Tree Frog Forestry News

Daily news for October 27 2020

Today’s Takeaway

West Fraser, PotlatchDeltic report strong Q3 earnings

The Tree Frog Forestry News
October 27, 2020
Category: Today's Takeaway

West Fraser and PotlatchDeltic report record earnings on the strength of lumber prices. In related news: US and Canadian housing starts shrug off the pandemic; single-family starts are up in September, and new home sales slow. Other companies in the news include: Catalyst (Powell River tax hike); Domtar (Dryden mill discharge); FH Stoltze (high sawlog prices), Hammond Lumber (new mill purchase); and Huron Central (railway layoffs).

In Forest Safety news: Canada mandates the use of electronic logging devices, and FPInnovations is the first to certify them; two firefighters are seriously injured as thousands are evacuated in California; and 16 BC firefighters return from the US with Covid-19. Meanwhile: the LCA of Redwood lumber; and communicating the sustainability of forests and forest products.

Finally, its time to get batty for Halloween and International Bat Week!

Kelly McCloskey, Tree Frog Editor

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Business & Politics

Council approves taxation for mill in Powell River

By Pau Galinski
The Powell River Peak
October 26, 2020
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

City of Powell River has adopted a revitalization tax exemption bylaw that will fix Catalyst Paper Corporation’s annual property tax bill at $3.2 million for the next three years. At a special meeting of city council on October 23, councillors voted unanimously in favour of the revitalization tax exemption bylaw, which raises the mill’s assessment by $150,000 per year over the previous revitalization tax exemption bylaw. Councillor George Doubt… noted no members of the public had shown up in council chambers to talk about the bylaw, but he wanted to talk about council’s ability to grant a revitalization tax exemption bylaw. …Councillor Cindy Elliott said if the mill goes into arrears, the mill loses its tax break, so the revitalization tax exemption bylaw is an incentive to the mill to pay its taxes on time.

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Huron Central issues layoff notice to railway employees

Northern Ontario Business
October 26, 2020
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada East, Canada

Huron Central Railway has given notice to its employees that their positions will be terminated should the railway cease operations in December. The notice was issued to all 43 employees last Thursday. …The railway services Algoma Steel in Sault Ste. Marie, Domtar’s pulp and paper plant in Espanola and EACOM’s sawmill operation in Nairn Centre. The company is waiting on Ottawa and Queen’s Park to put together a $40-million package for track maintenance and safety upgrades to the 288-kilometre line. Genesee & Wyoming Inc. had originally planned to cease operations of the railway in March, but extended the timeline due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Domtar, province explain dark water in Wabigoon River

By Ryan Forbes
DrydenNow.com
October 27, 2020
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada East, Canada

DRYDEN, Ontario — A dark coloured substance bubbling up on the Wabigoon River near the Domtar Mill has caused some concern in the community, but provincial officials say it’s not an issue. A viral video on social media… shows the dark substance on the river near the mill, and many are suggesting the colour difference in the water is due to runoff or waste from Domtar. …The dark water is treated effluent diffuser discharging under normal operations from the mill. Domtar adds they are not aware of any spills or unregulated discharges, and they are in compliance with the ministry’s approvals.

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Hammond Lumber acquires North Belgrade sawmill

By Renee Cordes
MaineBiz
October 26, 2020
Category: Business & Politics
Region: US East, United States

BELGRADE, Maine — Amid a home improvement-fueled sales surge during the pandemic, Belgrade-based Hammond Lumber Co. is expanding with the acquisition of a smaller competitor in its own neighborhood. Hammond on Friday announced that it acquired Tukey Brothers, Inc., a sawmill in North Belgrade. Terms were not disclosed, but Hammond Lumber President and CEO told Mainebiz via email that Tukey had been for sale for two years and had approached Hammond. Hammond,a family-owned company founded in 1953, posted $251 million in sales last year and has more than 800 employees and 21 locations across Maine. …Hammond plans to operate the Tukey sawmill as its second lumber manufacturing location.

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Finance & Economics

13 Graphs Show U.S. and Canadian Housing Starts Shrug Off Pandemic

By Alex Carrick
The Journal of Commerce
October 26, 2020
Category: Finance & Economics
Region: Canada, United States

One of the true economic surprises of the pandemic is how little sway it has been holding over housing starts. In the US, the Census Bureau is saying that year-to-date monthly average residential groundbreakings are +6.5% compared with January-to-September 2019. In Canada, as reported by CMHC, monthly average starts are basically level with last year, +0.7%, but that’s commendable considering how much havoc has been created elsewhere in the economy by the coronavirus health crisis. There have been only two months of extreme weakness in U.S. housing starts to date in 2020. …In September, American housing starts were back above 1.4 million units. Regionally, on a percentage-change basis, the Midwest has been leading (+12.7%), followed by the West (+6.8%) and the South (+6.1%), with the Northeast (0.0%) in a holding pattern. 

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West Fraser Timber swings to $350M Q3 profit on higher lumber prices

The Canadian Press in BNN Bloomberg
October 26, 2020
Category: Finance & Economics
Region: Canada, United States

VANCOUVER – West Fraser Timber Co. Ltd. says it swung to a large profit in the third quarter on higher lumber prices. The Vancouver-based forestry company says it earned $350 million or $5.09 per share for the three months ended Sept. 30, up from a loss of $45 million or 65 cents per share a year earlier. Adjusted profits also surged, to $386 million or $5.63 per share, compared with a loss of $15 million or 22 cents per share in the third quarter of 2019. Sales grew 42 per cent to $1.69 billion, from $1.19 billion in the prior year. West Fraser was expected to post $4.59 per share in adjusted profits on $1.65 billion of revenues, according to financial data firm Refinitiv. The company said its lumber segment generated $454 million of $487 million in operating earnings during the quarter. [END]

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West Fraser Announces Third Quarter 2020 Results

By West Fraser Timber Co. Ltd.
Cision Newswire
October 26, 2020
Category: Finance & Economics
Region: Canada, United States

VANCOUVER, BC — West Fraser Timber reported results for the third quarter of 2020. Highlights include: sales increased by 32% to $1,690 million in the quarter, [and] Adjusted EBITDA increased to $605 million from $184 million in the second quarter. …Our lumber segment generated operating earnings in the quarter of $454 million (Q2-20 – $66 million) and Adjusted EBITDA of $552 million (Q2-20 – $156 million).  The improvement was due primarily to higher lumber prices and SYP shipment volumes, partially offset by lower SPF shipment volumes.  Higher lumber prices increased Adjusted EBITDA by $424 million compared to the previous quarter. …Our panels segment generated operating earnings in the quarter of $47 million (Q2-20 – $17 million) and Adjusted EBITDA of $51 million (Q2-20 – $20 million). …The positive price and volume variance increased Adjusted EBITDA by $33 million compared to the previous quarter. …Our pulp & paper segment generated operating earnings in the quarter of negative $5 million (Q2-20 – negative $1 million) and Adjusted EBITDA of $5 million (Q2-20 – $10 million). 

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Single-Family Building Boosts Housing Starts Higher in September

By John Greene
Forests2Market Blog
October 27, 2020
Category: Finance & Economics
Region: United States

US housing starts inched up in September led by strong gains in single-family home construction, suggesting that residential building has plenty of momentum as we head into the fourth quarter of what has been the most turbulent year in recent history. Privately-owned housing starts were up 1.9 percent in September to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.415 million units. Single-family starts increased 8.5 percent to a rate of 1.108 million units; starts for the volatile multi-family housing segment dropped 16.3 percent to a pace of 307,000 units. Privately-owned housing authorizations were up 5.2 percent to a rate of 1.553 million units in September; single-family authorizations were up 7.8 percent to a pace of 1.119 million units.

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New Home Sales Growth Rate Slows in September

By Robert Dietz
NAHB – Eye on Housing
October 26, 2020
Category: Finance & Economics
Region: United States

After a surge in the pace of new home sales in July and August, the growth rate of newly built single-family home slowed in September. While still strong, the growth rate of new home sales exceeded construction starts by a historic margin at the end of the summer, necessitating an increase in starts and some slowing of sales. According to the estimates from the Census Bureau and HUD, sales declined by 3.5% for the month to a 959,000 seasonally adjusted annual rate. …Looking back to the spring, the April data (570,000 annualized pace) marks the low point of sales for the current recession. The April rate was 26% lower than the prior peak, pre-recession rate set in January. Sales have mounted a historic growth rate since that time.

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PotlatchDeltic achieves record Q3 earnings on historic run in lumber prices

By PotlatchDeltic Corporation
Business Wire
October 26, 2020
Category: Finance & Economics
Region: United States, US West

SPOKANE, Washington — PotlatchDeltic reported net income of $81.0 million, or $1.20 per diluted share, on revenues of $313.0 million for the quarter ended September 30, 2020. Net income was $20.6 million, or $0.30 per diluted share, on revenues of $226.3 million for the quarter ended September 30, 2019. …“Our Timberlands and Wood Products businesses achieved record financial performance as outstanding operational execution by our employees capitalized on the historic run in lumber prices against the backdrop of a challenging COVID environment,” said Mike Covey, chairman and CEO. “Looking to the fourth quarter of 2020, our financial results will continue to benefit from high lumber prices through an extended lumber order file and lagged index pricing on our Idaho sawlogs.

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High Demand and High Prices for Forest Products

By Maggie Dresser
The Flathead Beacon
October 27, 2020
Category: Finance & Economics
Region: United States, US West

As the unpredictable nature of the coronavirus pandemic continues to affect every industry differently, sawlog prices in Montana are reaching record levels, said F.H. Stoltze Land and Resource Manager Paul McKenzie. …According to the University of Montana sawlog report, Western Montana’s price per thousand board feet (MBF) for Douglas-fir sawlogs reached $407 in the third quarter, compared to 2019’s Douglas-fir prices at $393 per MBF. Lodgepole pine sawlogs reached $409 per MBF this year compared to $393 last year. …Montana’s production has been uninterrupted throughout the pandemic, the state’s wood product industry is taking advantage of the high market prices. …With a 39,367-acre tree farm, the company is continuing to expand the business with both its timberland and sawmill. Stoltze is Montana’s oldest lumber company, which was established in 1912.

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Wood, Paper & Green Building

Concern for rising costs at new RCMP build

Alaska Highway News
October 26, 2020
Category: Wood, Paper & Green Building
Region: Canada, Canada West

Fort St. John’s budget architect told city council Monday that he’s concerned with the number of change notices and rising costs to build the new RCMP detachment. There have been $1.88 million worth of change notices issued so far, the majority due to the mass timber being used for construction… Council has approved a $51.4 million budget for the project. However, the design for the building “wasn’t completed when we went out to tender,” Joy said. “As they progressed with the design, especially with the mass timber, there was an increase in floor loading requirements that wasn’t in the original scope, and other engineering changes to the drawings, which required mass timber to increase their bid,” Joy said. The rising cost of mass timber has also proved to be a problem for North Cowichan [who] abandoned the mass timber in favour of structural steel, a decision estimated to save them $1.8 million.

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Natural Resources Canada invests $4 million toward the Chalk River Laboratories

Canadian Architect
October 26, 2020
Category: Wood, Paper & Green Building
Region: Canada East, Canada

Natural Resources Canada is investing nearly $4 million to the Canadian Nuclear Laboratories toward the construction of a series of mass timber buildings at Atomic Energy of Canada Limited’s Chalk River Laboratories. In 2017, Canadian Nuclear Laboratories engaged HDR to develop a master plan to help revitalize the Chalk River Laboratories site, which is approximately 3,700 hectares in size and consists of more than 300 existing buildings. …The project will showcase the use of wood for low-rise, non-residential construction while helping to reduce the carbon footprint of the Chalk River campus and contribute to Canada’s growing bioeconomy. Funding is provided through Natural Resources Canada’s Green Construction through Wood program. According to Natural Resources Canada, projects like this will help Canada achieve its 2030 climate change goals by finding effective ways of building sustainably with Canadian wood products while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

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USDA Forest Service Reports on Life-Cycle Assessment of Redwood Lumber

By Humboldt Sawmill Company, LLC
Cision Newswire
October 26, 2020
Category: Wood, Paper & Green Building
Region: United States, US West

SANTA ROSA, California — USDA Forest Service researchers recently published FPL-RP-706, October 2020 entitled Cradle-to-Gate Life-Cycle Assessment of Redwood Lumber in the United States. Life-cycle assessment (LCA, also known as life-cycle analysis) can be thought of as an environmental audit where all of the environmental impacts from raw material extraction and processing (cradle) through manufacture and preparation for distribution (gate) are scientifically measured.  Primary data on forestry operations, transportation of logs from forests to the sawmill and lumber production, including sawing, drying and planing was collected from three major redwood lumber mills, including Humboldt Sawmill Company, LLC and Mendocino Forest Products Company, LLC, representing 66.6% of the total production volume of the redwood lumber industry in 2017. The authors collected primary data according to Consortium for Renewable Industrial Materials (CORRIM) research guidelines. Key findings of this study focus on energy consumption, biogenic carbon and global warming potential. 

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Sorma Group Testing New 100% Recyclable Paper Packaging Solution

Produce Report
October 26, 2020
Category: Wood, Paper & Green Building
Region: International

Andrea Casali

With environmental impact and sustainability increasingly at the forefront of global conversation, the fresh produce industry is continuing to develop innovative solutions to minimize its effects on our planet. The Sorma Group, an industry leader in fruit and vegetable packaging, grading and weighing systems, is contributing to this effort with an innovative new 100% paper packing solution. The new line is made entirely of paper certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, and hence is 100% recyclable. It also features a distinctive cellulose mesh window for improved breathability, prolonging the shelf life of the produce and making it easily visible through the packaging. “With this new packaging line,” says Andrea Casali, sales director for Italy at the Sorma Group, “we are enhancing and completing our range with a focus on environmental sustainability, and we are meeting the demands of consumers who are paying increasing attention to this issue.”

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Forestry

Time to get batty for International Bat Week

Victoria News
October 27, 2020
Category: Forestry
Region: Canada, United States

With Halloween just around the corner, and bat decorations going up – bat enthusiasts around the province are supporting real bats by participating in International Bat Week. International Bat Week, which takes place from Oct. 24 to 31, is all about appreciating the animal and the benefits they bring to the ecosystem such as eating insects to pollination. “Bats in B.C. help control agricultural and forest pests, as well as mosquitoes in our yards – but now bats need our help” says Mandy Kellner, Coordinator for the BC Community Bat Program. “The conservation of bats in BC has always been important since over half the species in this province are considered at risk.” Kellner adds that with the continuing spread of white-nose syndrome in Washington State, bat conservation is more important than ever.”

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FPInnovations named first Electronic Logging Devices certification body

By John G. Smith
Today’s Trucking News
October 26, 2020
Category: Forestry
Region: Canada

OTTAWA, Ont. – FPInnovations will be the first body to certify Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs) as Canada prepares to mandate the technology. Federally regulated carriers will need to equip trucks with certified ELDs beginning June 12, 2021. While U.S. regulators allow suppliers to self-certify that equipment meets underlying technical standards, Transport Canada requires third-party certification to help ensure the devices are not prone to tampering. Glen Legere, FPInnovations senior director – Fibre Supply Innovation Centre of Excellence said, “we have demonstrated our expertise in testing these devices and the validity of the results of our methodology. FPInnovations … is ready and committed to helping improve road safety in Canada by taking up the challenge of certifying these devices.” …FPInnovations’ transportation research group had already established an optional service that can be used to ensure that devices meet U.S. technical standards.

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Government of Canada marks important milestone to bring electronic logging devices into commercial vehicles

By Transport Canada
Cision Newswire
October 26, 2020
Category: Forestry
Region: Canada

OTTAWA, ON – The Government of Canada is committed to improving road safety in Canada by taking measures to reduce commercial driver fatigue, which is why it has mandated the use of electronic logging devices.  Today, the Minister of Transport, the Honourable Marc Garneau announced that FPInnovations has been accredited as the first third-party organization to certify electronic logging devices. This is a critical step that ensures an electronic logging device is safe, reliable, and approved for use in Canada.  Electronic logging devices are tamper-resistant devices that are integrated into commercial vehicle engines. They are intended to ensure that commercial drivers stay within their daily driving limit and accurately log their working hours. …Best practices have shown that third-party certification for electronic logging devices will ensure a consistent, reliable, and accurate certification process. FPInnovations has a specialized expertise in this area.

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Community wildfire protection plan revised and ongoing

By Jarrett Hofmann
Sun Peaks Independent News
October 26, 2020
Category: Forestry
Region: Canada, Canada West

In December 2019, the Community Wildfire Protection Plan was revised and contract crews are in place to continue to mitigate forest and structural fire risk. Sun Peaks Fire Rescue’s chief  Dean Schiavon has also applied for a grant that will cover the costs of forest fire fuel management and the FireSmart program. Registered professional forester Bruce Morrow and Sun Peaks Fire Rescue (SPFR) chief Dean Schiavon are working hard to ensure that forests surrounding Sun Peaks and the structures that make up the town will continue to be protected in the event of a wildfire. …Strategies to reduce the risk of forest fires include falling danger trees, spacing and pruning of understorey trees, and burning or chipping the created debris.  …On top of reducing forest fire risk, Morrow said they are concerned about the biodiversity of the forest and want to increase forest resilience.

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Experts To Western States: Time To Finally Fight Wildfires With More Fire

By Eric Westervelt
NPR – National Public Radio
October 27, 2020
Category: Forestry
Region: United States

…Top of the prevention strategy list for fire ecologists is more fire. This historically destructive wildfire season across much of the Western U.S. has wildfire experts calling for a dramatic increase in the numbers of acres intentionally burned. …They also want significant new investment in workforce training and infrastructure to scale up prescribed burns on public and private lands. Vastly increasing the number of these low-intensity, carefully managed fires is key. Experts say it reduces dangerous levels of highly combustible fuel and underbrush built up over more than a century of trying to snuff out most every forest fire. …[But] a study published in the journal Fire showed that prescribed burns on federal lands in the West over the past 20 years stayed flat or fell… Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) was the only federal agency to substantially increase prescribed fire use, likely due to tribal self-governance and a historic embrace of intentional fire.

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Procter & Gamble shareholders vote in landslide to address supply-chain deforestation

By Genevieve Belmaker
Mongabay
October 26, 2020
Category: Forestry
Region: United States

A shareholder proposal filed in September 2020 by Green Century Funds was approved by a 67% affirmative vote in the annual Proctor & Gamble (P&G) shareholder meeting in mid-October. The vote was brought as a call for the international corporation to cull forest degradation and deforestation from the company’s supply chain. Such corporate commitments are not uncommon, but the P&G vote signals a shift in shareholder awareness of the long-term implications of a supply chain that’s potentially destructive to forests. “P&G’s failure to adequately mitigate deforestation and forest degradation in its supply chains poses material financial risk to the company and its shareholders,” said Green Century President Leslie Samuelrich in a statement. “The company must catch up to its peers and enact stronger policies to prevent unsustainable forest products from entering its supply chain.”

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Carbon, Climate & Bioenergy

Communicating on Sustainable Forest Solutions After COVID-19

By Kai Lintunen, FAO-UNECE Forest Communicators’ Network
International Institute for Sustainable Development
October 26, 2020
Category: Carbon, Climate & Bioenergy
Region: International

…In many places around the world, forests are seen as something to be set aside for conservation. …But to say that there is a vital difference between sustainably managing forests and indiscriminate logging would be an understatement. The challenge is to communicate this to the general public and to change this deep-seated way of thinking about forests. We need to improve understanding of the sustainable use of forests for diverse purposes not only for the benefit of billions of people, including some of the world’s most vulnerable, but also as an elemental means of protecting forests themselves. As the world focuses on building back better in the aftermath of COVID-19, this communication challenge is more pressing than ever. Forests – and forest products – can help tackle climate change and reach sustainability goals and should be included in recovery plans as we design a new normal.

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Health & Safety

16 BC Wildfire Service firefighters returning from U.S. test positive for COVID-19

By Monica Lamb-Yorski
BC Local News
October 26, 2020
Category: Health & Safety
Region: Canada, Canada West

Sixteen B.C. firefighters tested positive for COVID-19 after returning in October from assisting with fires in California, the BC Wildfire Service confirmed Monday. Forrest Tower, BC Wildfire Service communication and engagement specialist, told Black Press Media the 16 people who tested positive are all staying in a facility in Richmond, B.C. that is designated for COVID-19 quarantining. “There are about 169 firefighters in total that are in Richmond quarantining right now who are following the recommendations of the public health authority,” he said Monday. …Symptoms experienced by the firefighters who tested positive warranted them getting tested, but nothing that has required hospitalization, Tower noted.

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Thousands Forced to Evacuate, Two Firefighters Injured by California Fires

By Ana Facio-Krajcer, Will Wright and Johnny Diaz
The New York Times
October 27, 2020
Category: Health & Safety
Region: United States, US West

IRVINE, California — Two firefighters were gravely injured and tens of thousands of Californians were forced to flee their homes on Monday as two new fires ripped through Orange County. About 90,800 residents in Irvine were put under mandatory evacuation orders because of the Silverado Fire and the smaller Blue Ridge Fire, said Shane Sherwood, a division chief for the Orange County Fire Authority. High winds and low humidity fueled the fires’ rapid growth. The two injured firefighters, ages 26 and 31, were intubated after receiving second- and third-degree burns across most of their bodies in the Silverado Fire, according to a statement from the Orange County Fire Authority. “They’re gravely injured,” Chief Brian Fennessy said. “Their families are with them.”

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