The Tree Frog News
Forest firefighting not just about strength, but smarts
The picture of a sweaty, exhausted firefighter silhouetted against an orange blaze has become an iconic image in this summer of bone-dry conditions and record-high heat. The season is not yet over, and already more than 1,500 fires have raged across the province, with about 300,000 hectares burned. On Aug. 18, the provincial government pegged the cost of fighting B.C. wildfires at $200 million and B.C. Premier Christy Clark warned that amount could double by the end of the season. Though the images of hard-working men and women fighting fires in some of the province’s most remote regions offer an accurate depiction, they don’t tell the whole story of the job, says Xenius Damborg.
Wildfires spark debate
Lawmakers say changes needed; Forest Service says it's doing its best with available funds
Brad Corkill is fuming over the wildfires that have devastated the Northwest this summer. "In my opinion, these fires are completely avoidable," said Corkill, owner of Whiteman Lumber Co. in Cataldo and an Idaho Fish and Game commissioner. "The Coeur d'Alene and St. Joe national forests have not had a major fire since the early 30s. These forests were, until 1993, two of the most heavily managed in the entire U.S. Forest Service system. They were logged in a responsible, professional manner." Corkill is a 40-year veteran of the timber industry, including 37 of those years in North Idaho. He believes changes in forest management over the past 20 years have led to wildfires raging out of control this summer.
Let’s not fiddle while Montana burns
by U.S. Rep. Ryan Zinke
There are 26 wildfires in Montana burning thousands of acres of our national parks, forests and grasslands. This is in part because of the dry and hot weather we’ve had, but even more so due to decades of poor management of our forests. The evidence? One need look no farther than one of the first fires of the season, the Glacier Rim Fire, which quickly burned 100 acres of dead timber and thick regrowth brush in the same area of the 2003 Roberts fire. This is not a new problem. Montana has been a tinderbox for a long time. Rather than sit idly by as our forests go up in smoke, I took action. Earlier this summer, I co-authored the Resilient Federal Forests Act of 2015 to help end the catastrophic wildfires that plague Montana and other Western states.
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Pay the piper: Oregon pursues damages from fire starters
Fire starters face big expenses in cases of negligence or crime
Forestry officials say a potential multi-million dollar claim against a Douglas County resident believed to have accidentally started the Stouts Creek fire is still under consideration. While no one expects to collect anything close to the cost of the fire — currently estimated at more than $36 million — the state will pursue damages in cases involving negligence or criminal conduct. Kyle Reed, a fire prevention specialist for the Douglas Forest Protective Association, says fire officials were able to determine the suspected fire starter, who they have declined to identify, was using a lawnmower in violation of fire season equipment restrictions when the fire began July 30.
Monday’s letters: In praise of urban forests
Letter from Michael Rosen, president of Tree Canada
I applaud the Glenora Conservation Association and the City of Edmonton in their ongoing attempts to protect and save Edmonton’s mature tree canopy. It is clear there is a desire to balance the needs of new homeowners, and protect the trees. As the president of Tree Canada, Canada’s only national, not-for-profit dedicated to greening communities, I work with communities, provinces and even the federal government to help create, grow and protect urban forests. Urban forests should be a priority at every level of government. Trees are crucial to human health, and to the health of our communities and planet.
Philippine bomber in WWII colours
The twin Mars bombers don’t look quite the same anymore. Visitors and residents on Sproat Lake this week will have a chance to see the Philippine Mars bomber out on the water in its original colours. Both Martin Mars water bombers will be parked at the Coulson Flying Tankers base on Sproat Lake at the end of this week, but pilots will need to taxi the Philippine out on the water first in preparation for its flight south of the border in the spring as part of a transfer to the U.S. National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, Florida. The mighty Philippine won’t be airborne yet, but it will be moved out in front of the Hawaii Mars as the twin flying tankers are parked on land at the bomber base, said Wayne Coulson, CEO of the Coulson Group, which owns and operates the Martin Mars aircraft.
Natural Resource Working Group joins 4FRI
WHITE MOUNTAINS — The Four Forests Restoration Initiative, better known as 4FRI, just got a whole lot bigger with the signing of the 4FRI Charter by members of the Natural Resource Working Group. The official signing took place at the NRWG meeting on Aug. 18 at the Navajo County Show Low Complex. NRWG started initially in 1975 and has evolved over the years to include such groups as the counties of Apache and Navajo, Eastern Arizona Counties Organization, Show Low, Pinetop-Lakeside, Arizona Game and Fish Department, Arizona State Land Department, Arizona Forester, Nature Conservancy and Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests, among many others. (A future article will cover the history of NRWG).
Your View: BLM forest plan not ridiculous — it's the law
by Ron Sadler, retired Chief of Forestry Planning for the BLM
Aug. 25 must have been designated "O&C Day" within the offices of The World. The edition on that day contained a front page article regarding the on-going planning process being carried out by the BLM leading to a new management plan for the O&C timber lands as well as a staff editorial which chastises the BLM for "failing to meet our economic need." Both articles seem to have been driven by the vitriolic comments of Commissioner Bob Main that "I'm really ticked off ... This is just really ridiculous." What is apparently driving Main is his belief that the BLM has given "almost no consideration to the O&C Act of 1937" in its draft EIS for the new management plan.
Forests must be managed
Letter by David Johnson
Apart from the radical lack of snowpack last winter and the lack of rain recently, (both likely symptoms of climate change), our forestlands have been mismanaged and neglected for decades. All forested land – private, state and federal – should be intensively managed to reduce fire danger, improve timber quality and conserve our aquifers. A forest is the same as a garden; it needs to be weeded and thinned to be productive and attractive. Instead, much of it has been allowed to grow wild, with the resultant overcrowding and masses of dead and undesirable fuel just waiting for a spark. The problem is that such fine-tuned care is costly and labor intensive with little immediate payoff.
Finally, a glimpse at true cost of stupidity
...Much of the West (excluding California) had big rains this spring, causing good forage growth. Vogler knew that would yield a huge amount of fuel on the ground and fire suppression efforts would not be increased. The result: big fires. The frustration in all of this is that our government treats it as though they like fires because then they can employ a lot of people in trying to contain them instead of simply managing the resources correctly and preventing them. Vogler was right. Far too many self-proclaimed experts and government officials are trying
to plant seeds of fear about the carbon effects of grazing and logging.
Keep in mind that a nation that does not produce carbon does not
produce anything. Carbon emissions are a part of nature.
Editorial: Water everywhere and nowhere
...We’d also like to see congressional action on forest thinning. Overgrown forests are a dual threat — too many trees mean less have access to the aquifer, which results in too many dead, dying and dry trees. And too many dry trees mean the risk of major wildfire is increased. The numbers of catastrophic fire in the West is on the rise. Through Aug. 3, there have been 36,754 wildfires in the United States, burning 5.9 million acres of land. In 2014, that number was 3.6 million acres burned. According to the Insurance Information Institute, over the past 20 years, wildland fires have accounted for $6 billion in insured private property losses, which does not include the tens of billions in losses to public lands and denied private property claims.
Comments sought on proposed timber project
The Bitterroot National Forest’s first vegetative management project that was proposed under new rules allowing an expedited process is ready for public review. The Westside Collaborative Vegetation Management Project is seeking to commercially harvest or thin about 2,300 acres of national forest lands between Lost Horse Creek and Roaring Lion Creek. The area was part of more than 5 million acres in the state nominated by Gov. Steve Bullock last year for priority restoration work under the 2014 Farm Bill. The Farm Bill contained a provision that allowed the governor to nominate national forest lands impacted by insects and disease for an expedited process for forest management, which includes logging.
Zinke calls for timber work
The day after a fast-growing fire forced the evacuation of Essex residents from their homes, Montana’s lone congressman on Friday visited the fire team’s camp at the West Glacier koa. Rep. Ryan Zinke, R-Mont., who is from Whitefish, connected Northwest Montana’s multiple wildfires to his bill that would aim to increase harvest and fuel treatment on federal forests. “This is completely avoidable,” said Zinke, gesturing to the thick haze that has enveloped the region for the past week. The Resilient Federal Forests Act of 2015, of which he is a cosponsor, passed the House last month and Zinke said he has been pressuring the Senate to bring it up for consideration.
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Thank you to groups whose lawsuits ‘allow for catastrophic fires’
Thank you Idaho Rivers United and organizations like yours for protecting our environment and our way of life. Thank you all for suing the Forest Service and the BLM and creating the conditions on our national forest and range lands that allow for catastrophic wildfires. Thank you for caring so much that policies like yours are destroying critical species habitat and millions of our wildlife perish every year because you think you know better how to manage these lands through litigation rather than the agencies and their trained personnel. Thank you for caring so much for our children. Your actions to prevent the Idaho Department of Lands from managing our timber has led to the reduction in funding Idaho’s school children by $1.6 million.
Company & Business News
Signs point to major shake-up at Tembec
Could Tembec Inc.’s days as an independent forest products company be numbered? There’s certainly enough fresh timber for the rumour mill these days regarding the fate of the Montreal-based lumber, paper and specialty pulp producer. The shares fell to penny-stock status recently after Standard & Poor’s revised its outlook for the company to negative from stable, and investor jitters ramped up on balance-sheet concerns. Analysts have been lowering their share-price targets after Tembec – challenged by increasing competition and volatile pricing in specialty pulp markets – posted on June 30 a huge miss on the consensus estimate of a third-quarter loss of 4 cents.
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Wildfires & record setting temps effect on log prices
Like last winter, extreme weather has hit again, this time in the form of a hot weather and serious localized forest fires. Markets and demand for wood products are continuing to improve. Trends of lumber, home construction, and housing markets, are compared to 2006. ...With wood products demand continuing to rise, stud prices might also rise. This is not always good for the mills, since log prices often rise even more when shortages occur. Like housing, which was affected by extreme weather last winter, stay tuned for weather-affected markets in logs and wood products this summer, especially if housing continues to pick up.