Sunday, July 29, 2007

Rare coelacanth fish caught in Indonesia

Two months ago Indonesian fisherman Justinus Lahama caught a fish so exceptional that an international team of scientists rushed here to investigate.

It is only the second time this type of fish has been caught in Asia. They are only known to be located around waters near eastern Africa. The species dates back to the time of dinosaurs, and hasn't changed much since then. The fish also has legs!

Link to story:

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Forest fires near Nelson BC

Smoke could be seen over the mountains to the north of Nelson BC in the afternoon on friday. From what I've heard there are two or more fires burning in areas near Nelson and Kaslo. Schroeder Creek and Sitkum Creek were two locations named. There wasn't really any smoke in Nelson, but tomorrow could be different. Hot weather is in the forecast for the next week at least. When you drive into Nelson from any direction you can see the dry, dead, red foliage of pine trees in the surrounding mountains. The conditions are almost perfect for forest fire activity. A forest fire fighter was interviewed on the news tonight, and he mentioned how difficult it was to fight fire in dead pine stands. The dry standing timber burns too hot and fast, making control efforts that much harder.

Herb Doman - Forestry Titan passes away

It was sad to hear that Herb Doman passed away this week. I used to work for Western Forest Products, a company owned by Doman Industries, back in the mid 90's. Western had interests in pulp and lumber. Some time after I left the company ran into problems with too much debt, and eventually went bankrupt before re-emerging with a new share structure. That must have been tough to take for a business owner. Herb Doman started out as a truck driver in forestry and slowly built his company over time, acquiring mills and tenures. He came to Canada as a young boy with his family, actually by mistake from what I was told. His family thought the boat was going to a different destination. With all the consolidation and turmoil in the forest industry these days, there won't be many more stories like Herb Doman's in the future.

Rare butterfly returns to habitat

Efforts to revive a rare butterfly population in California have paid off, now that these insects have been seen again in their native habitat after decades.

Though the surfers, skaters and beachgoers might not notice the butterflies fluttering by, conservationists are celebrating the return of the endangered El Segundo blue to its native habitat along Santa Monica Bay.

Link to story:

Monday, July 23, 2007

No cellphones in Slocan Valley

Canadian valley aims to keep cell phone-free quiet

Officials in a rural valley in British Columbia hope that keeping out cell phones will help attract residents and tourists who want to escape to the quiet of nature.

We are so used to cellphones now we expect that cell coverage will only keep increasing. Interesting to see a place (close to Nelson, BC) where the residents want to keep cellphones out. I wonder if all the residents feel the same way?

Link to story:

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Extreme forest fire risk in southern BC

The forest fire hazard is at or close to extreme in southern BC, at least around Nelson where I live. We've had 30+ degree days for over a week now, and forests must be well dried out. If you look at the mountains from anywhere in Nelson, you can see the bright red trees that are dead from mountain pine beetle or douglas-fir beetle. I have some photos that I will be posting here in the next week that shows the red clusters on the hillsides. I haven't seen the news today to know if there are any forest fires in the area, didn't seem like there was any smoke outside today. Tomorrow there is thunder/lightning in the forecast, and yesterday evening a thunderstorm rolled through that didn't carry much rain. Unless we are real lucky or get a change in weather, the area is unfortunately ripe for forest fire activity.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Giant badgers new threat in Iraq

Interesting story on huge badgers in an Iraqi port city that walk the streets at night. Maybe there is some cellphone footage on youtube.

The Iraqi port city of Basra, already prey to a nasty turf war between rival militia factions, has now been gripped by a new fear - a giant badger stalking the streets by night.

Local farmers have caught and killed several of the beasts, but this has done nothing to dispel rumours of a bear-like monster that eats humans and was allegedly released into the area by British forces to spread panic.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Danger from high cone crop on Fir tree

We have a huge Fir tree in our yard which appears to be having some problems. We had to have some limbs trimmed this year after the winter storms. The tree is now producing thousands of green pine cones, it is even leaning under the weight of them, and they are dropping continually. Is the tree in danger or is it just under a bit of stress from the trimming? I would appreciate any advice you can give me. I would hate to lose the tree but if it falls it will seriously damage the house, as it is quite close. Thank you for your help.


Here is my response to your question, if anyone else has some ideas please feel free to comment.

The annual cone production of conifers does vary, for example Douglas-fir trees have a high cone crop approximately every 5 to 7 years. Other years either have very poor or lower cone crops. When there's a heavy cone crop, that's when cone collections are done to provide seeds to grow seedlings for tree planting.

Conifers also produce a higher cone crop when they are under stress, the thought being to reproduce before mortality. So depending on how much pruning was done, the tree could be putting more energy into cone production due to stress, or it's just a coincidence that this is a heavy cone year. There could also be some other stress on the tree, such as root rot.

Since there is danger to your home and also to people, I would recommend consulting a tree specialist, such as a forester, forest technician or arborist, in your town. If you have a number of people to choose from, ask them for references for similar type of work - and check those references. High winds with heavy weight on the branches could lead to more breaking and falling limbs. It may be possible to just remove most of the cones, if that alleviates the problem. This is also a chance to get a general health status of the tree from the specialist. Large trees near homes and structures should be checked periodically to see how susceptible they are to blowing over and causing serious harm or damage.

I hope this helps.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Lightning in BC

This article talks about the dangers of getting hit by lightning in some BC hotspots, but it also made me think of the possibility of starting forest fires.

Prince George, the Arrow Lakes and northeastern B.C. are the three areas of the province mostly likely to be hit by lightning, a meteorologist warned a week after a teenager survived a strike in one of these hot zones.

Link to story: