A Successful 2017 Forest Field Tour

TimberWest South Island Logistics Facility

This week, PFLA members enjoyed an informative field tour, with stops at the TimberWest South Island Logistics Facility, the BC Forest Discovery Centre, and the Mesachie Lake Forest Research Facility.

About 25 large and small private forest land owners from throughout BC met in Cowichan Bay for the annual conference and AGM.

The two day event is a chance each year to share expertise, stay abreast of important policy developments, and see inspiring hands-on examples of innovative forest stewardship.

BC Forest Discovery Cent

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mesachie Lake Research Facility

 

PFLA’s 2017 Forest Field Tour — June 7th in Cowichan Bay, BC

Photo courtesy BC Forest Discovery Centre

This year, the PFLA field tour will be spent in the Cowichan Valley. We’ll have the opportunity to look at some interesting forestry projects in the area, and most importantly, meet the key people involved.

Our tour this year will start bright and early on Wednesday, June 7th with departure from OceanFront Suites at Cowichan Bay.

We’ll visit the BC Forest Discovery Centre, located in Duncan, for a celebration of the history of logging in B.C.

Our next stop will be the BC Forestry Research Station at Mesachie Lake. The station is the provincial centre for research into coastal tree improvement and forest genetic conservation. The station’s nursery staff provide technical expertise and service in growing seedlings to be used in research trials and as rootstock for grafting programs.

And finally we’ll tour of a modern, state-of-the-art timber merchandising and marketing facility in Crofton.

We’ll then head back to OceanFront Suites at Cowichan Bay, just in time for an afternoon cocktail at 5:30, followed by dinner at 6:30.

You can find complete schedule and registration information on the PFLA website.

Or contact us at info@pfla.bc.ca with any questions.

Cowichan Lake Research Station at Mesachie Lake

To whet your appetite, here are a few highlights from past events:

Sylvan Vale Nursery: From Seed to 8 Million Seedlings — A big PFLA thanks to Sylvan Vale Nursery for their hospitality (did we mention they fed us donuts?) and the informative tour of their nursery …[read more]

“What do you get when you mix engaging presenters, interesting locations, thoughtful participants and favourable weather conditions? Another fantastic field tour!”   … [read more]

BC Log Export Restrictions To Blame For Significant Portion of Softwood Tariff

“Buried in the 124 pages of the U.S. trade case against Canadian lumber is a surprising revelation about how the Trump administration tallied its duties.”, reads the opening sentence of the May 7, 2017 Globe and Mail article by Barrie McKenna.

Mr. McKenna’s article brings to light the revelation that British Columbia log exports are to blame for a significant portion of the penalty applied by the US to Canadian softwood.

Best explained by the author himself, here’s an excerpt of the story about the impact of British Columbia log export restrictions on Canadian softwood duties.

Barrie McKenna: Angry about U.S. duties on Canadian lumber? Blame B.C.

[…] The prevailing narrative is that the U.S. hit Canada with duties of up to 24 per cent because the provinces are selling their timber too cheaply to lumber companies – thus, a subsidy, so the Americans say.

That’s only part of the story. A significant chunk of the penalty is due to log export restrictions that exist only in British Columbia.

The bizarre, and arguably unfair, result is that lumber producers across the country are being punished for the forest policies of one province.

Absent of B.C.’s export controls, Canada’s lumber industry would be facing something closer to a nuisance tax today, rather than a punishing throttle on its exports. And it could wind up costing lumber companies hundreds of millions of dollars per year, and valuable market share in the United States.

The U.S. Commerce department investigated five companies – three in B.C., one in Quebec and another in New Brunswick. It calculated the alleged subsidies each receives and then applied unique rates. Outside of B.C., the duties are relatively low – about 3 per cent for St. John-based J.D. Irving Ltd. and 13 per cent for Montreal-based Resolute Forest Products Inc. Inside B.C., the rates are much higher – 24 per cent for West Fraser Timber Co. Ltd., 20 per cent for Canfor Corp. and 19.5 per cent for Tolko Industries Ltd.

Every other lumber exporter in Canada is now paying a weighted average of those five rates, or 20 per cent. As much as a third of the nationwide duty reflects the effect of federal and provincial restrictions on B.C. log exports.

Those restrictions, in place since the 1880s, are an aberration in Canada’s generally open economy. Indeed, logging is a rare example where governments dictate to private interests what they can export, for reasons other than national security.

Federal and B.C. officials should have seen this coming. Economists in Canada have warned for years that the policy lessens competition for logs, increases the supply of timber available to mills in B.C. and suppresses prices by up to 50 per cent. And that lowers the cost of finished lumber, such as two-by-fours, destined for the U.S. market.

The Commerce department agreed. It calculated that a quarter to a third of the total duties imposed on the three targeted B.C. companies is directly attributable to log export rules, which are applied by both Ottawa and B.C.

The United States isn’t alone in raising objections. Japan, China and South Korea have also complained about Canadian log-export restraints. Japan and China almost certainly will raise the issue in free-trade talks with Ottawa.

It’s still unclear whether the United States will be able to make its case stick. Canadian lumber has been targeted four previous times since the 1980s, successfully fighting off the duties each time through litigation.

Follow the link to the full article.

Latest News from the PFLA Board

Welcome Ian Delisle

The PFLA Board is pleased to welcome Ian De Lisle as a director. With extensive experience and knowledge of the coastal forest industry, Ian is a valuable addition to the board.

After graduating from BCIT in 1975, Ian held various positions within the Ministry of Forests until 1995 when he started work with Forest Renewal BC. Following that, Ian worked with the Land Reserve Commission as Forest Practice Officer before starting his current position as Vancouver Island Area Manager with Hancock Forestry in 2002.

Ian also served as Chair of the Western Canada Sustainable Forestry Initiative implementation committee for two years. As an historical note, Ian and his late twin brother Al were the first twins to register as Professional Foresters in BC. So, it’s safe to say Ian has made history in his forestry career.

An Evening with the Board

A big thanks to everyone who took the time to come out on a cold and windy February evening for a friendly and informal meet and greet with the PFLA Board.

The evening followed a day-long strategic planning session in Victoria. It was a great opportunity for PFLA members and Managed Forest owners to meet the people that represent them at the director level and to air any thoughts or concerns they might have in a relaxed and unstructured setting.

The event also gave board members a chance to get to know some of the PFLA members they haven’t yet had a chance to meet.

Thanks to such a good turn out, and positive experience overall, the board has decided to move the location of future strategic planning sessions around the province and give members in different communities a chance to attend similar informal meet and greet events.

Please stay tuned for more information about future opportunities.

Looking for New Board Members

The PFLA board is looking to strengthen and diversify its membership. If you’re a Managed Forest owner and a PFLA member who’s interested in learning more about this opportunity, please contact Rod Bealing at rod.bealing@pfla.bc.ca.

How You Can Help the Carihi Forestry Program

Take a class of Carihi forestry students on a tour. More information below.

After a year break the forestry program at Carihi Secondary School in Campbell River is up and running again and they’re looking for help from the community. We’ve included the information from the latest Carihi Forestry newsletter below with all you need to know about how to get involved.

This year’s class includes 20 students in grades 10 to 12. “There is a lot of interest in forestry in this years group,” comments teacher Jason Kerluck.  “It is a keen group who are looking to learn more about forestry, and potentially gain entry into the industry through initial employment and/or pursuing post-secondary education.”

Jason Kerluck is in his 5th year of the program, which is heavily funded by the TLA and supported by many local forest companies and associations.  “We’re looking forward to working with people from our community who are passionate, experienced and knowledgeable in forestry!”

There are lots of ways to keep in touch with the progress of this program, and there are suggestions below on how you can get involved.

Take a Student to Work

We are looking for people working in our coastal forest community to take a student(s) with them to work. Many people don’t understand the type of work you do, so show us! Lots of you have wonderful jobs that lead to spectacular days. We need to show students what you do!

I’ll match you with a student who is interested in your field of work so you’ll get a keen student excited to see what you do. The school district has been organising job shadows for years and has their own WCB coverage.

If you have a cool day planned and you’re excited to share your work and experiences in forestry with a keen student, contact Jason at jason.kerluck@sd72.bc.ca. This can be planned in advance or potentially arranged with short notice.

Thanks in advance for your support!

Class Presenter

Rick Monchak presents to a class of Carihi forestry students.

Share your forestry experiences with a keen forestry class. This class runs every weekday from 12 to 3 at Carihi Secondary School. We are always excited to hear about people’s adventures in forestry and their pathway to where they are now. Bring some photos, equipment, maps, or just come in for a chat. Rick Monchak, right, is seen talking to a previous class describing the concept of a raw log and giving out toblerone chocolate as motivation.

Host a Class Tour

The students in this class learn so much by seeing actual forestry work sites. We are flexible with times and getting to different locations, but we’re mostly available in the afternoons during the week (day trips are possible). Some highlights of this class are taking students out to different forestry locations in and around Campbell River. Not only do they learn about forestry, but they learn about how these companies/associations contribute to our local economy.

If you are interested in hosting a tour, contact Jason at jason.kerluck@sd72.bc.ca.

Student(s) Mentor

This program incorporates inquiry and project-based learning. Students choose topics of interest, research the topic and then present their learning back to the class. Other goals of this class are to teach and build employable skills, including working with professionals in our local community.

How can you help? I will assist in setting up a communication link between you and the student(s), where you would be answering questions and sharing your field of knowledge. This can be done in person, through emails, over the phone, and possibly conference calls or Facetime. The initial step is to email me about your interest to help, give me a quick description of your background and knowledge of strengths in forestry, and then wait for a reply.

Invest in Forestry Education

Carihi foretry students with company logos on their cruiser vests.

The Carihi Forestry Education Program is looking for forest groups to invest in forestry education. For the past five years, this program has accumulated appropriate forestry gear and equipment necessary to teach students current skills and theories within our developing forest sector.

We are still looking for assistance in acquiring personal forestry equipment for every student in the program, and potentially donating this equipment to students who pursue a career in our industry.

Here is how you can help!  Through a $250 donation, the program will be able to purchase a cruiser vest, clinometer, and compass. For an additional $100, students will be equipped with caulk boots as well. Donating groups will get their logo stitched onto the class vests, which will be used regularly by students in the program. There may be a small additional charge if your logo needs to be converted for stitching, however this only needs to be done once and can be used again in the future.

How Not to Get Killed By a Cougar

Photo credit: WildSafeBC

Spring is just around the corner. Before you head out to inspect the perimeter of your property, it’s a good idea to keep in mind what to do if you encounter signs of wildlife along the way.

Because we’re a safety first kind of association, we’ve put together a few safety tips and information about best practices to follow in case you encounter a cougar while you’re walking or working in the woods.

We know a lot of you have close encounter cougar stories of your own. We love a good story so we’re awarding a prize to the best cougar story out there. Tell us your story in the comment section below and you could win a case of canned salmon (the runner up wins a pitch fork).

While attacks by cougars are rare, they do happen and can be fatal (especially if young children are involved). Generally, cougars in conflict are younger cougars that haven’t learned how to hunt efficiently so they’re looking for easy targets, or else they’re older cougars that can’t hunt efficiently in the wilds anymore.

If you encounter a cougar, the first thing to remember is, keep calm.

  • Make yourself look as large as possible and back away slowly.
  • Keep the cougar in view. Make sure to allow a clear exit for the cougar.
  • Pick up any children or small pets immediately.
  • Make yourself look as large as possible and keep the cougar in front of you at all times.
  • Never run or turn your back on a cougar—any sudden movements could provoke an attack.

If you notice that a cougar is watching you, maintain eye contact with the cougar and speak to it in a loud firm voice. Reinforce the fact that you are a human and not an easy target.

If a cougar shows aggression, or begins following you, respond aggressively. Cougars see you as a meal and you’re trying to convince them that you’re not prey.

Keep eye contact, yell and make loud noises, and show your teeth. Quickly pick up nearby sticks, rocks, or whatever you have at hand to use as a weapon, if necessary (crouch down as little as possible when picking things up off the ground).

If a cougar attacks, fight back! Convince the cougar you are a threat. Use anything you have as a weapon— rocks, sticks, bear spray or personal belongings—and focus your attack on the cougar’s face and eyes.

To report an incident, call the Conservation Officer Service reporting line (1-877-952-7277).

Tips for Working in Cougar Habitat

Anyone working in the outdoors should be aware of the wildlife around them.

Cougars are found throughout British Columbia in both the backcountry and frontcountry. If you’re working in the woods you can assume you’re within potential cougar habitat, especially in the southern third of the province.

A few tips to keep safe working in cougar habit include:

  • Before heading outdoors, familiarize yourself with cougar habits and biology.
  • Work in pairs or groups.
  • Be alert for tracks, scat, scratched trees, and other signs of cougars (such as animal carcasses buried under vegetation).
  • To avoid surprise encounters, make noise to alert wildlife of your presence.
  • If you come across a food cache (buried prey), leave the area immediately.
  • If you happen to encounter cougar kittens, leave the area immediately. Do not approach or handle them.

A few safety equipment and procedure suggestions:

  • Carry a cell phone, satellite phone or GPS unit with you.
  • Have a first aid kit and bear spray.
  • Know the location and address to nearest hospitals complete with drive times.
  • Make sure you have check-in contact information and a schedule.
  • List of other important contacts for the field crew.
  • Have an inspection schedule for safety equipment to make sure the bear spray is within expiry date and the first aid kit is complete.

Thanks to Wildsafe BC — British Columbia Conservation Foundation — British Columbia Conservation Foundation for the information. You can visit their website for more detailed information and resources on cougar safety.

Log Export Ban Advocates are Barking up the Wrong Tree. Again.

BC’s private forest operations generate 5,000 family supporting rural jobs, $150 million in taxes and over $1 billion in economic activity annually.

An openly partisan coalition of labour unions and internationally funded environmental activists opposed to BC timber harvesting, are once again promoting the myth that a ban on log exports is the best solution to ensure more logs are milled here in BC.

This idea is callously disrespectful to the thousands of hardworking rural men and women who rely on the log export trade for their livelihoods. Not to mention, dangerous because it ignores almost all the evidence of the situation, as well as a shameful waste of time because it focuses on the symptom of the problem, rather than focusing on making BC an attractive place to build new mills.

It takes decades to grow a timber crop. During that time millions of dollars are spent on planting, protecting and tending trees. BC’s private forest operations are proud of the fact that our efforts generate 5,000 family supporting rural jobs, $150 million in taxes and over $1 billion in economic activity annually. Banning log exports would destroy this sector overnight.

We understand that the public would like to see more logs milled in BC – we would too. The ability to sell our logs to local mills at competitive prices is warmly welcomed, but until BC mills are globally competitive again, the log export trade is the only thing keeping our people working and the wheels turning.

BC lumber mills themselves are curiously absent from the list of log export ban supporters. The primary reason for this is that the mills don’t need, or want a log export ban.

BC mills already have full control over where the wood goes. Every log exported from BC must by law first be ruled surplus to local needs. This gives mills incredible leverage and means they can dictate log prices (among the lowest in the world = why the log export market is so attractive) with guaranteed access to all the wood they want, at prices they control.

Mills are also staying out of the public discussion because Canada’s trading partners around the globe are already unhappy about BC’s existing private land export surplus test restrictions. In fact, as part of the latest round of softwood lumber talks, the US notes that private land log export restrictions are a direct subsidy to Canadian lumber production.

Coastal BC mills also understand that artificially low domestic log prices cannot support sustainable forest stewardship. The extra dollars paid for logs by overseas mills support harvesting activity and subsidize domestic log sales.

The recent increase in log export volumes cited by Ben Parfitt and others has been generated entirely from public lands.* In fact, private land log exports, which are largely federally, not provincially regulated, have decreased during the same period as local mills increasingly use the surplus test to interfere with the export trade, and acquire privately owned logs at discounted rates.

There is a timber surplus in coastal BC because there is a lack of mill capacity. There is a lack of mill capacity because coastal BC is currently not an attractive place to make mill investments.

There is zero evidence to support the naïve claim that more mills would suddenly be built in BC if log exports were banned. Surplus-test log export restrictions have been in place here for many decades, yet mill investments continue to occur not here, but far away.

The reality is, nobody can afford to borrow money and build a mill that won’t generate sufficient profits, and currently there are more profitable places to build mills than coastal BC. It’s telling that despite the timber surplus on the coast, major BC lumber companies — Canfor, West Fraser, Interfor, Teal Jones and others — have all invested in US mills. Russia’s log export restrictions are similarly ineffective at attracting mill investments.

If the goal is to put an abrupt and complete halt to the coastal timber growing and harvesting sector, then a log export ban is the way to go. If, as the United Steelworkers (whose members enjoy both mill and woods jobs) suggest, the goal is to encourage a thriving milling sector, then finding a solution will require a lot more than idealistic rhetoric.

We believe that getting the facts out is the only way to promote informed discussion and promote positive policy development. For more information, please go to www.pfla.bc.ca

*Between 2007 and 2014, private land log exports decreased by about 3%, while Crown land log exports increased by about 606%.