Tree Frog Forestry News

Daily Archives: August 9, 2017

Today’s Takeaway

Vancouver architect Michael Green at centre of mass-timber moment

Tree Frog Forestry News
August 9, 2017
Category: Today's Takeaway

The Vancouver Sun’s Derrick Penner penned a story on the architect at the centre of the mass-timber moment – Michael Green. “It is definitely wood’s moment,” Green said. “But it’s still in its infancy”.

Want to see who’s impacted by poor air quality due to wildfires. Check out this animation of the smoke forecast from FireSmoke.ca. (via GIPHY). Otherwise, the headlines speak for themselves:

  • 28 wildfires start in under two days in BC 
  • Lightning strikes spark over a dozen forest fires (Northern California)
  • Fire near Lost Creek Lake grows to 1,000 acres (Southern Oregon)
  • Northwest wildfire outlook turns for the worse (Oregon & Washington)
  • Fast-moving Montana wildfire prompts evacuations
  • Largest ever wildfire in Greenland seen burning from space

Meanwhile, scientists at the University of Alberta hope to “harness the powers of artificial intelligence to protect Alberta from the ravages of wildfires”.

Finally, Canadian optimism over the possibility of a quick deal on softwood lumber isn’t shared by the US industry, “which continues to argue that the proposed quota levels are too generous”. 

 
Please note that we will not be posting any new news stories tomorrow (Thursday) while we implement our technology upgrade. We’ll be back Friday on a new platform with all the headlines. 
 
— Kelly McCloskey, Tree Frog Editor

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Special Feature

Vancouver architect Michael Green at centre of mass-timber moment

By Derrick Penner
Vancouver Sun
August 8, 2017
Category: Special Feature
Region: Canada, Canada West

When Vancouver-based architect Michael Green stops to reflect, he acknowledges that his practice of designing big buildings built from engineered mass-timber materials has come a long way in a short period of time as the trend in sustainable construction gains momentum. “It is definitely wood’s moment,” Green said. ” … But it’s still in its infancy, but what we’ve seen is on a different level. We’ve seen major global design firms who said they had no interest in working in mass wood now working in wood.” Green literally wrote the book on modern timber construction, The Case for Tall Wood Buildings, a case study on using materials such as cross-laminated timber panels and engineered glulam wood beams to build skyscrapers as tall as 30 storeys, published in 2012. “I think he’s been very influential,” said Lynn Embury-Williams, executive director of Wood WORKS! B.C“At the same time, Eric Karsh at Equilibrium Consulting (one of Green’s key collaborators on the book) was also working on projects and promoting mass timber,” she said. “Just the notion this could even happen was pretty amazing.”

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Business & Politics

Canadians tout possible softwood lumber deal, proposal panned by U.S. industry

By Derrick Penner
Vancouver Sun
August 8, 2017
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, United States

Canadian optimism over the possibility of a quick deal in the softwood lumber dispute isn’t shared by the American lumber industry, which continues to argue that quota levels for Canadian access to the U.S. market are too generous. Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, in a teleconference with reporters over the weekend, said that she “can see the outlines of that (softwood lumber) agreement already,” though she did not provide specifics. B.C. Forests Minister Doug Donaldson also sees a window of opportunity to push for a deal. …To the notion that a resolution could include a quota on Canadian exports that equates to a 30 per cent share of the U.S. market, Zoltan van Heyningen, executive director of the U.S. Lumber Coalition, said the American industry would not accept that level. “Accepting such an agreement would result in job losses for U.S. workers in rural communities where those jobs are critical,” van Heyningen said in an emailed statement.

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Trump’s desperate for an easy NAFTA win. Let’s give him one.

By L. Ian MacDonald
iPolitics
August 8, 2017
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, United States

“Canada is no problem. We have had a very fair relationship with Canada. It has been much more balanced and much more fair. So we do not have to worry about Canada, we do not even think about Canada.” That’s U.S. President Donald J. Trump, of course, talking about us in a conversation with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto on Jan. 27. There go the Americans, ignoring us again. Which, given the NAFTA re-negotiation which begins in Washington next week, ought to suit us just fine. …Ahead of the talks, there appears to be some momentum for resolving the standoff in softwood lumber — something both Canada and the U.S. would like to see off the table ahead of the re-negotiation so that it doesn’t become part of it. Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland, responsible for the Canada-U.S. trade file, said Monday that a softwood deal is “is absolutely possible and achievable and I can see the outlines of that agreement already. Having said that, I can’t today say whether or not and when such an agreement might be achievable.”

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Canada’s hope to get climate change into NAFTA could prove difficult

By Mia Rabson
Canadian Press in Victoria Times Colonist
August 8, 2017
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, United States

OTTAWA — A frank report on climate change in America leaked to the New York Times a week before the U.S. sits down to begin renegotiating NAFTA may give some weight to Canada’s push to get climate change mitigation included as part of the new continental trade deal. …However with Trump withdrawing the U.S. from the Paris climate change agreement and pledging to return the U.S. coal industry to its glory days, the White House and the Canadian government are far apart on many environmental issues. …In its list of objectives for NAFTA released last month, the Office of the United States Trade Representative said it wants NAFTA to require signatories to adopt and uphold their obligations under several such pacts, including the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.

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Premier Horgan setting sights on China as first foreign visit

By Chuck Chiang
Business in Vancouver
August 8, 2017
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

New B.C. Premier John Horgan’s plan to make China his first foreign visit destination is an “easy” choice, say observers. Brian Krieger, acting assistant deputy minister for Jobs, Trade and Technology, recently told a trade delegation from Jiangsu province that Horgan is “anxious” to take a trip to China as his first outbound mission. “Our province has organized many missions to China in recent years,” Krieger said at the July event, which was hosted by the Canada China Business Council in Vancouver. “We’ll be working on [Horgan’s trade mission to China] very soon, I’m quite sure.”

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Logger and road-builder combine forces in Quebec

By Guillaume Roy
Wood Business
August 8, 2017
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada East, Canada

With 15 years of experience under his belt as an excavator operator working to build forest roads, Michael Lavoie was ready to be his own boss in 2012. But where would he find the $400,000 needed to buy two excavators to start his own road-building business? The 38-year-old knew he would be hard-pressed to count on banks, which can be somewhat reluctant when you start talking about forestry. A solution came about during a conversation with Éric Bernier, who at the time was a territory manager in the Mauricie region for Rébec, a subsidiary of Groupe Rémabec. “When you have good workers and you believe in them, you’re always looking for the best ways to help them,” Bernier says.

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Don’t blink: lack of transactions breeds uncertainty in timberland valuations

By Paul Quinn
RBC Capital Markets
August 8, 2017
Category: Business & Politics
Region: United States

According to RISI’s latest Timberland Markets report, market activity continues to be very quiet. Year to date, transaction values total just $600MM (mostly in the US South), nearly half the total value transacted at this point last year. While the second half of the year tends to see increased activity and the $1B+ CalPERS sale remains on the table, the lack of market activity has left some participants “confused”. With a lack of buyers on the market (combined with the potentially rising interest rates), we are watching for signs of compressing timberland valuations. The tipping point? According to a recent article in Pensions & Investments, with a number of timber funds coming to the end of their lives and transactions far and few between, the coming year will be a critical period for the timberland asset class. 

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Florida water regulators approve big permits for pulp mills

By Kevin Spear
Orlando Sentinel
August 8, 2017
Category: Business & Politics
Region: US East, United States

The state’s water regulator for Central and North Florida renewed permits Tuesday for two of Florida’s biggest industrial consumers of aquifer water. The swift approvals without deliberation, which allow a pair of pulp mills to pump nearly half as much Floridan Aquifer water as used by the city of Orlando, reflected a makeover during the past several years of the St. Johns River Water Management District by Gov. Rick Scott. The agency’s governing board is now dominated by developer and industry representatives and is without environmental advocates who in previous years routinely called for close board examination of big permits when they came up for renewal amid increased tensions over water supplies.

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Forestry

Board to audit forestry operations of Gwa’Nak Resources Ltd.

BC Forest Practices Board
August 8, 2017
Category: Forestry
Region: Canada, Canada West

VICTORIA – The Forest Practices Board will examine the activities of Gwa’Nak Resources Ltd. on forest licences A93095, A93096 and A75918, north of Port Hardy along the Belize Inlet, during the week of Aug. 14, 2017. Auditors will examine whether harvesting, roads, bridges, silviculture, fire protection and associated planning, carried out between August 2015 and August 2017, met the requirements of the Forest and Range Practices Act and the Wildfire Act. Characterized by rugged mountains and numerous inlets, the audit area is remote and only accessible by boat or helicopter. Part of the Great Bear Rainforest, the area is ecologically diverse, supporting a range of wildlife including marbled murrelets, goshawks, grizzly bears and salmon, and is a popular area for fishing and tourism.

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University student sees research potential in forest sector

By the Forest Products Association of Canada
Wood Business
August 8, 2017
Category: Forestry
Region: Canada, Canada West

When University of Northern British Columbia’s (UNBC) Lindsay Albers began her post-secondary studies, she didn’t know that forestry would be in the cards. The 21-year-old Biochemistry and Molecular Biology student initially had her sights set on the medical field, but her gaze soon shifted when she realized the research potential and progressive innovations happening in the forest sector. “I was set on becoming a doctor,” admits Albers, “However I realized that my calling was elsewhere within the sciences.” This summer, Albers is working as part of the bioproducts and energy team at West Fraser’s Hinton Pulp operation. She is one of 10 Greenest Workforce Green Dream scholarship recipients who are sharing their first-hand experiences working at forest operations across the country.

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Squamish group to bring help to remote worksites

By Jennifer Thuncher
Squamish Chief
August 8, 2017
Category: Forestry
Region: Canada, Canada West

They will fly in to help those in serious medical trouble in remote areas. A group of Squamish-based paramedics, doctors and rescue professionals is banding together to form a new organization that will bring advanced life support to the Sea to Sky Corridor, by helicopter. …Collaborating with Blackcomb Helicopters, the aim of the Squamish group is to use a helicopter to access ill or injured patients at industrial worksites, forestry operations, remote First Nations communities and marine environments by “hoisting an advanced life support practitioner down to the patient, rapidly treating with ALS care, and then hoisting the patient into the aircraft for transport,” Randell explained recently in a letter to Squamish council.

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Projet Montréal to plant 30000 trees on Mount Royal in next 10 years

Montreal Gazette
August 8, 2017
Category: Forestry
Region: Canada East, Canada

Projet Montréal has announced a campaign promise to plant 30,000 trees on Mount Royal over the next 10 years. The opposition party at city hall says the action would help mitigate the effects of emerald ash borers that are threatening about 27,000 ash trees on the mountain. If elected, the party promises to update Mount Royal’s tree inventory and replace trees decimated by the insects as quickly as possible to maintain the mountain’s green canopy and prevent the propagation of invasive species. “Mount Royal is an important symbol of Montreal,” Projet Montréal leader Valérie Plante told a news conference on Tuesday. “We will not allow the mountain to be called ‘Mont Chauve’ (Bald Mountain) as it once was 60 years ago when many trees were removed.”

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Have environmentalists lost sight of what they are fighting for?

By Ian Dunn, R.P.F., Forest Policy Advisor, Ontario Forest Industries Association
Wood Business
August 8, 2017
Category: Forestry
Region: Canada East, Canada

…It appears that environmental activists have been spending more of their time and fundraising dollars in courtrooms lately. In Ontario, CPAWS has taken the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry to divisional and appeal courts over the implementation of the Endangered Species Act. Losing both cases and not satisfied with the outcome, CPAWS appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada, which, on May 4, 2017, dismissed the case. Still not satisfied, CPAWS has taken to social media to publicly slam the courts and the ministry….It is clear activists have lost sight of what they were fighting for: conservation of our forests and wildlife. Fortunately, while activists are in court and hosting tax-planning seminars, the actual management of our forests remains in good hands.

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Forest projects help ‘bend the climate curve’ in Wallowa County

By Nils D. Christoffersen, executive director, Wallowa Resources
Wallowa County Cheiftain
August 8, 2017
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

With smoke enveloping Wallowa County and the governor declaring another wildfire State of Emergency, we need fresh perspective on forestry and forest management. The forests of eastern Oregon have been dramatically modified by human activity since the late 1800s. These changes have reduced forest resiliency to wildfire, insects and disease –– and climate change is amplifying these threats. …While we lacked conclusive evidence 10 years ago, the scientific literature has expanded significantly. Numerous reviews of this evidence conclude the same thing –– that fuel reduction treatments reduce wildfire severity in mixed-conifer forests if they treat surface fuels (especially by prescribed burning), retain the larger fire resistant trees and open the canopy. … Analysis published in 2016 calls for fuel treatments to prevent crown fires and thinning to reduce insect mortality, and for Congress and the public to give forest managers greater flexibility to achieve long-term forest health goals.

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Forest Fires

Forests critic John Rustad sees Ashcroft Reserve fire devastation at first hand

By Barbara Roden
Ashcroft Cache Creek Journal
August 8, 2017
Category: Forest Fires
Region: Canada, Canada West

Forests critic John Rustad. the MLA for Bulkley-Nechako who was formerly the Minister of Forests, Lands, and Natural Resource Operations, was in Ashcroft on August 6 to tour the Ashcroft Reserve with Ashcroft Indian Band chief Greg Blain, and see at first-hand the devastation there. Rustad was in Ashcroft with Fraser-Nicola MLA Jackie Tegart, and The Journal was invited to accompany them on the tour. Blain showed the path of the fire, and drove past many of the residences that were lost, then drove out to where the Band’s two maintenance sheds full of equipment and historical records had been destroyed. He also noted the unpredictability of the fire, pointing to where a pile of logs lay near the maintenance sheds. Fire had swept past the pile on both sides, but left the logs untouched. Asked if anyone from the governing NDP party had been in touch with the Band, Blain replied “We’ve heard nothing from the NDP. Not a peep. 

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Edmonton researchers create artificial intelligence robot to predict Alberta wildfires

CBC News
August 8, 2017
Category: Forest Fires
Region: Canada, Canada West

Scientists at the University of Alberta hope to harness the powers of artificial intelligence to protect Alberta communities from the ravages of wildfires. A computer model inspired by the human brain, programmed by forest science researchers at the University of Alberta and the University of Oklahoma, is designed to predict extreme fire weather in northern Alberta. Described as a “self-organizing map,” or an SOM, the program relies on raw meteorological data to generate predictions. Over time, without direction or outside intervention, the program “learns” from this raw data and makes predictions in real time, said Mike Flannigan, co-author of the study and professor at the University of Alberta’s department of renewable resources.

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B.C. wildfires: news roundup, air quality, interactive map, fire danger

Times Colonist
August 8, 2017
Category: Forest Fires
Region: Canada, Canada West

The combination of lightning and tinder-dry conditions has led to more than two dozen new wildfires igniting in British Columbia in a period of less than two days this week. …A Smoky Skies Bulletin covering Greater Victoria, Vancouver Island and much of B.C. was continued on Tuesday. Poor air quality persists throughout the southern half of British Columbia as tinder-dry conditions continue to fuel wildfires. Weather over the coming week might provide some relief from the poor air quality plaguing much of the province. Here’s an animation of the smoke forecast (it covers Tuesday morning to Thursday morning) from FireSmoke.ca.

via GIPHY

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108 Mexican firefighters ‘eager to start’ on B.C. wildfire efforts

By Alex Migdal
CBC News
August 8, 2017
Category: Forest Fires
Region: Canada, Canada West

When a military transport landed in Kamloops on Friday, the 44 Mexican firefighters on board could barely make out the city through the thick smoke. “This is the first time we saw this quantity of smoke,” Juan Villa, the group’s spokesman, said shortly after disembarking the flight. Villa’s time in Kamloops was brief. After being outfitted with vehicles, radio and equipment, he joined the fleet of 108 Mexican firefighters currently battling some of the toughest fires in the ravaged Cariboo region. It’s the province’s first-ever deployment from Mexico, underscoring the intensity of the 100-plus wildfires that have strained the roughly 1,000 B.C. firefighters battling the blazes.

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28 wildfires start in under two days in BC

BC Local News
August 8, 2017
Category: Forest Fires
Region: Canada, Canada West

KAMLOOPS, B.C. — A combination of lightning and tinder-dry conditions has led to more than two dozen new wildfires starting in British Columbia over a two-day period. Kevin Skrepnek of the BC Wildfire Service said the majority of the 17 fires that started Monday were the result of lightning. Another 11 fires had started by midday Tuesday, bringing the total number of fires currently burning in the province to 146. Since April, there have been 928 fires and just over 500 of them have been confirmed to be naturally caused while another 364 were human caused. Skrepnek said the numbers are consistent with previous years where roughly 60 per cent of fires are natural and 40 per cent are caused by people.

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Precipice fire creates smoky skies in Bella Coola

By Caitlin Thompson
BC Local News
August 8, 2017
Category: Forest Fires
Region: Canada, Canada West

The Precipice wildfire continues to grow and is creating heavy smoke for the Bella Coola Valley. Like much of the rest of the province, the Valley has been covered in a thick blanket of smoke due to the fire, which is showing no signs of slowing down. “The Precipice wildfire is burning about 52 kilometres east of Bella Coola and continues to grow. This lightning-caused fire started on July 7, 2017, in a remote area of Tweedsmuir Park on the Cariboo Plateau,” said Donna MacPherson, Fire Information Officer with the Coastal Fire Centre. “As of the afternoon of Aug. 5, this fire covered about 4,300 hectares and had spread beyond the park boundary. 

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Lightning strikes start 5 wildfires in Umpqua National Forest

By Samantha Matsumoto
The Oregonian
August 8, 2017
Category: Forest Fires
Region: United States, US West

A lightning storm in southwest Oregon started five new wildfires in the Umpqua National Forest, U.S. Forest Service officials said. Four of those fires are less than an acre and one, Paradise fire five miles west of the forest, is 20 acres, Forest Service spokeswoman Cheryl Caplan said Tuesday. Umpqua National Forest is at extreme fire danger, Caplan said. Campfires are restricted to campground fire rings and fireplaces in the wilderness. The new wildfires started as several others burned across the state. The wildfires and hot, dry conditions prompted Gov. Kate Brown to declare a state of emergency last week. The declaration allows the Oregon National Guard to assist the state Department of Forestry and state Fire Marshal’s Office.

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Lightning strikes spark over a dozen forest fires

By Sean Longoria
Redding Record Searchlight
August 8, 2017
Category: Forest Fires
Region: United States, US West

Lighting sparked over a dozen fires in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest over the last few days, with about 23 acres burned since Sunday. Weather forecasts show more thunderstorms and lightning strikes could be on the way, with strong wind gusts that could spread fires. The first fires were reported on Sunday evening after lightning storms passed over the region. Five of the fires were contained, according to the U.S. Forest Service, but 11 remain active. Ground crews, 147 personnel, are actively working with helicopters, hand crews, smokejumpers, and air tankers. They will continue flights over the forest to help with spotting new fires. The fly overs are normal after lighting storms in the forest.

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Fire near Lost Creek Lake grows to 1,000 acres

By Ryan Pfeil
Mail Tribune
August 8, 2017
Category: Forest Fires
Region: United States, US West

A wildfire burning near Prospect has reached 1,000 acres and is continuing to grow, prompting Gov. Kate Brown to declare it a conflagration in order to marshal more resources to fight it. Exacerbated by winds, dry conditions and lighting, the Flounce fire, sparked Monday about two miles from Lost Creek Lake, reached 1,000 acres Tuesday evening, according to the Oregon State Fire Marshal’s Office. The governor’s declaration allows the fire marshal to mobilize firefighters and equipment to help protect structures.

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Northwest wildfire outlook turns for the worse

By Don Jenkins
Capital Press
August 8, 2017
Category: Forest Fires
Region: United States, US West

Northwest fire officials said Tuesday that record-dry conditions, continued heat and incoming lightning storms threaten to escalate a worsening fire season. Some 17 large fires were burning in Oregon and Washington, with more lightning expected to strike the dried-out region over the next several days. Idaho officials reported a dozen active fires of more than 1,000 acres. “We’re moving from a moderate to a high level of activity across the state,” said Washington Department of Natural Resources wildfire manager Bob Johnson, chairman of the Pacific Northwest Wildfire Coordinating Group. “We’re in a position now where our fuels and our weather are working against us,” he said.

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Fast-moving Montana wildfire prompts evacuations

CBS News
August 8, 2017
Category: Forest Fires
Region: United States, US West

EUREKA, Mont. — A lightning-caused fire in northwestern Montana has burned three-quarters of a square mile in the Kootenai National Forest and is threatening residences southeast of Eureka. Forest officials say the Gibraltar Ridge Fire is one of several that began during a lightning storm late Monday. The blaze quickly grew to 500 acres overnight and exploded to 1,400 acres by early Tuesday afternoon, CBS affiliate KPAX reports. Structures and residences to the east of Eureka are threatened by the fire.

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Largest ever wildfire in Greenland seen burning from space

By Michael Le Page
New Scientist
August 8, 2017
Category: Forest Fires
Region: International

The largest wildfire ever detected by satellites in the mostly ice-covered country of Greenland continues to spread. Local authorities are said to be considering ways to halt the blaze, but it is not clear whether they have the necessary resources. “It certainly is the biggest one in the satellite record,” says remote-sensing scientist Stef Lhermitte of Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands. That record only goes back to 2000, but it could well turn out to be the biggest wildfire in Greenland’s history. The fire, first spotted by a pilot on 31 July, has taken researchers like Lhermitte by surprise. His initial analysis of satellite observations suggests there have been a few small wildfires in Greenland since 2000 but that over the past three years there has been a huge increase in the area burning.

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Carbon, Climate & Bioenergy

Editorial: Need for biomass balance

By the Editorial Board
Daily Hampshire Gazette
August 8, 2017
Category: Carbon, Climate & Bioenergy
Region: US East, United States

Many arguments exist for promoting wood as a heating fuel source: It’s a renewable resource that eases our dependence on fossil fuels. It provides Massachusetts loggers and landowners with a steady source of income and reduces American reliance on foreign oil supplies. But there’s also this inconvenient truth: Massachusetts has more air pollution from wood combustion than any other New England state, according to a Pelham environmental group’s analysis of federal data. That fact, along with the knowledge that burning wood speeds climate change, should give Massachusetts officials pause as they prepare to add boilers fueled by “woody biomass” — wood chips or pellets — to the list of alternative energy sources eligible for government subsidies.

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