Tree Frog Forestry News

Region Archives: US West

Froggy Foibles

‘Voice of the forest’: George the snail, last of his kind, dies at age 14

The Guardian
January 8, 2019
Category: Froggy Foibles
Region: US West

As New Year’s Day broke in the Hawaiian Islands… George, the last snail of his kind and a local celebrity, was dead at age 14. The passing of George, a tree snail… epitomizes the decline of biodiversity on the Hawaiian islands, where climate change and invasive predators have taken a heavy toll on native animals and insects. …George, who never lived in an actual forest, was still a mascot for endangered Hawaiian snails. …Despite his celebrity status, George wasn’t the prettiest snail to look at. …Although scientists had hoped that George, a hermaphrodite, would have offspring, his solitary life ruled out that possibility. Despite the sad fate of the Achatinella apexfulva, the Oahu lab has thousands of native snails in residence, and scientists have begun re-introducing some of the adults into remote forests where they hope they will thrive.

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Business & Politics

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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Wood, Paper & Green Building

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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California Mass Timber Building Competition Begins January 15

By Woodworks – Wood Products Council
For Construction Pros
January 8, 2019
Category: Wood, Paper & Green Building
Region: United States, US West

The California Government Operations Agency (GovOps) will award $500,000 in grants as part of the statewide California Mass Timber Building Competition. Grants will be awarded to selected proponent teams presenting viable and repeatable mass timber solutions for commercial and multi-family projects in California. The competition is being hosted by GovOps and administered by WoodWorks – Wood Products Council. By showcasing the architectural and commercial viability of advanced mass timber products in construction, the competition is intended to support employment opportunities in rural communities, contribute to the health and resiliency of California forests, and advance sustainability in the built environment. …By showcasing opportunities for mass timber, GovOps seeks to stimulate the demand for buildings constructed using mass timber and generate investor interest in potential in-state production capacity while advancing its climate change and green building objectives.

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World Centric Introduces 100% Compostable, Marine-Degradable Paper Straws

By World Centric
Cision Newswire
January 8, 2019
Category: Wood, Paper & Green Building
Region: United States, US West

PETALUMA — World Centric today announced the availability of new 100% compostable, marine-degradable Kraft Paper Straws designed to reduce the impact of plastic straws on the planet. The new straws are made from sustainable materials, are non-toxic, and will help reduce the buildup of unrecyclable plastic in the environment and our oceans. World Centric’s new Kraft Paper Straws are manufactured utilizing FSC® (Forest Stewardship Council) certified kraft paper that meets strict standards for environmental and social responsibility and helps ensure long-term protection of forests. The straws also provide durability unavailable with traditional paper straws, which tend to quickly lose their shape and functionality in liquids; contain no phthalates, BPA, or chlorine bleach; and are compostable. In addition, they fulfill the requirements of the new California Straw Law that took effect January 1, 2019.

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New Peavy Hall design to showcase industry’s future

By Vada Shelby
The Daily Barometer
January 7, 2019
Category: Wood, Paper & Green Building
Region: United States, US West

In early 2019, OSU will have a new forestry building, complete with “rocking wood.” …According to Geoff Huntington, director of strategic initiatives at OSU, this building will display a unique type of design with structural integrity needed to allow the building to be reoccupied after an earthquake. The new Peavy Hall will include a new type of engineered plywood and cross laminated panels, along with a variety of wood products all sourced within 300 miles of campus. Those involved with the design aimed to use a new type of material to improve sustainability and increase earthquake resistance. “It has been our intention to demonstrate the capabilities and the future of our important wood products industry here in Oregon,” Huntington said. …The term “rocking wood” is used to describe the cross-laminated timber used in making MPP, because it can counter the pressure given by strong winds or earthquakes. 

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Forestry

Forest Service ignores fire science to justify forest thinning

By George Wuerthner, ecologist
Helena Independent Record
January 21, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

George Wuerthner

The Helena National Forest has released its Ten Mile-South Helena Project, which will include logging, prescribed burning on more than 17,500 acres including in roadless lands proposed for wilderness designation. Throughout its document, the FS ignores the preponderance of fire science to justify logging/thinning of the forest and ignores the many environmental impacts that result from such actions. First, the FS implies that dead trees, particularly beetle-kill lodgepole pine, increases fire risk. Contrary to this message, numerous studies have concluded that dead trees reduce, not increase, fire hazard. For example, a study done on bug killed trees in Colorado found: “Contrary to the expectation that bark beetle infestation alters subsequent fire severity, correlation, and multivariate generalized linear regression analysis revealed no influence of pre-fire beetle severity on nearly all field or remotely sensed measurements of fire severity.”

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Can biotech save trees? Study raises more questions than answers

By Rob Chaney
The Missoulian
January 21, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

Diana Six

Opinion polls might matter as much as genetic experiments in protecting America’s trees, according to a new study of biotechnology and forest health. “We struggled with that a lot, and didn’t come up with an answer,” said Diana Six, a University of Montana tree pathology researcher and co-author of the national study. “There are a lot of people who don’t want to see genetically modified natural forests. It will affect their lives and how they interact with the forest. Is wilderness still wilderness if the trees are all human products?” …So the U.S. Forest Service, Environmental Protection Agency and other policy makers asked the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine to produce a “consensus study” showing how trees might be protected through genetic engineering. …“We had a group with a philosopher and an ethics person, social scientists, forest ecologists, entomologists and population geneticists. It’s not a quick fix.”

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Bitterroot Forester to Receive National Award

By Steve Fullerton
KLYQ
January 21, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

Byron Bonney

Regional Forester Byron Bonney will be one of seven honorees for work in reducing wildfire danger. He will receive a Wildfire Mitigation Award in March. The National Association of State Foresters made the announcement January 17, citing Bonney’s extensive work as Fuel Mitigation Program manager for the Bitter Root RC&D in Hamilton. Since 2001, according to Bonney, the organization has received over $7 million in grants to help private landowners reduce forest fire risk by fuel reduction thinning, pruning and slash treatment on over 9,000 acres. The work has been done in Ravalli, Missoula and Mineral Counties. Community foresters help in each county. The award is 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.

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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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Wildfires deadly but essential

By Don Adams
Mail Tribune
January 14, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

…Now with warmer, drier environmental conditions, terribly destructive fires and expensive fire-fighting operations have become the new normal. Brush removal and control burn operations are increasingly used to reduce danger from fire. Though effective, much of the thinning and control burning effort is regional, involving a relatively small percentage of brush/forest acreage. Instead of small localized thinning efforts, a national program similar to that of the 1939 Works Progress Administration is required, or an expansion of the Veterans Fire Corps initiative of California. Major problems that might be addressed by a national brush/debris cleanup program include: costs of fire suppression, escalating cost of property insurance, unemployment of urban youth and ex-military, and deterioration of air quality. 

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People are cutting down Joshua trees in Joshua Tree National Park during the government shutdown

By Katey Psencik
Salina Journal
January 11, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

More than 800,000 workers are furloughed during the current government shutdown, which has been in effect since Dec. 21. As a result, many of the nation’s parks have been left unprotected. One of the most glaring effects is in Joshua Tree National Park, where the namesake trees are being destroyed by visitors, causing the park to announce a temporary closure (which was later averted “by immediately utilizing revenue generated by recreation fees”). “There have been incidents of new roads being created by motorists and the destruction of Joshua trees in recent days,” park officials said in a statement. The park was able to use Federal Land and Recreation Enhancement funds to bring in maintenance crews to address the ongoing issues at the park. …the trees are at risk of being affected by climate change in the coming years. The park alone may lose many of its trees by 2100 due to rising temperatures… 

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Beleaguered firefighters put on hold by government shutdown

By James Rainey and Phil Helsel
NBC News
January 11, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

Controlled burns have been put on hold. Fire training sessions have been canceled. The hiring of hundreds of seasonal firefighters has been delayed. The nation’s wildland fire service — trying to regroup this winter after two of the biggest and deadliest fire seasons on record — has instead been cast into a state of anxiety by the three-week-old partial government shutdown. That’s because some firefighters with the Forest Service, National Park Service and Bureau of Land Management are among the approximately 800,000 government employees either furloughed or working without a guarantee of pay. The shutdown has affected hundreds of regular fire and support personnel at those agencies, along with seasonal “hotshots” and others who swell the fire lines during the forest and brush fire emergencies … with increasing intensity … according to wildfire experts. A Senate Appropriations Committee report estimates that as many as 5,000 Forest Service firefighters may be working without pay.

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Forest plan not visible to public due to government shutdown

Associated Press in Capital Press
January 11, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

MISSOULA, Mont. — The public is unable to view final updates to a northwestern Montana forest management plan due to the federal government shutdown. The Missoulian reports Flathead National Forest Supervisor Chip Weber published the final record of decision of the Forest Land Management Plan and an amendment to grizzly bear recovery management policies in the Federal Register on Dec. 27. The plans and amendments are available on the Forest Service website, but the record of decision was not released. Swan View Coalition Director Keith Hammer provided a copy of an email exchange he’d had with Weber. The supervisor wrote, “We have regional direction not to send this out or post until shutdown ends and we have funding.”

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Aspen Center for Environmental Studies examines how the forest will recover from Lake Christine Fire

By Scott Condon
The Aspen Times
January 13, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

Aspen-area forests took a beating this year from drought and hot temperatures while parts of Basalt Mountain suffered severe enough fire damage that it could take centuries for some vegetation types to recover, according to an assessment by Aspen Center for Environmental Studies. ACES released its annual State of the Forest Report on Friday. …Blue spruce and subalpine fir destroyed by the fire are unlikely to bounce back quickly, if at all, McCurdy said. Lodgepole pines have adapted differently to fire and depend on it to open their seeds. Aspen trees tend to bounce back well and there’s potential they could spread on the mountain, McCurdy said. The recovery is going to show how forests are dynamic places where change happens in spurts, he said. 

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Judge proposes ordering Pacific Gas & Electric Co. to shut off power for wildfires

By Sudhin Thanawala
Associated Press in
January 10, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

SAN FRANCISCO — To prevent wildfires, Pacific Gas & Electric Co. should re-inspect its entire electric grid and cut off power during certain wind conditions regardless of the inconvenience to customers or loss of profit, a U.S. judge proposed Wednesday. Judge William Alsup said in a court order his goal was to prevent the utility from causing any wildfires in the 2019 fire season. “This will likely mean having to interrupt service during high-wind events (and possibly at other times) but that inconvenience…will pale by comparison to the death and destruction that otherwise might result from PG&E-inflicted wildfires,” Alsup said. He gave PG&E until Jan. 23 to respond to his proposal. PG&E said it was reviewing Alsup’s order. …The judge is also considering ordering the utility during the 2019 wildfire season to supply electricity only to those parts of its electrical grid it has determined to be safe under wind conditions at the time.

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Flathead forest plan goes live during shutdown

By Rob Chaney
The Missoulian
January 10, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

A sweeping update to national forest management throughout northwestern Montana was approved at the end of 2018, but the public can’t see its final updates due to the federal government shutdown. Flathead National Forest Supervisor Chip Weber published the final record of decision of the Forest Land Management Plan and a four-forest amendment governing grizzly bear recovery in the Federal Register on Dec. 27. While the plans and amendments are available on the Forest Service website, the record of decision was not released. …The 180-page plan (not including appendices) generally guides how specific future decisions will be made in the Flathead National Forest.

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Shutdown hurts Western wildfire prep

By Stuart Leavenworth
The Bend Bulletin
January 10, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

Training has been halted for thousands of firefighters. The U.S. Forest Service can’t let contracts for needed equipment. In forests across the West, no federal employees are reducing dry fire fuels that feed catastrophic blazes. These are some of the effects of the federal shutdown on federal firefighters, and experts say the situation could quickly worsen. If the shutdown drags out for several more weeks, federal fire crews won’t be ready for the months ahead, following a 2018 fire season that killed scores of people and destroyed thousands of homes in California and other states. “This is the second year in a row we’ve had a shutdown right in the middle of the (firefighter) training season,” said Jim Whittington, a former U.S. Bureau of Land Management employee.

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Southern California’s ecosystems evolved to survive fire. But not like this

By Bettina Boxall
Los Angeles Times
January 11, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

…Southern California’s native shrublands are famously tough. Conservationist John Muir celebrated them as Mother Nature at her “most ruggedly, thornily savage. They evolved along with long, hot summers, at least six rainless months a year and intense wildfires. But not this much fire, this often. …Burn maps show the astonishing extent of the wildfires that have seared the southern portion of the Los Padres forest and adjacent lands. …The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection plans to clear 14,000 acres of shrublands a year as part of a statewide fuels treatment program. “Every Cal Fire person I know … wants to cut it down wherever they possibly can,” D’Antonio said. “[But] every time they cut a new fuel break, they put another strip of grasses on the landscape.”

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California Asked for Money to Fight Wildfires. President Trump Responded by Threatening to Cut Off Funding

By Gina Martinez
Time Magazine
January 10, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

Amid a partial government shutdown that is headed into its third week with no end in sight, President Trump threatened to cut off federal funding for California – currently recovering from its deadliest wildfire in history. …Trump’s tweets appear to have been triggered by California’s newly sworn in Democratic governor Gavin Newsom, who yesterday outlined a $305 million budget plan to prepare California for wildfires. Newsom said yesterday he had sent a letter to the President asking the federal government to work with the state to tackle wildfires. …Glen MacDonald, Geography professor at UCLA, said there is a debate among experts in California on whether forest thinning is a viable solution. …“What I don’t understand is the President belittles the state in terms of our forest management, and yet then threatens to hold back the money to do that management on the federal land.”

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Wildfire suppression hot topic at public lands meeting

By Kerri Sandaine
The Lewiston Tribune
January 10, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

Washington state’s commissioner of public lands paid her first visit to Asotin County on Wednesday night to discuss wildfire suppression, forest management and rural economic development at a gathering in the Clarkston Heights. Hilary Franz, who was elected in 2016, manages about 6 million acres of public lands in the state and leads its largest firefighting force. “I don’t hit, I don’t bite, but I do have a black belt,” Franz said to a group of foresters, elected officials, fire chiefs and ranchers. …Franz’s focus has been on forest health, fire suppression and wildfire prevention. She will be seeking $55 million in the coming legislative session to address resource gaps in her department.

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Trump, California spar over money for wildfire relief funds

By Kathleen Ronayne
Associated Press in the Idaho Statesman
January 9, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

SACRAMENTO, CALIF. President Donald Trump threatened Wednesday to withhold money to help California cope with wildfires, a day after new Gov. Gavin Newsom asked him to double the federal investment in forest management. Trump again suggested poor forest management is to blame for California’s deadly wildfires and said he’s ordered the Federal Emergency Management Agency to stop giving the state money “unless they get their act together.” Fire scientists say climate change, not poor forest management, is the driving contributor to California’s increasingly destructive wildfires, many of which have not been primarily in forests. FEMA could not immediately comment because of the government shutdown. Trump has previously threatened to withhold wildfire payments but never followed through.

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Gavin Newsom Begins Tackling California’s Wildfire Problem His Second Day In Office

By Lydia O’Connor
The Huffington Post
January 8, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

Gavin Newsom

The new California governor announced two executive orders and an interstate partnership aimed at tackling the wildfire crisis. …The first executive order is inspired by the tragedy in Paradise. …Newsom’s charge instructs state agencies to not only consider the science of fires… but also what he calls “social vulnerability factors” such as poverty, functionality needs and language needs. Newsom’s second executive order was crafted with the admission that the government isn’t always qualified to select and apply the best technological solutions for wildfires. Under this direction, state agencies will be allowed to reach out to the private sector… with an initial focus on technology that improves fire detection. As part of the West Coast governors partnership, Newsom, Brown and Inslee are calling on Trump to double his financial investment in managing federal forestlands in their three states. 

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Gavin Newsom wants fire-spotting cameras in California forests – and a lot more

By Dale Kasler
The Sacramento Bee
January 8, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

COLFAX Governor Gavin Newsom called for $105 million in increased wildfire safety funding Tuesday, saying the state needs to make prevention a higher priority in the wake of the devastating Camp Fire and the wine country fires of 2017. Appearing at a Cal Fire station on his first full day in office, Newsom said the new funding would come on top of $200 million already earmarked for forestry management by the Legislature last fall, bringing the total to $305 million in new spending. Newsom, flanked by Cal Fire employees and emergency services officials, said he’ll ask the Legislature for funds to cover a wide variety of fire safety needs. He wants more helicopters, remote infrared cameras that can help detect fires, better alert systems and new technologies for tapping satellite images.

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OSU scientist, others urge review of forest biotech limits

KTVZ.COM
January 7, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

CORVALLIS, Ore. – A coalition of forest scientists, including Steve Strauss of Oregon State University, is calling for an immediate review of international policies that the group says put unreasonable and harmful limitations on biotech research. This petition follows on the release of a major report on The Potential for Biotechnology to Address Forest Health from the National Academy of Sciences that has identified biotechnologies as key tools for helping to manage forest health and associated pest epidemics. The petition hosted by the Alliance for Science is asking sustainable forest management systems –  among them the Forest Stewardship Council and the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification, two key certifying bodies – to take a look at their views opposing genetically modified trees “and bring them in line with current scientific evidence.”

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Congress boosts forest thinning projects

By Peter Aleshire
Payson Roundup
January 8, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

Efforts to salvage the stalled Four Forest Restoration Initiative got a modest boost in the lame duck session of Congress, before the partial government shutdown. Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) sponsored a provision in the Farm Bill that would make it easier for the Forest Service to strike a deal with local counties to thin dangerously overgrown forests. …The measure could help boost the efforts by Coconino, Gila, Apache and Navajo counties to help push forward the most ambitious forest restoration project in the history of the country. 4FRI has languished for the past decade for lack of a contractor that could undertake large-scale forest thinning work….Moreover, the Forest Service has recently doubled the potential length of a thinning contract — from 10 years to 20 years. Loggers have argued only such a long-term contract with its guarantee of enough wood will justify an investment in new mills.

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Aerial Study Discovers Dead, Dying Trees in Arizona Forests

By Mark Richardson
Public News Service
January 7, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — The latest assessment of forests across Arizona showed unexpectedly large areas of dead or dying trees. Aerial surveys conducted by the U.S. Forest Service in mid-2018 found about 1.7 million acres of ponderosa pine, piñon, and juniper trees with yellowing, red or brown needles. Forest Service officials attribute the problem to increased stress due to extended drought and other effects of climate change. Sandy Bahr, executive director of the Grand Canyon Chapter of the Sierra Club, said another factor is that elected officials refuse to deal with climate change. “In Arizona, one of the things that we’ve asked the governor, ‘Hey we need a plan. We don’t have a plan,’” Bahr said. “We don’t have a plan for reducing emissions, and we don’t have a plan for dealing with the many issues that we’re seeing.”

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Carbon, Climate & Bioenergy

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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