Tree Frog Forestry News

Daily news for March 31 2020

Today’s Takeaway

Lumber futures, production curtailments signal housing slowdown

Tree Frog Forestry News
March 31, 2020
Category: Today's Takeaway

Plummeting lumber futures and production curtailments signal a housing slowdown, despite builders’ push to keep building. Here are the COVID-19 headlines:

In other news: HDR selected to design Kelowna’s first 12-storey mass timber tower; new research on how forests are coping with climate change (in the short term); and a raging forest fire in China has claimed 19 lives.

Finally, how are you managing to keep working? Our readers want to know.

Kelly McCloskey, Tree Frog Editor

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Special Feature

Cancelled and/or Rescheduled Forestry events due to COVID-19

Tree Frog Forestry News
March 31, 2020
Category: Special Feature

Please let us know if we are missing an event.

       
Event Old Date Location Status
Paper 2020 Mar 15-17 New York, NY Cancelled
ForestTECHx Mar 17-18 Vancouver, BC Sept 1-2
NAWLA Regional Meeting – Montreal Mar 24 Montreal, QC Cancelled
Montreal Wood Convention Mar 24-26 Montreal, QC Cancelled
International Mass Timber Conference Mar 24-26 Portland, OR Postponed TBA
SLMA & SFPA Spring Meeting Mar 25-27 New Orleans, LA Cancelled
BC Indigenous Forestry Career Fairs Mar 26-Ap 15  Multiple Sites, BC Postponed TBA
Spring Cottage Life Show Mar 26-29 Toronto, ONT Cancelled
COFI 2020 Conference Apr 1-3 Prince George, BC Cancelled
Canadian Woodlands Forum Meeting Apr 1-2 Moncton, NB Cancelled
Intermountain Logging Conference Apr 1-3 Spokane Valley, WA Cancelled
NY State Mass Timber Symposium NEW! Apr 1 Syracuse, NY Oct 28
NY State Green Building Conference NEW! Apr 2-3 Syracuse NY Oct 29-30
BC College of Applied Biology Conference Apr 2-3 Kelowna, BC Cancelled
Ontario Professional Foresters Association Apr 7-9 Allison, ONT Postponed TBA
American Forest Resource Council AGM Apr 14-16 Stevenson, WA Sept 16-18
NAWLA Regional Meeting – Vancouver Apr 9 Vancouver, BC Sept TBA
The Timber Measurement Society Apr 7-9 Coeur d’Alene, ID Cancelled
Great Lakes Forest Health Showcase Apr 9 Sault St Marie, Ont Postponed TBA
TAPPI’s PaperCon Apr 27-30 Atlanta, GA Postponed TBA
Western Forest Insect Work Conference Apr 27-30 Edmonton, AB Cancelled
National Wood Flooring Expo Apr 28-30 Milwaukee, WI Cancelled
Olympic Logging Conference Apr 29-May 1 Victoria, BC Sept 16-18
BC Saw Filer’s AGM and Trade Show May 1-2 Kamloops, BC Cancelled
East Coast Sawmill & Logging Equip. Expo May 1-2 Richmond, VA Oct 9-10
Hoo-Hoo Club 48 Members Night May 7 Vancouver, BC Cancelled
BC Forest Safety Council’s Safety Conf. May 7 Kamloops, BC Cancelled
BC Interior Logging Assoc. Conference May 7-9 Kamloops, BC Cancelled
American Institute of Architects Conference May 14-16 Los Angeles, CA Cancelled
WRCLA Cedar Summit and Cedar School May 13-15 Victoria, BC Cancelled
Northeastern Forest Products Equip. Expo May 15-16 Essex Junction, VA Oct 16-17
Forest Products Society Convention  May 18-20 Austin, TX June 22-25
BC Community Forestry Association AGM May 27-29 Nakusp, BC Postponed TBA
PACWEST Conference 2020 May 27-30 Jasper, AB Cancelled
Consulting Foresters of America Conference Jun 6-9 Austin, TX Cancelled
Decorative Hardwoods Conference NEW! Jun 7-9 Hilton Head, SC Oct 11-13
Western Mensurationists Conference NEW! Jun 14-16 Spokane WA Online Only
Festival of Forestry Teachers Tour NEW! Jul 8-10 Squamish, BC Cancelled
Hoo-Hoo International Convention Sep 12-15 Sacramento, CA Cancelled

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Business & Politics

LP to Reduce Production in April and Optimize Working Capital

Yahoo Finance
March 30, 2020
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, United States

LP Building Solutions announced adjustments to operating schedules, reductions in capital expenditures, and steps to enhance an already strong balance sheet. …LP will cut OSB production by at least 100 million square feet (MMSF) in April, or about a third of total capacity, through a combination of curtailments and reduced schedules. …Given the current outlook… production schedules for LP® SmartSide® will be reduced by roughly 50 MMSF in April, with minimal disruption to customers. …We have taken steps to maximize liquidity by drawing on our revolving credit line early, cutting capital spending [50 percent to $70 million] and minimizing working capital through inventory reduction and reduced production.

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Weyerhaeuser to curtail production, reduce capital expenditures

Weyerhaeuser Company
March 30, 2020
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, United States

SEATTLE — Weyerhaeuser Company provided an update on actions it is taking in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. …With preventative measures in place, Weyerhaeuser’s businesses have been operating efficiently and effectively to serve the solid demand experienced through late March. …For the month of April, the company expects to reduce operating capacity by approximately 20 percent for lumber, 15 percent for oriented strand board, and 15 to 25 percent for engineered wood products through a combination of temporary mill curtailments and reduced shift postures. …The company is… Reducing 2020 capital expenditures by approximately $70-90 million; and Increasing cash on hand by $550 million through a draw on its revolving credit facility.

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Priorities at a time of pandemic

By Peter Ewart
Prince George Daily News
March 26, 2020
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

Peter Ewart

The COVID-19 pandemic that is sweeping the globe has illuminated the serious flaws, gaps and shortcomings of health care in Canada and other countries, as well as the economy as a whole, and underlined the need for new priorities.  Extraordinary measures must be taken to deal with the pandemic, but at the same time we need a great reckoning as to what kind of health care and food supply system is needed to confront the challenges of a 21st Century globalized world. …In this globalized world, strong, diversified and self-reliant local and national economies are absolutely necessary, as is trade for mutual benefit between peoples and countries.  Canada has the capabilities to develop its own pharmaceutical and medical equipment industries, as well as strengthen and enlarge our public health care system and scientific institutes. …In the overall, we must break with the old globalized economic system and establish new priorities.

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Kruger Announces the Temporary Shutdown of its Brompton Mill for an Indefinite Period of Time

Kruger Specialty Papers
Cision Newswire
March 31, 2020
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada East, Canada

BROMPTON, Quebec – Kruger Specialty Papers announced the temporary shutdown of its Brompton facility, effective Friday, April 3, for an indefinite period of time. The Company came to this difficult decision due to unfavorable market conditions that deteriorated very rapidly with the COVID-19 outbreak, affecting the Mill’s operations and financial performance. The production of both newsprint and specialty papers for the flexible packaging industry will be curtailed, and the facility’s biomass cogeneration plant will also be shutdown. The Brompton Mill shutdown will affect 272 employees. [END]

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Port Hawkesbury Paper not taking more wood

By Drake Lowthers
Port Hawkesbury Reporter
March 30, 2020
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada East, Canada

POINT TUPPER: The last major mill in the province has stopped accepting wood deliveries.  The decision comes as Port Hawkesbury Paper (PHP) deals with the declining market and now the added effects from the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.  In a statement, the company said it is an evolving situation and they will continue to monitor and adjust operations as required.  “We are very cognizant of and regret the impact these actions will have on all those affected,” the statement reads. “This will not have an impact on deliveries of paper to our customers.”  Deliveries at this time of year are generally reduced due to soft ground conditions and spring weight restrictions throughout the industry, but as the plant prepares for their scheduled slowdown, the mill has been forced to take additional measures because of the global pandemic. 

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Toilet paper, other important forest products will continue to roll out of Idaho; timber sales determined essential service during COVID-19 outbreak

Idaho County Free Press
March 30, 2020
Category: Business & Politics
Region: United States, US West

“The Idaho Department of Lands is moving forward with forest management during the COVID-19 crisis, not only to ensure necessary products get to consumers, but to keep our forests healthy through sustainable forest practices,” said State Forester Craig Foss of the Idaho Department of Lands. “Our practices of planting, taking care of our young and aging forests, and harvesting when the time is right, allows us to provide a renewable resource while keeping forests growing strong for future generations.”…IDL foresters and contractors will also move forward with seedling planting operations beginning in the coming weeks while practicing social-distancing policies. More than 1.6 million seedlings were planted last year on endowment lands and this year’s number is 1.9 million.

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Finance & Economics

Lumber Markets Hint at Housing Slowdown

By Ryan Dezember
The Wall Street Journal
March 31, 2020
Category: Finance & Economics
Region: United States

Lumber prices are signaling that the nascent housing boom is fizzling, despite home builders’ push to keep residential construction going through the coronavirus crisis. Lumber futures have plummeted of late and mills are dramatically dialing back production. On Monday, lumber futures for May delivery fell 4.8% to close at $296.50 per 1,000… down 37% from a recent high of $468.30 hit Feb. 20. …KB Home told investors last week that although the company planned to keep working… it would take longer to complete them operating under social-distancing guidelines. …Pledges to keep building have failed to instill confidence in the forestry sector. …“Mill sales were minuscule, as buyers refused to cover more than their most essential needs until they had a better handle on the impact of the pandemic,” Random Lengths wrote Friday. “Speculative buying seized up.” …On the bright side, there is strong demand for pulp. [a WSJ subscription is required to access the full story]

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Pending Home Sales Reach 3-Year High Before Virus Outbreak

By Fan-Yu Kuo
NAHB – Eye on Housing
March 30, 2020
Category: Finance & Economics
Region: United States

Following an 5.3% increase in January, pending home sales continued to trend higher in February, supported by low mortgage rates. The PHSI index grew 2.4%, the highest reading in three years. On a year-over-year basis, sales were 9.4% higher than a year ago. …This month’s gains showed that the housing market had been healthy before the virus outbreak, including existing home sales reaching a 13-year high and new home sales showing strength in February. 

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Wood, Paper & Green Building

Interior design lessons from the coronavirus

By Lloyd Alter
Treehugger
March 30, 2020
Category: Wood, Paper & Green Building
Region: Canada, United States

…what can we actually make our homes from that makes them safer and healthier in the face of something like the coronavirus? A very recent study by the National Institutes of Health, CDC, UCLA and Princeton University scientists have looked at how long this coronavirus stays active on various materials. …The virus seems to survive longest on smooth surfaces like plastics (72 hours) and stainless steel (48 hours) and a shorter time on paper, cardboard or clothing (24 hours.) The biggest surprise was the performance of copper; the virus was gone in four hours. When influenzas, bacteria like E. coli, superbugs like MRSA, or even coronaviruses land …on copper, and copper alloys like brass, they die within minutes. “We’ve seen viruses just blow apart,” says Bill Keevil, professor of environmental healthcare at the University of Southampton. …Marmoleum (linoleum), commissioned a study and found that it inhibited the growth of MRSA and other pathogens …and killed the Norovirus

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HDR Selected to Design 12-Storey Mass Timber Tower

HDR Inc.
March 26, 2020
Category: Wood, Paper & Green Building
Region: Canada, Canada West

RPB Hotels and Resorts has selected HDR to provide architectural design services for the development of a new 82-suite, 12-storey mass timber constructed Ramada Hotel in Kelowna, British Columbia. The City of Kelowna was an early adopter of British Columbia’s new regulations allowing mass timber construction of up to 12 stories. The development will not only be the tallest mass timber tower in Kelowna, but a positive contribution to the community by providing more centrally located hotel accommodations and pedestrian-friendly access to other amenities. The tower will be constructed using partial encapsulation and exposed CLT (cross-laminated timber), in addition to glulam (glue-laminated timber). The new hotel will provide three different suite typologies with access via a single-loaded corridor, day-lit from north and south. Construction is anticipated to commence in 2021.

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Tampa Bay Times reduces print to Sunday, Wednesday; plans to furlough 50 employees

By Megan Holmes
St Pete Catalyst
March 30, 2020
Category: Wood, Paper & Green Building
Region: US East, United States

Paul Tash

Tampa Bay Times Chairman and CEO Paul Tash announced Monday that the Times would reduce print editions to Sunday and Wednesday only, starting next week, and simultaneously furlough approximately 50 Times staffers and reduce delivery contracts. The announcement comes after the newspaper lost $1 million in advertising in the last two weeks, as retailers cancelled ads in the midst of tumultuous markets and uncertain economic futures fueled by the coronavirus pandemic. …“Newspaper publishing was already a challenging business, even before the pandemic,” Tash said in an email to subscribers. “More than half our revenue comes from advertisers. The screeching halt to the economy has sent sales plummeting for many businesses, and everybody is anxious about the future.” The bright spot? Tash said digital subscriptions are picking up, even as most coronavirus coverage is free to non-subscribers, and more new subscribers are paying for a full year subscription, not just a one-month promotional offer.

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Forestry

Why we’re challenging the BLM

By Mike Garrity, ED, Alliance for the Wild Rockies
Billings Gazette
March 29, 2020
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

The 300,000-acre Elkhorn Mountains are state and federally designated to be managed to prioritize benefits to wildlife above all other uses. Yet the Bureau of Land Management’s Iron Mask Project, which is in the Elkhorn Area of Critical Environmental Concern, authorizes cutting and burning juniper trees and limber pine on 5,397 acres to benefit cattle, not wildlife. The Iron Mask area was acquired by the BLM using funding intended for purchasing critical wildlife habitat. The Alliance for the Wild Rockies and Native Ecosystems Council challenged the Iron Mask native habitat destruction project in 2018.  The federal court agreed and halted the project last year because the BLM’s analysis was limited to the theoretical positive effects but did not analyze the overwhelming negative effects of burning sagebrush-juniper habitat on wildlife. 

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Carbon, Climate & Bioenergy

Researchers investigate how forests are changing in response to global warming

By Harrison Tasoff, University of California – Santa Barbara
Phys.org
March 31, 2020
Category: Carbon, Climate & Bioenergy
Region: United States, US West

As the climate is changing, so too are the world’s forests. …Using the U.S. Forest Service Forest Inventory and Analysis database, researchers at UC Santa Barbara… have studied how the traits of tree communities are shifting across the contiguous United States. The results indicate that communities, particularly in more arid regions, are becoming more drought tolerant, primarily through the death of less hardy trees. …There are two ways a community can become more drought tolerant: Less hardy trees can die or more resilient trees can grow faster. Both result in a community that is hardier overall. …Overall, the results indicate that forests are shifting to communities that can cope with greater average water stress as well as more variability in water stress. This should buffer forests against some of the effects of climate change, at least in the short term.

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Health & Safety

Breathing always hard for some Comox Valley residents

By Mike Chouinard
Comox Valley Record
March 30, 2020
Category: Health & Safety
Region: Canada, Canada West

Regional governments and the Province have brought in restrictions on burning, to help those with respiratory conditions during the current pandemic. The COVID-19 situation is forcing the wider community to think about respiratory health. For some who live with ongoing conditions though… They point to difficulties in breathing posed by slash burning of wood waste or the continuing practice of residents using wood-burning stoves. The Record contacted Mosaic Forest Management (TimberWest), which operates in the region, about slash burning. A company spokesperson said Mosaic is not burning in the region this spring and rarely does, adding there are no plans to do so until October. As well, the Ministry of Forests…responded, “The BC Wildfire Service is monitoring the COVID-19 situation to determine whether it could have an impact on prescribed burning, wildfire risk mitigation projects, open burning and any related open fire restrictions.”

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Forest Fires

China state media reports 19 people killed in forest fire

Associated Press in the Victoria Times Colonist
March 30, 2020
Category: Forest Fires
Region: International

BEIJING — Nineteen people have died while fighting a raging forest fire in southwestern China and hundreds of reinforcements were sent to fight the blaze and evacuate nearby residents, officials and state media reported Tuesday.  he area threatened by the fire in Sichuan province is thinly populated, but there was no estimate on how many people were leaving the evacuation zone. State media have described villages, a school, a chemical plant and other places as under threat.  It wasn’t exactly clear when the deaths occurred, but an information officer in the city of Xichang was cited as saying the fire started on a farm Monday afternoon and quickly spread to nearby mountains due to strong winds. It said one of those killed was a guide and the rest were firefighters.

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