Daily News for July 23, 2021

Today’s Takeaway

US, Europe look to reduce emissions with carbon tariffs

The Tree Frog Forestry News
July 23, 2021
Category: Today's Takeaway

The United States joins Europe in pursuing carbon tariffs on products from countries with weak climate policies. In other Business news: wildfires cause lumber prices to spike again; Horgan says BC lumber profits should go to wildfire fight; BC forestry employment is up 5%; Universal Forest Products reports record Q2; and CN doubles revenue as regulators mull Kansas City Southern deal

In other news: Ontario lawmakers call on Premier Ford to declare wildfire emergency; high lumber prices not benefiting New Brunswick landowners; US wildfires are burning-up carbon offsets; artificial intelligence is used to predict blazes; and Canada’s GHG approach may include a forest loophole.

Finally, Oregon’s magical marbled murrelet merry-go-round is called “unscientific”.

Kelly McCloskey, Tree Frog Editor

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Froggy Foibles

AUDIO: Peaceful morning forest songs

By Ann Jones
ABC News Australia
July 23, 2021
Category: Froggy Foibles
Region: International

No music, no voices, just the sound of the forest coming to life early one morning near Canberra — where the gum trees grow small and with twisting white trunks. In the twilight of the morning I creep out from under the covers to set up the microphones right next to a dam. We are on the land of the Ngunnawal and Ngambri people, and not far away there are paddocks, livestock, a road and a farmhouse. But right here all there is, is nature waking up for the day. Listen for the drops of dew falling from the gumtrees and onto the leaf-litter below.

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Business & Politics

A US lurch toward carbon tariffs should have Canada (and others) scrambling

By Adam Radwanski
The Globe and Mail
July 22, 2021
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, United States

Joe Biden

The United States has taken a sudden, wild lurch into the emerging global movement toward imposing tariffs on emissions-intensive goods from countries with weak environmental policies. …The new legislative proposal from U.S. Democrats would apply to a wider range of imports… and absent a national carbon-pricing system, to which border adjustments can most easily and transparently be linked, it would involve much greater political discretion around which imports are penalized. As with the EU plan, it has the worthy premise… but the hastily assembled American effort, points to concerns about how the tariffs could be wielded as protectionist cudgels. For Canada, suddenly at risk of getting caught in the middle of trade wars in ways that could hurt industrial and emissions-reduction interests, it should prompt both urgent diplomatic efforts in Washington and a reckoning with how quickly to ready carbon tariffs of our own. (to access the full story, a Globe & Mail subscription may be required).

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Europe Is Planning a Border Carbon Tax. Is Canada Next?

By Michael Gamage
The Tyee
July 23, 2021
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, International

Here’s a problem with carbon taxes, one often cited by industry. Introduce a high price on emissions, critics say, and the heavily polluting industries pack up and move to countries where there’s less regulation. Canada ends up importing their products — and indirectly supporting higher emissions. This problem is called leakage, as companies leave to avoid carbon taxes. And it’s one the federal government is following closely as it ramps up its national carbon pricing system. Enter the concept of border carbon adjustment. It’s a simple enough solution on paper. …Essentially, it’s a carbon tariff. …Canada doesn’t have a federal carbon tax, but it did introduce a benchmark for carbon pricing in 2019. …Canada’s approach lets provinces create their own carbon pricing systems, but carbon tariffs — affecting international trade — would have to come from the federal government. 

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Wildfires are causing the price of lumber to spike again

By Pete Evans
CBC News
July 23, 2021
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, United States

The price of lumber rose at its fastest pace in more than a year on Thursday, after timber companies warned that wildfires in Western Canada are hurting their business. The price of a lumber futures contract jumped by more than 10 per cent, triggering circuit breakers designed to halt trading. Late in the day on Thursday, a contract for 1,000 board-feet of lumber was going for $647 US, up by more than $60 from the previous day’s close. Prices are spiking because lumber companies in B.C. and elsewhere are scaling back operations because of wildfires. …Rail giants CN and CP warned their customers earlier this week that fires damaged major rail lines in the interior of the province, making them unsafe to use. That caused trains to back up along the network, idling thousands of rail cars and stranding their contents. …At the peak, more than 4,000 rail cars of crops were marooned because of wildfires.

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CN Rail asks investors for patience as regulators mull Kansas City Southern deal

By David George-Cosh
BNN Bloomberg
July 23, 2021
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, United States

The head of Canadian National Railway is urging investors to be patient as Canada’s largest railway awaits regulatory approval for its US$30-billion acquisition of Kansas City Southern. Jean-Jacques Ruest, CEO, said that blockbuster deals, like CN’s planned acquisition of KCS, could drastically change the North American railroad industry – but that won’t happen overnight.  “It’s a moment in time where CN and KCS can actually change how railroading is done in North America from a competition point of view,” Ruest said. He noted that Canadian National expects to hear from the U.S. Surface Transportation Board on a proposed voting trust arrangement with KCS “in the next few weeks”, after which KCS shareholders will vote on the acquisition while the railroad awaits final regulatory approvals. 

In related coverage: CN Rail nearly doubles revenue in Q2 as COVID-19 recovery builds

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Record BC lumber profits should go to wildfire fight, Horgan says

By Tom Fletcher
Vernon Morning Star
July 22, 2021
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

Premier John Horgan, right,

Lumber company shutdowns due to B.C.’s early and hot wildfire season are a needed break, and a chance for big forest companies to share record profits and equipment needed to help preserve forests, Premier John Horgan says… “Canfor and other forest companies have done very well in the past number of months and … we need, potentially, equipment from those companies to put to the fire …. [Y]ou would have seen record high profits by major B.C. forest companies in the first quarter. I suspect we’ll see that in the second quarter. We need to make sure that those benefits to those companies flow down to workers, to communities, and of course also to the province, so that we can provide the services that we need, critically, right now, to put out fires.”

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Former Canfor sawmill site now mining bitcoin

By Nelson Bennett
Business in Vancouver
July 21, 2021
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

Brian Fehr

An Australian company that bills itself as a renewable energy bitcoin miner has partnered with B.C. entrepreneur Brian Fehr in a venture that will mine bitcoin using clean BC Hydro power in the village of Canal Flats at a shuttered Canfor sawmill. Fehr is also behind the purchase of an old Canfor mill in Fort Nelson that will be used to build a new wood pellet producer called Peak Renewables. Fehr, an Order of BC recipient, was the founder of the BID Group, which supplies equipment and machinery for the forest industry. …Fehr has invested roughly $35 million in the new data centre. He added that other data centres for bitcoin mining are also planned for Chetwynd and Mackenzie.

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Employment up at B.C.’s top forestry companies

By Albert Van Santvoort
Business in Vancouver
July 23, 2021
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

After a difficult COVID-19 pandemic year, B.C.’s largest forestry companies are revving up their chainsaws, according to data collected on Business in Vancouver’s Biggest Forestry Companies in B.C. list. In 2020, they reported a 13.6% drop in B.C. employment to an average of 955.8 from 1,105.8 employees in 2019. Though B.C.’s forestry industry is far from returning to 2019 employment levels, it has rebounded somewhat. Average employment at the top forestry companies grew 5.2% over the past year to 1,005.4. But employment levels have dropped over the past five years, with the average B.C. employment level falling 5.7% since 2017. During 2019, the four largest forestry companies with revenue numbers available all experienced revenue declines, with an average drop of 18.6%. In 2020, however, all four bounced back, with revenues growing an average of 18.2%. The largest forestry company on BIV’s list, Canfor Corp. (TSX:CFP), surpassed its 2018 revenue with a 17.1% increase in 2020 to $5.45 billion from $4.66 billion in 2019.

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Lumber prices, acquisitions fuel record-breaking quarter for UFP Industries

By Jayson Bussa
MiBiz.com
July 22, 2021
Category: Business & Politics
Region: United States, US East

GRAND RAPIDS, Michigan — Wood products manufacturer UFP Industries… announced $2.7 billion in sales for the second quarter of 2021, marking a 117-percent increase over the second quarter of 2020.Higher selling prices contributed to 70 percent of the drastic sales increase, while acquisitions propelled growth by 36 percent. The company’s recent acquisitions generated $455 million in net sales for the quarter. Against the backdrop of a spike in lumber prices, UFP Industries CEO Matthew Missad commended his team for an improved pricing model and managed inventory program to ease the fluctuations. …Net sales in all segments of the business — retail, industrial and construction — jumped by more than 100 percent. UFP’s industrial segment led the way, recording $611 million in sales for a 172-percent increase from the second quarter of 2020. 

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Europe Is Proposing a Border Carbon Tax. What Is It and How Will It Work?

By Brad Plumer
New York Times
July 14, 2021
Category: Business & Politics
Region: International

The European Union’s sweeping new plan to tackle climate change includes a proposal that if adopted could be the first of its kind: A carbon tariff on imports from countries that aren’t taking similarly aggressive steps to slash their own planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions. …In theory, a carbon border tax could help prevent that undercutting. If factories all over the world that wanted to sell steel, cement, aluminum or fertilizer to the E.U. had to pay a surcharge for the pollution they emit, they would have incentive to clean up their act too. Companies within Europe would have less incentive to shift operations overseas. And, if other countries adopted similar rules, that could put pressure on nations that are reluctant to curb their use of fossil fuels. …The E.U.’s proposal is an early test case… In the US, Democrats proposed their own version of a tax on imports…

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Finance & Economics

Another lumber run? Futures spike 19% as wildfires engulf British Columbia

By Lance Lambert
Fortune Magazine
July 22, 2021
Category: Finance & Economics
Region: Canada, Canada West

Just as DIYers were starting to see lumber markdowns in the aisles of big-box stores, prices could be on the way up again. Over the past two days, the September futures contract price is up $105, or 19%, to $647 per thousand board feet of two-by-fours. On Wednesday and Thursday, trading was halted as futures hit their daily increase limits. The reason? Wildfires are spreading across British Columbia, the North American mecca of lumber. Already, the Canadian province has declared a state of emergency. …As Fortune has previously reported, Canadian softwood lumber—not the plentiful Southern Yellow Pine that dots the U.S. South—is the clear favorite among U.S. homebuilders. …Ongoing wildfires are just the latest obstacle lumber producers face in their struggle to meet enormous demand.

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U.S. housing market floats back to earth

By Stephen Culp
Reuters
July 22, 2021
Category: Finance & Economics
Region: United States

The U.S. housing market appears to be straining under the weight of its own pandemic-driven success. Recent data shows the sector is returning from the stratosphere and coming back to pre-COVID levels, as evidenced by a slew of data released this week. While for much of the pandemic a rush to suburbia made the home and real estate stars of the recovery, the resulting plunge in inventory and dearth of building supplies have launched home prices beyond the grasp of many potential buyers, particularly at the lower end of the market. …The inventory drought has provided sturdy support for homebuilding, but that support appears to be on the wane. …With these moves, starts and permits returned to pre-pandemic levels. …The equities market, the most forward-looking indicator of them all, also reflects a bit of fading luster for housing stocks.

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Wood, Paper & Green Building

$89.6 million UVic engineering, computer science expansion aims to foster innovation

By Carla Wilson
The Times Colonist
July 22, 2021
Category: Wood, Paper & Green Building
Region: Canada, Canada West

The University of Victoria’s engineering and computer science building is being expanded and a new research and structures laboratory equipped with a gantry crane will be built as part of the $89.6-million project. Mina Hoorfar, dean of UVic’s faculty of engineering and computer science, said the new structures… will provide a dynamic environment for the training of future engineers and computer scientists. …The buildings will incorporate the latest developments in sustainable building design and construction, she said. Each building has been designed for net-zero carbon dioxide emissions, a key feature of Canada’s climate plan. They will feature mass timber structure and passive house design, so they require less energy.

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Forestry

Logging plays by its own rules in Canada’s climate targets

By Jennifer Skene
The National Observer
July 23, 2021
Category: Forestry
Region: Canada

The Canadian government’s new emissions targets, which were formally submitted to the United Nations this week, reinforced the country’s forest-sized blind spots in its climate policy. Despite growing calls internationally for safeguarding climate-critical forests and reining in forestry sector emissions, Canada has opted for a different rulebook for the logging industry. Not only does this rulebook grant a free pass to one of Canada’s most significant sources of emissions, but, in treating forest emissions as a form of climate change “extra credit” rather than its own imperative, Canada is opening a floodgate of fossil fuel loopholes. …Despite the forest’s climate importance and Canada’s commitment to natural climate solutions, Canada in recent years has had the world’s third-highest intact forest landscape loss, behind only Russia and Brazil, and among the highest tree loss per capita.

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Canadian Tree Planter Smashes World Record for Most Trees Planted in 24 hours

By Summit Reforestation
Cision
July 22, 2021
Category: Forestry
Region: Canada, Canada West

In the pre-dawn hours of July 18th, Antoine Moses, a 22-year-old Canadian tree planter, set a new world record for planting 23,060 trees in 24 hours straight – a tree on average every 3.75 seconds. Two Canadian tree planters, Antoine Moses from Blue Collar Silviculture and Kilty Elliott from Summit Reforestation, each supported in a collaborative effort by six-person pit crews, planted trees in a cut-block managed by Tolko Industries 100 km south of High Level, Alberta, in an attempt to set a new world record… The weather conditions were perfect, long daylight hours with approximately 19 hours of light, overcast skies, a high of 16 C and a low of 5 C and a light rain for close to half the day. For the five hours of darkness the pit crews provided light with high intensity lamps. The planting was documented using the guidelines laid out by Guinness World Records.

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Australia, New Zealand, US firefighters unable to help BC

By Nicholas Johansen
Prince George Citizen
July 21, 2021
Category: Forestry
Region: Canada, Canada West

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and widespread wildfires elsewhere in the world, British Columbia is having a tough time sourcing firefighters from some of its usual allies. There are currently 297 active wildfires burning across the province… B.C. declared a provincial state of emergency Tuesday…“In Australia [and New Zealand], they’re on lockdown at the moment [due to COVID-19]. We had commitments from them for equipment and management personnel, … but we’re just going to have to wait and see,” Premier John Horgan said. “The challenges here in British Columbia are being felt in Washington, Oregon and California … so the resources that we would have relied on in the past are occupied in their home jurisdictions when it comes to the U.S.” Additionally, crews from the eastern United States are already busy fighting fires in Ontario… “We are not alone in this challenge, we are sharing it, regrettably, with our neighbours.”

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How the government can still forcibly conscript you to fight forest fires

By Tristin Hopper
National Post
July 22, 2021
Category: Forestry
Region: Canada, Canada West

This week, British Columbia officially declared a state of emergency to deal with the more than 300 wildfires surging in the province’s interior. More than 3,000 firefighters are already on the frontlines — and B.C. officials are scrambling to bring in more. But if the worst should happen, one of the lesser-known aspects of B.C. law is that it permits the government to forcibly conscript firefighters from the local populace. The province’s Wildfire Act authorizes B.C.’s fire officials to “order a person who is 19 years of age or older to assist in fire control.” The person has to be “physically capable of doing so” and have skills that “can be used” to fight fires — but this technically applies to anyone who can wield a shovel or a Pulaski. The Act, passed after the record-breaking destruction of B.C.’s 2003 fire season, also allows the B.C. Wildfire Service to commandeer vehicles, equipment and even whole private businesses.

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Charting a new career path with Fundamentals of Forestry Harvesting Practices

By Eric Zimmer
Vancouver Island University
July 22, 2021
Category: Forestry
Region: Canada, Canada West

Adam Klassen

After a seven-year stint as a heavy equipment operator in Fort McMurray, Alberta, Adam Klassen decided it was time for a change. “I was exhausted with commuting weekly and I wanted to seek work closer to home,” he says. Adam found out about VIU’s Fundamentals of Forestry Harvesting Practices (FFHP) certificate program. The program piqued Adam’s interest in “the local opportunities of a career operating in the forestry sector.” Tuition-free, and held over a 12-week period, the program is based in Woss, BC, and includes elements such as skills training, occupational skills, hazard assessment, and workplace experience. The program is based on competencies identified by the BC Forest Safety Council. Accommodation and all appropriate PPE is provided free of charge, as well. For Adam, highlights of the program included “the hands-on experiences, and working outdoors” – particularly ideal aspects amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

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Northwestern Ontario NDP MPPs call on Ford to declare state of emergency over forest fires

CBC
July 22, 2021
Category: Forestry
Region: Canada, Canada East

Northwestern Ontario NDP Members of Provincial Parliament are calling on Premier Doug Ford to declare a state of emergency over the forest fires burning in the region… [They] also requested more resources to help fight the fires, more than 160 of which were burning in northwestern Ontario on Thursday…  In an interview with CBC News, MP Monteith-Farrell said the provincial government needs to take the fires in the region “more seriously.” “We need more resources,” she said. “We need more resources on the ground, in the air. We need assistance with the people that are being evacuated. And a state of emergency allows for resources to be flown a lot quicker. And it also brings attention to the fact that this is a crisis.”

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A Rewarding Evaluation and Coaching Service for Forestry Contractors

FPInnovations
July 22, 2021
Category: Forestry
Region: Canada, Canada East

Today’s forestry contractors have access to a wealth of tools and data to help them manage their operations and improve their financial performance. However, it’s not always easy to understand and use all the information available. Building on its expertise in harvest diagnostics, FPInnovations has developed a new service called “Evaluation and Coaching” for forestry contractors. Over the past year, four Quebec entrepreneurs have taken advantage of this service and benefited from FPInnovations’ expertise. The method begins with identification of a specific aspect of their operations that forestry contractors would like to improve. An initial on-site meeting is then organized to observe operations and identify the performance indicators that will be measured during the project. An action plan is developed that identifies the targets and means to reach them. Regular meetings make it possible to take stock, confirm progress and provide advice on how to achieve the targets.

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Record lumber prices are cooling without ever reaching New Brunswick timberland owners

By Robert Jones
CBC News
July 23, 2021
Category: Forestry
Region: Canada, Canada East

When North American lumber prices hit a record $2,050 per thousand board feet on May 7, about $100 of that was going to New Brunswick landowners who were selling sawlog quality trees into the market. It’s a fact that still irks Linda Bell. …”This is something landowners waited for for years, to try and get a good price, and it just didn’t happen. These increases for lumber never filtered down through to landowners at all.” …According to Statistics Canada, New Brunswick sawmills and wood preservation operations set a manufacturing sales record for treated and untreated lumber in May of $199.8 million.  It’s double the sales of any previous May and the third month in a row lumber producers in the province have set new sales records. 

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Sustainable Forestry Initiative’s Project Learning Tree Brings Forest-Focused Education to Life in New Video

By Globe Newswire
National Post
July 22, 2021
Category: Forestry
Region: United States

WASHINGTON — SFI and Project Learning Tree are pleased to share “The Forest Classrooms Raising Responsible Children.” The video was produced by BBC StoryWorks Commercial Productions and features USDA Forest Service Chief Vicki Christiansen. The video was first presented at the Consumer Goods Forum Global Summit as part of the Better Lives Through Better Business series that explores the brands and organizations around the world working to improve global sustainability and support future generations. The video helps tell Project Learning Tree’s story through the voices of Forest Service Chief Christiansen, local youth, and PLT-trained educators, and features a handful of activities that can be found in the new Explore Your Environment: K-8 Activity Guide, an award-winning collection of 50 hands-on educational activities that get children ages five through 14 outdoors to learn about the natural world.

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Catching fire: Artificial Intelligence is helping scarce firefighters better predict blazes

By Avi Asher-Schapiro
Reuters
July 22, 2021
Category: Forestry
Region: United States

Last summer, as Will Harling captained a fire engine trying to control a wildfire that had … overrun a firebreak and raced towards his hometown, he got a frustrating email. It was a statistical analysis from Oregon State University forestry researcher Chris Dunn, predicting that the spot where firefighters had built the firebreak … had only a 10% chance of stopping the blaze. “They had spent so many resources building that useless break,” said Harling, who … works as a wildland firefighter for the local Karuk Tribe … The Suppression Difficulty Index is one of a number of analytical tools Dunn and other firefighting technology experts are building to bring the latest in machine learning, big data and forecasting to the world of firefighting… Researchers like Dunn hope their tools can help ease that pressure by making sure scarce fire resources are deployed as efficiently as possible.

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Editorial: The magical marbled murrelet merry-go-round

Capital Press
July 22, 2021
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

Oregon’s Fish and Wildlife Commission can’t make up its mind about the marbled murrelet. First the commissioners said the bird was endangered, then it wasn’t. Then earlier this month the commissioners decided it’s endangered again. What changed? The winds of politics, apparently, because the state says the only thing that’s happened to the bird is its population has increased 2.2% a year for the past 19 years. …All of this would be little more than coffee shop chatter if it didn’t hurt real people. More than 3 million acres of state and federal forestland have been taken out of timber production and designated protected habitat for such birds as the marbled murrelet… That translates into lost jobs and depressed local economies. In other words, the birds are doing fine, but the people are struggling. …Our suspicion is too many political leaders are bowing to the environmental lobby at the expense of Oregonians and the state economy.

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Carbon, Climate & Bioenergy

Bootleg Fire is burning up carbon offsets

By Daniel Wolfe and Tal Yellin
CNN
July 22, 2021
Category: Carbon, Climate & Bioenergy
Region: United States, US West

Oregon’s largest wildfire so far this season, the Bootleg Fire, has burned nearly 400,000 acres spreading approximately four square miles a day across the southern parts of the state. At the time of this report, the flames spread through one fifth of forests set aside for carbon offsets in the immediate area. The trees in these forests were meant to survive one hundred years. As persistent drought and wildfire conditions threaten carbon offsets, the question is whether these offsets matter at all if their stored carbon goes up in smoke in a warming climate… Since the Bootleg Fire started, it has spread through nearly 90,000 acres of trees set aside to offset carbon emissions on behalf of businesses and individuals. 

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Health & Safety

As wildfire smoke spreads, who’s at risk?

By Matthew Brown
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
July 22, 2021
Category: Health & Safety
Region: Canada, United States

Smoke from wildfires in the western U.S. and Canada is blanketing much of the continent, including thousands of miles away on the East Coast. And experts say the phenomenon is becoming more common as human-caused global warming stokes bigger and more intense blazes. Pollution from smoke reached unhealthy levels this week in communities from Washington state to Washington D.C. Get used to it, researchers say. “These fires are going to be burning all summer,” said University of Washington wildfire smoke expert Dan Jaffe. “In terms of bad air quality, everywhere in the country is to going to be worse than average this year.” Growing scientific research points to potential long-term health damage from breathing in microscopic particles of smoke. Authorities have scrambled to better protect people from the harmful effects but face challenges in communicating risk…

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Provincial drought, water-scarcity conditions

By Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development
Government of British Columbia
July 22, 2021
Category: Health & Safety
Region: Canada, Canada West

Drought and water scarcity continues to impact most of the southern half of British Columbia. Most of these areas have experienced little to no rainfall over the last five weeks, with continued dry weather in the forecast. …Everyone needs to do their part to conserve water resources… Areas currently under Drought Level 4 (adverse impacts on people, fish or ecosystems are likely) include: the Salmon River, Coldwater River and Nicola River watersheds in the Thompson-Okanagan; the Kettle River, Lower Columbia Basin, and West Kootenay Basin; and the Eastern Vancouver Island Basin and Gulf Islands. Regions currently under Drought Level 3 include the entire Okanagan Valley, Similkameen, South Coast and Lower Mainland, Cariboo/Chilcotin, North and South Thompson Basins and parts of Western Vancouver Island. …If conservation measures do not achieve sufficient results…, temporary protection orders under the Water Sustainability Act may be issued to water licensees, to avoid significant or irreversible harm to aquatic ecosystems.

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B.C. says expanding emergency alert for wildfires is a priority, but no timeline set

Canadian Press in Victoria Times Colonist
July 22, 2021
Category: Health & Safety
Region: Canada, Canada West

British Columbia’s emergency co-ordination agency is working to expand its use of a public alert system for large-scale and potentially fatal disasters, as hundreds more residents have been forced from their homes because of wildfires. Alert Ready is a Canada-wide system that allows government officials to issue public safety alerts through major television and radio broadcasters, as well as compatible wireless devices. Pader Brach, executive director of regional operations with Emergency Management BC, said the system is being looked at for a variety of hazards, although he could not say if it would be in place for this wildfire season. “We know that minutes count and we’re certainly committed to making the Alert Ready system a priority,” Brach told a news conference. The system is already in use for tsunami threats and Amber Alerts, however it was not used during the “heat dome” in June…

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As Bootleg nears 400,000 acres, 9 firefighters diagnosed with COVID

By Erin Ross and Courtney Sherwood
Oregon Public Broadcasting
July 22, 2021
Category: Health & Safety
Region: United States, US West

As the nation’s largest wildfire neared 400,000 acres burned on Thursday, nine firefighters assigned to the blaze tested positive for COVID-19. That’s prompted state health officials to work with incident management teams to set up quarantine areas away from fire camps, though officials also noted that they had already taken steps to minimize transmission risk after developing pandemic response plans during last year’s wildfire season. “This fire season has been slightly different due to the broad availability of vaccines and the prioritization of structural and wildland firefighting resources for vaccination in the spring,” incident managers wrote in a statement announcing the outbreak. “However, many of last year’s COVID-19 exposure mitigation measures are still in use at fire camps statewide.” With an estimated 2,359 personnel assigned to the south-central Oregon firefighting effort, the coronavirus diagnoses announced Thursday amount to a small fraction of the total crew size. 

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Forest Fires

Cool Creek wildfire near Keremeos balloons in size

By Monique Tamminga
Vernon Morning Star
July 22, 2021
Category: Forest Fires
Region: Canada, Canada West

The two-hectare fire that started on July 12 on the Cool Creek Forest Service Road, 35 km out of Keremeos, has exploded in size. According to the BC Wildfire dashboard, the Cool Creek fire has gone from two hectares to 175 hectares as of Thursday, July 22. The wildfire has stayed at 2 hectares since it started July 12 until July 21 when it seemed to flare up. The cause of the fire is unknown. In the meantime, the wildfire that closed down Highway 3 between Keremeos and Osoyoos on Wednesday, has been fully brought under control, said BC Wildfire today.

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Evacuation order issued for BC communities of Edgewood, Needles due to nearby wildfire

By Doyle Potenteau
Global News
July 21, 2021
Category: Forest Fires
Region: Canada, Canada West

Two small communities nestled along Lower Arrow Lake in B.C.’s Southern Interior are now under evacuation orders. On Wednesday, the Regional District of Central Kootenay (RDCK) expanded its evacuation order because of the Michaud Creek wildfire that’s burning along the west side of the lake. The fire is estimated to be 2,670 hectares in size and is located around 21 kilometres south of Edgewood. According to the BC Wildfire Service, “strong winds are expected to increase well into today and continue to drive aggressive fire behaviour in the interior, southern interior, and southeast region of the province.” The evacuation order now includes the small communities of Edgewood and Needles, and runs north to Whatshan Lake, for a total of 356 properties.

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UPDATE: Two Mile Road wildfire doubles in size, another evacuation alert issued

By NowMedia staff
Kelowna Now
July 22, 2021
Category: Forest Fires
Region: Canada, Canada West

The [Two Mile] fire has doubled in size to 800 hectares. BC Wildfire Service said in an update last night that the growth is due both to better mapping and spreading fire. It remains out of control. BCWS said: “Growth today was in a direction away from Sicamous and crews are making good progress holding the guard at the lower end of the fire despite gusts up to 35 kilometres per hour.” A new evacuation alert was issued by the Columbia Shuswap Regional District late last night affecting Swansea Point. The community on both sides of Hwy 97A north to Sicamous is under alert. CSRD said it was issued “due to the potential danger to life, health or property.” … The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

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Western wildfires grow, but better weather helps crews

By Nathan Howard
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
July 23, 2021
Category: Forest Fires
Region: United States, US West

Lower winds and better weather helped crews … battling the nation’s largest wildfire in southern Oregon … Oregon’s Bootleg Fire grew to 624 square miles (1,616 square kilometers) — over half the size of Rhode Island. However,… higher humidity Wednesday and overnight and better conditions allowed crews to improve fire lines. The fire also was approaching an area burned by a previous fire on its active southeastern flank, raising hopes that a lack of fuel could reduce its spread and the forecast was for favorable firefighting weather again Thursday… The Oregon fire, which was sparked by lightning, has ravaged the sparsely populated southern part of the state and had been expanding by up to 4 miles (6 kilometers) a day, pushed by strong winds and critically dry weather. The blaze, which is being fought by more than 2,200 people, is now more than one-third contained.

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