Tree Frog Forestry News

Daily Archives: November 4, 2019

Today’s Takeaway

Trump and California at odds on forestry and wildfires

The Tree Frog Forestry News
November 4, 2019
Category: Today's Takeaway

California’s governor hits back at Trump over wildfire criticism, saying, “You don’t believe in climate change. You are excused from this conversation.” In related news: commentary on the wildfire similarities in Arizona; and the fate of America’s Amazon apropos the Alaska roadless rule.

In Business news: Steelworkers reject Western Forest Products’ call for binding arbitration; BC Minister Donaldson says Liberal’s stumpage proposal would backfire; and retirement monies available for laid-off BC mill workers. Meanwhile, down-under in New Zealand: wood exporters get preferential access to Chinese markets;  foreigners are buying up NZ forestry land and a farm-to-forestry conversion ban makes no sense to forest owners.

Finally, there’s never been a better time to get into tree planting.

Kelly McCloskey, Tree Frog Editor

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Business & Politics

Brandt becomes exclusive John Deere Construction and Forestry dealer after acquiring Nortrax

By Mackenzie Read
620 CKRM
November 3, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada

The Brandt Group of Companies will now be serving the entire country after a recent acquisition. The company is acquiring Nortrax and is now the exclusive John Deere Construction and Forestry dealer for Canada. Brandt’s Shaun Semple said this is the largest acquisition in the company’s history, immediately adding about 700 employees to Brandt and about 3,400 employees nationwide. He discussed how the move will open up the eastern Canadian markets to the Brandt Group of Companies. “Not just for our dealership operations, but also a lot of our products we manufacture right here in Regina will now have an outlet for sale in eastern Canada,” said Semple.

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Forestry union rejects WFP’s binding-arbitration talks

By Andrew Duffy
Victoria Times Colonist
November 1, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

The union representing 3,000 striking forest workers has rejected an invitation from Western Forest Products to enter binding arbitration to settle what is now a four-month labour dispute. Citing a bad track record of going the binding-arbitration route, the bargaining committee of Steelworkers Local 1-1937 has told its members “binding arbitration is completely unacceptable.” The union wrote, “By WFP’s request yesterday, they are trying to get a third party to force concessions on our members that they know they cannot achieve at the bargaining table. We can never give up control of our collective agreement rights to another third party as history does not lie. We have witnessed the damage and suffered the consequences of this dangerous process and could never agree to it.” …Western said it is now open to movement on its positions and would stay as long as it takes to reach an agreement.

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BC Liberals’ Forest Proposal Would Backfire, Warns Minister

By Andrew MacLeod
The Tyee
November 4, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

Cutting the fees that BC’s forest companies pay to log trees on Crown land won’t solve the sector’s problems, says the province’s forests minister. In fact, reducing stumpage fees could make things worse, said Doug Donaldson. “Any mill that’s been permanently closed or subject to indefinite curtailment in the last three or four months, that’s not been done as a result of stumpage,” he said. With the softwood lumber dispute with the United States unresolved, he added, “The danger of political intervention in the stumpage right now is that it would make matters worse. …Since at least June, the BC Liberal Opposition has advocated for “immediately reducing stumpage fees and the carbon tax on the forestry sector, including contractors,” …Donaldson said the bigger issue for the industry in the Interior is the declining log supply.

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Early retirement money available for local mill workers

By Rod Link
The Vanderhoof Omineca Express
November 2, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

Canfor’s millworkers at Plateau in Vanderhoof qualify for a provincial government early retirement bridging program but individual circumstances will vary. First announced in September but with details released only late last month, millworkers could, based on individual wishes and eligibility, receive up to $75,000 meant to provide a cushion leading up to the start of regular pension payments. There are two ways in which millworkers could qualify — one is by voluntarily agreeing to retire right away and the second requires waiting until mid-January of next year to apply. …And the early retirement bridging program is only available to millworkers. Employees of contractors who log and ship fibre to mills, even if they have also been affected by mill closures, don’t qualify. …In the meantime, Canfor expects to hear this month if its application for federal employment insurance benefits will be accepted.

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Parliamentary secretary’s statement on purchase of Conifex Timber by Hampton Lumber

By Ravi Kahlon, Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Forests
Government of British Columbia
November 3, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

Ravi Kahlon re: purchase of Conifex Timber by Hampton Lumber. “The completed purchase on Friday, Nov. 1, 2019, of Conifex Timber’s forest licence and sawmill in Fort St. James to Hampton Lumber exemplifies our government’s approach to ensure British Columbians benefit from the public resources they own. “Under the old government’s rules, tenure, which represents rights to harvest from publicly owned forests, were swapped between companies regardless of whether that was in the public interest or not. “Doug Donaldson, Minister of Forests… approved the tenure transfer under changes to the Forest Act this government passed in the spring legislative session in Bill 22.” The approval came after Hampton committed to build a new mill in Fort St. James, to be operational within 36 months.

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For timber, a steady decline in jobs

By Edward Stratton
The Daily Astorian
November 1, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: United States, US West

OREGON — Even amid the economic recovery from the Great Recession, Clatsop County’s timber industry has declined. Jobs in forestry and logging are off by nearly 40% from 2008 — 280 to 169 in 2018 — while wood and paper manufacturing fell by more than a quarter, or 1,294 to 948. The loss of traditional, higher-paying timber jobs has sparked a political backlash, from a $1 billion lawsuit by rural counties claiming Oregon is not maximizing timber harvests. …A closer look at the decline of timber-related employment shows an interplay of factors. The demand for wood products was kneecapped by the recession. The industry is growing more consolidated and automated. There is increased global competition and worries about government regulation. …Steve Zika, CEO of Hampton Lumber, which operates several mills in the region, said the recession led to significant cuts in production.

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Hampton Lumber invests to make the most of logs

By Edward Stratton
The Daily Astorian
November 1, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: United States, US West

WARRENTON, OREGON — Each Douglas fir and western hemlock entering Hampton Lumber’s mill runs through several scanners as it’s broken down from a tree trunk into boards. …After buying the mill from Weyerhaeuser Co. during the Great Recession and investing $18 million in deffered maintenance and modernization, Hampton Lumber is planning to spend another $25 million over the next five years to get even more out of its logs. …Most of the new investments will focus on further maximizing the value of the logs, from improved saws to scanners that look deeper into the wood. The mill will also add another dry kiln or two to improve the quality of the product and increase capacity, which could lead to a third shift if the timber becomes available, Zika said.

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NZ strikes deal on China Free Trade Agreement upgrade after years of talks

By Jane Patterson
Radio New Zealand
November 4, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: International

After years of negotiations, New Zealand and China have struck a deal on the long-awaited upgrade to their free trade deal. It includes new rules to make exporting to China cheaper and easier, the highest level of commitment to environmental standards China has made in any free trade deal, and giving the vast majority of wood and paper trade to China preferential access over the next 10 years. That will include some processed wood products, for which the forestry sector had been seeking tariff cuts. …The next steps would be legal verification of the draft text, with the signing and release of the text expected in early 2020. …The upgrade will also mean that 99 percent of New Zealand’s $3b wood and paper trade to China will have preferential access, with tariff elimination over a 10 year implementation period on 12 additional wood and paper products worth NZ$36 million in trade to China.

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Foreigners snapping up forest land

By Brent Melville
New Zealand Herald
November 4, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: International

Eugenie Sage

International buyers continue to snap up New Zealand land for forestry. Over the past year, the Overseas Investment Office has signed off 27 special forestry consents – all under the streamlined consent pathway for investment in New Zealand forests introduced last October. …There were nine forestry-related consents in September, including the acquisition of a combined 1663ha at Hillfort Forest in Wyndham and Wether Hills Forest in Lumsden. The applicant – Matariki Forests – is majority owned by US and British interests. The most expensive deal was from China Forestry Group NZ, which is thought to have paid $27.8million for an interest in 926ha at Highfield, Kai Iwi and Kirikopuni Forests in the North Island. Minister of Land Information Eugenie Sage and the Associate Minister of Finance also approved the first pre-approval under a special forestry test last month – granted to Japanese-controlled Pan Pac Forest Products.

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Calls to ban farm conversions to forestry make no sense

Scoop Independent News
November 3, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: International

Peter Weir

Calls to ban farm conversions to forestry ‘make no sense and are dangerously jeopardising fight against climate change’. Forest owners are saying the extent of overseas investment in forestry this year is grossly exaggerated. They say the calls on the government to restrict conversions of farms to forestry are dangerously jeopardising the fight against climate change and New Zealand’s hope of achieving its greenhouse gas emission targets. Forest Owners Association President Peter Weir, says there is no doubt that the rate of planting forests on poorer quality farmland is increasing. But he says most of the planting is driven by higher returns from forests than by hill country farming and the planting is being done by New Zealand land owners and not overseas investors.

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Finance & Economics

New-Home Sales Hit 6-Month High on Southern Surge

By Robert Smith
Valliant News
November 3, 2019
Category: Finance & Economics
Region: United States

Sales of new U.S. single-family homes increased more than expected in May as sales in the South surged to their highest level in nearly 11 years. The jumped 6.7 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 689,000 units last month, the highest level since November 2017. April’s sales pace was revised down to 646,000 units from the previously reported 662,000 units. Last month’s surge in new home sales unwound April’s drop. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast new home sales, which make up 11 percent of housing market sales, rising only 0.7 percent to a pace of 667,000 units in May.

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Wood, Paper & Green Building

Can Norway Grow Its Own Timber Building Industry?

By Tracey Lindeman
City Lab
November 4, 2019
Category: Wood, Paper & Green Building
Region: International

Forest-rich Norway is a leader in building with lower-carbon structural wood. But it still lacks factories that can turn trees into building parts. The Norwegian town of Brumunddal… is known for something even more grandiose: The world’s tallest timber structure. …Mjøstårnet is a statement to the world that timber construction has arrived, and Norway is ready to build. There’s just one thing: The country has yet to seize the means of its own timber production. “Norway is a banana republic when it comes to this,” Jørgen Tycho, an architect with the firm Oslotre. …Today, a handful of companies are trying again. Long-standing Norwegian timber-supply company Splitkon, which previously relied on Swedish and Austrian suppliers for its CLT, opened its own domestic production facility in early 2019. …Now newcomers such as Tewo are lining up for a slice of the pie. 

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Forestry

There’s Never Been a Better Time to Get Into Tree Planting

By Duncan Ferguson
VICE News
November 1, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: Canada

With politicians pledging to plant billions of trees to fight climate change, the industry needs workers more than ever. Tree planting is a rite of passage for many Canadians. It can be a lucrative seasonal job for those who can handle the harsh exposure of the outdoors. While pushing your physical limits to plant thousands of trees a day may sound like hell to some, there are probably nearly as many wishing they had given it a try when they had a chance. Now, after years of decreasing wages and increasing labour shortages, the industry needs planters more than ever. The vast majority of the trees planted in Canada are intended for logging. This means that just like a farm crop, we plant and cut them over and over again. But major shifts in the tree planting industry mean this may no longer be the case.

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Building the forest sector’s talent pipeline: job-matching tool will help connect workers with forestry job opportunities

Forest Products Association of Canada
November 4, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: Canada

Canada’s forest sector is building a talent pipeline to fill an array of good-paying jobs in engineering, skilled trades, mill and woodlands operations, and administration. Forest Products Association of Canada (FPAC) is launching a campaign to raise awareness around job opportunities in Canada’s forest sector.  The The Greenest Workforce initiative builds on earlier joint efforts, and is intended to help match Canadians looking for work with exciting opportunities in forest communities.  The online portal provides a robust job matching tool for both employers looking for talent and employees looking for jobs. The portal also features updated labour market information, with the support from the Government of Canada’s Sectoral Initiatives Program, helping to address skills shortages in the sector. …Learn more about how Canada’s forest sector is embracing diversity and inclusion to secure our future – and yours – at The Greenest Workforce.

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The Search for Canada’s Greenest Workforce

By Ann Evans, CFOO Canadian Kraft Paper Industries and Board of Directors, FPAC
Forest Products Association of Canada
October 29, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: Canada

Ann Evans

This fall, and with the support of the federal government’s sectoral initiative program, Canada’s forest products sector will launch our new national job-matching tool.  With The Greenest Workforce, we are working to build our talent pipeline to fill an array of good-paying jobs in engineering, skilled trades, mill and woodlands operations, and administration. …Canada’s forest industry is becoming a world leader in clean technology. Canada has the best environmental reputation in the world. And, we’re generating good pay and benefits, a wide range of career paths, opportunities to learn on the job – all this plus the pleasures of living in tight-knit, affordable communities with nature at your back door.  To remain a critical contributor to future jobs and economic growth, especially in rural Canada, the forest industry needs new adventurers today to join The Greenest Workforce.

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California Fire Danger Continues to Worsen, Experts Say

By Jim Carlton
The Wall Street Journal
November 4, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

As California is living through the most dangerous time of the year for wildfires due to dry and windy conditions, experts say a trio of factors make America’s most populous state more at-risk than ever. Despite several recent wildfires outside of San Francisco and Los Angeles, there have been no significantly deadly and destructive blazes so far in 2019. Nonetheless, the long-term trend in the Golden State is toward bigger, faster-moving and more destructive wildfires, due to a combination of overgrown forests creating more fuel, climate change that causes higher temperatures and less snow, and housing construction in fire-prone areas. “There’s no simple problem and no one simple answer,” said Max Moritz at the University of California, Santa Barbara. “It’s all of these things mixed together.” …State and federal foresters have ramped up the use of controlled burns and also increased logging to help thin trees… But it has yet to make a serious dent in the problem. [a WSJ subscription is required to access the full story]

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Oregon State University Extension building partnerships in new fire program

KTVZ Central Oregon
November 1, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

CORVALLIS, Ore. – In a time of increasing wildfire activity, Oregon State University Extension Service said Friday it has implemented a new statewide fire program to help facilitate forest and range management plans, as well as create a healthy respect of fire through education and outreach efforts. The program, led by the OSU Forestry & Natural Resources Extension Program and the College of Forestry, focuses on creating opportunities for landowners by building partnerships. …With funding allocated by the Oregon Legislature, the fire program will hire a director, a state fire specialist and six regional fire specialists. The specialists will be strategically placed in areas of greatest risk and need as the growing program expands the impact of current efforts and builds on existing partnerships.

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The fate of America’s Amazon is hanging in the balance

By the Editorial Board
Washington Post
November 3, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

To some, it is a resource that drove development for decades, before environmental protections and economic difficulties conspired to close it off. To many others, it is an ecological treasure that may not be the country’s best-known wild expanse — but probably should be. The fate of the world’s largest intact temperate rainforest, the Tongass National Forest, which hugs Alaska’s southeastern coast, is once again in the balance. This time, those who want more development are winning. At issue is President Bill Clinton’s 2001 “roadless rule,” which banned road building and other development in nearly 60 million acres of federally administered national forests. President George W. Bush tried unsuccessfully to kill the policy. Alaska’s congressional delegation has also sought a specific exemption for the Tongass. The Trump administration now appears ready to give them one, proposing a full exemption from its restrictions for 9.5 million acres of the 16.7-million-acre national forest.

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Restoration crucial to saving forest

By Peter Aleshire
Payson Roundup
November 1, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

Want to peek into the future? Google “California Wildfires.” California’s on fire. Hundreds of thousands of people have evacuated. Hundreds of homes have burned. The electric utility company’s broke. Millions have lost power. The 80-mile-an-hour winds are blowtorching thickets of trees and brush that haven’t burned in decades. And during those decades, people wedged whole towns into the chaparral and overgrown forests. Now, forested Arizona’s heading for just such a disaster. Granted, we’ve got fewer people and fewer homes to burn. But the communities that will burn include Payson, Pine, Show Low, Springerville, Lakeside, Pinetop, Alpine and a few other places close to home. The best chance of avoiding such a fate lies in the success of the faltering Four Forest Restoration Initiative (4FRI).

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Calif. governor hits back at Trump over wildfire criticism, threat to cut aid

By Kim Bellware
The Washington Post
November 3, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

Gavin Newsom Donald Trump and Jerry Brown

President Trump on Sunday criticized California’s Democratic governor for his handling of wildfires and made a vague threat to cut aid as blazes continue to burn in the northern and southern parts of the state. The comments are the latest installment of the president’s long-standing grievance with California, a state that has clashed with Trump’s administration, particularly on issues of environmental regulation. In Trump’s first significant mention of California’s wildfires on Twitter since the massive Kincade Fire broke out in late October, the president accused Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom of doing a “terrible” job of forest management. Newsom later responded with his own tweet: “You don’t believe in climate change. You are excused from this conversation.”

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Roadless Rule realities

By Rich Moniak
Juneau Empire
November 3, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

The on-again-off-again Roadless Rule debate is back. One side, led by Alaska’s elected officials in Congress and in Juneau, wants to permanently exempt the Tongass National Forest from the Rule. The other prefers to keep it entirely intact. It’s an issue that epitomizes a no-compromise, winner-take-all, political culture that is in increasingly defined by alternative realities. U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, has the correct facts regarding the Tongass lands affected by the rule. The 16.7 million acres Tongass National Forest “is overwhelmingly road-free, unlogged, rich in wildlife and, despite what you may have read, will remain so even if exempted from the roadless rule” she wrote in the Washington Post recently. “When combined with national monument and other natural-setting land use designations, more than 13 million acres of the Tongass are already explicitly restricted from resource development or are required to be managed as roadless areas. That’s nearly 80% of the forest.” 

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Romanians Rally Against Illegal Logging, Attacks On Forestry Officials

Radio Free Europe
November 4, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: International

Thousands of Romanians across the country have marched in protest of pervasive illegal logging after several forestry officials, including two in the past two months, have died in what are believed to have been attacks by timber thieves. An estimated 4,000 protesters assembled in the capital city of Bucharest on November 3, marching toward the Forestry Ministry while chanting “Our forest is not your commodity,” and “Thieves.” …The local branch of Greenpeace and civil society and environmental groups Agent Green and Declic organized the peaceful protest they called The March for the Forests. They demanded criminal investigations into the deaths and attacks against forestry agency officials, improvements to the country’s automated logging tracking system, and stricter legislation.

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Carbon, Climate & Bioenergy

Gavin Newsom, Your Carbon Offsets are Burning

By Daniel John Sobieski
American Thinker
November 4, 2019
Category: Carbon, Climate & Bioenergy
Region: United States, US West

Those who leave their energy-guzzling multi-million-dollar mansions when they fly off on their private jets to save-the-planet climate change conferences like to ease their consciences and explain their hypocrisy by pointing to their carbon offsets like paying for trees to be planted somewhere that might mature in a hundred years or so. …This is California’s big secret: it’s not climate change that’s burning up the forests, killing people, and destroying hundreds of homes; it’s decades of environmental mismanagement that has created a tinderbox of unharvested timber, dead trees, and thick underbrush. …Imagine that. Environmentalists have managed to turn our forests into major polluters. California Governor Gavin Newsom has carried the environmental terrorism practiced by predecessor Jerry Brown to an absurd extreme, blaming capitalism as well as climate change for California’s fires. …Yet, if capitalism held sway in California, harvesting of the millions of dead trees …fuel for these fires would have been permitted. 

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Plant trees, store carbon, save the environment

By Evan Jones
Spartan News Room, MSU
November 1, 2019
Category: Carbon, Climate & Bioenergy
Region: US East, United States

LANSING — Michigan’s 3.9 million acres of state forests could be recruited for a fight to limit climate change by storing carbon emissions. “Climate change, when you slow everything down, it’s a math problem,” said Daniel Eichinger, the director of the Department of Natural Resources. “We are contributing a lot more carbon into the atmosphere than we are able to sequester, consume and store.” …Michigan’s state forests, some of the largest in the nation, have plenty of room to store carbon. But foresters traditionally focus on maximizing an adequate and stable supply of timber and fiber and to provide wildlife habitat, Eichinger said. The potential for storing carbon could become a third central value, he said. That amounts to planting more trees because younger trees have more carbon storage potential, said Ed Golder… Scott Robbins, the public affairs director for the Michigan Forest Products Council, said he hopes the new value doesn’t interfere with timber production.

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Forest Fires

Kincade Fire 60 percent contained

By Brian McLean
Peninsula Daily News
November 1, 2019
Category: Forest Fires
Region: United States, US West

PORT TOWNSEND — Firefighters from East Jefferson County are helping to make progress against the Kincade Fire in Sonoma County, Calif. The blaze, which has consumed 76,825 acres since it began Oct. 23, was reportedly 60 percent contained Thursday, according to the California Department of Forestry & Fire Protection (Cal Fire). Two of the crew members fighting the blaze are from East Jefferson Fire-Rescue (EJFR) and a third is from Port Ludlow Fire & Rescue. They are part of a regional strike team from Puget Sound that includes personnel from the Bainbridge Island Fire Department, Central Kitsap Fire & Rescue, North Kitsap Fire Rescue and South Kitsap Fire and Rescue.

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