Tree Frog Forestry News

Daily Archives: November 12, 2019

Today’s Takeaway

Tolko closing Kelowna mill forever, mediation resumes at Western

The Tree Frog Forestry News
November 12, 2019
Category: Today's Takeaway

After nearly 90 years, Tolko’s Kelowna mill is closing forever, local MLA blames NDP government. In related news: why isn’t the province doing more to help the forest sector; BC looks to expand markets to Asia; and Western Forest Products and Steelworkers resume mediation. Meanwhile: both US and China wood furniture exporters see double-digit drop; and Canadian women break the forest products glass ceiling.

In other news: a Vimy Ridge oak tree honours Canadian soldiers; Oregon among the world’s fastest tree growers; Alaska’s fight to save the Tongass; California’s use of AI to fight wildfires; and Australia declares wildfire emergency while their countrymen opine on the native forestry debate.

Finally, an insightful guest column on the import of being wary of the linguistic sleight of hand.

Kelly McCloskey, Tree Frog Editor

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Opinion / Editorial

Seeking Truth Reading News – Telling Truth Writing News

By Roger Whittaker
Submitted Editorial
November 12, 2019
Category: Opinion / Editorial
Region: Canada, Canada West

Roger Whittaker

When I open a story on my computer or spread the inky pages out before me, I have a certain level of expectations. …I do not expect to be walloped into stupidity by semantic sleight of hand and stealthy word placement the way I was when began to read the dreadful piece recently included in Tree Frog News daily email news aggregator, “Your hardwood floor was probably harvested illegally” subtitled “U.S. Forest Service test shows as much as 62% of U.S. wood products are mislabelled” by Rachel Koning Beals of MarketWatch. …Yet this piece you are now reading is not so much to call out Ms. Koning Beals about her twisty relativistic attempt to circumvent the truth. The commenters were on her like a swarm of South American Bees. This piece is to ask you, as a reader, if you also seek truth or if you are living in an echo chamber… Her morally superior high road is to not choose to use wood on your floor because you cannot be sure it wasn’t cut under nefarious circumstances, thus setting about to call into disrepute all who call the forest their office, the same way the No Fur folks destroyed the ingenuity and income of those who live in Canada’s North. …the point of this piece is to ask you, as a reader, to look at the use of linguistic sleight of hand as you read. 

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Business & Politics

Diversity Disclosure Practices report – Forest products & paper industry

Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP
November 11, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada

Shannon Janzen

Every Canadian corporate sector has its share of stories about women pioneers who broke down barriers. …However, what’s instructive about the state of diversity in forest products and paper — where, through 2017, women made up just 17% of the total workforce — is that these stories are being told today by women still in the early and middle stages of their careers. Consider, for example, Shannon Janzen, vice-president and chief forester at Western Forest Products. …A more common narrative comes from Kate Lindsay, vice-president of sustainability at the Forest Products Association of Canada. …But even more encouraging, perhaps, is that the barriers seem to be breaking down. …Only a couple of years ago, for example, the forest products and paper industry ranked last among TSX-listed groups in overall percentage of women directors; today it’s in the top half. On the executive side, it’s even higher.

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Western Forest Products, striking union start talks

By Andrew Duffy
Victoria Times Colonist
November 8, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

Western Forest Products and its unionized workers will head back to the bargaining table Tuesday… Western released a bleak financial report …Year-to-date the tale, exacerbated by difficult markets in the U.S. and Japan, was worse with a net loss of $17.5 million compared to a profit of $3.9 million in the first nine months of 2018. Western chief executive Don Demens said the strike and difficult markets have contributed to the financial situation, though he stressed “most of the erosion in performance is driven by the markets.” …Still, Demens said: “I think we all know where the settlement zone is.” He wants to dispel the notion that Western has not wanted to bargain or has been intransigent in its bargaining position — a refrain heard often during Thursday’s rally. “We had made an offer to go to binding arbitration. I think that squelches the idea that we are not willing to talk about all issues,” he said.

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Interfor’s $35.6 million Q3 loss includes writedowns, B.C. restructuring costs

Canadian Press in CKPG Today
November 8, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

VANCOUVER — Interfor Corp. says it had a $35.6-million net loss in the third quarter, which included write-downs related to the permanent closure of a sawmill in Maple Ridge, B.C., as well as restructuring costs at its B.C. Coastal business. The loss amounted to 53 cents per share and included $14 million of non-cash asset impairments at the Hammond sawmill and $17.8 million in expenses related to human resource matters and the retirement of CEO Duncan Davies. Davies will retire at the end of the year and be replaced on Jan. 1 by Ian Fillinger, the company’s chief operating officer. The August announcement of Interfor’s CEO succession plan was followed on Sept. 3 with a decision to permanently close the Hammond sawmill by the end of 2019 after its log and lumber inventories have been processed.

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B.C. government won’t say why it’s sending minister to China amidst diplomatic row

Glacier Media in Kamloops Matters
November 9, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

The B.C. government is remaining mum about its decision to send B.C.’s forestry minister Doug Donaldson to China on a trade mission next week amidst a significant Sino-Canadian diplomatic row. The government announced Friday Donaldson, Minister of Forests… “will be joined by 35 senior executives from B.C. forest companies and associations as he leads his third forestry trade mission to Asia.” The Nov. 10 to 15 mission includes a stop in Shanghai for the Sino-Canadian Wood Forum. However, it was last December when Donaldson cancelled his China leg of a trade missionfollowing the arrest of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver. … The diplomatic situation appears as hostile as ever; this includes the incarceration of two Canadians, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, since Donaldson cancelled his last trip. The arrests are perceived by many Canadians and political experts to be retaliation by China.

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Western Forest Products and Steelworkers to Resume Mediation

By Mike Patterson
My Cowichan Valley Now
November 11, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

Western Forest Products and its striking workers are making another attempt to break the deadlock contract talks. The company and United Steelworkers, Local 1-1937 have agreed to resume mediation in Nanaimo Tuesday. This comes after efforts to end the strike stalled on October 20th. …At the end of October, WFP said that it was ready to adjust its positions and asked the union if it would agree to binding arbitration. USW Local 1-1937 rejected that offer the same day. It followed up, however, by writing to WFP to say that since the company had changed its “no movement” position and was prepared to make changes, they should ask the mediators for new meeting dates.

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Tolko Kelowna mill closure marks end of the line for decades-old facility

By Rafferty Baker
CBC News
November 11, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

The Tolko Industries lumber mill near the heart of Kelowna had been operating since the Great Depression, but now nearly 90 years later, it’s being permanently shut down, as more than 170 workers got severance notices this week. The company, which bought the mill in 2004, announced on Friday that an indefinite mill closure that began in August, will be permanent. “It’s never a good thing when we lose 200 good-paying jobs,” said Pat McGregor, president of United Steelworkers 1-423. …Workers who had been in limbo for months now have certainty about their future but the news isn’t good. …The mill was built in 1932, when Kelowna had fewer than 5,000 residents — now more than 130,000 people live there. “Kelowna is sort of built around the mill,” said McGregor. “I mean, you had third and fourth generation workers at that mill and there won’t be a fifth or sixth generation, and that’s not good.”

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Why isn’t province doing more to help forestry sector?

By Jock Finlayson EVP, Business Council of British Columbia & Ken Peacock, council’s chief economist
Vancouver Sun
November 8, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

By any measure, forestry remains a vital economic engine for B.C., even as parts of the industry struggle with weak markets and high costs. Accounting for one-third of B.C.’s merchandise exports in a typical year, forestry is foundational to the province’s industrial base, supporting well over 100,000 direct and indirect jobs and serving as the economic backbone for dozens of communities. …Today, B.C.’s most important industry is struggling. Some two dozen lumber mills have shut, temporarily or permanently. Thousands of jobs have been lost and more are at risk. The industry and the communities that depend on it have long weathered economic cycles, but this time is different….The question is why the province isn’t doing more to tend to the economic health of the forest industry. In most other jurisdictions, government would be moving heaven and earth to improve the operating environment for their number one source of export earnings. In B.C., not so much.

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Asia trade mission looks to expand markets

By the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development
Government of British Columbia
November 8, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

Doug Donaldson, Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development, will be joined by 35 senior executives from B.C. forest companies and associations as he leads his third forestry trade mission to Asia.  From Nov. 10 to 15, 2019, delegates will meet with stakeholders to promote B.C.’s innovative wood products. B.C. exports 90% of its forest products, and China and Japan are B.C.’s largest markets outside of North America. China represents 28% of B.C.’s total forest product exports, while Japan is B.C.’s third-largest export market for lumber products.  In Shanghai, at the Sino-Canadian Wood Forum, delegates will have the opportunity to meet with Chinese businesses to expand markets for B.C. wood products, particularly to the higher-value segment of Chinese markets where the superiority of B.C. wood is a clear advantage. There will also be opportunities to expand wood use in China’s massive manufacturing sector, such as furniture making.

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Tolko closing Kelowna mill forever

By Steve MacNaull
The Daily Courier
November 8, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

On Friday morning, managers somberly gathered at the Tolko office in Kelowna to call 140 workers one by one to tell them the lumber mill will close forever Jan. 8. “Calling each employee was important with news like this,” Tolko communications adviser Chris Downey told The Okanagan Weekend. “Our HR team was also on site to help workers. We’re telling them how severance and benefits will be paid and referring them to programs like the ones at WorkBC.” While Friday’s news was official and devastating, the writing had been on the wall for months. On July 12, Tolko permanently scrapped its second shift at the Kelowna mill, putting 90 people out of work. The 140 staff on the remaining shift endured a six-week shutdown Aug. 6 to Sept. 15, only to be told an indefinite closure would start Sept. 15.

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Local MLA blames NDP’s negligence for Tolko shutdown

By Josh Duncan
Kelowna Now
November 8, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

Ben Stewart

It was announced today that Tolko’s Kelowna-based mill would be shutting down for good in January.  Ben Stewart, the Liberal MLA for Kelowna West, says that British Columbia’s NDP government has failed to do anything to prevent it, not only in Kelowna but all over the province. “The bottom line is the government has been completely negligent and silent in terms of what they see is the problem,” Stewart told KelownaNow. “They keep telling people that it’s a mid-term timber supply and that there was going to be closures, and that’s right, but the bottom line is it’s past that point now.” Stewart says it started with the softwood lumber tariffs implemented by the United States a little over a year ago, giving Tolko less of a margin to work with. 

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Cascades Inc. announces proposed private offering

By Cascades Inc.
Cision Newswire
November 12, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada East, Canada

KINGSEY FALLS, QC — Cascades… announced that it intends, subject to market and other conditions, to offer US$300 million aggregate principal amount of senior notes due 2026, US$300 million aggregate principal amount of senior notes due 2028 and Cdn$175 million aggregate principal amount of senior notes due 2025 in a private offering. …The Notes of each series will be guaranteed by each of the Company’s existing and future U.S. and Canadian restricted subsidiaries. …The Company intends to use the net proceeds from the offering of the Notes to (i) redeem all of its outstanding US$400 million… senior notes due 2022 and Cdn$250 million …senior notes due 2021 and repay certain amounts outstanding under its revolving credit facility.

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Kruger Products Becomes First Company to Be Certified ISO 50001 by the Bureau de normalisation du Québec Français

By Kruger Inc.
Cision Newswire
November 8, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada East, Canada

GATINEAU, QC,  – Kruger today announced that its Kruger Products’ Gatineau Plant was recently certified ISO 50001 for Energy Management. This makes Kruger Products L.P. the first company to receive this certification from the Bureau de normalisation du Québec (BNQ). … Its Gatineau Plant has significantly improved its environmental performance since 2009, by reducing its energy intensity by 25%. “With the ISO 50001-based energy management system, we can continuously monitor our energy intensity, maintain the energy savings achieved and continually improve our energy performance. We now have a structured system in place that involves all of the Plant’s Operating teams that are working towards a common goal: to continuously improve our environmental performance,” said Daniel Morneau, General Manager, Kruger Products’ Gatineau Plant. 

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Quebec to finance 40 per cent of pulp mill’s $342M restart

By Frédéric Tomesco
Montreal Gazette
November 8, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada East, Canada

Quebec is providing about 40 per cent of the $342 million investment required to restart a pulp mill and cogeneration facility in northern Quebec that’s been idle for more than a decade.  Nordic Kraft, a new unit of Quebec forest-products maker Chantiers Chibougamau, plans to begin making kraft pulp in the town of Lebel-sur-Quévillon by next summer, according to a company statement issued Friday. The reopening will create about 300 jobs that will likely pay an average of $90,000 a year, the government said in a separate statement. Quebec’s financial contribution amounts to about $138 million. The amount includes a 10-year loan for about $120 million, as well as the purchase of minority stake in the mill, Frédéric Verreault, a Chantiers Chibougamau executive, told the Montreal Gazette in a telephone interview.

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Trade war sees double-digit drops in U.S. furniture imports from China; both countries see losses

By Robert Dalheim
Woodworking Network
November 11, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: United States, International

WASHINGTON – The trade war is having a major effect – causing a $53 billion decline in U.S. imports from China and a $14.5 billion decline in exports to China, according to recently released trade data. Both drops are just looking at the first nine months of the year. The numbers appear to be drastically in the favor of the United States. But because the U.S. exports much less to China than it imports, the smaller drop is actually a bigger percentage drop (15.5 percent from last year) – compared to a 13.5 percent decline for Chinese imports. Chinese furniture exports to the U.S. fell in miscellaneous wood furniture (down 19 percent), wood seats (down 21 percent), and upholstered wood chairs (down 13 percent). China’s fall has led to the rise of other countries, particularly Taiwan, Vietnam and Malaysia, who all saw huge gains. …There currently isn’t a plan to rollback any tariffs.

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Verso agrees to sell Jay mill as part of $400 million deal

By Lori Valigra
Bangor Daily News in Maine Public
November 12, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: US East, United States

Just three months after saying it planned to invest $120 million into three mills, Verso Corp. said Tuesday that it will sell two of those mills, including the Androscoggin Mill in Jay. The company said it has a definitive agreement to sell the Jay mill and its Stevens Point mill in Wisconsin to Pixelle Specialty Solutions LLC for $400 million. The sale is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2020. The sale, which has been unanimously approved by the company’s board of directors, is subject to approval from the company’s stockholders and certain regulatory and other customary approvals. “We have undergone a thorough and comprehensive strategic process and firmly believe that the sale of these two mills at the agreed-upon terms and conditions is in the best interests of the company and our stockholders,” Gene Davis, co-chairman of the board, said in a statement.

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Wood, Paper & Green Building

UK wood use faces uncertain present but hopeful future

By Warren Frey
The Journal of Commerce
November 11, 2019
Category: Wood, Paper & Green Building
Region: Canada, Canada West

Harbinder Birdi

VANCOUVER – …Hawkins\Brown Architects senior partner Harbinder Birdi hosted a session titled “How Innovation in Timber Construction has Transformed Contemporary British Architecture” at the Wood Solutions Conference in Vancouver. The session looked at how mass timber and other wood technologies are being used to change the face of built forms in the UK. …Birdi said one of the prevailing myths about wood construction in the UK concerns combustibility of materials. …“What’s happened more and more is that developers, regional authorities and commissioning clients are very risk averse when it comes to anything that is flammable since Grenfell. …“But the carbon footprint of concrete is phenomenal, so I think it will take us back a couple of years. …Brexit has created its own shortage with free labour movement to and from the European continent about to end. …“British construction companies are now investing in design for manufacture assembly, essentially factories.

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Forestry

Vimy Ridge oak tree honouring Canadian soldiers could soon be planted on Buckingham Palace grounds

By Patty Winsa
The Toronto Star
November 10, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: Canada, International

An oak tree with Toronto roots could soon be planted at Buckingham Palace as part of a project to memorialize thousands of Canadian soldiers killed in the First World War battle at Vimy Ridge. The tree was grown from acorns sent to Queen Elizabeth II from the Vimy Ridge woodlot in Scarborough, which was planted by Leslie Miller, a Canadian soldier who returned from that war with a collection of acorns picked up from the ravaged battlefield in France. “I thought it would be appropriate to offer a tree to Her Majesty,” says Patricia Sinclair, a Toronto resident and volunteer with the Vimy Ridge Legacy Corporation, which sent the acorns. “It connects those soldiers who went to fight for King and Country.” About 3,600 Canadians were killed, and a total of 11,000 injured, during four days of fighting before the ridge was in Allied hands.

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Mt. Pine Beetle Invasion on the rise in Calgary Region Forests

By Noel Edey
Cochrane Now
November 11, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: Canada, Canada West

The invasive mountain pine beetle population has claimed more than twice as many trees in the Calgary Forest Area than last year. A recent fall survey revealed the wood-boring insect claimed 3,300 trees in 2019 compared to 1,400 in 2018. Mike Undershultz, senior forest entomologist with Alberta Agriculture and Forestry, says they will continue to implement an aggressive attack to minimize their impact upon pine stands. …”The population is increasing a little bit. …”What we’re trying to do on a landscape level is to break down the connectivity of the pines to create more of a mosaic of age classes and those types of kinds of things. So, in the event of a worst-case scenario where beetles come steamrolling over a forest, potentially the damage is not going to be as bad in a situation where we’ve implemented the strategy.”

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How to get more forest fibre in British Columbia

By Jim Hilton
The Williams Lake Tribune
November 10, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: Canada, Canada West

In the Cariboo and many other parts of the province as our forest inventory improved and we realized how much volume was attributed the smaller diameter trees especially pine, the industry evolved to use the so called inferior parts of the forest fibre basket. …As described in a July 1999 government document limited commercial thinning has been undertaken in British Columbia, the majority in the Sayward Forest on Vancouver Island. …A recent article in the logging and sawmilling journal author Jim Stirling provides some interesting background on commercial thinning potential in this province. …“Although unusual circumstances have combined to create the necessity of interest in commercial thinning techniques, they may well prove to have an accepted role in forest management. …The experience with thinning systems in Scandinavia and other European countries with forest industries can only help Canadian forest companies. 

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New fuel break surrounding Mount Baldy community complete

The Osoyoos Times
November 11, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: Canada, Canada West

With funding from the Forest Enhancement Society of B.C., the Mount Baldy community is now protected by a 350-metre-wide fuel break, surrounding Baldy Mountain Resort, the community, and the resort’s future sub-divisions. The last wildfire moved through the area in the 1930s and since that time, a stand of dense fire-prone trees has grown back. The over $279,000 in funding from FESBC was critical in protecting the community from future wildfires, the resort stated. …The goal was to thin trees in a patchy distribution to form islands of trees and avoid clearcutting the area, a project fully supported by the provincial government’s Mountain Resorts Branch. The harvesting work covered 90 hectares on the southern perimeter of the resort and was completed by Gorman Bros. Lumber Ltd., Lusted Logging, and Mike Closs Logging.

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‘You’re sitting on a jewel, Revelstoke’: Wilderness society proposes new park

By Liam Harrap
Pentiction Western News
November 9, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: Canada, Canada West

A non-profit society is proposing a new provincial park north of Revelstoke. The 8,408 hectare Rainbow-Jordan Wilderness encompasses significant tracts of ancient inland rain forest. “It’s an unknown wilderness area,” said Amber Peters, biologist with the Valhalla Wilderness Society in New Denver, B.C. Peters gave a talk earlier this month at the Community Centre in Revelstoke about the proposal. …According to Parks Canada, B.C. has the world’s only temperate inland rain forest, all of which is found in the Columbia Mountains. …The society submitted the proposal to the provincial government last spring, along with two others, including the Quesnel Lake Wilderness and the Selkirk Mountain Caribou Park Proposal, which is a 156,461-hectare area on the south end of Glacier National Park.

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Staffed lookout towers are an effective tool for firefighters

By Michael Guerin, public safety and emergency management specialist
Wildfire Today
November 8, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States

Even in our technologically advanced age, most reports of fires are called in by observant folks, often using cellphones. The ubiquity of these devices means an increased ability to detect wildfire more quickly. But a fair portion of California still has poor or no cellular coverage. Utilities that shut down power as a wildfire-prevention measure in fire-danger zones also render cellphones in many areas unusable as cell towers lose power. And as crowded as California can seem, large areas of the state are relatively unpopulated, not dense with residents or hikers who might quickly report a fire. Yet a key firefighting tool that existed in the pre-cellphone era is missing — watchers who were paid to scan the horizon for fires. At one point, there were more than 9,000 lookout towers in the United States, placed atop hills and mountains where individuals — also referred to as lookouts — worked alone each summer to watch for and report fires. 

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Gianforte, forestry officials confront forest management in Missoula

By Madison Doner
NBC Montana
November 8, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

Greg Gianforte & Jim Hubbard

Montana business leaders and forestry officials discussed management of federal forest lands in western Montana at the Missoula Smokejumper Center. U.S. Rep. Greg Gianforte, along with USDA Undersecretary Jim Hubbard, heard from officials on Thursday.  A smokejumper showed Hubbard and Gianforte things like how their gear is made to how they prepare to fight wildfires. They also talked about what can be done to keep our forests alive. “We have a forest health crisis which is affecting wildlife, it’s affecting conservation, it’s affecting our communities,” said Gianforte. Loggers, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and timber community leaders told Gianforte that Montana’s forests need to be more actively managed to protect what forest we have left. …Hubbard says the forest is overgrown and is at the age where it needs to regenerate, but that’s not the only concern.

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Forest health is a delicate dance of life and death, experts say

By Lex Talamo
Yakima Herald Republic
November 10, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

On state-owned land in the Elk View timber sale, an area about 12 miles northwest of Naches, a cluster of pines stands together on the edge of a dirt road.  …To elk hunters or hikers who frequent the serpentine, gravel roads leading through the forest off State Route 410 and Nile Road, the densely packed trees might offer cover or a beautiful contrast to the swaths of meadow interspersed with the trees.But to Chris Brandon and Brendan Cockrum, foresters with the Washington State Department of Natural Resources, the close-knit trees portend disaster. Limited nutrients in the soil dispersed to the dense trees yield weaker adult trees that are more susceptible to insect infestation, disease and, ultimately, death. Trees also become more susceptible to “ladder” fires — wildfires that start on the ground, travel up a tree, then spread to that tree’s neighbors.

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Oregon among world’s fastest tree growing areas

By Oregon Employment Department
Oregon Natural Resources Report
November 11, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

Oregon is one of the world’s great tree-growing areas. The state’s soils and climate provide ideal conditions to grow such commercially viable species as Douglas fir and ponderosa pine. Forests cover more than 30 million of Oregon’s 62 million acres – almost half of the state’s landmass.  Firms in the forestry and logging sector grow and harvest timber on a long production cycle, generally of 10 years or more. Timber production requires natural forests or suitably large areas of land that are available long term. Oregon’s often mountainous and remote terrain, in both public and private ownership, provides that land base. … According to the Oregon Employment Department’s covered employment statistics, the subsector’s 755 firms employed 9,009 people statewide and added $546 million in payroll to Oregon’s economy in 2018. Employment was in slow decline between 2005 and 2009 and has since leveled off. It is currently varying seasonally in a band between 8,000 and 10,000 jobs. 

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‘We depend on the Tongass’: Alaskans fight to save US’s largest national forest

By Nina Lakhani
The Guardian
November 12, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

Tribal leaders, fishermen and environmentalists from Alaska will testify before Congress on Wednesday in a bid to save America’s biggest national forest – the latest battle against the Trump administration’s assault on environmental protections.  The Tongass national forest, one of the world’s last intact temperate rainforests which plays a crucial role in fighting the climate crisis, is under threat of logging as Alaska seeks exemption from the Roadless Rule, which protects millions of acres of pristine forests across the US. …The Roadless Rule prevents mass clearcutting of trees in undeveloped forested areas and is seen as one of the most broadly supported environmental protections in the US. …Wednesday’s hearing by the Natural Resources Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Land (NPFPL) will hear evidence on the potentially devastating consequences for the Tongass and its people.

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California has 33 million acres of forest. This company is training artificial intelligence to scour it all for wildfire

By Peter Holley
The Washington Post
November 6, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

Multiple factors often align to make California wildfires unusually hard to contain: hurricane-force winds that sweep toward the coastline, steep and often rough terrain, drought conditions exacerbated by climate change and finite resources spread thin by a vast landscape covered in wilderness. …California has 33 million acres of forest, far too much land for state agencies to monitor simultaneously. By the time reports of fires reach authorities and resources are mobilized, many hours, and sometimes days, can pass. …A San Francisco-based technology company called Chooch AI is trying to narrow that gap with the help of artificial intelligence, reducing the time between a fire’s eruption and the moment it’s spotted by people. The company, which is working with state agencies, researchers and technologists, is working to develop an AI tool that would scour hyper-detailed imagery from satellites for evidence of wildfires largely invisible to the naked eye. 

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Voters could be asked to decide future of Oregon’s forestry practices

By Sam Stites
Capital Press
November 10, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

SALEM — A political fight over how Oregon manages its forests and timber activity could resolved by voters next fall. Two separate sets of ballot initiatives with contrary views of forestry in Oregon have been filed with the state Elections Division. One side seeks to insulate current practices from change and the other aims to create new regulations that prohibit certain techniques they feel are harmful to the environment and Oregonians. This week, Jim James and his fellow chief petitioners filed initiatives they’re calling the “Health Forests and Wildfire Reduction Plan.” They would keep the regulation of forest and timber practices on all state and privately owned lands in the hands of professional foresters, scientists and the Oregon Board of Forestry. The plan would require the state Forestry Department to report new forestry regulations to the state board for review.

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Salvage logging approved near Seeley Lake

By Eve Byron
The Missoulian
November 8, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

The Seeley Lake Ranger District plans to move forward with a second salvage sale for trees on lands burned during the 2017 Liberty fire.Initial salvage harvests took place on 186 acres shortly after the fire was contained. The new project, called Liberty II Fire Salvage, targets insect-infested trees, but also will remove dead, dying and diseased trees on 484 additional acres about 13 miles southwest of Seeley Lake. Existing roads will be used to access the timber, with the work taking place in winter when the ground is frozen. District Ranger Quinn Carver said he expects the work will begin in December and wrap up within a year. …“This decision reflects an important step forward on the Seeley Lake Ranger District as we continue to address and respond to the impacts of the 2017 fire season,” Carver said.

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Timber interests propose three pro-logging ballot measures

By Ted Sickinger
The Oregonian
November 8, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

A group of retired foresters backed by the timber industry filed three initiative petitions this week looking to counter what they say are “radical anti-forestry ballot initiatives being pursued by environmental extremists.” The measures would give Oregon counties and the wood products industry more control over how members of the state Board of Forestry are selected. They would amend the state constitution, requiring the state to fully compensate woodland owners for any new regulations that eliminate their ability to log, such as expanded no-touch stream buffers. And they would require that the forestry board use “non-biased” and “peer reviewed science” to come up with consensus-based policies.  Jim James, a forestry consultant and executive director of the Oregon Small Woodlands Association, is one of the chief petitioners. He said he was not acting on behalf of the association, though it is mentioned in the initiative petitions. 

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The Victorian Government’s killing off one of the state’s oldest industries — but was it close to death anyway?

By Richard Willingham
ABC News, Australia
November 9, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: International

Mick McKinnell made a lot of money chopping down trees, but the former Healesville logger saw the writing on the wall two years ago and swung the axe. “There is no economic forest left out there that can have a financial benefit, so we just walked,” he told the ABC. …Warnings have existed for years that native timber logging for hardwood trees is in dire straits, and this week Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews took the bold political step to ban native timber logging by 2030. Andrews is not the first Premier to be pressured to act on forestry, and he was under the pump to move last term. …Under the Premier’s plan, the amount of wood made available for the chop will drop by 25 per cent in 2025, with another 25 per cent over the next four years.

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LIDAR technology leads Brazilian team to 30 story tall Amazon tree

By Jenny Gonzales
Mongabay.com
November 11, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: International

A combination of scientific curiosity and chance has led a research team that was creating a detailed forest biomass map of the Brazilian Amazon to a unique discovery: a tall tree for the record books. An individual red angelim (Dinizia excelsa Ducke), discovered in a remote area on the border of Pará and Amapá states, is 88.5 meters (more than 290 feet) tall — the equivalent of a 30 story building. It is the tallest canopy tree ever found in the region, which averages tree heights of 45 meters (147 feet). The discovery, news of which was first published this August in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, occurred while INPE (the National Institute for Space Research) was working on the map — meant to improve Amazon biomass estimation methods, and to enhance carbon emission estimation models due to land use change.

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Victorian Government forestry announcement a “kick in guts for timber workers and timber

By the Construction Forestry Maritime Mining and Energy Union
Mirage News
November 9, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: International

The Victorian Government’s plan to end native forestry has been slammed as a kick in the guts to Victorian timber workers and the communities which rely on the industry. The Construction Forestry Maritime Mining and Energy Union said that while no one denied the industry faced challenges, the Government’s response was deeply flawed, completely inadequate, and far from being a viable or fair transition plan. “This is not the way to respond to an industry facing challenges,” Construction Forestry Maritime Mining and Energy Union National Secretary Michael O’Connor said. “This announcement isn’t a viable plan for the future, it’s an embarrassing, motley, half-baked, rag-tagged, mishmash of talking points.  “It is a stupid, heartless decision that is out of character for a Government that had built a reputation of supporting blue-collar jobs and regional communities.

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Forest Fires

Forestry minister says cutting firefighting rappel program not a ‘risky roll of the dice’

CBC News
November 8, 2019
Category: Forest Fires
Region: Canada, Canada West

Alberta’s forestry minister is defending his decision to cut a wildfire fighting program, saying it’s “not a risky roll of the dice” because the province has a better alternative.  For 36 years, Alberta’s Helitack-Rappel, or RAP program, has enabled firefighters to rappel from helicopters to fight forest fires. The UCP government has decided to slash the 63-person program, garnering an annual savings of $1.4 million, but also drawing hot criticism from firefighters and the NDP Opposition. But Agriculture and Forestry Minister Devin Dreeshen said the decision is not just about cutting costs; it’s about effectiveness.  “This is management and wildfire experts that are actually saying there’s better, more efficient ways to fight fires,” Dreeshen told the Calgary Eyeopener. “We’re using an alternative team that will actually go out and do that similar type of work that they were doing,” he said. 

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Fire management in southwestern Oregon

By Rich Fairbanks, former USFS Fire Sevice employee
Mail Tribune
November 10, 2019
Category: Forest Fires
Region: United States, US West

The following is a proposal for changes in how we deal with fire in southwestern Oregon. Stop reacting to wildfire ignitions and take the initiative to actively manage fire. Fuel treatments must greatly increase. Controlled burn, chip, masticate, thin-pile-burn, all of it. Staff both fire suppression and fuels treatment with well-trained, well-paid crews, with meteorologists and other specialists. Burn understories in mixed conifer forests. It has worked for millennia. Do it on days when unstable atmospheric conditions lift the smoke away. Do it in strategic locations that will actually meet wildfire where it is most likely to occur. Do it to restore forest resilience. But do it. Zoning must be based on science. Building codes must be based on science. Funding for fire research must be stable and plentiful. We need answers.

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Australian state declares emergency due to wildfires

By rod McGuirk
The Associated Press in CTV News
November 11, 2019
Category: Forest Fires
Region: International

CANBERRA, Australia — Australia’s most populous state declared a state of emergency on Monday due to unprecedented wildfire danger as calls grew for Australia to take more action to counter climate change. New South Wales state Emergency Services Minister David Elliott said residents were facing what “could be the most dangerous bushfire week this nation has ever seen.” Fires in the state’s northeast have claimed three lives, destroyed more than 150 homes and razed more than 1 million hectares (3,800 square miles) of forest and farmland since Friday. Doctors and paramedics have treated more than 100 people for fire-related injuries, including 20 firefighters, Ambulance Commissioner Dominic Morgan said. …The annual Australian fire season, which peaks during the Southern Hemisphere summer, has started early after an unusually warm and dry winter. 

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