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4 May 2018
Volume 18 Issue 6

Warning:We have generally assumed the facts and estimates contained in our publications fall within the margin of error. But upon further thought it is not clear to us what a margin of error is. Is it a margin full of error? Or is an area exclusive of error? Is there a place in between for our gentle facts? These questions dog our fact checkers and we apologize for having to disturb our readers with them.

Washouts Watch-Outs and Worse in the Interior

Lots more likely where this came from: one of the many washout and flooding photos to cross our desk lately from across the Interior as an unusual freshet seems to be gaining momentum.

As one frayed planting contractor put it recently, “It’s been a painful start up to our field season.” The chorus coming in from many parts of the Interior includes lamentations of a general delay due to snow—in some cases up to two weeks—blocks being open, but access still knee-deep in winter, roads full of standing water, bridges washed out and plugged culverts. Meanwhile all this unusual flooding is occurring at just the outset of freshet. Last fall’s onset of continual cold throughout the winter has caused culverts to freeze and remain so in many parts contributing to the flooding. This being break-up roadbed integrity is diminished due to the thaw and saturation making them particularly vulnerable to sudden erosion (we have watched roadways vanish in minutes). Some are saying this is the worst they’ve seen in decades. And it was back then in 1994 that three forestry workers died when they drove off the missing end of the bridge on George Creek east of Prince George. This may be something for employers to think about as workers arrive in their vehicles looking for camps and marshaling points. Some of them may not be savvy about resource roads and need to be cautioned. Here then is a quick list of some other considerations:

• Driving at night not recommended: road, water, and missing road all look dark at night;

• Don’t trust any standing water (no matter how many other pools you’ve managed already to navigate and push your luck);

• No heroics around unplugging culverts—you may get caught up in your work;

• Drive like the road ahead is missing around the corner or on the other side of the rise—it might be missing (even after you just drove that way already);

• Make sure your workers traveling in their own vehicles know what they are heading into;

• No gawking: floods are fascinating, but they work fine without an audience standing near them as they undercut banks, and sweep things away;

• No working alone in high flood season and no working near flooding.

Finally, the WFCA has asked both BCTS and MFLNRORD to extend the planting season and exercise some judgment around insisting on seasonal production milestones as this year’s conditions won’t be well dealt with by sticking to the field manual for advice.

And Now The Weather…

Long-range forecasts see hot, dry summer ahead in the West with increased risk of forest fires.

Staying with our focus on environmental calamity; the Canadian Wildland Fire System just released its latest seasonal forecast saying much of the West will be dry and hot this summer. The southern half of BC falls under that weather zone which heads north and east into Alberta. The prediction comes with the usual caveats, since June weather in BC is often the real predictor of the summer fire risk. If we get June monsoons then the fires don’t usually get a full head of steam up before fall. If we don’t, well…Confounding that truism somewhat is the observation that the mass of dead wood in our forests is not recharging with moisture over winter. It is kind of always pre-dried and fire season-ready to join any conflagrations. So we have another variable to contend with, one that made a huge contribution to last year’s provincial emergency. In fact some of this year’s wildfires may come pre-started having over-wintered from last year as the BC Wildfire Services is warning.

It’s Official: 2017 Broke the Record for Seedlings Planted in One Year

2017 was a double milestone for the planting and nursery sectors:we passed the 8 billion total seedling marker and the most trees planted in a year at 267 million.

We may have to amend the 2017 commemorative bumper sticker celebrating 8-billion seedlings sown, grown and planted so far in British Columbia. Last year, according our Forest Practices Branch we planted the most seedlings in a single year at 267-million; something worth commemorating too. This year we drop slightly to an estimated 261-million seedlings. But by 2019 forecasts show us up at 268-million. After that it gets real interesting. Funding is in place now from both federal and provincial sources that may see over 300-million seedlings planted in both 2020 and 2021. One impetus for this is our Ottawa government’s Low Carbon Economy Fund and their recognition that forest carbon sequestration has a part to play in reaching their GHG reduction targets. Our B.C. government will announce a provincial climate action plan later this year. But they are obviously behind the idea as well having matched the federal commitment of up to $160-million for a total $320-million. At the moment the fed share is looking at a four-year commitment. With that in mind the WFCA intends to work with our federal government to convince them of the merits of taking a longer view beyond the program’s present term. Those benefits of extending their commitment past four years would be measured in terms of sustaining regional job creation, climate adaption and mitigation, landscape restoration, rural development, and wildland fire hazard reduction. In the short term the WFCA is working with MFLNRORD and BCTS on strategies and options for achieving the pending task of surveying, growing and planting what looks like an additional 80-million seedlings needing planting starting two years from now. Of course this is not the first time we have seen these forecasts, which also contain assumptions about industry demand and other moving parts to this equation. What’s different now is that these estimates are beginning to firm up in light of present market trends and confirmed funding.

And Now The Book:
A Step By Step Manual for Planting Trees

Comprehensive, complete, and encyclopedic in scope and detail

Jonathan Clarke aka Scooter, tree planting blogger, commentator, documentarian, planter, and project supervisor has produced the aptly titled Step By Step: A Tree Planter’s Handbook now available at amazon.ca. This trade paperback is 240 pages of information, advice and opinion seasoned by Clarke’s decades of planting trees. It will have value for employers, supervisors and workers. It can be read on its own or to support Clarke’s epic opus of training videos. For more information click here.