Western Forestry Contractors’ Association
Rumour Mill RoundUpDate
8 March 2019
Volume 19 Issue 3
Warning:Some readers may find the facts in this edition uninteresting. In that case read them using the voice of Mr. Ed the talking horse. Then they will sound funny at least. This will make more sense if you remember black and white TV.
Whither the NSR?
There was a time when we were whistling contentedly with our hands in our pockets, cheered by the prospect of almost seeing the end of B.C.’s not sufficiently stocked (NSR) legacy. That was the spring of 2017. Now after two consecutive years of fire, drought and pests, things look different. We are still calculating the current NSR since, to be official, it has to be surveyed. But we do know the area disturbed in the timber harvest land base to be at least a million hectares from just the last two years. Add to that the remaining severely disturbed beetle attack areas, plus pre-existing NSR and we get 1,750,000 hectares that need to be looked at (netting out the burned MPB of 250K ha.). If we assume maybe 70 to 80 percent of that might regenerate on its own, we wind up with an estimated range of 400,000 to 500,000 hectares of potential NSR. That’s a lot. Measured as surveying, planning, seedling growing and planting it’s likely to maintain a higher than average level of reforestation activities for the next three years at least. This year we have an estimated 270-million seedlings to plant. Next year we estimate a peak of just over 300-million seedlings for 2020 based on sowing requests. Notwithstanding all the variables embedded in these estimates, like more drought losses, more fire, more area harvested to generate volume, how quickly stands reestablish etc. the current high demand for reforestation services will likely be sustained into the early years of the next decade at least.
And Now The Weather
Are we seeing the battle of the blobs? Of course, there are no blobs (like in the movies) really, just the graphic artifacts of the illustrations we use to describe them as you can see from the above maps. But their effects are not abstract. Last summer and fall the persistent high-pressure ridge over this part of the continent abnormally rewarmed the north Pacific Ocean off our coast. As in 2015 when this first occurred—and named “the blob”— warmer winds moderated this fall’s and winter’s weather onshore in Alaska and our parts. Enter the polar front, as we have been seeing since February, ending that moderation. It will be interesting to see if the cold blob of air temperature will cool down the warmer Pacific Ocean generating even more exceptional weather. For us on the ground the push and shove of the isobars has delayed the forestry campaign on parts of Vancouver Island for field work along with fertilizing and reforesting. Planting on the Coast is backed up at least until mid-March or longer considering that snowed-in road access will extend the delay. Interior observers predict the snow pack inland is likely to go more along normal patterns when freshet begins. Although the term normal, given the last two years of freezing, flooding then fires, may be a dubious reference. At least the feeling is we won’t see the field season delayed, then compressed in the Interior (yet). Of course, in the extended picture many of the same ongoing drought and fuel conditions are present that set things up for the last two years of wildfire. But we aren’t thinking about that.
BC Timber Sales Expands Continuous Bid Deposit Option to all Silviculture Contracts
Bidders for all BCTS silviculture contracts now have the option to post a one-time bid deposit of $25,000 to cover all their tenders in the year as opposed to posting individual amounts for each solicitation. In 2016, based on recommendations from the BC Timber Sales Contract Advisory Committee (BCAC), BCTS implemented standardized guidelines for tree planting contracts. Under those guidelines bidders could post a bid deposit of $5000 for contract bids valued under $250,000, or $10,000 for contract bids valued greater than $250,000, or post a one-time amount of $25,000 as a continuous bid deposit recoverable at the end of the bidding season. The scheme also allows contractors a 48-hour grace period after tenders close to withdraw a bid without penalty. Now, along with planting trees, brushing, spacing, weeding, cone picking, silviculture surveying, site preparing and contract implementing bidders can take advantage of the continuous bid deposit scheme. In order to participate contractors can contact their regional BCTS offices and sign up.
Along with the implementing the continuous bid deposit scheme for tree planting solicitations posting performance bonds were waived as well on awarded BCTS contracts. Nevertheless, under this regime BCTS has the right to prohibit a contractor from bidding on work for two years if they “fail to promptly and faithfully perform the contract in accordance with the terms and conditions specified.” At the moment BCAC is considering whether the same performance provision can be applied to silviculture activities besides planting trees. As well, BCAC is examining how the continuous bid deposit option can be made available to certain kinds of forestry consulting solicitations. BCAC meets later this month where these proposals will be reviewed.