The Tree Frog News
More wildfire crews arrive as B.C. braces for another round of fires
VANCOUVER - Another 153 firefighters from across Canada have arrived in British Columbia as the province braces for more hot, dry weather that could send the wildfire danger soaring. The Ministry of Forests says 100 sustained-action firefighters and additional single specialists from Ontario, Manitoba and New Brunswick have been briefed in Kamloops, B.C., and assigned to fires throughout the province. The new teams will spell-off crews that have been working on roughly 15 large or potentially threatening blazes, including the 15-square-kilometre Botanie (bo-TAN'-ee) Road fire just outside Lytton, 260 kilometres northeast of Vancouver, where more than 100 residents remain out of their homes.
Firefighting costs soar as warming worsens wildfires
The costs of fighting wildfires are rising dramatically, and could keep climbing in the face of climate change that's contributing to longer fire seasons out West and the spread of housing developments near forests, a science group warned Wednesday. "The annual suppression cost has exceeded $1 billion in each year since 2000," said Rachel Cleetus, senior climate economist with the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) during a phone conference with reporters Wednesday.
Federal government effectively limits Oregon’s rebounding timber industry
The Oregon Department of Forestry’s annual report on timber production shows the need to increase logging on federal lands. The report contains good news and restates a troubling trend. On the plus side, timber harvests in 2013 topped 4 billion board feet for the first time since 2006. Oregon produced enough timber to build 419,920 houses. Recovery from the Great Recession continued, and demand for timber has room to grow. Housing starts nationally were still only about two-thirds the historical average.
Fire season in West expected to get more intense
Despite widespread drought in the West and expectations of an above-average wildfire season, wildfires have burned less than half the 10-year average area so far this summer. U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell said Wednesday that largely has been a matter of luck, with the hot windy weather known as "red flag" days not lining up with the lighting strikes that start most fires, particularly in California. But that is changing, he said from Washington, D.C. Eighteen large fires were burning in the Northwest with intensities not normally seen until August.
Wildfire fight helped by cool, wet weather
Firefighters made progress Tuesday on a dozen large wildfires burning across Oregon as wet, cooler weather moved in. Air quality across the state also has improved, with only Madras showing a reading of moderate. The 452-acre Bingham Complex fire, east of Salem in the Mount Jefferson Wilderness, is now 30 percent contained. Some trails, including a portion of the Pacific Crest Trail, remain closed. The big worry now is lightning, forecast across much of Oregon and southeast Washington Tuesday and Wednesday. "Already yesterday we received 2,900 lightning strikes in the southeast portion of the state," said Carol Connelly, public information officer for the Northwest Interagency Coordination Center, said Tuesday.
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Oregon firefighters chase new lightning fires
GRANTS PASS, Ore.— Lightning rolled through much of eastern Oregon on Tuesday, leaving in its wake several dozen reports of new wildfire starts, fire officials said. That news came as firefighters made progress in their battle against 11 major wildfires already burning across the state. Many of the new fire reports came from the same areas around Prineville and in the Ochoco National Forest that were hard hit in the last lightning storm, said the Central Oregon Interagency Dispatch Center.
Company & Business News
Province offers pulp mills $100 million for energy conservation
Measures calculated to reduce power demand and save money over the long term, minister says
VICTORIA — B.C.’s Energy Minister is throwing a lifeline to the province’s pulp mills, with up to $100 million for energy conservation projects to help offset rising industrial electricity rates. Bill Bennett will make the announcement in Surrey Thursday, flanked by four mill companies that had publicly warned they could be driven to economic hardship by his ministry’s 10-year plan to raise BC Hydro rates. The companies — Canfor, Catalyst Paper, Paper Excellence and West Fraser — operate thermo-mechanical pulp mills and are among B.C.’s biggest industrial power users.
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Timbercorp investors dig in on loan repayments
Investors in Timbercorp say they will fight ''increasingly unreasonable'' legal attempts to force them to repay money they borrowed to put into the failed forestry company. A first batch of 16 investors in managed investment schemes run by Timbercorp is expected to appear before the Victorian Supreme Court on August 15, and more are expected to be hauled before the courts in coming months. Timbercorp liquidator KordaMentha is seeking orders that they repay loans they took out to finance their investment.
Carbon, Climate & Bioenergy
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Burning wood for power can be low carbon, UK government finds
Burning wood to produce electricity can produce lower carbon emissions than other fuels, but only under tightly controlled conditions, a report for the UK’s department of energy and climate change has found. The report, due to be published on Thursday, is unlikely to result in any new restrictions on the burning of biomass in power stations or in homes for heating, but will fuel debate over how the technology can be used in the future.