North America Wildfire Update: November 2017

Word is starting to come out of the important fibre supply basket for British Columbia softwood lumber producers about how much of the immediate timber that was expected to be harvested has been damaged by the devastating wildfires this season.

North America Wildfire Damage Update: November 2017

At the latest meeting between British Columbia municipalities and the province, Quesnel mayor and council agreed to take a message to Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations & Rural Development (FLNRO&RD) Minister Doug Donaldson’s staff on behalf of Tolko Industries Ltd, according to the Quesnel Observer Wednesday.

Noting he was going to be meeting with a number of the NDP government’s ministerial staff as a followup to the recent Union of BC Municipalities, Mayor Bob Simpson asked Tolko External and Stakeholder Relations manager Tom Hoffman what message he would like him to give to them.

Said Hoffman to the Observer, “We need to access to burnt timber and it’s imperative to have a salvage plan, and time is of the essence.

“We’re talking mature trees that were burnt. We need to access those quickly in order to generate the lumber because the longer they sit, the less viable they are.

“The key is to get on with salvage as quickly as we can… and it has to be commercially viable.”

It is going to be expensive to harvest and mill burnt wood, Hoffman added.


Gerry Mooney, Tolko’s woodlands manager – harvesting for the Cariboo, talked about the salvage plan.

Based on initial mapping of what has occurred in the region, he said just less than one million hectares of timber has been destroyed and damaged by the wildfires this past season. He noted there has been a big impact on Quesnel, which is Tolko’s western timber supply area, first by the mountain pine beetle and now the huge wildfires.

He added Tolko is working with FLNRO&RD local representatives and First Nation partners to utilize their licenses and help salvage the timber from the wildfires.

Diane Nicholls, BC’s chief forester, is currently assessing whether the amount of timber available for harvest in the Interior will have to be reduced in the future, said the Globe and Mail.


The wildfires in California this year significantly damaged farmland, rangeland and watersheds, and more than a third of the funding requested, US$3.1 billion, would go toward helping agricultural industries bounce back, including affected wineries, California officials said.

Damage from the recent North Coast fires has totalled more than US$3 billion to date, state Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones said to the North Bay Business Journal Thursday. That figure makes them the costliest wildfires in American history in terms of insured loss.

The total from Sonoma County alone has climbed to US$2.8 billion so far, which alone surpasses the 1991 Oakland Hills fire, with US$1.7 billion in costs at the time, according to the Insurance Information Institute, a national industry trade organization that compiles claims data. The 2015 Valley fire in Lake County had been ranked as the sixth costliest at US$921 million in damages.

The City of Santa Rosa and County of Sonoma have established the Sonoma County Consolidated Fire Debris Removal Pro- gram (Program) to focus on removal of household hazardous waste and other fire-related debris.


Meanwhile in the US, it seems California Gov. Jerry Brown and lawmakers asked the US government November 3 for US$7.4 billion to help rebuild after a cluster of fires tore through the heart of wine country, killing more than 40 people and leaving thousands without housing.

Brown said the funding would go toward cleanup and programs to support housing, transportation, agriculture, environmental protection and other services for those affected by the fires.