The Tree Frog News
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Current struggles and historic triumphs
On the heels of a report earlier this week that the Four Forest Restoration Initiative (4FRI) project continues to struggle ("fallen years behind schedule"), contractor Good Earth Power has decided to scale back plans for a wood processing plant in Valle, AZ. This is further bad news for this ambitious plan that was to restore massive areas of forests and re-invigorate the forest industry in Arizona.
Looking further south to Peru, the Associated Press has completed an investigation into the corruption and illegal logging that plagues the forest industry there. It appears the US government has little to show for the time and money invested in forest protection aid - US attorney for environmental crimes, Rocky Piaggone, says the US "was hoodwinked into believing the Peruvian government was serious about taking down illegal loggers". It reads like a spy novel with death threats, lies and extortion except it isn't a novel. According to the World Bank "80% of the timber exports are illegal".
2017 is Canada's 150th birthday and to mark the occasion the Vancouver Sun is profiling notable British Columbians. Today they profile H.R. MacMillan, the man "who built B.C.'s largest forestry company", offering an interesting look at how he went from "hoeing potatoes to corporate colossus", influencing the forest industry in BC in a profound and positive way.
--Tree Frog Editors
Research in urban forestry: Identified needs in Canada
By Dr. Adrina Bardekjian, MFC, PhD, Manager, Urban Forestry Programs & Research Development
As part of my work with Tree Canada in directing the Canadian Urban Forest Strategy (CUFS), our current efforts under the Research Working Group include developing partnerships with national organizations on a variety of projects to tackle urban forestry questions. Tree Canada focuses on urban forestry at the national level and the Canadian Urban Forest Network and Strategy are programs by which many identified needs are being operationalized. Recently, I have had many inquires about research needs in Canada. While there are online sources of information to procure this knowledge, I want to take the opportunity to share some results of a report we conducted. In 2015, Tree Canada conducted a national urban forestry needs assessment for Canadian municipalities (Bardekjian, Rosen & Kenney, 2015).
Mountain Pine Beetle numbers much higher than expected this year
By John Hopkins-Hill
It’s certainly a bad time to be a Lodgepole Pine, at least in the Hinton area. Hans van Klaveren, parks, recreation and culture manager, and Laura Howarth, director of community services, provided an update to council on the mountain pine beetle remediation project at standing committee on April 11. Aerial surveys conducted in 2016 by Alberta Environment and Parks identified 14 stands of red pine trees within the town boundaries. Van Klaveren explained that the trees turn red the year after the beetles emerge from the tree, meaning red trees are usually a good indicator of where infected trees with beetle larvae inside may be. The survey estimated that the 14 stands would yield around 150 infected trees and up to another 150 that would have been attacked.
Forest fire season underway in province
Forest fire season has started in the province, and the government is warning people about setting grass fires. It's an old practice for some people to burn areas of grass, believing that it helps the grass come back stronger in the spring. But the provincial government calls that "largely unfounded" in a news release, and says that instead, it can be destructive, as well as dangerous. The Department of Energy and Resource Development considers burning grass a Category 4 fire, which means a written permit is required. ...The province has averaged 25 forest fires a year over the past 10 years. In 2016, there were 28 forest fires. Forest fire season usually runs from the third Monday in April until Oct. 31.
Domtar Celebrates Earth Week Year-Round
Domtar‘s celebration of International Earth Day starts early, with a weeklong emphasis leading up to the worldwide day on April 22. We call it Earth Week, and we’ll spend it focusing on the natural gifts of our planet and giving back to our communities. This year, like many before it, Earth Week will be full of opportunities for Domtar colleagues, their families and their communities to connect with the natural resources that make our lives and jobs possible.
The state of US forests: Six questions answered
Thomas J. Straka, Clemson University
The first Earth Day, on April 22, 1970, catalyzed a wave of laws to protect the environment and natural resources. Here Thomas Straka, a professor of forest economics and management and former industrial forester, answers questions about the current state of U.S. forests.
1. How forested is the United States?
2. Who owns U.S forests?
3. How are forests regulated?
4. Are any national forests still in their natural state?
5. What are the most serious stresses on U.S. forests?
6. How may forests fare under the Trump administration?
TREX to use controlled burns as learning experience
By Chris Chambers, Ashland Fire and Rescue
If you Google “TREX”, you see plenty about the flesh-eating dinosaur T-Rex, as well as composite decking materials, but little about The Nature Conservancy’s prescribed fire training exchange, also called TREX...and this TREX is worth knowing about. The 2nd annual Ashland TREX begins May 1 and brings together firefighters (including three “bomberos”, or firefighters, from Ashland’s Sister City of Guanajuato), students, scientists, and land managers for a two-week intensive experience housed at Southern Oregon University. The program provides opportunities during controlled burn operations in the hills above Ashland for formal training and sharing, from the least experienced student to the most advanced “burn boss.”
Biologists Say It's Too Soon To Know How Killing Barred Owls Affects Spotted Owls
By Eric Mortenson
Federal wildlife researchers killed 737 invasive barred owls in 2015-16 in an ongoing experiment to determine if removing them will aid the recovery of Northern spotted owls, the bird whose threatened status was at the center of the Pacific Northwest timber wars. Spotted owl populations have continued to decline rapidly despite environmental lawsuits, protection under the Endangered Species Act and logging restrictions in the old growth timber habitat they favor. Barred owls, which are larger, more aggressive and feed on a wider variety of prey, have taken over spotted owl territory throughout their range in Oregon, Washington and Northern California.
Good Earth changes request, scales back wood processing plant proposal
By Wendy Howell
WILLIAMS, Ariz. — Good Earth Power has scaled back their plans for a wood processing plant on State Highway 64 near Valle and is now only requesting approval for a wood composting yard at the location. Kevin Ordean of Roots Composting and Good Earth Soils originally submitted a Temporary Use Permit (TUP) application to Coconino County Department of Community Development to process wood chips and wood poles associated with the Four Forest Restoration Initiative (4FRI) with the U.S. Forest Service on property near Valle. The request included storage of timber and processing of logs through industrial sized debarkers, saws, and wood chippers. The request also stated that up to 150 logging trucks could travel to the location each day.
Crews battle 20,000-acre wildfire in South Georgia
By Steve Burns
About 200 Georgia, Florida and U.S. firefighters are trying to control a wildfire of 20,000-plus acres in the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, officials said. A lightning strike started the blaze, known as the West Mims Fire, on April 6, according to Wendy Burnett of the Georgia Forestry Commission. The fire is about 3 percent contained. “Crews will monitor and patrol for spots across containment lines and work to contain any spots with resources on the ground as well as aerial resources,” according to a forestry commission update. No injuries have been reported. Firefighters are using two helicopters, 17 engines, five bulldozers and 27 tractor plows, the forestry commission said.
Growings On: Long drought still hurting state's forests
By Roger Gates, natural resources agent, University of Georgia
Recent rain and widespread springtime greening of landscapes may lead some to conclude that last year’s drought is now only a bad memory. Unfortunately, drought consequences continue to emerge in forests across Georgia. Trees react to dry conditions first by wilting of leaves. If moisture is restored, leaves can recover with very limited reduction in tree growth. Continuing moisture shortages lead next to early leaf loss. This is an irreversible loss of tissue and reduces a tree’s capacity for photosynthesis, its food production process. Severe drought leads to loss of root tissue. Permanent loss of leaves and roots greatly reduce the tree's ability to recover, even when moisture is restored. Last year’s drought has led to high stress levels for many forested areas.
Officials seek public's help to prevent oak wilt disease
State officials are seeking the public's help in preventing the spread of a disease that kills oak trees. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources says April 15 marked the beginning of the yearly period when oak wilt can be transmitted from diseased to healthy red oaks. Forest health program specialist Roger Mech says red oaks often die within a few weeks after becoming infected. He says the best prevention method is not to prune or otherwise "injure" oaks between April 15 and July 15.
Prescribed forest fire frequency should be based on land management goals
By the University of Missouri-Columbia
COLUMBIA, Mo. - In recent decades, scientists and land managers have realized the importance of controlled forest fires for reaching specific forest management objectives. However, questions remain about how often forests should be burned. Now, researchers at the University of Missouri have studied forests subjected to different frequencies of fires to determine what effects fire can have on oak forests over long periods of time. They found that the frequency of prescribed forest fires should be determined based on the long-term goals of land managers. Benjamin Knapp, an assistant professor in the MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources Department of Forestry, examined forest fire data collected since 1949 from the University Forest Conservation Area in southeast Missouri.
AP investigation shows Peru backsliding on illegal logging
By Frank Bajak
...Now the United States has little to show for more than $90 million in forest-protection aid and other assistance to Peru, which is home to the world’s second-largest swath of the Amazon after Brazil and has been losing about 600 square miles of forest each year — an area roughly equal to half of Rhode Island. The U.S. was hoodwinked into believing the Peruvian government was serious about taking down illegal loggers, said Rocky Piaggone, a U.S. attorney for environmental crimes who visited Peru regularly before retiring last year. “They were expecting to get prosecutions, but they got nothing,” he said, and their eyes were opened when the forest inspection chief — whose job they had been assured was safe — was fired.
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Inspector who tried to rein in illegal logging was fired
By Frank Bajak
HOUSTON - Rolando Navarro, still in his 30s, had no illusions when he took the top job in Peru's forest inspection agency in 2012. The country's timber industry had long been notoriously corrupt, with a World Bank report that year putting wood exports at 80 percent illegal. In more than a decade crisscrossing the vast Amazon interior, Navarro had seen officials ignore the scourge and the exploitation of indigenous communities. His team of young, like-minded fellow Amazon natives thought they had the U.S. on their side. Three years later, Navarro's scrappy inspectors scored a rare victory in the global battle to preserve tropical forests. Customs agents at the Port of Houston used evidence from Navarro's team to impound 1,770 metric tons of Peruvian Amazon wood from a rusty freighter. That's enough to cover three football fields.
Company & Business News
Canadian lumber tariffs needlessly harm US home builders, buyers
By Michel Kelly-Gagnon and Granger MacDonald
President Donald Trump campaigned to help average Americans — the hard-working men and women who put in long hours and deserve a break. He also pledged to fix areas where trade policies are hurting these workers. It might surprise him to know that doing away with tariffs on Canadian lumber could accomplish both in a very tangible way. More than 3.8 million Americans make their living in residential construction. They’re not only making a living for themselves, but they are also helping others achieve the American dream of homeownership. These jobs — and this dream of homeownership — are directly attacked by import duties. ...Imposing duties on Canadian lumber will cause thousands of job losses on both sides of the border. Whether it’s an American home builder or a Canadian sawmill worker, those individuals should not be put out of work needlessly.
Canada 150: H.R. MacMillan built B.C.'s largest forestry company
By Stephen Hume
To mark Canada’s 150th birthday, we are counting down to Canada Day with profiles of 150 noteworthy British Columbians. The emergence of B.C.’s forest industry as a culture-defining economic behemoth that dominated the political and social landscape, begins with a man who went from hoeing potatoes to corporate colossus. Harvey Reginald “H.R.” MacMillan was born on an Ontario farm on Sept. 9, 1885. It was a momentous year in Canadian politics. ...MacMillan planned and launched an integrated forest management program. It had previously been a Wild West free-for-all. He took a world tour to study global markets. The First World War disrupted everything, but he proved the right man in the right place. The RAF was losing aircraft at an alarming rate. He organized what biographer Ken Drushka called “the biggest logging show anyone ever attempted” to supply spruce for new planes.
NAFTA panel says U.S. must reconsider duties against Canadian paper mills
By Keith Doucette
HALIFAX — A NAFTA review panel has unanimously ordered the U.S. Department of Commerce to reconsider its costly duties against Canadian mills that produce glossy paper. The panel, comprised of three Americans and two Canadians, issued its memorandum opinion and order last week. Under the new ruling, the U.S. Department of Commerce must reconsider some aspects of the reasoning behind its initial findings and respond to the NAFTA decision by mid-summer. ...“Now (U.S.) commerce will have to make a decision, do they appeal it or do they incorporate the information into the tariff,” said Marc Dube, Port Hawkesbury Paper’s development manager. ...However, the panel did uphold the 18.85 per cent duties against J.D. Irving and Catalyst, finding that Commerce followed Congress’s “express statutory mandate” in doing so.
Port Hawkesbury Paper gets good news in NAFTA tariff battle
By Paul Withers
Port Hawkesbury Paper has won a round in its ongoing battle against a 20 per cent tariff imposed on the glossy paper it exports to the United States. A North American Free Trade Agreement panel has challenged the basis for imposing the duty, including a claim the paper company's electricity rate is an unfair subsidy. In an April 13 ruling, the panel has sent the matter back to the Department of Commerce, which imposed the duty, for reconsideration. "We feel validated," said Marc Dube, development manager at Port Hawkesbury Paper in Point Tupper, N.S. "We feel that the work that we've done and certainly the work we've done restructuring the mill was done in a way that certainly was not a subsidy." ...Irving Paper, Resolute Forest Products and Catalyst Paper Corp. have also challenged their U.S. tariffs. The Canadian government and the provinces of Nova Scotia, Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia have all supported their efforts.
Lumber price growth continues amid US–Canada trade deal uncertainty
By Katy Tomasulo
Overall, construction material prices have increased for the past four months, including a 0.3% rise from February to March and a year-over-year increase of 4.4%, according to an analysis of the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ latest Producer Price Index by the Associated Builders and Contractors. The rising cost of building material prices continues to challenge homebuilders' outlook on the market, with the latest NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index falling three points in April, albeit remaining in positive territory. Attracting considerable attention in recent months has been the ongoing uncertainty as to the fate of Canadian softwood lumber import tariffs.
NLBMDA Monitoring U.S.-Canada Softwood Lumber Dispute
By Ben Gann
This month, the United States International Trade Commission (ITC) may make a countervailing duty order adding additional fees to the cost of softwood lumber imported into the U.S. from Canada. A decision by the ITC is scheduled for mid-May. ...At the heart of the dispute is the claim that Canadian provincial governments are unfairly subsidizing the softwood lumber industry, thereby causing harm to the U.S. producers. The U.S. Lumber Coalition wants duties imposed on Canadian imports to offset what it sees as the harm caused by those subsidies. ...NLBMDA supports the U.S. and Canada reaching a new softwood lumber agreement that helps meet domestic demand for softwood lumber...In addition, the association has not taken a position regarding any export taxes or market quotas as part of a new agreement.
U.S. finds hardwood plywood from China subsidized, slaps on duties
The U.S. Department of Commerce said on Tuesday it had made a preliminary finding of subsidies in imports of hardwood plywood products from China and will impose countervailing duties ranging from 9.89 percent to 111.09 percent. The investigation follows petitions from six privately owned U.S. plywood producers into the imports, which are used in wall panels, kitchen cabinets, table and desk tops, and flooring. In 2016, imports of hardwood plywood products from China were valued at an estimated $1.15 billion, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said in a statement. The Commerce Department said it calculated preliminary subsidy rates of 111.09 percent for Shandong Dongfang Bayley Wood Co and 9.89 percent for Linyi Sanfortune Wood Co.
Forest Products EXPO Has Rich History
By Richard Wallace
It started with a breakfast and has grown into a feast – a banquet of tomorrow’s technology that has grown to international proportions by serving up the latest in forest products machinery and equipment. In a word, it is EXPO. The Southern Forest Products Association (SFPA), headquartered in suburban New Orleans, established EXPO (officially known today as the Forest Products Machinery & Equipment Exposition) to help advance the industry and provide a forum for the exchange of ideas contributing to improved sawmill efficiency. ...Now in existence for more than 65 years, this success story continues. Registration is now open to attend EXPO 2017; visit www.SFPAexpo.com for complete details, including a show schedule.
Canfor Operations in Arkansas Awarded for Safety
By Fred Stimpson
On April 12, the Arkansas Department of Labor presented two safety awards to recognize our Arkansas operations for their excellence in on-the-job safety. The One Year Accumulative Safety Award was presented to recognize that our Urbana Sawmill operations had 120 employees who achieved one year without a lost day away from work due to a work-related injury or illness between Jan. 1, 2016 and Jan. 1, 2017. The Three Year Accumulative Safety Award was presented to recognize that 58 employees at our El Dorado Laminating Plant successfully accumulated three years without a lost day from work due to a work-related injury or illness between Jan. 1, 2014 and Dec. 31, 2016.
Jonesboro biomass plant shut down
Citing lack of feedstock, Stored Solar LLC has shut down its Jonesboro biomass energy plant, one of two the company bought from Covanta Energy in October 2016. ...The agreement called for Stored Solar in the first year to create 44 jobs, purchase 500,000 tons of in‑state biomass and spend $2.5 million on capital expenditures. By March 24, the company had bought 112,317 tons of biomass, hired 44 employees and paid $500,000 in capital costs. The agreement also called for CMP to pay Stored Solar an above‑market price of $13.40 per megawatt hour. But in a letter to the Maine Public Utilities Commission, Stored Solar Vice President William Harrington said the Jonesboro plant was operating at only six megawatts and biomass suppliers were charging prices 30% to 35% above contracted price, the Quoddy Tides reported.
UFPI posts record first-quarter earnings and sales
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Universal Forest Products, Inc. (Nasdaq: UFPI) today reported financial results for the first quarter ended April 1, 2017. “The employees of Universal delivered record first-quarter sales and profits, underscoring the success of our balanced business model and targeted approach to growing our business,” said CEO Matthew J. Missad. “Those records are even more impressive if you consider we did not have the same purchasing and weather advantages we enjoyed during the first quarter of 2016.” The Company’s retail and construction markets had net sales increases of 15 and 21 percent, respectively. The industrial market grew 37 percent, largely because of the September 2016 acquisition of idX Corp.
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Fears over wood mill plans
Serious concerns have been raised over redevelopment plans for a fire-ravaged wood mill. Whitfire Shavings and Sawdust Supplies Limited, Heatherfield Works, Church Lane, Farington Moss, suffered a major blaze last summer. Plans to demolish the fire-hit building and replace it with two portal-framed constructions have angered nearby residents who claim there were a number of problems at the site before the blaze. ...Objectors say there were major problems before the fire over a range of issues includng sawdust, loud whining noise from the wood shaving saw which operates from 7am to to 6pm, operating outside hours and health concerns about asthma and other breathing issues which restrict children playing outside.
Carbon, Climate & Bioenergy
Managed forests are a powerful tool for coping with climate change
By the Sustainable Forestry Initiative
The world’s forests already have a lot on their plate: Providing flood protection, drinking water purification, lumber, and recreation, plus habitat for about half the world’s mammals, birds, and insects. Forests absorb a third of the world’s annual carbon dioxide emissions from the burning of fossil fuels. And with some assistance from humans, managed forests may do even more to mitigate the effects of greenhouse gasses. ...Eric Walberg, Senior Program Leader for the Climate Services Program at the conservation organization Manomet, says forests in the western U.S. and Canada provide an example of how climate change and forest management decisions interact. ...Manomet is launching The Forest Climate Resiliency Project to better assess forest health and resilience to climate change and to share this approach with a broad range of forest owners and managers. ...With support from a Conservation and Community Partnerships Grant from the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI), four locations in the northeast and southeast U.S. will soon be selected for three years of study.
Climate Change Research Focuses on Great Lakes Forests
By John Greene
Per a recent article in the Great Lakes Echo, climate change could have profound effects on forests in the Great Lakes region over the coming decades. While the earth’s weather patterns have always been subject to wild swings and extremes from season to season and year to year, most experts generally agree that these changes will intensify and cause a host of challenges as the 21st century progresses. Even when silvicultural best management practices are in place, a number of natural and weather-related factors can affect forests at any given time. Droughts, fires, pest invasions and major weather events (such as hurricanes in the US South) can permanently alter a forest environment. ...A team of researchers is currently conducting a nationwide study that is analyzing climate change adaptation for trees. The study—Adaptive Silviculture for Climate Change (ASCC)—covers a number of diverse approaches to help researchers get ahead of the climate curve.
Study on Impact of Climate Change on Snowpack Loss in Western U.S.
By Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
An international team of scientists, including one from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, has found that up to 20 percent loss in the annual maximum amount of water contained in the Western United States’ mountain snowpack in the last three decades is due to human influences. Peak runoff in streams and rivers of the Western U.S. is strongly influenced by melting of accumulated mountain snowpack. A significant decline in this resource has a direct connection to streamflow, with substantial economic and societal impacts.
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City, advisory board to talk biomass before deadline
By Andrew Caplan
Gainesville commissioners and the Utility Advisory Board will meet Wednesday at City Hall to discuss options for the possible purchase of the biomass facility. The joint meeting begins at 6 p.m. in the main auditorium, 200 E. University Ave. Officials for Gainesville Regional Utilities, the city-owned utility, and the Gainesville Renewable Energy Center, commonly known as the biomass plant, have been negotiating a purchase that would allow the city to buy GREC and exit a multi-billion-dollar contract. GRU officials maintain the city could save upwards of $800 million through the buyout and that it would lower GRU customer electric rates. But city commissioners will need to act fast if they want to buy the plant, as a draft agreement between GRU and GREC officials expires Friday.
Wood & Paper Products & Green Building
Mass layoffs at Britco
By Deborah Pfeiffer
Penticton's Britco plant is facing a significant slowdown, with the vast majority of its staff laid off earlier this month. Those layoffs, according to Britco communications manager Meghan Cairns, came "with the objective of building an order backlog." It's not clear how many workers have been hit with layoffs, but Cairns says just a few managers and employees have been kept aboard. ...Previously Britco focused on commercial projects, but Cairns says when the facilities bounce back, they're looking to add building single-family homes to the production line, as well. "The addition of single-family homes definitely adds opportunities in a positive direction for Britco," Cairns said when asked whether the addition could increase employment.
Build it with wood: MP
By Dustin Godfrey
If passed, a new bill from South Okanagan-West Kootenay MP Richard Cannings would compel the federal government to use lumber when maintaining, building or repairing federally owned properties. Cannings introduced Bill C-354 to the House of Commons on Thursday to spur further use of Canada's softwood lumber, a resource that has been under threat with a former trade deal with the U.S. now expired. If passed, it would compel the government to prefer lumber in construction work and steer the government toward projects that promote the use of wood, taking into account costs and reductions in greenhouse gas emissions through use of wood products.
Cannings introduces bill to support use of wood construction
South Okanagan – West Kootenay MP Richard Cannings introduced a bill on Thursday that calls on the government of Canada to give preference to construction with wood products when building, maintaining or repairing federally-owned properties. “Canadian wood product manufacturers produce amazing products that are sold around the world and are a sustainable option whose use should be promoted more and more here at home,” said Cannings, who is the NDP natural resources critic. “We know that communities account for over half of all greenhouse gas emissions (GHG’s) in Canada, and much of that comes from buildings themselves. By promoting the use of wood in its own buildings, which emits much less GHG’s than concrete, the government of Canada can help to reduce its own carbon footprint and help us get closer to meeting our Paris Accord targets.”
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American hardwoods form unique display at interzum
By Karen M. Koenig
COLOGNE, Germany - "The Workshop of Dreams," a new exhibit by the American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC), will be among the featured displays at interzum 2017. The show for materials, components, design and interior finishing, interzum runs May 16-19 in Cologne. Sponsored by Koelnmesse, the biennial interzum fair will feature more than 1,600 exhibitors from 60-plus countries. The exhibit by AHEC will showcase innovative hardwood craftsmanship through the display of four unique pieces made from underutilized American species. On display will be: a set of coffee tables, a completely ergonomic lounge chair, an extraordinary kitchen cart and an unusual design concept for a portable cabin.