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Canadian Wildfires Choke Lumber Supply to U.S. Home Builders

Canadian Wildfires Choke Lumber Supply to U.S. Home Builders | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

Wildfires in Canada are pushing up the price of lumber, threatening the supply to U.S. home builders.

 

Lumber futures have soared in July as blazes spread across the province of British Columbia, leaving many U.S. wholesalers short-handed. Lumber dealers ran down their inventories this year as a trade spat between the administration of President Donald Trump and Canadian officials sparked wild price swings. Then Canada’s wildfires, a threat every summer, turned out to be the hardest on the lumber industry in more than a decade.

 

Now home builders in the U.S., which gets around a third of its lumber from Canada, fear prices might climb even higher as wholesalers try to restock amid the price surge. British Columbia produces nearly half of all Canadian lumber, according to Statistics Canada.

 

“People need wood now,” said Paul Harder, a timber trader at wholesaler Dakeryn Industries in North Vancouver, which sells to U.S. lumber yards. “Little lumber is being offered out there.”

Lumber futures at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, an indicator of price expectations for the months ahead, rose above $400 per 1,000 board feet in mid-July. That was near a 12-year high reached in April before the Trump administration accused Canada of unfairly subsidizing its forestry industry and started slapping tariffs as high as 30% on some timber imports to the U.S. Canadian officials deny the allegations

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Canadian Forest Fires Force Lumber Mills to Shut Down

Canadian Forest Fires Force Lumber Mills to Shut Down | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

Raging forest fires across British Columbia have led three major lumber producers to suspend production across the western Canadian province, while more than 14,000 people have been ordered to evacuate from their homes for safety.

 

Norbord Inc.,  Tolko Industries Ltd. and West Fraser Timber Co. Ltd. have all suspended mill operations in central British Columbia, where approximately more than 200 wildfires are burning throughout the province, the largest of which is estimated to be more than 12,000 acres.

 

The province declared a state of emergency on Friday, while the government announced 100 million Canadian dollars ($77.6 million) in a relief fund for displaced communities.

 

Since April, wildfires have burned down more than 100,000 acres across the province, said Kevin Skrepnek, chief fire information official for the BC Wildfire Service, on Monday. There have been no accidents or injuries due to the fire, officials added.

 

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Human-started wildfires expand the fire niche across the United States

Human-started wildfires expand the fire niche across the United States | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it
The economic and ecological costs of wildfire in the United States have risen substantially in recent decades. Although climate change has likely enabled a portion of the increase in wildfire activity, the direct role of people in increasing wildfire activity has been largely overlooked. We evaluate over 1.5 million government records of wildfires that had to be extinguished or managed by state or federal agencies from 1992 to 2012, and examined geographic and seasonal extents of human-ignited wildfires relative to lightning-ignited wildfires. Humans have vastly expanded the spatial and seasonal “fire niche” in the coterminous United States, accounting for 84% of all wildfires and 44% of total area burned. During the 21-y time period, the human-caused fire season was three times longer than the lightning-caused fire season and added an average of 40,000 wildfires per year across the United States. Human-started wildfires disproportionally occurred where fuel moisture was higher than lightning-started fires, thereby helping expand the geographic and seasonal niche of wildfire. Human-started wildfires were dominant (>80% of ignitions) in over 5.1 million km2, the vast majority of the United States, whereas lightning-started fires were dominant in only 0.7 million km2, primarily in sparsely populated areas of the mountainous western United States. Ignitions caused by human activities are a substantial driver of overall fire risk to ecosystems and economies. Actions to raise awareness and increase management in regions prone to human-started wildfires should be a focus of United States policy to reduce fire risk and associated hazards.
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Financial impact of Fort McMurray wildfire reaches almost $8.9B

Financial impact of Fort McMurray wildfire reaches almost $8.9B | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

EDMONTON -- An assessment of the total financial impact of last spring's Fort McMurray wildfire is pegging the direct and indirect costs of the blaze at almost $8.9 billion.

 

The figure includes the expense of replacing buildings and infrastructure as well as lost income, profits and royalties in the oilsands and forestry industries, said MacEwan University economist Rafat Alam.

 

It also includes early estimates on indirect costs such as environmental damage, lost timber and physical and mental-health treatment for residents and firefighters.

The estimate will go even higher, Alam said Tuesday.
"It's not fully done yet. More data kept coming and I'm sure it will keep coming in."

 

Alam said it can take up to 10 years to get a complete picture of everything that happened and what it cost.
Earlier this year, insurers estimated they'd be paying out about $3.7 billion for damage caused by the blaze which firefighters came to call "the beast." Alam said that figure is now almost $4 billion.

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'Perfect Storm' of Factors Makes Fort McMurray Wildfire a Powerful Force

'Perfect Storm' of Factors Makes Fort McMurray Wildfire a Powerful Force | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it
The raging wildfire that has forced the evacuation of Fort McMurray, Alta., and engulfed parts of the community is the kind of blaze that firefighters dread, but could become more common, according to experts. 


Alternatively described by officials as "catastrophic," a "multi-headed monster" and a "dirty, nasty" fire, the blaze is at least 80,000 hectares in area and has destroyed more than 1,600 structures. It could threaten the entire town, the fire chief told reporters. 


The wildfire became so intense Tuesday that the heat limited air operations over the affected areas. More than 150 firefighters are battling it on multiple fronts, with hundreds more from other provinces scheduled to arrive in the coming days.  

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Global Warming Did Not Make 2015 The Worst Year Ever For Wildfires

Global Warming Did Not Make 2015 The Worst Year Ever For Wildfires | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

Liberal news outlets are reporting 2015 is a record year for wildfires in the U.S. and that that record was likely driven by man-made global warming.

That’s completely false.


The U.S. Forest Service reports fires burned 10.1 million acres of private, state and federal lands in 2015 — a record number of acres, according to the agency. Forest Service officials told liberal media outlets they had to borrow money three times to put out fires, and more than half the agency’s budget went to firefighting in 2015.


But 10.1 million acres is not a record amount for wildfires. In fact, it’s not even close to the worst wildfire season in U.S. history. The number of acres burned last year is only about one-fifth the acreage burned in 1930 and 1931 when more than 50 million acres burned.


There’s even evidence wildfires burned upwards of 140 million acres in pre-industrial times. Federal data shows effective management strategies like prescribed burns can reduce wildfire risks and improve land health.


What’s most interesting is the years with the worst wildfires occurred when carbon dioxide emissions were only a quarter of what they are today. This is important because scientists claim CO2 and other greenhouse gases are heating up the planet and driving more wildfires.


Data going back nearly 90 years seems to indicate a negative correlation between CO2 and wildfires, but that changes when data is “cherry-picked” to only include data going back to the 1960s. A correlation between rising CO2 and wildfires magically appears when data only starts in the 60s.

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Fighting Forest Fires Before They Get Big—With Drones

Fighting Forest Fires Before They Get Big—With Drones | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it
AT 10 AM on Friday, May 15, wildland fire season kicked off in California. Officials from the Bureau of Land Management, the US Forest Service, and a few other agencies gathered at the Kern County Fire Department Headquarters in Bakersfield to, if not celebrate, at least observe the moment. Everyone knew they were looking at a rough year. The ongoing western drought will make sure of that.

Now, a team of researchers believes they may be able to help. The idea is to enable early location and identification of fires using drones, planes, and satellites mounted with special infrared cameras. They’re calling it the Fire Urgency Estimator in Geosynchronous Orbit—or Fuego—and once fully operational the system could spot new wildfires anywhere in the Western US barely three minutes after they start. “All year round is going to be fire season now,” says Carlton Pennypacker, an astrophysicist at UC Berkeley and lead researcher on Fuego. “That makes this more urgent.”
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Lloyd's of London offers Oregon wildfire coverage with $50 million deductible

Lloyd's of London offers Oregon wildfire coverage with $50 million deductible | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it
The state of Oregon has a chance to continue its unique insurance policy that helps pay for fighting wildfires in big burning years — but at a higher premium and deductible.
Lloyd’s of London has offered to cover up to $25 million of wildfire costs this season, after the state pays a deductible of $50 million, The Bulletin newspaper of Bend reported Friday.
After last year’s tough season, the premium the Oregon Department of Forestry and private landowners would pay has nearly doubled: from $2 million to $3.75 million. The deductible is more than twice last year’s $20 million.
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Prosecutors accuse timber company of deception in efforts to reverse forest fire settlement

Prosecutors accuse timber company of deception in efforts to reverse forest fire settlement | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it
Federal prosecutors in Sacramento accuse the state's largest timber company of deception in its efforts to reverse a $100 million settlement it agreed to pay over a wildfire that destroyed more than 100 square miles of forest in Northern California.

Court papers cited by the Sacramento Bee this week (http://bit.ly/1E9lX4r ) show the government contends Sierra Pacific Industries' efforts to overturn the settlement "lack integrity" and are based on false accusations. Prosecutors claim the company "only pretended to settle" the lawsuit it faced.

Officials have blamed the Shasta County company for the 2007 Moonlight Fire.

Last October, Sierra Pacific filed court papers accusing prosecutors of misconduct and unethical behavior in prosecuting the civil suit and said the settlement should be overturned because of "fraud upon the court."

Prosecutors rejected that claim.
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Judge orders Cal Fire to pay $30 million for ‘reprehensible conduct’ in Moonlight fire case

Judge orders Cal Fire to pay $30 million for ‘reprehensible conduct’ in Moonlight fire case | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it
In a blistering ruling against Cal Fire, a judge in Plumas County has found the agency guilty of “egregious and reprehensible conduct” in its response to the 2007 Moonlight fire and ordered it to pay more than $30 million in penalties, legal fees and costs to Sierra Pacific Industries and others accused in a Cal Fire lawsuit of causing the fire.

The ruling is the latest twist in an epic legal battle that began not long after the fire erupted on Labor Day 2007, scorching more than 65,000 acres in Plumas and Lassen counties.

Sierra Pacific, the largest private landowner in California, was blamed by state and federal officials for the blaze, with a key report finding it was started by a spark from the blade of a bulldozer belonging to a company working under contract for Sierra Pacific.

But company officials have steadfastly denied responsibility and have accused the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection and the U.S. Forest Service of conspiring to cover up their own shortcomings that allowed the fire to rage out of control.

Even after Sierra Pacific agreed to settle a federal lawsuit over the devastation in two national forests by paying $55 million in cash and handing over 22,500 acres of land to the government, the company insisted it was undone by an erroneous ruling of U.S. District Judge Kimberly J. Mueller, and then was a victim of stonewalling by Cal Fire in that agency’s Plumas County suit, including the alleged withholding of thousands of pages of key internal documents relevant to the legal struggle.

In a 28-page order issued Tuesday, retired Superior Court Judge Leslie C. Nichols essentially agreed with all of Sierra Pacific’s points, adopting a separate, 57-page order proposed by Sierra Pacific and the other defendants almost word-for-word, and excoriating the behavior of Cal Fire and two lawyers from the office of Attorney General Kamala Harris, which represented the agency.
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Conservation group wants to buy burned forest

Conservation group wants to buy burned forest | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

A conservation group says the wildfire that burned more than 10 square miles of private timberland outside Bend has not dampened its desire to buy the property.


The Two Bulls fire broke out last Saturday on forest owned by Cascade Timberlands. Although it threatened hundreds of scattered rural homes west of Bend, firefighters managed to stop its spread, and on Friday it was 70 percent contained.


Investigators have said it was caused by people, but have not said whether it was deliberately set or an accident.


The Bulletin newspaper reports that Deschutes Land Trust has long been interested in buying the property to create a Skyline Forest. The goal is to preserve it from development, protect wildlife habitat, maintain scenic views and use it in education programs, executive director Brad Chalfant said.

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Timber giant Crown Pacific owned the tree farm before going bankrupt in 2002. The land was sold to creditors and eventually came to be owned by Cascade Timberlands, which has an office in Bend. The timber company is owned by Fidelity National Timber Resources, a subsidiary of Fidelity National Financial in Jacksonville, Florida.


Cascade Timberlands also has forests near Gilchrist and Chiloquin, Chalfant said. Fidelity apparently wants to sell all its holdings in Oregon, amounting to about 200,000 acres, so he has been working to draw in partners, he added.

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Report: Global Warming Not Causing More Wildfires

Report: Global Warming Not Causing More Wildfires | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

Mankind has an effect on the number of wildfires, but not in the way many politicians or journalists would have you think, says a forestry professor.


Professor David B. South of Auburn University says that atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations have nothing to do with the amount and size of wildfires. It’s largely forest management that determines the number and size of wildfires, not global warming.


“Policy makers who halt active forest management and kill ‘green’ harvesting jobs in favor of a ‘hands-off’ approach contribute to the buildup of fuels in the forest,” South told the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on Tuesday.


“This eventually increases the risk of catastrophic wildfires,” South said. “To attribute this human-caused increase in fire risk to carbon dioxide emissions is simply unscientific.”

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According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), carbon dioxide concentrations were much lower in the 1940s (only 310 parts per million by volume), meaning global temperatures were cooler while wildfires were much more prevalent than today.

“These data suggest that extremely large megafires were 4-times more common before 1940,” South said, adding that “we cannot reasonably say that anthropogenic global warming causes extremely large wildfires.”


“However, in today’s world of climate alarmism, where accuracy doesn’t matter, I am not at all surprised to see many journalists spreading the idea that carbon emissions cause large wildfires,” South said.

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Company Works Swiftly To Salvage Dead Timber While Public Timber Sits

Company Works Swiftly To Salvage Dead Timber While Public Timber Sits | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

As Phil Adams’ pickup climbed Rabbit Mountain, the green scenery faded to black. Trees grew sparse and were entirely absent in places.


Still, fully loaded log trucks were coming down the mountain. At the top, loggers unhooked cables attached to charred trees dragged uphill. Except for burn spots, stacked timber appeared in good shape.


The land belongs to Roseburg Forest Products, and the company is urgently salvaging flame-damaged trees before they turn to mush.

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Since early September, RFP has salvaged 8 million board feet damaged in last summer’s 48,679-acre Douglas Complex fires. The company plans to log another 32 million board feet in the next 18 months.


The fires burned on a mix of private and Bureau of Land Management timberlands, leaving behind the contentious issue of how to restore the land.


While salvage operations are moving fast on private land, the BLM has yet to make firm plans. BLM spokesman Cheyne Rossbach said the agency is aware that dead timber loses value the longer it stays in the forest.

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The dissimilar approaches are noticeable from atop Rabbit Mountain. Much of RFP’s land has been logged. Meanwhile, dead trees, both standing and toppled over, cover the BLM land. The difference creates a quilt pattern across the rolling mountains.

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Rossbach said BLM is considering options, including harvesting dead timber, and will hold meetings in January to update the public and ask for comments.


Any plans to salvage timber have to go through environmental reviews and include leaving trees for wildlife habitat, he said.


“We don’t know yet what salvage will look like,” Rossbach said. “We currently have a team in place assessing the lands and what we need to do as far as recovery, and we are setting up another team to look at potential for salvage.”


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Canada musters military to fight wildfires, 39,000 evacuated

Canada musters military to fight wildfires, 39,000 evacuated | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it
Canada was deploying military aircraft and Australia was sending 50 firefighters to battle rapidly spreading wildfires in British Columbia that have forced 39,000 people from their homes, federal Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said on Monday.

Goodale told reporters that the provincial government had made two requests of the federal government for military assistance to fight the fires, which he said were expected to worsen.

The military has sent two planes and five helicopters to help with evacuations and transportation for first responders, according to the Department of National Defence.

Goodale's spokesman Scott Bardsley said the Australians were due to arrive on July 19.

Local governments issued more than a dozen evacuation notices over the weekend, increasing the number of evacuees to 39,000 from 14,000 last week, according to British Columbia's Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations.

British Columbia has announced C$100 million ($78 million) in emergency funds. The Canadian Red Cross will hand out stipends of C$600 for displaced people and additional money for rebuilding.

Other jurisdictions have agreed to send some 260 personnel to the area.

The fires were burning across an area ranging from 150 km (95 miles) to 350 km northeast of Vancouver and have affected public utilities and industries including timer and mining.
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Support grows for thinning trees to combat forest fires as wildfires scorch West

Support grows for thinning trees to combat forest fires as wildfires scorch West | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it
With wildfires already raging through the West, House Republicans took a chainsaw Tuesday to federal regulations that have created a fire-friendly environment on public lands by slowing forest-thinning and dead-tree removal.

The House Natural Resources Committee passed the Resilient Federal Forests Act of 2017, moving to combat the rise in catastrophic wildfires by reversing what sponsors described as the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management’s “anemic forest management efforts.”

“As we debated this bill, dozens of wildfires continue to burn in the Southwest,” said Rep. Bruce Westerman, Arkansas Republican and the bill’s sponsor.

The Brian Head fire in southern Utah, the largest of 21 major wildfires currently burning in the West, has razed 21 buildings, 13 of them homes, across 50,000 acres and forced the evacuation of 1,500 residents.

“Our forest health crisis can no longer be neglected,” said chairman Rob Bishop, Utah Republican. “Active management is needed to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire and improve the health and resiliency of our forests and grasslands. More money alone is not the solution.”
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Worst wildfires in Chile's history have killed 11 people, threaten wine and timber industries

Worst wildfires in Chile's history have killed 11 people, threaten wine and timber industries | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

Chile’s worst ever wildfires threatened the city of Concepcion and the nation’s wine industry Friday, a day after flames destroyed a town about 200 miles south of the nation’s capital.

President Michelle Bachelet’s office said the fires had killed 11 people, forced the evacuation of more than 5,000 and burned nearly 900,000 acres, mainly forests.

Most of the evacuees come from the town of Santa Olga, southwest of Santiago, which was destroyed Thursday. 
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The government said Friday that as many as 65 separate fires continued to burn out of control. 
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Firefighters, police and soldiers were concentrating in Concepcion in a bid to keep the fast moving flames from the city of 250,000. The Chilean navy dispatched 550 marines to maintain order in Concepcion and other affected areas.
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The fires started in mountainous areas southeast of the capital in November and spread due to high temperatures and strong winds, said Augusto Roberts, a spokesman for the commercial timber company Forestal Mininco. The timber industry had lost about 100,000 acres of commercial forests.

“The management of firebreaks is not only [to maintain] distance between the timber plantations, it is also important to keep houses away from potential sources of fuel,” Roberts said. “In Chile there is still much to learn."

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Lawsuit over fireline seeks to curb forest firefighting tactics

Lawsuit over fireline seeks to curb forest firefighting tactics | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it
The rush by the U.S. Forest Service to cut a fireline through critical fish and wildlife habitat to fight a fire that never came anywhere near has spurred a lawsuit in federal court.

Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics (FSEEE), a Eugene, Ore.-based nonprofit, filed the lawsuit last week in U.S. District Court in Spokane. It seeks to rescind a 2008 regulation that allows the Forest Service to suspend all environmental laws when it fights fire, if fire managers declare a state of emergency.


The suit also would require a review of the agency’s firefighting program to assess the effectiveness of its tactics and their effect on people and the environment.

Firefighting would continue as usual during the course of the review but could be subject to new restrictions as a result of it.
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Two Northern California fires cause at least $1 billion in insured losses

Two Northern California fires cause at least $1 billion in insured losses | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

Two deadly Northern California wildfires that scorched more than 140,000 acres, ravaged homes and devoured firefighting resources in September have amounted to at least $1 billion in insured losses so far, according to a state insurance department report.


The Valley and Butte fires took a devastating toll on the region as flames chewed through homes, farms, vehicles and personal belongings, and eventually gave rise to a large number of claims, the California Department of Insurance reported. The preliminary $1 billion loss estimate did not include damage to roads and utilities, so the total figure for insured losses is likely to grow.
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In Lake, Napa and Sonoma counties, the Valley fire consumed 1,958 structures, resulting in $700 million in insured losses. Because the blaze destroyed many homes and buildings, it became the third most damaging wildfire in California’s history.


Four people were killed during the 76,067-acre blaze, which started Sept. 12 in southern Lake County and lasted a little more than a month.


The 70,868-acre Butte fire ran through grasslands and timber in California’s Gold Country – Amador and Calaveras counties. The blaze is the seventh most destructive wildfire in the state’s history, destroying 818 structures and resulting in $300 million in insured losses. Two deaths were attributed to the Butte fire.

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With a stunning 7 million acres burned so far, the U.S. wildfire situation is looking dire

With a stunning 7 million acres burned so far, the U.S. wildfire situation is looking dire | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it
Wildfires are exploding across the western United States, overstretching resources and, in some states, resulting in tragic consequences.

Some 30,000 firefighters and additional support staff are now fighting fires across the United States — the biggest number mobilized in 15 years, according to the U.S. Forest Service. And it’s still not enough.

Two hundred members of the military are being called up to help further — they will be trained and deployed within just a few days — as are Canadian firefighting forces. There’s even some talk of potentially needing to draw on resources from Australia and New Zealand, which has been done before in a pinch.

And no wonder: Five states are now battling more than 1o large wildfires — California is contending with 16, Idaho 21, Montana 14, Oregon 11 and Washington 17. Most terrifying, perhaps, is the Soda Fire, which has scorched 283,686 acres in Idaho, burning up ranches, killing wild horses, even generating an alarming fire whirl recently.
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A billion-dollar wildfire season looms, with new homes sprouting in its path

A billion-dollar wildfire season looms, with new homes sprouting in its path | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

As most of Minnesota remained at high risk of forest and grassland fire this week, the nation’s wildfire fighter-in-chief told Congress that he’s expecting another unusually tough, billion-dollar, possibly budget-busting year.


And not just in the typically hot zones of California, Arizona and Colorado: “We anticipate another active fire year as above normal wildland fire potential exists across the north central United States,” Tom Tidwell, chief of the U.S. Forest Service, told a Senate committee on Tuesday, “and above-normal wildland fire potential will threaten many parts of the West this summer.”


The service’s middle-of-the-road prediction for its costs in the coming 2015 fire season is $1.225 billion, with a 10 percent chance of exceeding $1.6 billion (and also, to be fair, a 10 percent chance of coming in under $800 million).


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Oregon might lose wildfire insurance

Oregon might lose wildfire insurance | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it
Private timberland owners and the state officials charged with protecting those lands are both in the dark over how consecutive bad fire seasons will change the way Oregon pays to fight catastrophic wildfires.

For nearly four decades, Oregon has purchased an insurance policy that kicks in when wildfires are catastrophic. It’s a unique setup similar to car insurance.

The state has paid a premium of around $1 million and a $25 million deductible before the company chips in. The policy has saved the state as much as $46 million since 1973.

With a month left before spring, the only thing that is certain is that the state and landowners most likely will have to pony up if they want the insurance this year, if Oregon gets a policy at all.

The state sent its top forester, Doug Decker, across the Atlantic to meet face to face with brokers from Lloyd’s of London early this month.

Even now, Decker says, the future is uncertain.

“They’ll be asking themselves the question what can they afford to provide, and we’ll be asking the question what can we afford to pay,” Decker said.
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Massive Forest Fires Could Be Cooling the Earth

Massive Forest Fires Could Be Cooling the Earth | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it
In a paper which appears in Nature Geoscience this month, a group of ecologists demonstrated that these fires scorching Earth's northernmost forests can, paradoxically, have a chilling effect on our climate. A smoldering blaze kicks up plumes of heat-trapping soot, which eventually settle back to the ground, hastening snowmelt. Combustion also releases carbon dioxide, our planet's most important heat-trapping greenhouse gas. These effects, like the heat from the blaze itself, tend to warm the planet up.

But as wildfires eat through forests, they also expose the ground, and in the far north, that means uncovering snow and ice. The dark, leafy landscape becomes a bright, reflective one. In climate science lingo, reflectivity is called albedo, and it's a critically important factor for determining how much of the sun's energy our planet absorbs. By increasing a landscape's albedo, fires can reflect more of the sun's radiation back to space and cool the climate.

Trees, in other words, affect our climate almost as much as humans do.
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Eva Rider's curator insight, February 19, 2015 2:05 AM

amazing - How wonderful that nature is ever moving towards healing and herself through re-balancing. We can help by harmonizing our selves with her.

 

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Sierra Pacific levels corruption allegations in renewed legal fight over Moonlight fire

Sierra Pacific levels corruption allegations in renewed legal fight over Moonlight fire | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

The incendiary legal battle over responsibility for the Moonlight wildfire, which scorched 65,000 acres in the Sierra Nevada seven years ago, has flared anew with charges of corruption and cover-up leveled at federal prosecutors, and state and federal investigators.


The allegations are contained in hundreds of pages of documents filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Sacramento seeking to wipe out a 2012 settlement calling for timber giant Sierra Pacific Industries to pay the federal government $47 million and deed it 22,500 acres of its land to compensate for the devastation of more than 40,000 acres in two national forests in Plumas and Lassen counties, as well as the U.S. Forest Service’s firefighting costs.
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The company contends federal prosecutors sat by in pretrial depositions and knowingly allowed the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection and U.S. Forest Service investigators to “repeatedly lie under oath about the very foundation of their investigation.”
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One of the documents Sierra Pacific filed is a declaration from a veteran former assistant U.S. attorney, who says he was forced to give up his position as the government’s lead lawyer in the Moonlight case, apparently because he rebuffed pressure from a superior to “engage in unethical conduct as a lawyer.”


The declaration from E. Robert Wright says he was bounced out of the case by his boss, David Shelledy, chief of the civil division in the U.S. attorney’s office, and replaced by a prosecutor with no previous experience in wildland fire recovery cases.
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Although Sierra Pacific agreed to a settlement in 2012 to end its legal fight with federal authorities, it has always contended the fire investigation was flawed and that investigators manipulated evidence and lied under oath about where and how the blaze began.


According to Sierra Pacific, the government could reach into the company’s deep pockets for a big recovery only if it could blame the company for the fire, and that is what motivated investigators to move the blaze’s place of origin to the area where the bulldozer was working and then falsely deny they had originally settled on a different location.

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Explosion, fire rock Plum Creek fiberboard plant in Columbia Falls

Explosion, fire rock Plum Creek fiberboard plant in Columbia Falls | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

After initial reports that several people were missing following a Tuesday afternoon explosion at Plum Creek Timber Co., authorities say everyone who was in the affected facility has been accounted for, and no one was hospitalized.


Both Flathead County Sheriff Chuck Curry and Plum Creek spokeswomen Kathy Budinick and Kate Tate told reporters that all employees who were in the medium density fiberboard plant are safe.

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Later Tuesday, Budinick told the Missoulian that 68 people were in the medium density fiberboard plant at the time.


An ensuing fire sent plumes of smoke billowing above the plant that was visible for miles. Fire departments from across the Flathead Valley responded to the scene.

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“There is extensive damage to the exterior of the building,” Curry said. “It was a significant explosion.”

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Tate said the cause of the explosions is not yet known.


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Idaho sues Potlatch over deadly wildfire

Idaho sues Potlatch over deadly wildfire | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

Idaho officials have filed a lawsuit against a timber company and its contractor contending they're responsible for a wildfire that killed a 20-year-old Forest Service firefighter and burned more than 300 acres in northern Idaho.


The Lewiston Tribune reports the state filed the lawsuit Monday in 2nd District Court seeking an unspecified amount in monetary damages for costs in fighting the fire.


Anne Veseth of Moscow died Aug. 12, 2012, after being struck and killed by a falling tree while fighting the Steep Corner Fire near Orofino.


The lawsuit names Potlatch Land and Lumber, Potlatch Forest Holdings, Clearwater Paper Corp., Potlatch Corp., and DABCO Inc., a Kamiah-based logging contractor.


Idaho officials contend a logging crew started the fire using equipment that didn't meet Forest Service standards required by law.

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