Sunday, November 30, 2014

IUFRO & SAF/CIF World Congress 2014

IUFRO & SAF/CIF World Congress 2014Salt Lake City, Utah, USA

IUFRO = International Union of Forest Research OrganizationSAF = Society of American ForestersCIF = Canadian Institute of Forestry

Breakfast in Bend on our way to SL

For the first time ever three international forestry organizations collaborated for the world’s largest forest professional gathering ever! A combination of over 6,000 people from around the world congregated to learn cutting edge research discoveries, network with new colleagues, and learn from peers. 

Opening Ceremony featuring Native American
from South Western tribes. 
Joining the Oregon State University Chapter of SAF in Corvallis, OR we made the long drive to Salt Lake City, Utah in one day.  There were 12 of us embarking on this trip with the support of OSU College of Forestry and Oregon SAF Chapter.  Fundraising and organization mostly by our Chair, Sam Delano we were down for the adventure.  Kudos to his leadership!

The week was packed with lectures, networking, and learning.  I attended lectures each day with the intention of taking notes of the highlights.  Some talks had multiple speakers during the session and all had time for questions from the audience.  It was fascinating hearing some professional takes on critical topics. 

The topics that I enjoyed most were the social science of forestry and climate changes.  I was particularly inspired to better understand how foresters can and are learning to be more effective communicators and public representatives.  Forestry is more involved with the public’s needs than ever before. Forestry cannot survive without further involvement and education of important forest practices and processes.  There were themes focused on the gender balance in the industry but also the importance forest management can impact communities.  The Sierra Nevada Adaptive Management Project works as a neutral party with the support of research and community involvement.  Or in Nepal wood is valued for fuel and without community participation the forests were depreciating at rapid rates. 

I connected with other students and deans for universities across the world.  Graduate students were the most common for most of the conference.  They were given the opportunity to present a poster on their topic of study. Hearing from Dean John Innes at University of British Columbia   was interesting to better understand the disconnection between the industry professionals and academia.  Goals and resources differ at each institution.  A challenge that universities face to prepare students is to keep up to date with technology. Like many disciplines it is evolving too fast for courses to stay entirely relevant.  It challenges universities to produce accredited programs when standards vary so drastically internationally.  He agreed that depth was challenging to balance with breadth of forestry education. 

Climate change was a theme throughout the event.  David Cohnen was a speaker that stuck with me. He reminded us that our population is growing at incredible rate and that soon we are going to reach 7.5 billion people! Commodity prices are increasing including non-renewable resources.  The challenge of our generation will be to provide the innovation and resources to be productive enough to sustain a growing population with limited resources.  He pushed idea of Reduce, Reuse, & Recycle as a huge player in the future. The connection with our forests is that the urbanization and construction leads to deforestation when the wood is bought from places with less regulations and sustainable forestry. Our forests are becoming a more recognizes source of multiple resources and functions.  The public is demanding new uses of the forests and the world is still learning how to meet that demand in a way that is sustainable and capable of being multi-functional.

The event was highlighted with social events that gave opportunities for delegates to meet others from around the world.  The food was fantastic and the open bar was appreciated.  Live music adorned the first social event.  The more casual atmosphere definitely made opportunities for more laid back conversations.

On Wednesday of the Conference I attended a Field Excursion.  Hopping on a tour bus we rode out to the mountains.  Salt Lake is beautiful in the fall time. The birch trees were just changing colors and contrasted beautifully with the firs.  The topic of discussion on the trip was urban forestry. We visited the local National forest that provides water to the city. On the bus I met several people from Canada and a few from Vancouver Island itself.  The world is so very small.  I walked with several people from Brazil, Ghana, Switzerland, and more.  The perspectives of this international crowd were fascinating and made the trip worthwhile. 

The last few days of the conference the Oregon State students and staff at the event helped the representing booth.  It was fascinating to realize the international reputation our College of Forestry has.  The unique programs and friendly staff are something to look towards. 

Attending IUFRO World Congress was an experience well anticipated and I am incredibly happy that I was fortunate enough to attend. The networking I was able to do was impressive.  It helps me see the opportunities available in this industry is astounding and hopeful that I will figure out where I can fit in. 

OSU staff at the Booth

New friends from Nepal, Sweden, and Malasia

Men from Ghana and Kenya

SAF Lunch break in SLC

View from my plane ride to Portland

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Landslides Ahead!

This landslide overflowed onto a mainline.
It measured about 3/4 hectare or 3 acres.
Yreka Main.
Culvert overflow.
Teeta 500.
Okay so one should know a little bit about what causes landslides. WATER! Well look at that when it rains a whole bunch the soil can become saturated and liquefies and gravity moves it downward!  It is particularly common in areas with steeper slopes, thicker soils, and exposed soil.  While logging can exacerbate landslide frequency proper forest management and road building can help lessen the impacts.   Over the last 100 years logging practices have changed a whole lot.  Heck in the last 20 years they have changed drastically!  So when the land is exposed and saturated the likelihood of landslide occurrences increases.  As land managers we can do our best to mitigate impacts.

Yreka Main road failure. 1of 3 in close proximity.
At Western we abide by a guide of TRMS or Terrain Resource Management Systems.  This guide differentiates high-risk terrain areas and requires professionals to follow a detailed list of measures to alleviate risk.  A geotechnical professional is hired to walk all of the blocks highlighted as potential risk.  They look at the rock formations, soil types, old slides, new/old road placements, steep terrain, streams, and everything in between. The goal is to minimize risk for debris flow especially that would impact fish bearing streams and habitats with high values environmentally and economically.  A combination of reports and thorough interpretations of the landscapes engineers and foresters develop plans to reduce risk and hazards for equipment operations and land movements. 
Matt & I on heli
Randy & I on heli.

Landslides happen but management is key.  For instance, this last October the North Island experienced a heavy rain event.  In fact it was 223 mm or almost 9 inches of rain in 24 hours!  As you can imagine a few landslides occurred. When 100mm of rain in 24 hours happens operations are shut down. The areas that this occurred in experienced enough slides that delayed logging and safe access to many parts of Jeune Landing. 

My place at the bottom of the slides to survey.
Really muddy!

The following week after the rainfall shutdown was lifted I accompanied the area engineer; Chris, forester reporting landslides; Matt, and operations foreman; Randy in an Astar Helicopter to check things out.  Our purpose was to record and summarize the events and damages obstructing equipment and block access.  For two hours we flew taking pictures and points of slide and road damage.  The more we knew the more efficiently we could delegate clean up tasks to the crews.  We recorded well over 50 incidents that either required clean up attention or was greater than ¼ hectare to be reported to the ministry.
The slide went all the way to the ocean!
Yreka Main.

Matt the modern day forester. Heli + Ipad. nbd
Jeune Landing.

Rock truck and hoe before much work was done.
Teeta 500.
Later on I was on site for one such clean up.  A road fill failed a corned on Teeta 500.  The road was likely originally built in the 1930s.  It is used as a mainline to connect the East to the West coasts of the island.  Hauling was occurring prior to the storm and was not safe to afterwards.  An outside engineer used a design to plan out a new fill to best suit the road.  The fill was situated on an 80% slope and required significant rocks to replace and hold up. We did not know how far we’d have to dig to find a bench to lay a new road or if we’d be luck and find bedrock.  The new fill was built up on huge pieces of rock blast out of a nearby bluff. Many truck loads of rock and fill was removed to expose the bench and set the proper road prism.  The project took almost 4 days to complete.  It closed the mainline for at least a week. There was a rock truck, excavator, and rock drill present to assist in the clean up project. 

Survey equipment and Rock drill preping to blast!
Teeta 500.
In addition to assisting with the road repair, I recorded the significant landslides to present to the ministry.  It became my job to measure the areas using pictures and Google Earth.  I had to identify the cause and effect of each incident. The tracking of these occasions are documented for further analysis for a more complete understanding of the geology and landscape reactions to landslides and debris flows.  They are associated with particular storms and can prove how severe the storm was and where it was focused.   

Improvisation at its finest!
The rock drill's boom was bent and the hoe's bucket straightened it out.

Giving the heated metal leverage.
Good thing a welder was around! Ha.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Dryland Sort

 Dryland Sort

The Lower Dryland Sort at Port McNeill is a major funnel of timber on the North Vancouver Island.  Nearly all of the wood on the east side of the claim is brought to this sort.  The export logs in the claim all come to this sort to be stick scaled.  Many of the logs are boomed down to add to other export inventories.  The Lower Dryland is one of the busiest sorts of the North Island because of the amount of wood that passes through the systems. 

Weigh Scale
A great portion of the logs are weigh scaled. This means that the sorts of logs on the truck are proven to generally be relatively similar and through weight measurements can take a decent estimate of the volume on the truck.  The truck drives on to the scale located at the upper sort and takes the weight.  It then trucks the load down to the lower sort to be unloaded and banded together.  A certain portion of the weigh scale loads must be sampled in order to best estimate the total volumes on each truck.  That sample is then scaled by hand on the deck.  

Stick Scale
When the truck comes in with a wider assortment of logs the load must be stick scaled.  This means the load is laid out for the scalers and graders to calculate volumes, quality, and sort.  All loads with cedar and old growth are stick scaled to catch the variability in the wood.  Scalers and graders check the lengths and diameters to identify possible sorts.  They then look at the size of knots, any rot, or damage to the wood that decrease the value of the log.  With spray paint they may mark lengths that it should be cut by the buckers on deck.  The sort is also marked on the log ends to be further sorted into boom sticks. 

Hooking up logs to pull the boom sticks tighter together
Boom Makers
When the logs are finally scaled, graded and sorted they are banded together with the Bandit.  The two wire cables are locked and the logs are then dumped into the water.  The boom makers in their bumper-car-like boats maneuver the bundles into the allotted ‘sticks.’  The boom sticks are comprised of four bundles across and as many as eight in lengths. It depends on the frequency of the particular sort.  Each boom stick is then attached to all the other sticks ready to be attached. When a full boom is ready a tug boat arrives to latch on and push the logs south.  As many as two booms may be made per week at Port McNeill dryland sort.
It's like playing bumper cars in the water
The boom stick maker.  The logs that surround each boom stick bundle.
Connection to Mills Demands
The dryland sort is intricately connected to the demands of the mills. The mills’ demands react to the market way more quickly that the persons in the woods can react.  It is important for the dryland sort foremen and quality control persons to be tightly coordinating with the bucking prescriptions produced.
The barge with a wench to tighten bundles