Tree Frog Forestry News

Region Archives: United States

Froggy Foibles

Food and building materials merge with Perdue’s wood composite chicken nuggets

By Lloyd Alter
Treehugger
January 21, 2019
Category: Froggy Foibles
Region: United States

We have been saying for years that building materials should be healthy and high fiber like the food we eat, and now Perdue delivers. Perdue became the first national brand of chicken …We were just writing last week that building materials should be almost edible, that they should be natural and high fiber. And now Perdue has introduced an organic, gluten-free chicken nugget with wood as an ingredient. This could be the start of a new trend: truly edible building materials. Alas, Perdue may have jumped the gun on releasing this product, because the USDA has demanded a recall all 68,244 pounds of the nuggets. …The serious thing about this is that we really should think of our building materials the way we do about food. Years ago… I wrote Why Plastic Foam Insulation Is Like a Twinkie: Lessons Green Builders Can Learn From Michael Pollan and I modified the appropriate food rules and applied them to building materials. It is more relevant than ever.

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Business & Politics

Four dividend-paying timber companies that could help in fight against climate change

By Hugh Smith, CFA, MBA
The Globe and Mail
January 15, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, United States

WHAT ARE WE LOOKING FOR? North American timber companies that could benefit from an increased demand from the building industry for their products. Last month, officials from almost 200 countries gathered in Poland to mark the third anniversary of the Paris Agreement and discuss how they were going to keep their promise of holding climate change this century to well below 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels. …Perhaps counterintuitively, the way to a greener future might be wood. …We use the Thomson Reuters Business Classification to consider North American companies in the forest and wood products industry that could benefit from a boost in demand for their products. …The United States has more timber companies than Canada, but three of the four companies that pass this screen are Canadian. …Four timber companies that could help fight against climate change: Acadian Timber Corp., Norbord Inc., Western Forest Products Inc., and Louisiana-Pacific Corp. [Full story available to Globe and Mail subscribers only]

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How the shutdown is jeopardizing housing for rural Americans

By Suzy Khimm and Laura Strickler
NBC News
January 16, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: United States

Scott and La Tysha Mitchell couldn’t find a house they could afford to buy, so they decided to build one with their bare hands in rural Utah, using a loan from the Department of Agriculture. …The Mitchells are working with Self-Help Homes, a Utah-based nonprofit that pays for construction materials and subcontractors on their behalf, with the expectation that the USDA will reimburse that money through the federal loan of about $324,000 that the couple has taken out. …The Mitchells are among the hundreds of thousands of families in rural America whose homes and prospective homes are being threatened by the closure of the USDA. 

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Slowing wood demand reduces global trade of lumber

By Henry Carmichael
FreightWaves
January 15, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: United States

The market for lumber slowed considerably in the second half of 2018 as the Chinese economy lost momentum and trade disputes with the U.S. persisted. The United States has cultivated a strong export market for lumber products in China. Prior to the escalating trade war, the American Hardwood Export Council stated that the growth of the Chinese market would be “unlike anything ever encountered in this industry.” The Council predicted that in the near future 60 percent of American hardwood goods will be exported from the U.S., with 54 percent of exports bound for China. …Producers of southern yellow pine exported 41 percent more to China in 2017 than they did in 2016. But softwoods weren’t alone in the rebound. The import value of U.S. hardwood products to China reached a record high of $323 million in 2017. …While Canada supplied 95 percent of U.S. lumber imports in 2016, that percentage declined to 91 percent in 2018.

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Walden frustrated by feds’ response

By Damian Mann
Oregon Mail Tribune
January 18, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: United States, US West

Greg Walden

U.S. Rep. Greg Walden on Friday blasted the federal response to wildfires that have devastated the Southern Oregon economy, jeopardized local health and prompted an outcry from residents over what they believe is a “let-it-burn” philosophy.“I don’t know if there’s a policy like that, but I hear it enough,” Walden said to about 400 people at a town hall. “They’ve got to get on them quicker.” Walden endorsed the Oregon Department of Forestry’s record for quick fire response. He noted that although an equal number of Oregon fires in 2017 started on federal and state land, 95 percent of the total acreage burned was on federal land. He said he’s had talks with federal forest officials about adopting similar policies to Oregon’s. Federal officials also spend more effort putting out fires and less effort thinning forests, which would reduce the wildfire danger in the summer, Walden said.

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Oregon Department of Forestry names Lena Tucker as Deputy State Forester

By Chas Hundley
Banks Post
January 17, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: United States, US West

Lena Tucker

Salem – The Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) has selected Lena Tucker to be the next Deputy State Forester, following Nancy Hirsch, who retired from her position in December. Tucker will serve as the Deputy Director for Operations, overseeing the department’s operating programs in fire protection, private forests, and state forests. “I am very excited to work with Lena in her new role. She has a proven record of leadership within the department and at the local and national levels,” said State Forester Peter Daugherty. Tucker has worked for ODF since 1994, and has worked in all of the department’s program areas throughout her 25 year career with ODF. Most recently, she served as the department’s Private Forests Division Chief, working with private forestland owners to implement the Oregon Forest Practices Act, work on forest health, and provided technical assistance programs, along with working on the Urban and Community Forestry Program.

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Donegal Township sawmill tour highlights changing lumber industry

By Jacob Tierney
The Tribune-Review
January 19, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: US East, United States

Pennsylvania — A complex, noisy network of blades and belts turned logs into dowels before a crowd of excited onlookers Saturday. …About 25 people attended the tour of the Ames sawmill in Donegal Township, organized by the Westmoreland Woodlands Improvement Association . Many members… own forests and wood farms. …It started in early 1989 as an effort to educate landowners about sustainable forestry, and give them a way to meet others with similar interests. The mill is a perfect illustration of how the wood business has changed over the years, Cannin said. Some of its equipment is about 100 years old and still going strong, while some is state-of-the-art machinery run by computers. The sawmill was owned by Babcock Lumber until 2014, when Ames took it over. It employs about 42 people.

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Georgia-Pacific Announces Layoffs, Says It Will Stop Printing Office Paper

By Tasnim Shamma
WABE 90.1 FM
January 14, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: US East, United States

The Atlanta-based paper, chemicals, packaging company Georgia-Pacific announced it’s leaving the office paper business. The company laid off more than 650 people at its mill in Hudson Port, Louisiana, and about 40 salespeople in Atlanta on Thursday. Director Robert Izlar leads the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources at the University of Georgia and is the former executive director of the Georgia Forestry Association. “Younger generations, compared to my generation, and I’m a baby boomer, I print everything,” Izlar said. “Maybe they don’t do that. So there’s a decline in demand.” Georgia-Pacific said the printing and writing business was not sustainable and that it will close down the paper operation by mid-March. “People just aren’t using as much office paper anymore,” said Karen Cole, a spokesperson for Georgia-Pacific.

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Wood, Paper & Green Building

New Database Aids Search for Certified Lumber

By Scott Gibson
Green Building Advisor
January 14, 2019
Category: Wood, Paper & Green Building
Region: Canada, United States

Builders and designers seeking lumber certified by the Forest Stewardship Council can now turn to a new database for help in finding specific products and wood species. The FSC Wood Finder allows users to search by the type of product, its availability, and its location in the U.S. and Canada, FSC Communications Director Brad Kahn said in a post at Trim Tab, the website of the International Living Future Institute. Although there are hundreds of companies offering FSC-certified wood products, he said, it’s not always easy for builders to find exactly what they need, especially if they need it right away. …Product types listed in the database include lumber, panels, millwork, engineered wood products, pressure-treated wood, and windows and doors.

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The magenta tiny house is a kitsch interpretation of compact living

Designboom
January 16, 2019
Category: Wood, Paper & Green Building
Region: United States

Promoted as an answer to the affordable housing crisis and a desirable alternative to traditional homes and mortgage, the tiny house movement continues gaining momentum. more than half of americans would consider living in a home that’s less than 600 square feet, according to a survey done by the national association of home builders…. Their latest is the portable magenta tiny house, an unapologetically pink timber structure, constructed atop a flat trailer. The 11ft 2 ‘x 6ft 2’ build comprises of heat-insulated wooden panels on all sides. …The structure took only 3 months to build and cost a total of 11,000 USD including materials and labour. ‘It is a manifesto of temporary independent housing, against debt and mortgages.‘

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Replacement For Crumb Rubber Hits Artificial Turf Market

By Brock USA
Cision Newswire
January 15, 2019
Category: Wood, Paper & Green Building
Region: United States

BOULDER, COLO. — Brock USA, the leading manufacturer of shock pads for artificial turf fields, has released the first affordable and durable organic replacement for crumb rubber infill for artificial turf – aptly named “BrockFILL™.” …Traditionally, the infill has consisted of crumb rubber … and sand, but crumb rubber infill has been the subject of numerous investigations and news articles related to human health and safety as well as environmental concerns. For this reason, companies have tried to find alternatives. The representatives from Brock USA believe they have found the replacement. …BrockFILL™ utilizes a tried and true, safe raw material that has been used by mankind for centuries: wood. BrockFILL™ is an engineered wood particle infill that  outperforms other artificial turf infills  during rigorous  durability, longevity, performance, abrasion, and safety  testing. ..Environmentally, it’s a win-win for the industry. BrockFILL™ is sourced and made in the USA from  sustainable tree farming.

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International Code Council moves to embrace taller mass timber buildings

By Antonio Pacheco
The Architect’s Newspaper
January 11, 2019
Category: Wood, Paper & Green Building
Region: United States

After over two years of testing and several rounds of deliberation, the International Code Council has settled on a batch of modest code changes that will embrace tall timber buildings in the United States. The changes are due to take effect in 2021, after approval from ICC’s Ad Hoc Committee on Tall Wood Buildings in December 2018. …New International Code Council tall timber building standards could streamline the approval of projects that once required extensive testing and review. …The officials conducted research and performed multiple fire tests—including controlled burns of five two-story CLT structures at the National Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives in Baltimore—to back the safety of their proposed changes. …Seattle-based architect and mass timber specialist Susan Jones of atelier jones… “The codes are solid and very conservative, given the performance the material showed.”

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The U.S. mass timber industry is maturing while it branches out

By Sydney Franklin
The Architects Newspaper
January 14, 2019
Category: Wood, Paper & Green Building
Region: United States

…What’s clear is that U.S. demand for wood buildings is there. The country’s largest producer of cross-laminated timber (CLT), SmartLam, has experienced such rapid growth since opening six years ago that it is building a new headquarters in Columbia Falls, Montana, and planning a second facility in Maine to supply what the industry thinks will be an influx of midrise construction in New York and other cities along the Eastern seaboard. “The expansion here is simply driven by need,” said SmartLam CEO Casey Malmquist. “There’s always been a grassroots support for CLT in the U.S. and a recently increased interest in research and testing. But now we’re no longer speculating about whether it will work—it’s going mainstream.” While similar Pacific Northwest companies like DR Johnson and Katerra, as well as firms such as LEVER Architecture and Michael Green Architecture, have long led the field, production is growing in uncharted territories. 

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Integrated design, built environment focus of community presentation

Washington State University
January 16, 2019
Category: Wood, Paper & Green Building
Region: United States, US West

Michael Green

Washington State University’s School of Design and Construction will host a community presentation and panel discussion on integrated design and construction; cross-laminated timber; and the future of architectural design, advanced manufacturing, and construction in the Spokane area. …“This will be an exciting opportunity to bring together key players in the built environment from the community, industry and academia,” said Julia Day, director of WSU’s Integrated Design and Construction Laboratory and an assistant professor in the School of Design and Construction. …Speakers at the event will include internationally recognized cross-laminated timber experts, Michael Green of Michael Green Architects (MGA); Eric Karsh and Robert Malczyk of Equilibrium; and Michael Frank of McKinstry. Both Michael Green Architects and Equilibrium are now part of the Katerra ecosystem.

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Now is the perfect time to make your home fire safe

By Marjorie King
The Siskiyou Daily News
January 16, 2019
Category: Wood, Paper & Green Building
Region: United States, US West

Speakers from CAL FIRE, Siskiyou County Office of Emergency Services, University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, and UC Berkeley Cooperative Extension discussed these questions and gave a preview of new recommendations at a recent workshop organized by the Fire Safe Council of Siskiyou County. “Protecting Your Home and Land from Wildfire: Defensible Space and Construction, to Improve Your Odds of Survival” was a free workshop attended by about 60 people in Yreka. …Windows are vulnerable, especially the glass itself, but the frame can also burn. Multi-pane windows, especially if at least one of the panes is tempered glass, are best. …Decks should have a non-combustible zone around and under them. …Roofs are vulnerable spots, and can be ignited by pine needles, leaves and other flammable debris, even if they have a Class A fire rating… That is why overhanging branches are a hazard – they drop debris on the roof.

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WoodWorks, Chicago Regional Council of Carpenters partner to deliver mass timber installer training

WoodWorks and Chicago Regional Council of Carpenters Apprentice and Training Program
Cision Newswire
January 16, 2019
Category: Wood, Paper & Green Building
Region: US East, United States

WASHINGTON — With growing interest in mass timber and tall wood buildings, WoodWorks – Wood Products Council has partnered with the Chicago Regional Council of Carpenters Apprentice and Training Program to provide mass timber installer training to construction professionals in the Greater Chicago area. Intended to serve as a model for training across the U.S., the program will help ensure the availability of experienced construction professionals to meet increasing demand for buildings made from cross-laminated timber and other mass timber products. Beginning in April 2019, installer training workshops will be offered through the Chicago Regional Council of Carpenters’ Apprentice and Training Program Center in Elk Grove Village, Illinois.

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Why wood construction is making a comeback

By Britt Faulstick
Drexel University News Blog
January 17, 2019
Category: Wood, Paper & Green Building
Region: US East, United States

While it was one of the first and most common materials used to make things… wood has been on the outs for more than a century. …But that could all be changing in light of recent code changes related to the use of wooden building materials in larger buildings. …Drexel College of Engineering Professor Abi Aghayere, PhD, who co-authored a definitive text on wood construction in 2017, suggests that momentum has steadily been building for a return to the classic building material. However, building with wood today will likely look very little like it did in its heyday. He recently shed some light on why the changes are happening now and what they’ll mean for building construction. …”Even with the code revisions we aren’t likely to see buildings that are entirely wood, because it takes a mix of materials to make them resilient to a variety of environmental stresses”.

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CRÈME proposes floating timber bridge to connect Brooklyn and Queens

By Sukjong Hong
The Architect’s Newspaper
January 10, 2019
Category: Wood, Paper & Green Building
Region: US East, United States

Currently the only link between the rapidly developing neighborhoods of Long Island City, Queens, and Greenpoint, Brooklyn, is the Pulaski Bridge, a six-lane drawbridge. …Brooklyn-based CRÈME/Jun Aizaki Architecture & Design wants to change that by proposing the LongPoint Bridge, a 250-foot-long crossing… distinguished from its counterparts across the city for its lightweight, floating timber construction. …Glulam beams joined by galvanized steel braces and pins rise in two trussed peaks of armature around the nearly 50-foot-tall masts. …Its height above the canal allows smaller vessels to pass underneath, but for larger boats, the bridge pivots open in the middle, with each section moving on propeller-driven pontoons. This floating feature also allows the bridge to rise and fall with the tides. According to Jun Aizaki, the firm’s founder and principal, the bridge’s design and timber composition allows it to be assembled off-site and installed quickly and inexpensively.

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How to build a skyscraper out of wood

By Jeff Spross
The Week
January 14, 2019
Category: Wood, Paper & Green Building
Region: US East, United States

Building skyscrapers out of wood: It sounds bizarre… But it could actually be the future of construction. “Each material has its different pros and cons, and there’s no reason that timber shouldn’t be part of that larger discussion,” Todd Snapp, an architect with the global firm Perkins + Will, told The Week. “I can’t say it’s better than steel or concrete. I can say it should be just as relevant in the discussion of what material to use.” Snapp is the design principal guiding the firm’s River Beech Tower project, an 800-foot residential skyscraper that would be built almost entirely out of wood. The tower was designed in parallel with a master plan the firm was awarded to develop an area in Chicago’s downtown… Cambridge University’s Natural Material Innovation project came to them [with the] idea to pick a real-world site and then develop the building [to] give the Cambridge group specific structures, practices, and so forth to test out in the lab.

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Forestry

The Sustainable Forestry Initiative names new Chief Education Officer Melina Bellows to lead environmental education and expand Project Learning Tree

Sustainable Forestry Initiative
January 16, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: Canada, United States

Washington, D.C. and Ottawa, ON — The Sustainable Forestry Initiative Inc. (SFI) is pleased to name Melina Gerosa Bellows as SFI’s Chief Education Officer. She oversees the overall strategy and implementation of initiatives under SFI’s Education pillar. Prior to joining SFI, Bellows worked at National Geographic for 17 years, where she created and launched the award-winning National Geographic Kids brand and served as Chief Education Officer overseeing all of the children’s businesses. Bellows is also a best-selling author and an award-winning freelance writer and blogger. “Melina is a visionary leader who believes in the power of words and education to transform lives and the world we all share. Her ability to reach and inspire youth, combined with SFI’s rapidly growing presence in the education space is going to have a huge impact on the next generation and how they care for forests,” said Kathy Abusow, President and CEO of SFI Inc.

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Acting EPA head says wildfires are result of forest management, not drought

By Marianne Dodson
The Week
January 16, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States

Andrew Wheeler

Acting Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler told senators Wednesday that “the biggest issue with wildfires is forest management … not drought”. He made the claim during his confirmation hearing to become the agency’s permanent head. A federal climate report released late last year outlined the effects of climate change on wildfires, and found with medium confidence that human-caused climate change has contributed to forest fires in Alaska. The report also predicted a continued increase in the number of forest fires due to climate change. …Experts say forest management is a factor, but not the sole cause of wildfires, especially in non-forested areas of California that burned last year. Rising temperatures also contribute to the lengthening of the wildfire season, in part by worsening droughts.

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Trump’s executive order will aggressively cut more forest trees

By Darryl Fears and Juliet Eilperin
The Washington Post
January 14, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States

With a partial government shutdown looming, President Trump quietly issued an executive order that expands logging on public land on the grounds that it will curb deadly wildfires. The declaration, issued the Friday before Christmas, reflects Trump’s interest in forest management since a spate of wildfires ravaged California last year. While many scientists and Western governors have urged federal officials to adopt a suite of policies to tackle the problem, including cuts in greenhouse gases linked to climate change, the president has focused on expanding timber sales. The executive order instructs the secretaries of agriculture and interior to consider harvesting a total of 4.4 billion board feet of timber from forest land managed by their agencies on millions of acres, and put it up for sale. The order would translate into a 31 percent increase in forest service logging since 2017.

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Wildfire crisis requires cooperation

By Hilary Franz, Washington State Commissioner of Public Lands
Yakima Herald
January 19, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

In 2018, our state faced the most wildfires on record. The agency I lead, the Department of Natural Resources, is Washington’s largest wildfire fighting force. Last year, we responded to more than 1,850 wildfires in Washington, starting in March and ending in November. …But, despite our best efforts, more than 440,000 acres still burned. That’s because the number of wildfires we face are growing. …And as fires increase west of the Cascades, our firefighters and equipment are stretched more thinly throughout the state. …And a changing climate, combined with unhealthy and diseased forests, means we don’t have fire seasons anymore — we have fire years. Despite the scale of this threat…DNR’s base firefighting budget has only increased by $2.5 million total over the past decade. …the regional help we used to receive … is not available. That means we have to set our state up for success and make sure we’re more resilient and self-reliant.

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Forest project will provide benefits

By Ron Boldenow, forester
The Bend Bulletin
January 18, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

Ron Boldenow

I feel compelled to respond to the guest column concerning Forest Service harvests on the west side of Bend in the Dec. 12 edition by a representative from Oregon Wild. I agree that the term thinning is often misused and misunderstood. In the strict sense, thinning is done in only even-aged forests to remove weak trees and promote the growth and health of the remaining trees. It is not intended to promote regeneration of trees. On the west side of Bend, the Forest Service’s objectives are more complex than simple thinning and aim to create a forest of varying density with trees of different ages and sizes. This will promote resistance to wildfire, disease and insects. In my opinion, managing carbon sequestration is but one use of public forests and will depend on fostering forest productivity while considering the carbon storage in vegetation, soil and usable forest products. 

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Despite the shutdown, it’s been a dizzying week for a Southeast Alaska timber sale

By Elizabeth Jenkins
KTOO Public Media
January 17, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

Despite the partial federal government shutdown, some U.S. Forest Service staffers are still working on a plan for a large timber sale in Southeast Alaska. Those who oppose the logging are worried their concerns aren’t visible enough during the shutdown. Leaving them to wonder how the agency can keep up with the public record when it’s not fully staffed. The Southeast Alaska Conservation Council, or SEACC, opposes a federal timber sale that could take place on Prince of Wales Island. The group wanted to file its objections by the December deadline and managed to submit its complaints the day before the government shutdown. Buck Lindekugel, SEACC’s attorney, assumed the proceedings would be on ice. After all, dozens of Forest Service staff in Alaska aren’t receiving a paycheck, and many of them aren’t even at work.

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US shutdown stalls training, other prep for wildfire season

By Gillian Flaccus
Associated Press in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch
January 18, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

PORTLAND, Ore. — …officials are gearing up for this year’s fire season and fear the government shutdown could make it even more difficult… The winter months are critical for wildfire managers who use the break from the flames to prepare for the next onslaught, but much of that effort has ground to a halt on U.S. land because employees are furloughed. Firefighting training courses are being canceled from Tennessee to Oregon, piles of dead trees are untended in federal forests and controlled burns to thin dry vegetation aren’t getting done. Although the furloughs only affect federal employees, the collaborative nature of wildland firefighting means the pain of the four-week-long shutdown is having a ripple effect — from firefighters on the ground to federal contractors and top managers who control the firefighting strategy. …”Even if the shutdown ends and we start hiring people, we will have missed the cream of the crop,” DeGrosky said.

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How the shutdown is affecting wildfire mitigation efforts

By Kevin Torres
Fox News, Denver
January 17, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

COLORADO — The government shutdown is disrupting wildlife mitigation efforts used to protect our forests and mountain communities. The Colorado State Forest Service works closely with federal agencies, like the U.S. Forest Service. With Forest Service employees currently furloughed, certain projects aren’t being done. “On the federal side of things, where they`re doing some of their burns, you just don`t have the troops in the field to get it done,” explained Mike Lester, Director of the Colorado State Forest Service. …This time of year, federal and state forest workers do pile burns. Pile burns include burning brush, trees and other fuels collected throughout the year. Winter is the ideal time to do it because the snow makes burning safe. “I think the last time we looked at them there are roughly 2,000 piles out there,” Lester said.

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Wildland Fire Risk Rising; Lands Commissioner Franz Reveals Wildfire Strategic Plan That Calls for Change

Washington State Department of Natural Resources
January 17, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

Washington state has a wildfire crisis. In 2018, the Washington State Department of Natural Resources – the state’s largest wildfire fighting force – responded to more than 1,850 wildfires, a record high. Across Washington, 440,000 acres burned. …To help Washington prepare and manage this escalating risk, Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz today released Washington’s Wildland Fire Protection 10-Year Strategic Plan. …The plan lays out 40 strategies to accomplish four key goals: Washington’s preparedness, response, and recovery systems are fully capable, integrated, and sustainable, Landscapes are resilient – in the face of wildland fire, they resist damage and recover quickly. Communities are prepared and adapted for current and future wildland fire regimes, and Response is safe and effective.

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Wildfire training continues despite shutdown

By Keely Chalmers
By KGW8 News
January 16, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

PORTLAND, Ore. — Will the government shutdown mean increased wildfire risk here in the Pacific Northwest? A firefighting training session has already been canceled while other courses have been postponed. However, a lot of wildfire training is going on as-planned in Oregon. When a wildfire breaks out, federal agencies often hire privately contracted firefighters to do a lot of the work. And because those contract crews are not dependent on federal funding, they are training as usual right now. As for state agencies? The Oregon Department of Forestry said so far three training sessions have been canceled due to the shutdown. But fire managers are still attending state-sponsored classes.

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Bark beetle expands radically in Colorado amid historic drought, heat

By Liz Forster
The Gazette
January 15, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

Bark beetle invaded tens of thousands of untouched acres of Colorado forests last year as trees suffered under record-breaking heat and extreme drought, says a new report by the Colorado State Forest Service and the U.S. Forest Service. Spruce beetle attacked 178,000 acres of Engelmann spruce. Although that’s fewer than in 2017 and 2016, about one-third of the acres hit last year were in previously unaffected areas. …Last year’s drought, the second worst in 124 years, and record-breaking heat were largely to blame, said Dan West, an entomologist with the Colorado State Forest Service. “That has wide-reaching impacts as the trees are less defended and their susceptibility to invasion goes up,” West said. …A tree’s two chief defenses against bark beetle both hinge on precipitation, West said.

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Trapping ban urged for cat-sized forest predators in Montana

By Matthew Brown
The Associated Press in the Longview Daily News
January 15, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

BILLINGS, Mont. — Wildlife advocates on Tuesday urged Montana officials to ban trapping along much of the state’s border with Idaho to protect an isolated population of cat-sized predators living in old-growth forests. Representatives of five environmental groups said in a petition to Montana wildlife commissioners that trapping is a serious threat to the Northern Rockies fisher, a fanged predator that feeds on porcupines and once ranged across at least five states. They are now limited to an area straddling the Montana-Idaho border. …Federal wildlife officials in 2017 said fishers were not in danger of extinction after a months-long review found no evidence of decline because of trapping, climate change, logging or other potential threats.

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Federal shutdown ripples into January workload

By Rob Chaney
The Missoulian
January 16, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

Chip Weber

Flathead National Forest Supervisor Chip Weber… said about half a dozen of his colleagues are excepted from the federal furlough, meaning their jobs must go on although they aren’t getting paid. The rest of the national forest’s roughly 160 full-time-equivalent staff are ordered to stay home. …So that means someone has sent emails to hundreds of wildland firefighters asking if they are available for work this summer, but no one is on hand to start training and certification classes. Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation fire trainers are at work. But the advanced fire management classes needed by incident commanders go through an interagency training program led by the federal government. …Forestry and recreation planning staff cannot plan for timber sales and trails maintenance. And those are the people who often serve as the eyes and ears for the two law enforcement officers.

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Can genetic engineering save disappearing forests?

By Jason Delborne, North Carolina State University
The Conversation US
January 17, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: US East, United States

Compared to gene-edited babies in China and ambitious projects to rescue woolly mammoths from extinction, biotech trees might sound pretty tame. But releasing genetically engineered trees into forests to counter threats to forest health represents a new frontier in biotechnology. Even as the techniques of molecular biology have advanced, humans have not yet released a genetically engineered plant that is intended to spread and persist in an unmanaged environment. Biotech trees – genetically engineered or gene-edited – offer just that possibility. …The committee found that the U.S. Coordinated Framework for the Regulation of Biotechnology, which distributes federal oversight of biotechnology products, is not fully prepared to consider the introduction of a biotech tree to improve forest health.

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Big genome found in tiny forest defoliator

By The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center
Phys.org
January 15, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: US East, United States

The European gypsy moth (EGM) is perhaps the country’s most famous invasive insect—a nonnative species accidentally introduced to North America in the 1860s when a few escaped from a breeding experiment in suburban Boston. The caterpillars have been slowly eating their way across the continent ever since, causing widespread defoliation. In research that could lead to better bioinsecticides to protect forests and orchards, Drs. Don Gammon and Nick Grishin of UT Southwestern have sequenced the genomes of the EGM and its even more destructive cousin, the Asian gypsy moth (AGM). Their work, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, finds that the gypsy moth has the largest moth or butterfly genome (number of DNA base pairs) ever sequenced.

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Loggers in Virginia have record-breaking year

Associated Press in the Washington Post
January 14, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: US East, United States

RICHMOND, Va. — The amount of timber harvested in Virginia last year set a record. A new report from the state forester said receipts from the Virginia Forest Products Tax show a record-breaking volume of trees being cut down. The volume of softwood trees increased 20 percent while the volume of hardwood went up by 9 percent. The report also says that number of hardwood and softwood trees planted last year greatly exceeded those cut down. Virginia has about 16 million acres (6.5 million hectares) of forestland, with the vast majority owned privately. Deciduous trees, or those that drop leaves in winter, make up about 80 percent of Virginia’s forests.

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Carbon, Climate & Bioenergy

EIA updates bioenergy forecasts for 2019, 2020

By Erin Voegele
Biomass Magazine
January 15, 2019
Category: Carbon, Climate & Bioenergy
Region: United States

The U.S. Energy Information Administration has released the January edition of its Short-Term Energy Outlook… Wood biomass is expected to be used to generate 118,000 MWh per day this year, increasing to 119,000 MWh per day next year. Generation from waste biomass is also expected to increase, from 58,000 MWh per day this year, to 59,000 MWh per day next year. In the electric power sector, wood biomass is expected to be used to generate 49,000 MWh per day this year, increasing to 50,000 MWh per day next year. Generation from wood biomass is also expected to increase slightly, from 41,000 MWh per day in 2019 to 42,000 MWh per day in 2020. …The EIA predicts total biomass power capacity will reach 7,358 MW by the end of 2019, up from 7,201 MW in 2018. By the end of 2020, total biomass capacity is expected to grow to 7,401 MW. …In 2020, wood biomass capacity is expected to increase to 3,188 MW.

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California utility’s bankruptcy filing is a warning about hidden climate-change financial risk

By Barrie McKenna
The Globe and Mail
January 20, 2019
Category: Carbon, Climate & Bioenergy
Region: United States, US West

Climate change has claimed its first major corporate victim. San Francisco-based power company PG&E Corp., one of the largest utilities in the U.S., filed for bankruptcy protection this week facing tens of billions of dollars in potential liability from massive California wildfires over the past two years. The company’s transmission lines are suspected of sparking as many as 1,500 forest fires. …Without the effects of climate change, it’s doubtful PG&E would be in this predicament. …Under a legal doctrine known as inverse condemnation, utilities in the state must cover insurance claims for damages from fires caused by their equipment – even if they haven’t broken any safety laws. The doctrine is in force in just two states – California and Alabama. …PG&E had long complained that inverse condemnation was making power companies the default fire insurer for the entire state.

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Gov. Little: Climate change is real, must be reversed

By Keith Ridler
The Associated Press in the State
January 16, 2019
Category: Carbon, Climate & Bioenergy
Region: United States, US West

Brad Little

BOISE, IDAHO Idaho’s collaborative efforts with federal agencies, conservation groups, industries and residents have put Idaho out front in tackling tough environmental problems involving forests, rangelands, water uses and other issues, Gov. Brad Little said Wednesday. The 64-year-old Republican sworn into office earlier this month shocked some at the Idaho Environmental Forum by declaring that climate change is real and will have to be dealt with. …Little said the state has made good progress in working with agencies in the U.S. Department of Interior and U.S. Department of Agriculture. …He cited a program called the Good Neighbor Authority that has the Idaho Department of Lands helping the Forest Service on federal timber sales and restoration projects. Last month, Little signed… a Shared Stewardship agreement with the Agriculture Department they said will help protect national forests in Idaho from destructive wildfires through logging and restoration work.

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Extra pollution controls on Enviva wood pellet plant still don’t address industry’s contributions to climate change

By Lisa Sorg
The Progressive Pulse
January 15, 2019
Category: Carbon, Climate & Bioenergy
Region: US East, United States

The controversial Enviva wood pellet plant in Hamlet (North Carolina) has received a key state permit that would allow it to pulverize more logs and ship the pellets overseas to be burned as fuel. As Policy Watch reported in November, Enviva had asked the Department of Environmental Quality to modify its air permit in more than a dozen ways. The most significant request was an increase in production of pellets from 537,000 oven-dried tons per year to 625,000. The Maryland-based company also wanted to change with the mix of softwoods and hardwoods it would use. …DEQ said in its press release that after considering public comments, the agency required additional pollution monitoring and controls on the plant. For example, Enviva will now have to test for particulate matter, including PM 2.5. 

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Health & Safety

2019 Wildfire Mitigation Award Winners Announced

Occupational Health and Safety
January 21, 2019
Category: Health & Safety
Region: United States

The Wildfire Mitigation Awards committee announced Jan. 17 the recipients of the 2019 Wildfire Mitigation Awards, the highest commendation given to individuals and organizations for their outstanding leadership and innovation in wildfire mitigation. The awards, established in 2014, are co-sponsored by the National Association of State Foresters, the International Association of Fire Chiefs, the National Fire Protection Association, and the USDA Forest Service. …”State forestry agencies know firsthand that it’s always wildfire season somewhere in the United States,” said Lisa Allen, NASF president and Missouri state forester. “The 2019 Wildfire Mitigation Awardees know this, too. Year-round, they contribute to wildfire mitigation efforts that ensure the safety of thousands of communities nationwide. We congratulate them for receiving this honor and thank them for their dedication to this critically important work.” …The 2019 Wildfire Mitigation Awards will be presented at the Wildland-Urban Interface Conference in Reno, Nevada on March 27.

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