Canadian Wood Products and is in charge of “looking after” all of the company’s Canadian mills. …“Right now we have to consume the logs,” he explained. “Then we need to plane all that lumber into finished product. It’ll be sometime in September when we wrap everything up, but we don’t have an exact date yet.” …“Our objective is to have as many of those people, of our employees, to continue to work for us,” he explained. “So what we’ve said is we’re willing to relocate people within our company to vacancies.”

Read More

Okanagan MLAs urge the provincial government to step up forestry management

By Laryn Gilmour
The Vernon Morning Star
August 1, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

Dan Battistella

Okanagan MLA’s met with forestry critic John Rustad in Kelowna Thursday to discuss the social impact and economic shock of the forestry crisis. …“The government needs to step up to the plate and recognize that this is an issue, instead of saying it’s not their problem,” said Rustad. Some of the solutions discussed was changing the forestry stumpage system to mirror Alberta’s strategy. …The president of the Interior Lumber Manufacturers’ Association agreed that the industry is plummeting and the cost of lumber is playing a huge role in mill closures and job cuts. “It’s really hard on mill workers, especially the small family-run businesses where they have to cut jobs and families are suffering,” the association’s president, Dan Battistella, said.

Read More

Northern residents out of work from sawmill sale voice uncertainty about future

By Aman Parhar
The Terrace Standard
August 1, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

Fort St. James held a job fair for workers that are affected by Conifex selling their sawmill to Hampton Lumber in Burns Lake. Approximately 226 employees have been affected by the sale. The job fair was held at Kwah Hall in Fort St. James on July 31 and over 35 employers and 100 residents showed up for the fair which ran for four hours. Ken Honeywell, a Conifex employee who has worked at the District’s sawmill for 28 years was looking for a job and said his biggest concern is the uncertainty associated with the sale. He said rumours are circulating that the logs are being moved out of the district, but the mayor and council says that isn’t true.

Read More

21 Northern BC mayors urge Ottawa to help struggling forest industry

By Aman Parhar
The Williams Lake Tribune
August 1, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

Taylor Bachrach

Twenty-one northern BC mayors have sent a letter to the federal government in regard to the crisis in the province’s forest industry and are urgently seeking help. “We’re urging them to come to the table with support for communities and employees bearing the brunt of mill closures. Hoping for a prompt and positive response,” wrote Smithers Mayor Taylor Bachrach. The letter is addressed to Amarjeet Sohi, minister of natural resources, Chrystia Freeland, minister of foreign affairs, Patricia A. Hajdu, minister of employment, workforce development and labour, and Jeffrey Biggs, director of Natural Resources Canada.

Read More

District of Clearwater encouraging residents to join letter-writing campaign to provincial government

BC Local News
August 2, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

Merlin Blackwell

The District of Clearwater (DOC) is putting out a call to residents to… make the provincial government aware of the hardships residents are facing after the Canfor mill closure in Vavenby as well as the potential hardships that would arise if Interfor gets cutting rights to Canfor’s forest tenure in the area. Mayor Merlin Blackwell had a talk with the deputy Minister of Forests… where he strongly suggested the need for a direct line so the public can comment on the situation. …Blackwell said… it’s the lack of transparency that’s frustrating, especially since… it’s up to industry to consult with stakeholders to help determine if the deal is in the public interest. …”what we’re trying to do is… get what we can out of a bad situation for the citizens of Clearwater and Vavenby.”

Read More

Job fair planned for Peace Valley OSB mill workers

Alaska Highway News
July 31, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

A job fair will be held next week for workers impacted by the pending shut down at the Peace Valley OSB mill. The fair will be hosted at the mill Tuesday, July 30, and comes as a response from multi-agency team put in place after Louisiana Pacific announced its indefinite curtailment in June. “A number of these employers have a large pool of candidates that they need to fill for upcoming projects,” said Anne McMenamin, senior employment counsellor for WorkBC. “We’re really hopeful as many as possible can be redeployed.” The curtailment, effective Aug. 9, affects 192 workers, though some will stay on at the mill for care and maintenance, McMenamin said. The job fair is open to workers and contractors affected by the closure.  

Read More

Dumping Rates Increased Significantly on Chinese Multi-layered Wood Flooring

The Decorative Hardwood’s Association
August 1, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: United States, International

The antidumping rates for Chinese engineered wood flooring imports have increased significantly for nearly all Chinese producers, who were previously paying zero antidumping duties. Now, as a result of the Commerce Department’s final determinations, the antidumping duty margins have increased to 85.13% as a countrywide rate for 46 companies and a separate rate of 42.57% for 59 specific companies. …These AD/CVD rates are separate from and in addition to the 25% tariffs which have been recently imposed by the Trump administration on Chinese imports subject to the U.S. Section 301 investigation. …As such, most Chinese flooring imports are also subject to those tariffs as well. “This is a significant step in addressing the unfair trading practices of Chinese flooring producers” noted Tim Brightbill for the Coalition for American Hardwood Parity.

Read More

California wildfire insurance is in crisis. And the real estate market is suffering.

By Dale Kasler and Ryan Sabalow
Sacramento Bee
July 29, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: United States, US West

The Ochs found the perfect place to spend their retirement years: a three-bedroom home … a few miles from the Eldorado National Forest. …The couple made an offer — and then encountered a nasty surprise. One insurance company after another refused to sell them a homeowners’ policy because of the wildfire risks in El Dorado County. The Ochses reluctantly withdrew their offer last week. California’s wildfires have found yet another way of doing serious harm to rural California — by hammering its housing market. The refusal of insurance companies to cover homes in fire-prone areas is prompting home buyers to cancel purchases and look elsewhere. …Pounded by two straight years of catastrophic wildfires, insurers are raising rates, abandoning long-standing customers and refusing to write new policies. …Meanwhile, the inventory of unsold housing is piling up in the foothills. …the problem is worsening as homeowners, irate over rising insurance premiums, seek to get out. 

Read More

Irish government warns businesses to prepare for no-deal Brexit

By Conor Trindle
The Irish Sun
August 1, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: International

DUBLIN, Ireland – The Irish government has stepped up preparations for a no-deal Brexit. …The United Kingdom is Ireland’s largest trading partner with 40% of total agri-food sector goods destined for UK markets. The Irish government says it is vitally important that businesses make their preparations now so that they can be as prepared as possible in the run-up to and in the period immediately after Brexit. The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed said agri-food businesses, traders and hauliers of agricultural commodities should act immediately. …All goods traders who use wood pallets or wood packaging for the movement of goods to or from the UK should ensure that their wood packaging meets the ISPM 15 standard and is clearly stamped as meeting that standard.

Read More

Finance & Economics

Western Announces Second Quarter 2019 Results

Western Forest Products
August 1, 2019
Category: Finance & Economics
Region: Canada West

Western Forest Products reported adjusted EBITDA of $15.1 million in the second quarter of 2019, compared to adjusted EBITDA of $50.2 million in the second quarter of 2018, and $18.1 million reported in the first quarter of 2019. Operating income was $1.4 million in the second quarter of 2019, compared to $39.7 million in second quarter of 2018, and $5.7 million reported in the first quarter of 2019.

Read More

Beijing responds to Trump’s new $300 billion tariff threat

By Sam Meredith
CNBC News
August 2, 2019
Category: Finance & Economics
Region: United States, International

China’s spokesperson at the foreign ministry, Hua Chunying, said at a daily press briefing that Beijing would have to take countermeasures if the U.S. was committed to putting more tariffs on Chinese goods, Reuters reported. …In a series of tweets on Thursday, Trump announced another round of tariffs on the roughly $300 billion of Chinese goods that had not already been targeted by American levies.

Read More

US construction spending posts biggest drop in seven months

Reuters
August 1, 2019
Category: Finance & Economics
Region: United States

US construction spending fell by the most in seven month in June as investment in private construction projects tumbled to a more than 1-1/2-year low. The Commerce Department said construction spending dropped 1.3%, the biggest decline since last November. Data for May was revised up to show construction outlays falling 0.5% instead of decreasing 0.8% as previously reported.

Read More

US Mortgage Rates Remain Flat

Freddie Mac
August 1, 2019
Category: Finance & Economics
Region: United States

Freddie Mac released its Primary Mortgage Market Survey® showing that the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rate sat at 3.75 percent. “Mortgage rates have essentially stabilized over the last two months, which reflects the recovery and improvement in the economy from the malaise earlier in the year. Going forward, the combination of low mortgage rates, tight labor market and high consumer confidence should set up the housing market for continued improvement.”

Read More

Mercer international reports weaker than expected earnings

By Mercer International
Global Newswire
August 2, 2019
Category: Finance & Economics

Mercer International reported second quarter 2019 EBITDA of $70.0 million down from $123.8 million in the first quarter of 2019. Net income decreased to $10.3 million from $16.8 million, in the second quarter of 2018 and $51.6 million in the first quarter of 2019. 

Read More

Wood, Paper & Green Building

CLT and Wood Construction Products Help Combat Anti-Forestry Narrative

By John Greene
Forest2Market
August 1, 2019
Category: Wood, Paper & Green Building
Region: International

Those of us close to the forest products supply chain have watched with great interest as the cross-laminated timber (CLT) and “mass timber” building products industry has exploded over the last decade. While policy drivers such as the Timber Innovation Act and the International Code Council’s change in building codes have assisted in the making these products more mainstream, the free market has ultimately driven the remarkable growth of the industry, which is helping the “green” movement to reassess the benefits of wood as well. There are myriad structural, cost and environmental benefits to using CLT and other mass timber products in suitable construction projects: CLT-based buildings take less time to construct; CLT-based buildings are more energy efficient; CLT-based buildings are more energy efficient. …The benefits and popularity of CLT and mass timber products are helping to change the conversation [about forests], however, which is a welcomed change.

Read More

Forestry

‘Life goes on’: forestry professional strategizing to keep Clinton’s Community Forest profitable

By Raven NyMan
100 Mile Free Press
August 2, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: Canada, Canada West

Steve Law

Since announcements came in June that 100 Mile House’s Norbord OSB mill would close indefinitely, the outlook of the forest industry has seemed bleak for many residents of the South Cariboo. …Steve Law is a local Registered Professional Forester who lives in the community of 108 Mile but also serves as the General Manager of the Clinton and District Community Forest. Law… believes the industry will continue to exist, just perhaps on a smaller scale. …The Village of Clinton’s Community Forest has held a working relationship with West Fraser’s Chasm sawmill, and in the wake of that closure, many have asked how the Community Forest will move forward. …Despite the new challenges faced, Law remains optimistic about the future of the forest industry. “…We’re always going to have an industry, it will probably look a little different, a little smaller scale, but it’s going to be around.”

Read More

Partnership builds road for Nelson wildfire protection

By Bill Metcalfe
Nelson Star
August 1, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: Canada, Canada West

An unlikely three-way partnership is working to reduce the wildfire danger in the forest northeast of Nelson. BC Parks, Anderson Creek Timber Properties, and a group of Svoboda Road residents will collaborate to build a road that will allow crews to carry out fuel treatment in a 28-hectare section of forest in West Arm Provincial Park …That forest contains…extensive fuel loading: lots of large deadfall and dry underbrush, much of it so thick and deep it’s nearly impossible to walk through. …But there is currently no road to allow crews to get in there. …The cost of the road will be shared between BC Parks and Anderson Creek Timber Properties. …the budget for the fuel treatment work in the park is $100,000, with 80 per cent of that coming from the B.C. government’s Forest Enhancement Society and the rest from the B.C. Parks Licence Plate Program

Read More

The elephant in the room: public engagement

Letter by Icel Dobell
Cowichan Valley Citizen
August 1, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: Canada, Canada West

Icel Dobell

Once again, UBC came to town, July 30, to advise council on forest management and public consultation. …After UBC’s presentation, council, staff and citizens came away full of the vast possibilities, (including carbon credits), inspired, and hopeful. So I don’t want to throw cold water on the optimism — I’m optimistic — on the other hand, if you’ve been following the forest debate you’re not going to be surprised to hear me raise that niggling issue of public engagement lacking in the conversation, as always. …When I say, “public engagement,”… I’m talking about local ecologists and alternative forest experts… There are so many informed citizens still not at the table. Why not? …The UBC experts, with their vast knowledge, and whom we are grateful to have joining us, don’t live here. 

Read More

Time to say enough of the job and contract loss in B.C. forestry

Letter by Walter Crombie, Campbell River
Campbell River Mirror
August 1, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: Canada, Canada West

…Scientists are telling the world that we need to plant one trillion trees to help turn global warming around. Doug Ford – the premier of Ontario – promised to plant 50 million trees if he were elected. He was elected and changed his mind. …Over the years, the B.C. government has given the major portion of our timber to large mills and logging companies for a fraction of their value. This was supposed to stock their sawmills with an adequate log supply. These companies are shutting down their mills and buying sawmills in Washington and elsewhere in the U.S. …Seventy per cent of loggers on Vancouver Island have lost their jobs and contracts in the last 30 years. It is time to say we have had enough. Maybe a class-action lawsuit of a few billion dollars would wake the government up! 

Read More

Time to speak up for national forests, or see ‘radical turn toward secrecy’ on logging

By Jim Scheff, director of Kentucky Heartwood
Lexington Herald Leader
August 1, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States

You’ve probably never heard of a “Categorical Exclusion.” You may have heard of the National Environmental Policy Act, also known as “NEPA,” the bedrock environmental law signed by President Richard Nixon in 1970. …If you care about any of the 193 million acres of national forest lands across our United States – then now is a good time to get familiar with some of these obscure terms. Here’s why: The U.S. Forest Service, under President Trump’s Department of Agriculture, has proposed major revisions to the agency’s rules for following NEPA. The proposed changes would end longstanding requirements that the Forest Service notify the public, allow for public comment, and analyze environmental impacts when approving logging, road building, pipeline construction, and a host of other activities across the U.S. National Forest system… This is a radical turn toward secrecy that benefits industry at the expense of the public.

Read More

Daines, Feinstein to introduce wildfire protection bill

By Matt Volz
Associated Press in The Missoulian
August 1, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

Steve Daines

Senators from California and Montana said Thursday that they plan to introduce a bipartisan bill that aims to protect communities from wildfires like the one that killed 85 people and destroyed much of the Northern California town of Paradise last year. Democrat Dianne Feinstein of California and Republican Steve Daines of Montana told The Associated Press they will introduce the bill after the Senate’s August recess, but wanted to announce their plans now as the western U.S. states enter their peak fire season. “Unfortunately, millions of acres of forests in our states and across the West remain at high risk of catastrophic wildfires, and there is strong consensus that fire seasons will only get worse,” Feinstein and Daines said in a statement obtained by the AP. “We believe additional resources are urgently needed to protect our communities and tackle these emergency conditions.”

Read More

Foresters fighting to save Germany’s threatened woodlands

Deutsche Welle
August 2, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: International

GERMANY — A lack of rain, soaring temperatures and droughts are posing a serious threat to Germany’s woodlands. Foresters are doing what they can to save them, and the agriculture minister has vowed to help. …A few months ago, this region was densely covered in spruce trees. But today, there are only a few left. Most had to be cut down to save the forest. Stephan Braun is a forester in charge of the municipally owned woods… he has been waging a war on the destructive bark beetle. “Thirty years ago, 17% of our forest consisted of spruce trees,” he says. But today, only 7% are left, and bark beetles are mainly to blame. …Given this looming danger, German Agriculture Minister Julia Klöckner plans to hold a national forest summit in September.

Read More

Carbon, Climate & Bioenergy

Opponents To Biomass Plant Ask Dartmouth To Consider Other Options

By Daniela Allee
New Hampshire Public Radio
August 1, 2019
Category: Carbon, Climate & Bioenergy
Region: US East, United States

About 60 people attended a public forum Wednesday night about potential sites for Dartmouth College’s proposed biomass plant. While some questions focused on the three possible sites for the plant, more audience members challenged the idea of having a biomass plant at all, asking the college to consider solar or other technologies. The plant is part of Dartmouth’s plan to cut its greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2025. The biomass plant would produce energy for a new hot water heating system at the college. Allan Waters has lived in Hanover for 26 years. He asked if the college had considered using heat pumps instead, because he says, even if it makes economic sense for Dartmouth, there’s an environmental cost to burning wood for fuel. …Three prominent Dartmouth alumni wrote a letter  opposing the biomass plant, arguing that large scale tree harvesting would make biomass a non-renewable resource. 

Read More

Forest Fires

Russia to investigate if arson caused huge Siberian bushfires, as smoke reaches Alaska, Canada

ABC News, Australia
August 1, 2019
Category: Forest Fires
Region: Canada, International

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has ordered police to investigate if bushfires currently burning across more than 3 million hectares in Siberia were started deliberately to conceal illegal logging activity. Russia’s Investigative Committee said it had opened a criminal case over the fires and was investigating officials in the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk for suspected negligence in not taking action to stop them. The bushfires cover 3.1 million hectares of mostly remote, uninhabited forest, the Federal Forestry Agency said on Thursday. …NASA said in a statement on Wednesday its satellite imagery showed the smoke from the fires, which collectively cover an area the size of Belgium, had wafted across Russia’s Siberia and Far East all the way to Alaska and down the west coast of Canada.

Read More

Indonesia steps up response to massive forest fires

By Niniek Karmini
The Associated Press in the San Francisco Chronicle
August 1, 2019
Category: Forest Fires
Region: International

JAKARTA, Indonesia — Forest fires burning throughout Indonesia have prompted six provinces to declare a state of emergency and deploy thousands of security forces, a disaster official said Thursday Firefighting measures included aerial water drops in anticipation of worsening forest fires that each year spread health-damaging haze across much of Southeast Asia, said Agus Wibowo, the National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesman. …Authorities have deployed nearly 6,000 personnel to douse the fires that have razed more than 30,000 hectares of forest and land.

Read More