Western Forestry Contractors’ Association
Rumour Mill RoundUpDate
31 May 2019
Volume 19 Issue 8

Warning: All reasonable efforts have been made to avoid any fact-laundering in the production of this publication. All knowledge, inferences, truths, data, and findings come from legitimate sources and are transferred into the general flow of information without any false blending or dealing. Nevertheless, some opinions of dubious origin may occasionally appear in some articles.

And Now a Few Words About Forestry, Fire, Smoke and Drought

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Wefts of things to come; spring haze of early wildfire smoke from the North East over the South East’s Arrow Lake this week.

Wildfire smoke is a pall with a particularly oppressive quality; something we here are becoming too familiar with after two consecutive summers of provincial wildfire emergencies. The depressing possibility of even a third destructive season is imaginable looking at conditions so far this spring. The hazardous health effects of wildfire smoke on forestry workers and the general public are, of course, now being documented. As we reported in the last RoundUpDate, WorkSafeBC will consider workplace exposure to wildfire smoke capable of contributing to wildfire fighters developing cancer and other illnesses. Just what we know so far about this emerging hazard will be the topic of a two-day workshop hosted by the BC Wildfire Service next week in Merritt. The BC SAFE Forestry Program has been invited to attend in the hopes of better understanding the risks to wildfire fighters and other forestry workers and how to mitigate them.

For some forestry workers the hazards of wildfire have recently been more immediate. Our Forestry Safety Advocate has had three reports so far this season of tree planting camps in the Interior having to face pulling up stakes and moving to avoid wildfire threats. This has happened before in other years. But a cluster of camp evacuations like we’ve seen so far this spring is disconcerting. With that trend in mind, Jordan Tesluk has provided some advice here on how to prepare in advance of an emergency including a Code Red event from any fast-moving wildfire.

And now drought. It’s been widely reported that the absence of any convincing rain recently over many parts of the province from the Interior to Vancouver Island is not only hard on seedlings, but it’s wearing out planters too. Dry soil is harder to put a shovel into as reported here.

Private Member’s Bill Limiting Forestry Aerial Spraying Stalls Before Legislature

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Broadcast aerial spraying glyphosate to control brush on conifer plantations is too heavy-handed for habitat diversity, animals, insects and other broadleaf plants says MLA. (pic credit Stop the Spray)

Mike Morris, MLA Prince George-McKenzie, was hoping to have his private members bill banning the aerial spraying of conifer plantations to control brush before the Legislature this sitting. But as he told the RoundUpDate he has more work to do to ensure MLAs understand the scope and intention of his proposed legislation. For years Morris has expressed concerns about the loss of habitat and declining wildlife populations in the wake of the mountain pine beetle and resource development across the province. He has proposed banning the aerial spraying of glyphosate specific only to its use in managing brush on conifer plantations to achieve free-growing by foresters. That silviculture practice says Morris, in a Silent Spring kind of warning, “[Kills] off growth that is a major food and habitat source for insects, small birds, reptiles and mammals, all dependent upon grasses, leaves, berries, bark and other flora for food, nesting, denning and protection. The annihilation of large areas of deciduous growth affects the entire food chain, including carnivores and ungulates.” Morris expects that increasing manual brushing could offset some aerial spraying although he recognizes we would be wise to look at the benefits of promoting deciduous growth in our forests and the vital diversity that creates.

Good Press and Good Work as Tree Planting Camps Offer Training on Harassment and Assault

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Young forestry workers listen up on respect, consent and avoiding assault and harassment in camp and life. (pic credit CBC)

It is gratifying when the media calls to ask about something going right. And maybe it’s even appropriate to take a little credit for being a good example of how to look after women and young workers in the resource sector. CBC’s recent coverage of the Northern Society for Domestic Peace working in camps to educate tree planters about sexual assault at the request of employers shows a sector making an honest effort to deal with this broad societal problem. This is not to rest yet on anyone’s laurels: there is still work to be done. But the silviculture sector is showing leadership and it helps when that gets noticed. Read the full article here.