Tree Frog Forestry News

Daily Archives: November 27, 2019

Today’s Takeaway

CN Rail settles, lumber prices are up, US housing remains strong

The Tree Frog Forestry News
November 27, 2019
Category: Today's Takeaway

Although the negative impacts will linger, encouraging news on CN Rail’s work stoppage; US GDP, new home sales and softwood lumber prices. In other Business news: Western Canadian Timber Products lays off 50; communities grapple with lack of progress on Western Forest Products’ strike; idled Canfor workers are now eligible for assistance; and Northern Pulp’s effluent report is panned for lack of details.

In other news: a BC Supreme Court judge rejects ENGO petition against BC Timber Sales; Oregon’s recent forestry court ruling could devastate the state’s budget; and how the US-China trade war works against sustainable forest management.

Finally, wind turbine towers built with timber rather than steel.

Kelly McCloskey, Tree Frog Editor

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Business & Politics

CN strike is over, but experts warn supply chain could be off-track for weeks

By Rachael D’Amore
Global News
November 26, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada

The strike at Canada’s largest rail network may be over, but it will take days or weeks before the supply chain gets back on track. CN Rail and the union representing workers reached a tentative agreement on Tuesday, one week after failed negotiations sent more than 3,000 employees to picket lines. Normal operations at CN Rail are set to resume Wednesday morning, but for industries impacted by the week-long halt, it’s not that easy …The forest industry did not go unscathed. There are days to go before normal processes resume, but the loss is already being felt, said Joel Neuheimer, vice-president of transportation for FPAC. “Tens of millions have been lost across our sector, and that’s just the forest sector in Canada. … On top of that, you’ve got all the harm it does to our reputation for not being able to get our markets to the global marketplace in a timely fashion.”

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Conifex Lenders Approve Restructuring Plan

Conifex Timber Inc.
November 25, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

Vancouver, BC – Conifex Timber Inc. announced today that the Agent for its lumber segment lenders approved in principle Conifex’s proposed asset divestment and restructuring plan. The plan also provides additional credit support to Conifex to fund operations while it implements its asset divestiture plan. Pursuant to the plan, Conifex will consider certain asset divestitures, as well as certain alternative options, to repay (in whole or part) its lumber segment credit facility. The plan also defers loan repayments until February 1, 2020 and provides a temporary financing of US$3.0 million. Conifex continues to work collaboratively with its lenders and is pleased to have their continued support. The plan is subject to completion of definitive documentation, which Conifex is working to finalize shortly.

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‘The uncertainty is the hardest part’ says striking Western Forest Products union worker

By Cole Schisler
The Ladysmith Chemainus Chronicle
November 27, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

The ongoing labour dispute between Western Forest Products, (WFP) and United Steelworkers Local 1-1937, (USW) is nearing the six month mark, and there is no indication of an impending agreement. …For workers on strike like Craig Rowlinson, there is no certainty. “I think eventually something will happen, but my concern now is I don’t have enough information on what’s happening. We went on strike for the pension, contracting issues, shift differential, and all that. There’s not enough information out there now besides the letter Western set out, and the union’s rebuttal,” Rowlinson said.“The uncertainty is the hardest part. …Rowlinson has worked in the logging industry for 25 years. He’s been on strike before, but says this one is more prolonged than others.

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Stumpage rates result in job losses for 50 Fraser Valley employees

BC Local News
November 26, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

B.C.’s forestry industry crisis has hit the Fraser Valley, with Western Canadian Timber Products Ltd. laying off 50 employees last week. According to VP Don Banasky, the Harrison Mills company laid off 50 employees — including those who worked in mechanics, welding, purchasing and logging labour positions — as well as four hauling contractors and a four-man yarder on Friday. …Company president Brian Dorman said the lay offs were a result of high stumpage rates to the provincial government and poor log sale prices. …“In today’s market, we need stumpage rates to be $5 per cubic metre, not $50 per cubic metre.” …Banasky said the company has been in conversations with the provincial government about stumpage fees, but hasn’t seen movement from the government. …”The time for action is now.”

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B.C. budget surplus projection continues to shrink

By Rob Shaw
Vancouver Sun
November 26, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

Carole James

VICTORIA — B.C.’s finance minister continues to hang to a shrinking budgetary surplus amid slumping retail sales, a collapsing forestry sector and worsening losses at the Insurance Corporation of B.C. …Nonetheless, James promised to hold course on her plans to balance the books by looking for more savings within ICBC and continuing cutbacks to discretionary spending within government. …Opposition Liberal critic Shirley Bond said the NDP continues to be reliant on taxes to keep its budget balanced while economic growth slows. …But several months of forestry mill closures, and almost 4,000 jobs lost in the sector, have hit the budget in the form of an 11-per-cent drop in forestry revenue worth $133 million. James said she’s “concerned” at the downturn.

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Millworkers now eligible for employment assistance

By Rod Link
Houston Today
November 27, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

Canfor workers here idled on Fridays when the sawmill isn’t operating can now begin collecting federal employment insurance benefits for the day they aren’t on the job. Canfor submitted its application for the program earlier this fall but only received word this month that benefits would be paid effective Nov. 17, company official Michelle Ward says. Employees could opt out if they wished with a deadline for that also being Nov. 17, she added. …And should Canfor take further action to temporarily close the two mills, eligible employees can collect EI benefiits on those days operations are curtailed. …In the meantime, employees eligible for another program, a provincial government one that provides money for those who wish early retirement, are starting to file applications. It’s meant to bridge the time from retiring early until normal pension payments begin.

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5,000 forestry workers on coast now off the job

By Andrew Duffy
The Times-Colonist
November 26, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

The Island’s forest industry has effectively been shut down with news this week that Mosaic Forest Management has curtailed harvesting operations. The company, which manages the forests for TimberWest and Island Timberlands, said as many as 2,000 forest contractors have been idled weeks earlier than usual due to market conditions. …The winter shutdown happens every year, though generally it doesn’t come for another few weeks. This year the shutdown started Nov. 25, which means some contractors will have wrapped up their work by the end of this week. Others may take another week or so. Contractors involved in the planning and silviculture side of the operations may continue working. …With Mosaic’s curtailment there are now 5,000 forestry workers out of work on the coast. Nearly 3,000 Western Forest Products employees …have been on strike since July 1. …No schedule of new talks has been announced.

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‘It’s heartbreaking’: Vancouver Island communities grapple with logging strike fallout

By Simon Little
Global News
November 26, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

Residents of northern Vancouver Island are urging both sides of a long-running forestry labour dispute to get back to bargaining, warning that their communities risk being hollowed out if it drags on. …Mediators Vince Ready and Amanda Rogers have been trying to break the impasse between the company and United Steelworkers Local 1-1937, but talks broke off last Monday. …Port McNeill Mayor Gaby Wickstrom has written an open letter to the lead negotiators of both sides urging them begin negotiating again. Wickstrom said her community of 2,400 is deeply reliant on the industry, and the five-month-old dispute is having massive knock-on effects for other businesses, from restaurants to mechanics. …She said some residents have begun to put their homes up for sale, while others have sought work on the South Island or in the Northern B.C. resource industries.

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Canfor to curtail sawmill operations to close out dismal 2019 for forestry sector

By Derrick Penner
Vancouver Sun
November 26, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

Canfor Corp. will shut down its sawmill operations for two weeks starting Dec. 23, making it the second B.C. lumber company to announce it is putting workers on downtime to close out the year. “The curtailments are not a reflection on our hard-working employees or contractors,” said Stephen Mackie, Canfor’s senior vice-president for Canadian operations. “We appreciate all of their efforts and continued commitment to safety during these difficult times,” Mackie said, although 2,100 employees will lose work over the period as 10 mills are shut down for two weeks. …Canfor’s Mackenzie sawmill remains on an indefinite hiatus, and the company permanently closed its Vavenby sawmill, near Clearwater, putting 172 employees out of work. …Canfor’s announcement follows Tolko Industries’ announcement on Nov. 15 that it will shut down its operations from Dec. 21 to Jan. 6 to trim its output by 21 million board feet of lumber and 10 million square feet of construction panelling.

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Queens County mill owners donate $30K for firefighting equipment

By Paul Palmeter
CBC News
November 26, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada East, Canada

Greenfield in Queens County is about as rural as you get in Nova Scotia… the biggest employer in the community is the lumber mill Harry Freeman and Son Ltd. On Monday night, the owners of the mill made a significant contribution to the local fire department, donating $30,000 worth of new bunker gear. …The Freeman lumber mill is one of the oldest family-run sawmill businesses in North America. The Freeman family established their first sawmill in Greenfield in 1832, when the village was first settled. …But through the years there have been fires and other disasters that have had devastating impacts on the operations. Each time it was rebuilt and today it has 150 employees. …Many of the Greenfield firefighters work at the mill.

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Controlled burns at Kenora Forest Products

By Ryan Forbes
Kenora Online
November 26, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada East, Canada

Residents are advised that controlled burning of wood debris will be taking place this week at Kenora Forest Products. …Production at the sawmill is still idle, as it has been since September. Over 100 KFP staff are temporarily laid off due to market conditions, and there is no estimate for how long the layoffs may last. The company cited the 20.23 per cent duty deposit imposed by the American government as an important factor for the shutdown, since the U.S. is where 95 per cent of the sawmill’s shipments are headed. …The sawmill restarted in 2016 after an eight-year shutdown. Prendiville Industries invested $30 million in the operation to restart production.

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Nova Scotia pulp mill’s effluent focus report lacks detail: federal departments

By Keith Doucette
The Canadian Press in CTV News
November 27, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada East, Canada

HALIFAX — Nova Scotia’s premier declined comment Tuesday after federal input on a plan to pump millions of litres of treated wastewater from a pulp mill into the Northumberland Strait was made public. …Provincial Environment Minister Gordon Wilson is to make a final decision on the new treatment plant by Dec. 17 following a review of the mill’s so-called focus report. …In documents obtained… the departments were largely critical of the focus report, saying it lacked necessary information and noting the province’s 36-day comment period was not long enough for a detailed analysis of its more than 2,000-pages. …Officials also pointed out that there appeared to be an “underlying assumption” that potential leaks in the buried marine portions of the pipeline are not an issue. …Meanwhile, Health Canada said it didn’t have adequate information to assess whether the project “may pose unacceptable or un-mitigatable risks/adverse effects to human health.”

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Failing forestry: With $1 billion timber lawsuit, not all 14 counties are big winners

By Ted Sickinger
The Oregonian
November 26, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: United States, US West

When a jury in Linn County determined last week that the state had breached its contract with 13 rural counties by failing to maximize logging revenues on state land, the damage award was breathtaking. $1,065,919,400. The state plans to appeal — to the Supreme Court if necessary. …But the clock is ticking on the largest-ever legal award against the state of Oregon. The judgement, when filed, will accrue interest at 9% annually, adding an additional $96 million a year to the tab while its out on appeal. And if the state loses its appeal? …“The ramifications to the state’s budget could conceivably be catastrophic,” said Sen. Betsy Johnson. …Bottom line, if the verdict is upheld, the obligation falls to Oregon taxpayers. …Effectively, that makes it a transfer from Oregon’s populous urban counties to its timber-dependent rural communities.

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Louisiana Pacific job cuts planned in 2020

By June Hubbard
The Wilkes Journal-Patriot
November 27, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: US East, United States

Plans of Louisiana Pacific to gradually shift production at its Roaring River facility from one type of exterior siding to pre-finishing another type will result in a loss of jobs there, said Mark Morrison, LP director of corporate affairs. …The exact timing of the production adjustments, as well as the timing and number of jobs cut in 2020, haven’t been determined. …Morrison said the job reductions would come as LP transitions from making LP SmartSide fiber-based siding to prefinishing and painting LP SmartSide strand-based siding. …On Oct. 8, LP announced the addition of prefinishing capabilities at the Roaring River facility and acquisition of BlueLinx’s prefinishing assets near St. Louis. LP acquired Prefinished Staining Product Inc., a prefinished siding company in Green Bay, Wis., in early June.

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Finance & Economics

US new home sales fall in October; September revised higher

Reuters in CNBC
November 26, 2019
Category: Finance & Economics
Region: Canada, United States

Sales of new U.S. single-family homes unexpectedly fell in October following recent strong gains, but the overall housing market remains supported by lower mortgage rates. The Commerce Department said new home sales dropped 0.7% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 733,000 units last month, held down by decreases in activity in the South and Northeast regions. September’s sales pace was revised higher to 738,000 units, the highest since July 2007, from the previously reported 701,000 units.

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Softwood lumber prices moderate up

Lesprom Network
November 26, 2019
Category: Finance & Economics
Region: Canada, United States

The work stoppage on CN Rail ended… which was soon enough to avoid truly negative impact on Canada’s forest industry. …Most standard construction framing dimension softwood lumber prices are now higher than last month and one year ago, while specialty lumber items remain lower than one year ago. …Still flat from the previous week, the price of benchmark lumber commodity Western Spruce-Pine-Fir KD 2×4 #2&Btr was again last week $396 mfbm. Closing the gap compared to October, last week’s price is +$18, or +5%, more than it was one month ago. 

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U.S. third-quarter GDP growth revised up to 2.1%

Reuters
November 27, 2019
Category: Finance & Economics
Region: United States

US economic growth picked up slightly in the third quarter, rather than slowing as initially reported. …Gross domestic product increased at a 2.1% annualized rate, the Commerce Department said… up from the 1.9% pace estimated last month. The economy grew at a 2.0% pace in the April-June period. …Growth has slowed from the 3.1% rate notched in the first three months of the year. But the risks of a recession in the near term have subsided as the housing market has rebounded from last year’s soft patch, driven by lower mortgage rates.

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Wood, Paper & Green Building

The Farmhouse: A New Vision for Sustainable Wooden Architecture of the Future

By Stephanie Dornob
Yahoo News
November 26, 2019
Category: Wood, Paper & Green Building
Region: International

Many common construction materials have a huge negative impact on the environment.  …That’s why more and more architects are choosing to work with sustainably grown and harvested wood, even for tall buildings. …Recent advancements in manufacturing and engineering have produced mass timber that performs just as well (or better) than steel or concrete, and successful fire tests have alleviated concerns about combustibility. In response, many cities around the world are changing their building codes to allow for super tall timber buildings. …For “The Farmhouse,” Studio Precht developed a modular system “that investigates the connection of people with their food and creates a building that connects architecture with agriculture.” …The prefabricated A-frame housing modules that form the core of the design combine living spaces with farming so residents can grow food for their own personal use, or to share with neighbors and the community. 

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Swedish company is building wind turbine towers out of timber

By Lloyd Alter
Treehugger
November 26, 2019
Category: Wood, Paper & Green Building
Region: International

It seems that you can build just about anything out of wood. While researching the carbon footprint of steel production for a lecture recently, I came across the line “it takes 200 tons of steel to make a wind turbine” – a justification for steel being green. …To which Swedish company Modvion says, Oh yeah? We can build a wind turbine tower out of wood. There are actually many advantages to this. Not only does it avoid the carbon footprint of making all that steel, but because it is transported in sections rather than as complete tubes, it is not limited in diameter for transport like steel tubes are. …Because wood is lighter than steel, they can lift bigger sections. “Conventional steel tower constructions get dramatically more expensive with height due to the increasing need for thicker walls.”

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Forestry

Court rejects ELF petition against Clack Creek logging

By Sean Eckford
The Coast Reporter
November 26, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: Canada, Canada West

A BC Supreme Court judge has rejected Elphinstone Logging Focus’s (ELF) petition against the sale of cutting rights in an area known as the Clack Creek Forest. …In a decision handed down Nov. 22, Supreme Court Justice Robert Punnett said the local BCTS manager overseeing the cutblock auction “was alive to the issues and matters to be considered” and acted properly. …Punnett said of the argument that the decision to auction cutblocks in the area is inconsistent with the ongoing Modernized Land Use Planning (MLUP) process with the shíshálh Nation… is not supported in law or principle… Significantly the Chief and Council of the shíshálh Nation have confirmed their support for the harvesting.” …Punnett also ruled that BCTS has adequately addressed the issue of species at risk, in part by engineering the cutblock in two sections.

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How the Trade War is Hurting the U.S. Lumber Industry and Forests Around the World

By Charlie Campbell
Time Magazine
November 26, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, International

…The ongoing trade war between Washington and Beijing has roiled markets and upset supply chains the world over, including those of the U.S. hardwood industry, whose primary export destination is China. A sudden increase of tariffs has caused U.S. hardwood exports to China. …American hardwood exports to China have dropped by almost a third since the trade war began. …But there is another silent victim of the escalating dispute: the world’s forests. The U.S. logging industry is built upon sustainable practices and actually benefits forest health, since skilled loggers only fell trees that have reached their peak of maturity. …The uncertainty keeps China looking elsewhere for their hardwood needs. China’s own forests have long been decimated. …While American forests are, on the whole, carefully managed, those of Russia, Southeast Asia and Central Africa enjoy few protections and are blighted by indiscriminate logging.

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In the Sierra, scientists bet on ‘survivor’ trees to withstand drought and climate change

By Tony Barboza
Phys.org
November 26, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

The sugar pine, with its foot-long cones used to be one of the most common trees standing guard over Lake Tahoe’s clear waters. But drought, bark beetles and climate change have ravaged this beloved conifer, whose population was already diminished by logging, development and other human activities. …”You had literally side-by-side sugar pines, one alive, one dead,” said University of California, Davis forest biologist Patricia Maloney. But it’s not the dead trees that interested Maloney. It was the survivors. She wanted to know how they managed to stay healthy and green despite experiencing the same parched conditions that killed their neighbors. …Maloney calls her push to replant Tahoe’s forests with the progeny of local drought survivors “assisted regeneration.” …Adding to their advantages, about one-quarter of the trees Maloney is planting carry a gene resistant to white pine blister rust, a much higher rate than occurs naturally.

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Oregon State University working to mitigate wildfire risks

By Kym Pokorny
Cannon Beach Gazette
November 27, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

In a time of increasing wildfire activity, the Oregon State University Extension Service has implemented a new statewide fire program to help facilitate forest and range management plans. The program, led by the OSU Forestry and 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. Over the last year, advances in the fire program have assisted in Lake and Klamath counties, where OSU Extension is working to create consistent land management plans for private landowners, according to Carrie Berger, an associate leader for the Forestry and Natural Resources Extension Program.

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Judge says O&C lands in monument can be cut

By Mark Freeman
Mail Tribune
November 26, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

A federal judge has ruled that almost 40,000 acres federal land permanently set aside for logging are illegally managed within the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument and must remain in timber production. In a reversal of other recent case law, Judge Richard Leon of U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia ruled that Congress’s intention to allow logging on federal O&C Act lands trumps President Barack Obama’s use of the Antiquities Act to expand the monument on lands east of Ashland just before he left office in 2017. Obama’s proclamation extended the monument to 113,013 acres of Bureau of Land Management lands where no commercial logging is allowed. But Leon’s ruling states a president’s proclamation does not override the Congressional mandate that O&C lands be managed for permanent forest production under a sustained-yield principle that logging volumes can continue in perpetuity.

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University of Tennessee AgResearch and The Nature Conservancy to partner on working woodlands

By University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture
EurekAlert!
November 26, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: US East, United States

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture (UTIA) and The Nature Conservancy (TNC) have signed a historic agreement to manage the university’s forested research properties under the highest standards for forest management while also selling carbon credits to benefit society and fight climate change. UTIA is the first academic institution to enroll in TNC’s Working Woodlands Program, which was established in 2009 to engage landowners in securing and sustainably managing their forestlands to benefit the environment and local livelihoods. This also represents the first time a university forest will have a registered carbon offset project. Through Working Woodlands, the UT Forest Resources AgResearch and Education Center will work to achieve Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification for 11,400 acres of forested properties that spread across four counties.

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