Western Forestry Contractors’ Association
Rumour Mill RoundUpDate
5 May 2023
Volume 23 Issue 5

Warning: Many of these fact warnings, rather than providing actual warnings about facts, have often been self-referential, elliptical, and non-sequiturs that some readers may find puzzling.

BC SAFE Forestry Advocate Issues Flood and Travel Alert for Planting and Forestry Crews

Rising water creeping up on a reforestation camp in the south Interior.

5 May ’23 This Just In: “High temperatures have caused flooding, landslides, and avalanches in various parts of British Columbia this spring. These events occur more frequently with extreme weather and can pose significant risks to workers finding their way to bush camps.

The recent highway closures in Cache Creek resulted in multiple groups of workers attempting to follow overland routes identified in Google Maps, that proved impassable. They came close to disaster. In one case, a group of workers nearly slid off a steep wilderness road northwest of Kamloops after having to turn around due to flooding and washouts.

Contractors should communicate with their workers and provide clear instructions for safe travel to the worksite, monitor changes in conditions and road closures, and provide updates to workers through mailing lists or other means.”

Click here to read the full alert.

BC and Feds Sign Two Billion Tree Contribution Agreement (Finally)

2BT projects, so far, have been mostly small-scale habitat restoration projects across Canada. The recent BC-Fed agreement is one of a number of long-term, larger-scale planting programs Ottawa is negotiating with provinces and territories. (photo credit Shakti Reforestation)

In the late fall of 2020, our federal government announced its Two Billion Tree Program (2BT) committing $3.2-billion to plant those 2-billion trees across Canada over the following decade. 2021 was set as year one for 2BT. It’s good news that last month our B.C. government and our federal government finally signed a two-year, $80 million contribution agreement to plant some of those trees. We understand other B.C. contribution agreements will be signed through the ten-year term of the program. Up to last year most of the 2BT program has been small-scale, one-off urban forestry and habitat restoration projects across Canada. Many silviculture sector nurseries and contractors were wondering when we would see long-term, large-scale programs announced. NRCAN answered those concerns with the April B.C. announcement adding that similar long-term, multi-year contribution agreements were in place with six other provinces and territories (Alberta is one of them) with more to follow. B.C.’s notional portion of the ten-year 2BT funding is $358,323, 297.00 to be exact. This year approximately 45 million seedlings will be planted primarily to restore burns through the province’s Forest Investment Program, funded jointly by federal and provincial contributions. The WFCA has told both federal and provincial decision-makers that BC could handle more seedlings than that annually.

COVID Is Still With Us (along with other spring things) Warns Forestry Safety Advocate

The spring start-up for tree planting in interior British Columbia and Alberta requires an intense concentration of management effort as thousands of seasonal workers are mobilized along with the supplies and logistics to support them. With that imperative to the conditions that chance, fate, and circumstance like to set in the face of everyone’s best plans. This unpredictable spring is proving full of more than the usual array of distractions for managers. In many places, the Coast planting season is dragging on into May due to last winter’s snow. That is keeping crews in the back ends of Pacific inlets when they would normally be east of the Coast Range by now. In the Interior, spring held back and then let go with a pulse of unusually warm weather. Now we have risks of floods and even wildfire as freshet goes full throttle in many parts.

Meanwhile, BC SAFE Forestry Advocate Jordan Tesluk reports from the field that COVID is finding its way back into some camps. Fortunately, serious illness is not reported. But the sickness is interfering with operations. “There have been some significant disruptions for the affected companies trying to get through start-up without their full complement of personnel,” he states in a recent bulletin. Managers need to review their communicable disease plans including managing any workers with symptoms of communicable diseases including COVID along with other viruses and bacteria. Workers need to report their symptoms to protect other workers. Trucks, especially, must be kept clean since time spent in them can be infectious. He recommends masks in vehicles, particularly during the initial weeks of camp life. And of course, wash your hands.

Spring May Be Green, But May Is Looking Red

We appear well above what would be the average fire severity for this month across the west. This is only May. What colour comes after red?

Up until lately, it’s been a cooler, dryer spring through most of British Columbia. Temperatures now are above average in many parts of the province with a heat warning and wildfires threatening communities this week in Northern Alberta. Things look likely to cool down in southern B.C. next week. But the north is expected to stay warm and dry. BC Wildfire Service is warning that winter drought and the delayed green-up have increased the risk of fine fuels igniting. Since the start of April people have started over 100 fires in B.C. Environment and Climate Change Canada’s analyses of seasonal weather patterns, fuel, and fire indices indicate there is a well above average chance of severe wildfire behaviour this month for almost all of western provinces and territories.