Tree Frog Forestry News

Daily Archives: September 16, 2019

Today’s Takeaway

Can anything be done to stop the crisis in BC’s forest industry?

The Tree Frog Forestry News
September 16, 2019
Category: Today's Takeaway

BC’s forestry crisis dominates today’s news. Here are some of the headlines:

  • Mill workers, forest industry call for policy change (COFI’s Susan Yurkovich)
  • Factors behind Tolko closing should have been caught (MLA Thomson)
  • Big changes needed for industry to survive (UBC Prof Gary Bull)
  • We are in a major crisis (TLA’s David Elstone)
  • Fewer trees, higher costs (Ken Peacock, Business Council of BC)
  • Maximizing value rather than just volume (Forest Minister Doug Donaldson)

In other Business news: Western Forest Products/Steelworker talks break off; Canfor seeks workshare support; Kenora Forest Products takes downtime; Weyerhaeuser sells timberlands; and Northern Pulp reaches out as Lahey report implications laid-bare. Meanwhile, opinions on: the wolf cull in caribou recovery areas, old-growth sustainability in BC; and aerial herbicides in Maine.

Finally, condolences today to the family and friends of  Wayne Brandt—the face of Minnesota’s forest industry, and the University of Victoria bus crash victims.

Kelly McCloskey Tree Frog Editor

Read More

Business & Politics

Vancouver Island police look to solve theft of antique chainsaws from BC Forest Discovery Centre

By Kyle Christensen
My Cowichan Valley Now
September 13, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

Police on Vancouver Island are asking the public to keep an eye out for two antique chainsaws stolen from a forestry museum in Duncan last week. North Cowichan RCMP say staff at the non-profit BC Forest Discovery Centre reported the chainsaws were taken during a break-in sometime overnight between Sept. 8 and Sept. 9. According to the museum, the chainsaws are a 1958 McCulloch “Super 44” and 1962 McCulloch “Mac 15,” both of which are yellow and show signs of rust. “Both are very rare and part of our extensive and popular chainsaw exhibit collected over the years by the Centre’s founder, Gerry Wellburn, and his son Vern,” manager Chris Gale said in a police statement. “They really have no value to anyone but a collector and we are unlikely to find replacements.” RCMP say they’re hopeful the chainsaws are found and returned to the museum, calling it a “valuable community partner.”

Read More

Mill workers and forest industry staff call on B.C. for policy change amid closures

CBC News
September 13, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

Susan Yurkovich

Job losses are mounting as mills close across British Columbia and some of the thousands of people affected are wondering what the province is doing the help them. …According to the companies, the closures are due to low lumber prices, high operating costs and dwindling timber supplies. …Susan Yurkovich ​​​​​​, president of the B.C. Council of Forest Industries, said the solution is timely access to fibre so companies have a chance to compete. …Yukovich said she believes the future is bright for the forest industry and there will “absolutely” still be mills running in the province — but there will be changes.  “Right now, we’re in a place where the industry is transitioning,” she said. “But this is a very difficult transition.”  The provincial government says it is taking action and providing supports like job fairs and skills training to those affected, as well as looking for ways to diversity as fibre supply declines. 

 

Read More

‘A real shame’: Okanagan MLA says factors behind Tolko mill closing should have been caught

By MacKenzie Britton
Nelson Star
September 14, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

There were many reasons why Kelowna’s Tolko mill closed its doors earlier this week. Poor market conditions were tagged as the biggest factor, but for local MLA Steve Thomson the factors should have been caught earlier. From recognizing patterns throughout the forest industry in the province to the rising costs of the market, Thomson said the fault lies with the province’s leadership. “It’s a real shame that the current NDP government has been really missing in action in terms of response to this news,” said Thomson. “There are things they could have done and they haven’t taken any steps to fixing this crisis.” Thomson, the former forest minister up until 2017, pointed out the patterns in the industry throughout the province; mills in Quesnel and Maple Ridge were closed earlier in the summer, as well as job cuts to B.C.’s logging contractors. …As for any future fixes, Thomson said that as long as there is no significant response or action from the provincial government there won’t be a quick turnaround in the industry and there will be permanent mill closures across B.C.

Read More

After a devastating series of mill closures, can B.C.’s forestry industry recover?

By Sean Boynton and Jennifer Palma
Global News
September 13, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

Gary Bull

B.C.’s forestry industry is not having a good year. Several pulp and sawmills in coastal, central and southern B.C. have seen curtailments and closures, putting thousands of workers out of a job and hundreds more looking at reduced shifts. The past week has been particularly devastating. …Union president for United Steelworkers Local 1-423 Pat McGregor says part of the reason for the closure in Kelowna is low lumber market prices across North America. …The trend has UBC Faculty of Forestry professor Gary Bull stressing big changes are needed for the industry to survive, including diversification. “We can make bio-plastics, we can make bio-fuels, we can make bio-energy,” he said. “We can make really high-end, value-added products of a wide array. “I think the recognition is this time, there is no coming back in the same way as we used to in the past.”

Read More

Shut down lays off dozens of forestry workers at Honeymoon Bay

By Robert Barron
Lake Cowichan Gazette
September 13, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

Dozens of forest workers employed by the Teal-Jones forest company in Honeymoon Bay, west of Lake Cowichan, are out of work. …Teal-Jones’ total harvesting and logging workforce on the coast, which includes a contractor workforce and its own employees at Honeymoon Bay, its Duke Point log-sorting operation in Nanaimo and contractors at its Fraser Valley forest licence, add up to approximately 300. …Approximately 40 of Teal-Jones’ workers and contract workers in Honeymoon Bay were laid off in June when the company announced it was shutting down its second-growth logging operations in the area, which also impacted operations in the company’s mills in Surrey and other locations. …The latest shut down announcement is expected to impact about another 40 workers in the Honeymoon Bay area.

Read More

Canfor applies for federal workshare program

By Rod Link
The Vanderhoof Omineca Express
September 13, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

Canfor officials spent last week finishing up the necessary paperwork to have the company’s employees affected by the four-day week work schedule at its mill here qualify for federal employment insurance benefits through a workshare program. In conjunction with the company’s unionized workforce through the United Steelworkers Union, a successful application would have employees here and at Canfor’s Plateau mill near Vanderhoof, which is also on a four-day week, be eligible to participate, says company official Michelle Ward. “At Houston we have approximately 290 hourly employees and 270 at Plateau,” she said last week. Workshare through the federal Service Canada department would have employees paid standard employment insurance benefits for the times they are not working.

Read More

‘We are in a major crisis’: Indefinite work shutdown at B.C. mill latest blow to forestry industry

By Maria Weisgarber
CTV News
September 13, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

Employees at the Tolko lumber mill in Kelowna were supposed to be returning to work this Monday, following a six-week shutdown. Instead, the 127 workers found out Thursday operations would be on hold indefinitely. …On Sept. 3, Interfor revealed it would be permanently closing its Hammond sawmill in Maple Ridge… About 140 jobs will be affected. …David Elstone, of the Truck Loggers Association, told CTV News Vancouver unless something changes, he expects “further pain to occur,” with more curtailments and eventually news of contractors going out of business and leaving the industry. “…Almost on a daily basis now, we’re getting announcements by the major sawmilling companies in this province,” Elstone said, adding he wants the province to start working on building a more “resilient” industry. “I think a crisis creates opportunity. There’s lots that can be done,” Elstone said. Forests minister Doug Donaldson said the affected workers are the first priority for the province…

Read More

Western and United Steelworkers Take a Step Back

By Kyle Christensen
My Cowichan Valley Now
September 15, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

It’s been more than eleven weeks since the United Steelworkers Local 1-1937 voted 98.8 percent in favour of strike action and very little progress has been made since. In fact, Friday saw a step in the wrong direction with those negotiations, as the United Steelworkers Local 1-1937 is reporting that Western Forest Products position is largely unchanged and massive concessions are still on the table. Some of those concessions include eliminating most training agreements, the implementation of two-tiered wages, and an RSP plan that would replace the pension plan. The USW is saying that Western withdrew two positive proposals, going backward in the bargaining process. After meeting for four to six hours, mediators Vince Ready and Amanda Rogers informed Western that the USW representatives had walked away from the negotiating table.

Read More

Mediated Talks Break Off

Western Forest Products Inc.
September 14, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

VANCOUVER, BC — Western Forest Products announced that the United Steelworkers Local 1-1937 withdrew from mediation with the Company and independent-mediators Vince Ready and Amanda Rogers after a few hours of talks on late Friday, September 13, 2019. The mediators informed the Company that the USW had left, and would not be returning for talks, scheduled for the full day on September 14, 2019. “We are disappointed that talks have broken off and firmly believe that resuming discussions with the assistance of an independent-mediator is the best way for both parties to resolve our differences,” said Don Demens, President and Chief Executive Officer of Western. “It is surprising that the USW continues to refuse to give the mediation process the opportunity to work.”

Read More

Cutting wood waste produces some bleeding

By Tom Fletcher
BC Local News
September 15, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

Another bruising week for B.C.’s forest industry featured the indefinite shutdown of Tolko Industries’ sawmill at Kelowna, and the halt of what was left of Vancouver Island and Fraser Valley logging by contractors for Teal-Jones Group, which runs three mills in Surrey. …All in a 10-day period, and all due to the now-familiar mixture of low lumber prices, high log costs, diminished log supply and U.S. trade sanctions. …Stumpage, the province’s Crown timber fee, is adjusted quarterly and hasn’t kept up with plummeting lumber prices this year. And the NDP has cracked down on residual waste, charging triple stumpage on any wood left behind that is deemed to be economically usable. Forests Minister Doug Donaldson says the residual wood program is just getting going, defining economic hauling zones, and may need some adjustments. But industry should get used to it. The days of huge slash piles left behind after the sawlogs are trucked out are coming to an end, and not just on the B.C. coast.

Read More

Fewer trees, higher costs blamed for devastating downturn in B.C. forestry

By Laura Kane
The Canadian Press in BC Local News
September 15, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

High log prices and dwindling timber supply are driving the crisis in British Columbia’s forestry industry that has devastated communities and kneecapped the provincial economy, observers say. Companies have announced shutdowns or curtailments in more than two dozen mills in the province. …Advocates are calling for urgent government action to stem the bleeding. “Something needs to change immediately or these small communities that don’t have other employers are going to wither and die,” said Marty Gibbons, president of United Steelworkers Local 1-417, based in Kamloops, B.C. The largest driving factor is the province’s complex stumpage system that results in high fees, he said. …Intervention in the stumpage system would weaken the legal case in the appeals of the duties imposed by the United States on softwood lumber. …Forestry is the no. 1 engine that drives B.C.’s economy with nearly $15 billion in annual exports, said Peacock.

Read More

Province silent on implementing Lahey report without Northern Pulp

By Aaron Beswick
The Chronicle Herald
September 16, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada East, Canada

NOVA SCOTIA — A microcosm of what is supposed to be the future of forestry for this province envisioned by the much touted Lahey Report was happening south of Amherst. …So under Tupper’s direction the contractor was cutting the shorter lived species while leaving the best trees… to seed in below with an eye to a better forest in 30 years. The poor quality wood headed to Northern Pulp where it fetches $38 a tonne. It’s this type of harvest that the Lands and Forestry Department, based upon the recommendations of William Lahey’s review of Nova Scotia forestry practices, wants to see more of on Crown land in this province. …The hiccup in the greatest paradigm shift this province’s forestry industry has seen in a generation is whether there’s a market to drive this forestry work in the meantime. …So, what would no Northern Pulp mean for the implementation of the Lahey Report?

Read More

Northern Pulp suppliers, Indigenous leadership talk closure over the kitchen table

By Aaron Beswick
The Chronicle Herald
September 13, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada East, Canada

After Paul had heard from Julia and her husband David, both forest technicians who rely on Northern Pulp, they in turn listened to what living beside the mill’s effluent for 52 years had meant for the Pictou Landing First Nation. They spent an entire day talking. …At day’s end, they didn’t agree on whether Northern Pulp should be granted an extension under the Boat Harbour Act. …And they didn’t agree on whether that proposed facility should be allowed to pump its treated effluent into the Northumberland Strait. But they did share a bond of mutual respect. Northern Pulp plans on submitting its focus report responses to the provincial Environment Department by month’s end. …If approved, the new facility could take 21 months to build.

Read More

Curtailment at Kenora Forest Products Temporary – Bob Nault MP

Net News Ledger
September 13, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada East, Canada

Bob Nault

KENORA – Bob Nault, Liberal Candidate for the Kenora riding, released the following statement regarding the temporary curtailment at Kenora Forest Products: “…Today, I’ve received word of a temporary curtailment at Kenora Forest Products. I would like to assure workers, as well as their families, that I stand with them. The Government of Canada will be there to support them through Employment Insurance. “This morning, I had a discussion with Maureen Prendiville, President of Prendiville Industries, who assured me that the temporary curtailment is due to soft market conditions and that we will work together to ensure that workers and their families have the support they need during this time. …Nault went on to say, “Despite the U.S. market’s dependence on imported lumber, over the past 25 years, the United States lumber industry has repeatedly sought U.S. government restrictions on Canadian softwood lumber imports. 

Read More

Face of Minnesota timber industry succumbs to cancer

By John Myers
Grand Forks Herald
September 13, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: United States, US West

Wayne Brandt

Wayne Brandt, the face and voice of Minnesota’s logging and timber industries for three decades, died Thursday morning, Sept. 12,./ at his home in Duluth after battling pancreatic cancer. Brandt, 61, was executive vice president of the Duluth-based Minnesota Timber Producers and Minnesota Forest Industries groups, the trade organizations that represented both the supply and production ends of the state’s timber industry. Brandt became the industry’s front person as it battled for survival in the face of global competition and environmental scrutiny, both at the Capitol in St. Paul looking for legislative changes and in front of the media when issues arose over logging or mills. Brandt also represented the industry’s interests on the Minnesota Forest Resources Council, the state-sanctioned stakeholders group that seeks to more amicably resolve issues facing Minnesota forests and timber harvest.

Read More

Federal grant aims to boost shrinking forest products industry in Maine

By Sarah Downey
The Center Square
September 16, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: US East, United States

A $2.8 million federal grant is set to bring new opportunity to parts of rural Maine affected by economic declines in the forest products industry. The award comes from a federal-state alliance called the Northern Border Regional Commission (NRBC). “It’s designed to help in regions with declining populations due to mills closing in rural areas,” said Andrea Smith, the NRBC program manager. “The grants are meant to revitalize the communities, to help them invest in themselves, leading to improved economy so people can stay in the communities,” Smith said. They include: $1 million to the University of Maine to help expand advanced wood-based manufacturing; $646,000 to the Maine Development Foundation to revitalize projects in communities affected by mill closures; $300,000 to the counties of Franklin and Oxford (part of the Northern Forest Center); and $450,000 to East Millinocket Industrials to help develop its shuttered mill into a vital multi-industrial site.

Read More

Weyerhaeuser to sell Michigan timberlands

Weyerhaeuser Company
Cision Newswire
September 16, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: US East, United States

SEATTLE — Weyerhaeuser Company today announced an agreement to sell its 555,000 acres of Michigan timberlands to Lyme Great Lakes Holding, an affiliate of The Lyme Timber Company, for $300 million in cash. The company expects to recognize a gain on the sale and anticipates no tax liability in conjunction with the transaction. “This transaction in our Northern region encompasses a diverse mix of hardwood and softwood acres and is part of our ongoing effort to strategically optimize our timberlands portfolio,” said Devin W. Stockfish, president and chief executive officer of Weyerhaeuser. …The transaction is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2019.

Read More

Asian wood demand drives $230m Japan investment in New Zealand

By Yuji Ohira
Nikkei Asian Review
September 16, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: International

TOKYO — The growing need in emerging markets for building materials and fuel has spurred Japanese trading houses to expand their forestry operations. Sumitomo Corp. plans to spend about 25 billion yen ($231 million) on acquiring more pine forest in New Zealand, one of the Asia-Pacific region’s major timber exporters, looking to double its acreage by 2021. Wood is in increasing demand to build houses in emerging markets as incomes grow. Forest waste is also emerging as a renewable energy source to replace coal. Sumitomo harvests in 30-year cycles, allowing time for trees to regrow, with the cut wood shipped as lumber to China and elsewhere. The group also will invest about 6 billion yen to expand a lumber mill in Russia’s Far East run by Terneyles, a logging company in which Sumitomo holds a 49% stake. 

Read More

Wood, Paper & Green Building

Can Sidewalk Labs build the future of wood? We’ll see

By Alex Bozikovic
The Globe and Mail
September 13, 2019
Category: Wood, Paper & Green Building
Region: Canada East, Canada

…The Google sister company’s effort to build an entire urban neighbourhood out of “mass timber,” or engineered wood products, has been inching closer to reality since it was announced two years ago. …Wood is a central part of the Sidewalk Labs pitch in Toronto. The company’s effort to build an innovative urban neighbourhood has faced all sorts of complications; in particular, its ambitions to use “urban data” have raised privacy and intellectual property concerns. …So Sidewalk is shouting “Timber!” …It’s an exciting and ambitious vision. But it rests on a large assumption: that Sidewalk, essentially a startup company, is able to quickly design and build a production line that works technically and economically. …Mass timber holds much promise, and Sidewalk has hired some brilliant architects to take advantage of its possibilities. But what they’ll actually build is another question: one that’s exciting but, as yet, unresolved. [to access the full story a Globe & Mail subscription is required]

Read More

Oregon Insight: wood products’ decline was steep – but it remains vital in rural counties

By Jamie Francis
Oregon Live
September 15, 2019
Category: Wood, Paper & Green Building
Region: United States, US West

Oregon’s wood products manufacturing sector has shed more than half its workforce since 1990, but an analysis by the Oregon Employment Department finds it still plays an essential economic role in several rural communities. Regional state labor economist Brian Rooney found the number of Oregon forest products jobs plunged from 46,100 in 1990 to just 23,000 in 2017. Three factors were responsible for the drop, according to Rooney: environmental restrictions on timber harvest on federal lands; new technologies that resulted in more productive mills – with fewer employees; and the Great Recession, which brought housing construction nearly to a halt. The recession was especially devastating, with Oregon’s wood manufacturing jobs declining 41% between 2005 and 2011.

Read More

Columbia Pulp closes in on launch date

By Vicki Hillhouse
The Union Bulletin
September 15, 2019
Category: Wood, Paper & Green Building
Region: United States, US West

LYONS FERRY — Columbia Pulp is in the final stages of launching the first straw pulp mill of its kind in North America. …Wheat and seed alfalfa straw from a 75-mile radius will be converted into pulp at the plant for eventual use as consumer and molded-fiber products. The process will also create bio-polymers for an array of industrial uses. The conversion process was designed by scientists William McKean and Mark Lewis, who have worked on it more than 20 years, Begley said. …At full capacity the facility will produce and ship out more than 150,000 tons per year. The bio-polymer produced is expected to be used initially in construction materials, crop and soil health, animal nutrition, soil stabilization and dust control, and de-icing, company representatives said.

Read More

Auburn University professor obtains patent to replace petroleum-based adhesives in particleboard with soy flour

By Teri Greene
Alabama News Center
September 14, 2019
Category: Wood, Paper & Green Building
Region: US East, United States

Soy flour could soon replace petroleum — at least in adhesives used in the manufacturing of particleboard. Professor Brian Via of the Auburn University School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences has obtained a patent that will allow soy flour to replace petroleum-based adhesives traditionally used to manufacture wood components in particleboard, an engineered wood product commonly used in indoor furniture. This innovative method will provide a more cost-effective and ecofriendly alternative to commonly used petroleum-based products, thus lowering the amount of formaldehyde released from formaldehyde-based adhesives. Via, who is also director of forest products at the school, worked with William G. Hand, research and development manager at Georgia-Pacific and a former graduate student in chemical engineering at Auburn, and Sujit Banerjee, professor emeritus at the Georgia Tech School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, on the research that led to the issue of the patent.

Read More

Fed funds will go to UMaine wind energy, mass timber programs

Maine Biz
September 13, 2019
Category: Wood, Paper & Green Building
Region: US East, United States

The U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee has approved an energy and water funding bill that includes support for several research and development projects at the University of Maine. The bill is expected to provide funding for UMaine’s offshore wind energy demonstration project. …The bill includes $5 million for the Maine Mass Timber Commercialization Center, UMaine’s program to research and produce mass timber, or cross-laminated timber, which can be used for the construction of tall wood buildings. The center’s aim is to be a resource where forest industry partners, construction firms and other stakeholders can collaborate and advance new forest product technologies in Maine. In August, UMaine and Bowdoin College were among 10 institutions that received $100,000 each from the U.S. Forest Service to research and construct mass timber buildings on college campuses.

Read More

Research Shows Advertising Is Changing Public Opinions On Forestry And Wood

By Ric Sinclair, Forest and Wood Products Australia
B&T Magazine
September 16, 2019
Category: Wood, Paper & Green Building
Region: International

AUSTRALIA — Around 25 per cent of Australians have seen The Ultimate Renewable™ campaign run by Forest and Wood Products Australia (FWPA), which research shows is positively changing public opinions on forestry and wood. A stand-out result from the campaign was that two in three people who had seen the ads agreed with the statement “I think it is okay to harvest and replant Australian native forests”, which is more than 10 per cent higher than those who had not seen the ads. …The new brand builds upon the previous Wood.Naturally Better™ program that successfully improved the public’s understanding about using wood to help tackle climate change. By continuing the partnership with Planet Ark and its Make It Wood website, including featuring Peter Maddison from Grand Designs Australia, the new advertising extends the existing message and introduces renewability. FWPA managing director, Ric Sinclair, explained the effectiveness of the campaign.

Read More

Forestry

West Chilcotin Fibre Utilization Project a Success Environmental Benefits & Increased Employment

West Chilcotin Forest Products & Forest Enhancement Society of B.C.
September 16, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: Canada, Canada West

ANAHIM LAKE, BC: A Forest Enhancement Society of B.C. (FESBC) funded fibre recovery project in the Chilcotin is increasing utilization of forest fibre by 20 per cent and the number of full-time jobs by 20. The FESBC funding is enabling Ulkatcho First Nation-owned West Chilcotin Forest Products (WCFP) to bring forest fibre to market that would normally be left behind or burned as waste in cut blocks. Over the winter and through early spring, WCFP was unable to haul the pulp logs into Bella Coola due to the  severity of seasonal storms that hit the Bella Coola Valley which prevents the safe log hauling, storage and barge loading. A provincial shortage of haul trucks presented an added challenge even if there had have been a good weather window to load the log barges.  “The West Chilcotin plateau lacks the infrastructure many other areas of our province take for granted,” said Stephen James, Executive Director of WCFP. 

Read More

Forest Practices Board releases 2018-19 Annual Report

BC Forest Practices Board
September 12, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: Canada, Canada West

VICTORIA – The Forest Practices Board has released its annual report for the fiscal year 2018-19, providing an overview of the board’s performance and work from April 2018 to March 2019. Each year, the board randomly selects forestry operations for audit. In 2018, it published the results of 15 audits. “Our auditors evaluate whether forest licensees are in compliance with the Forest and Range Practices Act and the Wildfire Act,” said Kevin Kriese, chair, Forest Practices Board. “This year, four audits found no problems at all, while 11 found issues ranging from failing to comply with requirements for roads and bridges, to not carrying out fire hazard assessments following logging.” The board also responds to public concerns and complaints about forest and range practices. In 2018-19, the board received 61 concerns and eight formal complaints on topics including water quality, biodiversity and old growth forests, visual quality and wildfire. 

Read More

B.C. set a new record for lightning strikes as quiet fire season winds down

By Randy Shore
The Times-Colonist
September 14, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: Canada, Canada West

VANCOUVER — B.C. set a record for lightning strikes, but enjoyed the quietest fire season in years thanks to timely rainfall. Environment and Climate Change Canada has recorded 422,000 lightning strikes this year in the province, far above the 18-year average of 266,000. July alone saw 264,344 lightning strikes, said meteorologist Matt MacDonald. …In June, July and August — the meteorological summer — total rainfall was actually below normal in many parts of B.C. and it could have gone terribly wrong for our parched forests. But instead of long, warm spells punctuated by dry lightning storms, electrical activity was accompanied by rain. …The province has spent $125 million fighting fires this season. More than $600 million was spent in each of the past two summers, according to the B.C. Wildfire Service. There are currently no fires of note burning in the province.

Read More

What will it take to save B.C.’s old-growth forests?

By Ken Wu, Endangered Ecosystem Alliance
The Vancouver Sun
September 13, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: Canada, Canada West

The recent fires raging in the Amazon have begun to focus the world’s attention on the destruction of forests in general — including the logging of B.C.’s magnificent, old-growth, temperate rainforests — the grandest forests on earth next to the U.S. redwoods. …The unique features of old-growth forests take centuries to develop — in a province where the forests are re-logged every 60 years on the Coast. As a result, old-growth forests are not a renewable resource under B.C.’s system of forestry and are not replicated by tree-planting. …Indeed, the rest of the western world is focused on logging 50- to 100-year-old second- or third-growth trees. B.C. is one of the very last jurisdictions on earth that still supports the large-scale logging of 500-year-old trees. …The transition to an exclusively second-growth forest industry in B.C. is inevitable. …Conservationists are just advocating that this transition happen now, rather than after the last endangered old-growth stands are gone.

Read More

B.C. predator cull would target 80 per cent of wolves in caribou recovery areas

By Randy Shore
The Times-Colonist
September 13, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: Canada, Canada West

VANCOUVER — The provincial government is proposing a predator cull that would kill more than 80 per cent of the wolf population in parts of central British Columbia that are home to threatened caribou herds, according to correspondence from the Ministry of Forests. …“The objective of this wolf reduction program is to reverse caribou population decline in the Tweedsmuir-Entiako, Hart Ranges, and Itcha-Ilgachuz herds,” says a memo signed by Darcy Peel, director of the B.C. Caribou Recovery Program. “To reverse caribou population declines, high rates of wolf removal (>80 per cent) must be achieved.” …A parallel cull is also proposed for the Itcha-Ilgachuz herd area to “remove cougars that have likely begun to focus on caribou as a prey source.” …A 30-day consultation with Indigenous communities and “targeted stakeholders” is underway.

Read More

How Maine plans to study the debated practice of aerial herbicide on forests

By Anthony Brino
The Bangor Daily News
September 14, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: US East, United States

ALLAGASH, Maine — Late summer is the time of year when young spruce and fir tree plantations are treated with herbicides sprayed from helicopters to control competing growth of other trees and shrubs. By August, the needles on spruce and fir trees have hardened off, which gives them a natural resistance to herbicides like glyphosate, the main ingredient in Roundup. …Jackson’s effort to ban aerial forestry herbicides rekindled a debate over how Maine’s working forests are managed and the practices of clear cutting and replanting spruce and fir plantations. He said he hopes that the bill to study the issue will continue the conversation and bring in people who work in the industry and live around the forest sites that are sprayed.

Read More

Carbon, Climate & Bioenergy

This summer, Canada’s land of ice was on fire

By Kyle Edwards
Maclean’s Magazine
September 16, 2019
Category: Carbon, Climate & Bioenergy
Region: Canada

Chad Thomas started fighting wildfires at 16, sacrificing every summer since battling the blazes that claim ever-growing tracts of the Yukon’s boreal forest and peatlands. …Now 31, he is the CEO of Yukon First Nations Wildfire, a firefighting service that draws from eight Indigenous governments across the territory. …At the time of this writing, there had been 111 wildfires in the Yukon in 2019, and 44 were still active. The total hectares burned—252,902—is nearly 50 per cent more than the territory’s 10-year average. “There’s a very healthy sense of fear,” says Thomas, “not just in First Nations but among all members of the North.” …Few take comfort knowing this year’s fire total is not enormously high—not, at least, by recent standards. …Damien Burns, the territory’s director of wildfire management, says the fires that do start are burning “hotter, deeper, and they’re a little harder to suppress.” 

Read More

Canadian biomass event cancelled due to ‘political uncertainty’

Bioenergy Insight Magazine
September 13, 2019
Category: Carbon, Climate & Bioenergy
Region: Canada East, Canada

The Biomass North Forum in Canada has been cancelled due to ‘political uncertainty’. The event in Ottawa that aimed to connect Canada’s bioeconomy had been due to take place from 17-19 September. According to organisers, the primary goals of the forum were to: strengthen and extend the sector network in the country, offer ‘meaningful content’ that improves stakeholders’ understanding and ability to participate in the emerging bioeconomy, connect Canadian businesses and communities with opportunities, communicate academic research with the businesses and communities that need to make informed decisions, inform policymakers about best practices and earn enough income to offset some of the company’s operational costs and to plan future events. Dawn Lambe, executive director of the Biomass North Development Centre, published a statement… explaining the decision.

Read More

Health & Safety

Officials hope to upgrade logging road where fatal bus crash occurred

Ian Holliday
CTV News Vancouver Island
September 15, 2019
Category: Health & Safety
Region: Canada, Canada West

Regular users of the road on which two people were killed in a bus crash Friday night say it has been in need of repairs and improvements for years. … A bus carrying 45 students and two teaching assistants from the University of Victoria went over an embankment on Bamfield Main Friday night, killing two and injuring several others. Though the road is privately owned and primarily used by logging trucks, it is also a primary route for accessing Bamfield Marine Science Centre, where the bus was headed Friday night, and the Huuayaht First Nation. Huuayaht Chief Robert Dennis told CTV News Vancouver Island his nation has been pushing for upgrades to the road for a long time. The road is unpaved, and the rainy winter season often leaves it full of potholes that make it difficult to navigate. It’s also remote, without cell phone service for much of the route. 

Additional coverage in Global News: Officials, drivers call for safety overhauls to remote B.C. road where bus crash killed 2

Read More

Vancouver Island road where bus rolled has been object of safety complaints for years, say local leaders

By Cathy Kearney
CBC News
September 14, 2019
Category: Health & Safety
Region: Canada, Canada West

The chief councillor of the First Nations in Bamfield, B.C. says the narrow, winding gravel road where two University of Victoria students were killed Friday in a bus rollover has been a safety issue for decades. The 83-kilometre logging road has no cell service, rest stops or gas stations, according to the Bamfield Chamber of Commerce, and is a regular route for commuters and logging trucks travelling between Bamfield and Port Alberni. …Two students died and 17 others were taken to hospital when the bus rolled off an embankment on a gravel road while on its way to the Bamfield Marine Science Centre. …Western Forest Products says it holds road permits for sections of the road. In a statement it said it is heartbroken to learn of the tragedy.

Read More

Forest Fires

Spark from machinery caused Museum Fire north of Flagstaff, Forest Service says

By Laurel Morales
Cronkite News
September 13, 2019
Category: Forest Fires
Region: United States, US West

FLAGSTAFF – Fire investigators say the Museum Fire, which burned 1,961 acres near Flagstaff in July, started from a forest-thinning project meant to prevent wildfires. An excavator striking rock sparked the blaze, which forced neighborhoods to evacuate and cost $9 million to control, the U.S. Forest Service reports. In a news release, Laura Jo West, supervisor of the Coconino National Forest, said it was unfortunate the fire was caused by thinning operations, but things could have been worse. The thinning is part of the Flagstaff Watershed Protection Project, which is a partnership between the state, Flagstaff and Coconino National Forest to reduce the risk of severe wildfire and post-fire flooding in the Rio de Flag and Lake Mary watersheds. “Fortunately,” West said, “some of the restoration work that had been completed previously in and around the wildfire area actually helped stop the fire from becoming larger and more destructive.”

Read More

Experts: Indonesia forest fires may not be extinguished any time soon

New Straits Times Online
September 16, 2019
Category: Forest Fires
Region: International

PEKANBARU, Indonesia: Thousands of Indonesian firefighters are locked in an around-the-clock game of Whack-a-Mole as they battle to extinguish an invisible enemy – underground fires that aggravate global warming. Vast blazes are ripping across the archipelago’s rainforests, unleashing a toxic haze over Southeast Asia that has triggered health fears and sent diplomatic tensions with Indonesia’s neighbours soaring. Jakarta deployed more than 9,000 personnel to battle fires turning land into charred landscapes and consuming forests in hard-hit Sumatra and Borneo island. But many of the blazes smoulder deep underground in once-swampy areas known as peatlands, where they can last for months and release eye-watering amounts of thick, acrid smoke. “It’s so much harder to fight fires on peatlands,” a dirty and exhausted Hendri Kusnardi told AFP outside smog-hit Pekanbaru city in Sumatra.

Read More