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Western Forestry Contractors’ Association
Rumour Mill RoundUpDate
14 April 2023
Volume 23 Issue 4

Warning: Our fact-checkers use facts to check facts in this publication to ensure our facts are factual assuming the facts we use to check the facts are in fact factual risking the chance of an endless loop of fact-checking facts.

If It Smells Phishy, It Probably Is: Contract Bid Deposit Scam Alert

Scammers are getting better phishing forestry contractors’ operations as two recent reports indicate. Be vigilant before you send that bid deposit or click that link.

Two reports of attempted email fraud of forestry firms have crossed our desk recently. One scam involved a fake internal email asking the target to fetch an email from the internet. This should be an immediate red flag. No one should be fetching emails. Emails should be delivered. The scam did fail due to some checking and vigilance on the part of the receiver. In the second scam, the scammer posed as a client company the contractor had worked with. It was a solicitation for a select invitation reforestation bid on a large project requiring a bid deposit consistent with this firm’s practices. The set-up was contrived to make the target think they were on the verge of missing the deadline. The target, thinking they would be late, replied by asking for an extension, which was given. But the target felt something wasn’t quite right. The sender looked legit with all the right corporate stuff, but was a different name. The sender’s email had a hyphen in it too. Just before sending the deposit the bidder called the company. There was no such contract and no one by that name working for them. What is unsettling about both these examples are the scammers’ ability to convincingly mimic our sector’s normal transactions, their nature, their timing, and other facsimiles of our operations including posing as customers and clients. Be vigilant and don’t take the bait. Scammers are getting better at making us make mistakes.

Poll Finds Logging Road Deactivation Widespread and Hazardous

An emergency transport vehicle was stuck trying to get to a planting worksite on a deactivated road. So how would it get out with a patient? A road access management joint working group has been convened to answer that and other questions related to the practice of deactivating roads before planting crews can reforest harvested blocks.

As if we needed to ask. But we did. The results of a recent poll of planting supervisors, workers, and other silviculture crews make it clear the problems with road deactivation and worksite access risks for forestry work are not an isolated set of anecdotes. Respondents to the poll conducted last month estimated over the last five years they have worked on thousands of deactivated roads throughout all of the province and nearly all of them thought it was unsafe. This comment from one respondent sums it up:

“I always thought it was ridiculous. They keep the roads intact for every step of the way except planters. An example of where I work right now. Guys with heavy machinery are burning piles and are mandated to pull the bridges and deactivate on their way out. I need the road way more than they do. We [will] have to bring people in, we have hundreds of boxes [of trees] to deliver, and our planters are the ones in need of a swift evacuation if they hurt themselves. That’s without talking about the damage to ATVs or trucks trying to go through cross ditches or deactivated sections, or talking about the countless hours of trail-building for a road that was there before, or the hours and hours packing trees on our shoulders on a road, that again, existed before. Absolutely ridiculous. I’ve flipped a quad backward before in my younger years as a foreman and thought I would die, literally. You learn to do it safely for sure, but a lot of kids are running crews without experience and are pressured in delivering fast.”

The survey results were presented this week to the Forest Industry Forum, a joint forest safety committee comprising WorkSafe, harvesting and licensee representatives, the BC Forest Safety Council, and the BC SAFE Forestry Program. The Forum members unanimously agreed to strike a working group to investigate and recommend changes to reduce hazards and improve road access management as soon as practicable.

La Niña Leaves As Ocean Patterns Oscillate Back To El Niño: Make Plans

Surely it is spring. Winter’s beer cans are blossoming in the melting snowbanks along our highways in the Interior. And many tree planters are finally getting un-stuck after waiting for snow to go on the Coast. Weather has become less reliable lately, often feeling like a deeper global problem announcing itself. So, with the recent April storms, it’s a relief that we still seem to be more or less within standard operating procedures with this slow start to spring. As for the Interior, like most of the province, March has been colder and drier than normal with snow packs above average. Just how much the start-up delay on the Coast will carry over into the Interior planting campaign will depend on when Interior freshet starts later in May. Forecasting this far ahead is little better than chance. Nevertheless, contractors we’ve spoken to are anticipating congestion.

Meanwhile, the day-to-day of the weather this spring is, of course, a product of the bigger picture. And that picture is changing. We are between siblings over the Pacific with La Niña ending a prolonged three-year period of tamping down ocean temperatures. As we wait for the ocean-warming El Niño climate pattern to set up, possibly later this year, climatologists are expecting climate change signals to then come through even stronger. But 2021 was a cooler ocean La Niña year; one that in B.C. produced a wildfire emergency, a heat-dome disaster, and an atmospheric river catastrophe. Whether these were just signals or the real thing, we do seem to be headed toward more times when the weather just doesn’t know when to stop. If we aren’t planning already for extremes, the advent of El Niño signals a good time to start.