Tree Farm Leadership Conference in Baltimore

I think people should have business cards. I don’t know why people don’t or even if it was a general habit outside my peculiar circle, but I do know that my memory for names and numbers is not good enough to remember all the people I meet at receptions, let alone contact details.  But I am old school. Maybe there is a higher tech way to do that with mobile phones etc.  Relying on my less than perfect memory, these are notes of meetings and sessions.  They are not comprehensive, and I could not attend the sessions.

Opening plenary session
Tom Martin, President of AFF, opened.  We discussed new Tree Farm standards, which will roll out in 2020 and become effective in 2021.  I will talk a bit more about this is my discussion of standards.  There were three separate sessions talking about many of the same things.  I will aggregate them in my writeup.

We also had a long presentation on diversity and inclusion by a diversity professional called Mary-Frances Winters. I endured these things many times when I worked for State Department, as most of us have in other work contexts.  This was pretty much standard issue, with a few nods to forestry & land management. Ms. Winters wrote books on this subject and a new one – “Inclusive Conversations: Fostering Equity, Empathy, and Belonging across Differences” will be available in August.

It is true that forestry tends to be less diverse than the general American population, and forest landowners are an even less diverse subset.  One issue is that landowners tend to be significantly older than the general population and reflect the rural demographics of decades pasts.  Demographic change takes time, but it is pretty much inexorable: one funeral at a time.  There is a persistent concern that forest landowners are old. I am not sure this is a valid worry.  People acquire forest land through inheritance or purchase when they have enough money, and both these tend to come to people at older ages.  The old keep getting older and the young must do the same, but we should avoid the error of considering todays cohort as THE cohort.   Consider the analogy.  College sophomores always average 19-20 years old.  It is not because the current class stays the same, but rather that people come into this status at a point in their lives and then shuffle off into the next level, a rather more extreme change in the case of old forests landowners.

Welcome reception at Baltimore Visitor Center
This was very good opportunity to meet and mingle.  I talked to lots of people whose names I don’t recall (since they didn’t have cards ☹) it was all small talk anyway, usually about the food, which was good.  One woman admonished me to read the Bible.  She may have thought I was just brushing her off when I told her that I had done, in Greek no less, but that was the odd artifact of my unusual education.

I had a more substantive conversation with Elizabeth Vranas, Family Forest Carbon Manager (  We talked about the new Tree Farm program to aggregate forests land for selling carbon.  I went to her presentation in the breakout session and Tom Martin talked about it in the last plenary session, so I will talk more about it later. Suffice to say here, that she seemed very competent and involved.  We talked a little about behavioral economics and “nudges.”  I think this a relevant topic, since it informs persuasion.  Also, in the conversation was C.A. “Buck” Vandersteen, from Louisiana Forestry Association.  He had a card, made from two-ply curly maple, which is why I can recall his name.  Annica McGuirk ( was also working the room.

Annica did a great job of facilitating contacts.  She mentioned that the guys preparing our Landscape Management Plan were at the party. She found them and introduced us.  I don’t recall the guys last names (no cards; we will meet them soon enough), but I recall their first names, easy to remember for historical reasons – Stephen and Austin.  Also in the group was Glen, a cardless man from Tennessee and Kaytlyn Brinkman, Regional Manager North Region ( She will be helping with our LMP.  I emphasized that our LMP should include special attention to our southern pine forests and should not include references to GMOs, since GMO American chestnut trees will soon become widely available and will the most important tool available to restore American chestnuts to their place in Appalachian ecologies.  PEFC guidelines are currently expressing an anti-science bias against GMOs. We will need to find a work around until they abandon their benighted attitudes.  The man for Tennessee was adamant in his support of GMOs, especially chestnuts. More on that in the breakout session on standards.

ATFS Standards Revision Process
I have combined information from the breakout session with discussions at the plenaries at the start and end of the conference. Leigh Peters led the breakout session as well as the discussion session at the last plenary.  Tom Martin touched on them at the first, but not in detail.

 New standards will go into effect in 2021.  They are like the ones we have now.  Someone in the breakout session asked why we cannot keep the same standards for more than five years.  The answer was the PEFC requires that we update our rules to conform with theirs.
Tree Farmers had concerns about some of the changing standards, principally how PEFC handles pesticides, plantations and GMOs.  One of my big issues was GMOs, as I discussed above. Others in the session echoed those concerns.  PEFC is a European-based organization and there was an issue of European versus American sensibilities.  Europeans in general have more aversion to GMOs than do Americans.  Our big issue is transgenic American chestnuts, which will be largely available within the time of the next standards.
Other concerns were use of herbicides and pesticides, especially glyphosate.   It was unclear whether or not PEFC would interfere with the use, but Tree Farmers raised the concern.  The other issue was forest conversion, i.e. converting “natural” forests to plantations.  There was some confusion about what exactly natural meant.   This may not be as much a problem in Virginia, since much of the conversion, usually from hardwoods to pine, was done generations ago.  The rule does not apply to lands already in plantations.
More information on standards is included in this link

Building a Tree Farm network
We do not take full advantage of our tree farm networks.  We have literally thousands of tree farmers and even more stakeholders.  We have influence as well as what we might call “hive intelligence.”  Whatever issue an individual among us faces, somebody else in the network has faced before or something very similar.   Connection to the network could be one of big benefits if we can figure out better ways to make it happen.

Peer networks cannot and should not take the place of professional advice, and we have to always caveat that it does not.  But it can be very useful form the general experiential point of view.  Beyond that, peer networks, people who have been in it themselves, have credibility.  Many Tree Farmers distrust experts and almost none of us like to pay money to professionals, or anybody else, if we can avoid it.  Peer networks are two-way streets.  Those giving advice also benefit from the contact. It is great to see what others are doing and learn from each other.  They can also share experience with conservation practices, cost shares and timber sales.

We can also benefit by connecting Tree Farmers to wider audiences.  The general public often does not understand what we do.  Tree Farmers are natural story tellers and people remember stories, especially personal stories, better than statistics, and they are passionate.

I think we have some of the network in Virginia through our landowner dinners, but networking is a time intensive process.

Carbon Credits
Market-based conservation solutions was about carbon markets.  I am a little chary of carbon programs. The time when small forest landowners could trade in carbon seemed to have come about twelve years ago, but then melted like the snows of last winter.  There were a couple of factors that derailed the carbon train.  One was the government incentivized carbon markets did not much develop in the USA.  The other was specific to small forests landowners.  The costs and trouble of participating in these markets was higher than small forest landowners could except to earn.  They could not afford the costs of measuring and monitoring, and they usually could not or would not want to tie up their land in long term contracts.

The cost of participation is now being addressed by new technology and well-known systems of intermediation, long understood and practiced by the financial industry.  A person with money to invest does not contract directly with the guy looking to borrow for a mortgage because he cannot handle the risk or tie up his money for decades.  Bankers aggregate the money and the risk, so that individual depositors can take their money out when they need it and one mortgage default doesn’t wipe them out.

AFF proposes to do something like this with the carbon market.  Many firms are willing to pay to offset the carbon inevitably produced by their activities.  They do this for reasons of public relations and sometimes regulations.  They are like the borrower taking out a mortgage.  Individual Tree Farmers are like the depositors.  AFF in partnership with Nature Conservancy (TNC) is developing a system that considers a mass of forest landowners.   Individual owners need not take on all the risk, nor pay the high start up costs necessary to sell carbon.   Some of this is made possible by new technology.  Samples can be taken by satellite mapping.

A big difference is that payments are made for practices, not inventory.  Inventory is checked by sample of the aggregate and the practice is assumed to ensure this.  The aggregation also allows individual landowners to reduce their commitment in time and scope, again analogous to bank depositors.

What would landowners need do?  A lot of this would be practices the Tree Farmers do already, such as enhancing future forests, protecting soils and avoiding high grading.  This could also be a benefit to us from stream management zones.  We already maintain them to protect water and soil resources, but they are generally just costs, not benefits.   Just doing what we do might make these places eligible for carbon credit.

Anyway, this was one of the most interesting and potentially useful programs.  If it works, it could open a whole new market for ecological services.  I am a little hesitant currently, since I recall the optimism of about a decade and half ago.  I had a forester come in and do an inventory of my property for the carbon market.  The inventory was good to establish basis for the timber, but nothing ever came of the carbon sales.

White oak initiative
We had an update on the white oak initiative.  I learned about this at the Tree Farm Conference last year in Louisville, and it made an impression on me.   Last week I planted 100 white oak (actually 50 white oak and 50 swamp white oak), but more usefully I identified acreage on my tree farms where I can expect natural white oak generation.   We did a prescribed burn last year and are nurturing white oak regen.

We must plan well ahead.  White oaks take 50-100 years to mature.  We currently have lots of white oak, but the age structure is wrong. There are lots of middle-aged oaks and some a fair amount of old growth, but not enough young ones.  If we project forward a few decades the middle-aged oaks will be harvested or die and there will be a shortage of harvestable white oak.  White oak is wonderful timber for lots of reasons, but it is essential in one specific industry – bourbon.  All bourbon must be aged in new white oak barrels.  No white oak = no bourbon, at least the way we know it now.   I don’t figure on being still alive and drinking bourbon by the time we run out of white oak, but I want to do my part for future generations.

I also attended a dinner for the Seedling Society where I talked to Mellissa Moeller (, acting director of the White Oak Initiative.  We talked a little about the oaks, as above.

General idea
The conference was a good networking opportunity.  I got a lot out of that, especially the informal reception.  It was good to see and be seen.  Relationships matter.  I was glad to have the opportunity to weigh in on the new standards.  I hope that it made a difference.  The carbon price was potentially very useful.   I was impressed by the plan.  It makes sense that it can work. I hope it does.

The non-tangible benefits of attending conferences like this are important.  One of the most salient for me is that I get to meet other people passionate about forestry and the environment.  It is good to be reminded that we are part of a bigger whole, a nationwide, a worldwide team.   Everybody I met and talked to shared a vision of a sustainable environment.  In fact, we all want to go beyond that to regenerate, leaving our land not only as good as we found it, but better.

Life's twists

I questioned my memory. After all, it happened so long ago and seemed incongruous. Today, however, at the Tree Farm meeting I was talking to a woman from Wisconsin who asked me if I had a degree in forestry. I told her that I did not, that I had started off in forestry, but never finished because the authorities at the university told us that our chances of getting good jobs in the field were slim.

I referenced I meeting I recalled where the authorities at UWSP told us aspiring foresters that we should consider other majors. I told her that I recalled that they said that we were too white and too male and that our chances for employment were low, given hiring goals (quotas were still legal back then) that discriminated against people like us. They wanted to lower our numbers.

She remembered this and said that her husband also got that talk. He was couple years ahead of me and had a bigger sunk cost. He decided to stay in forestry and after being lucky enough to get a couple part time jobs that nobody else wanted, he did manage to find steady work in the field in Wisconsin. His wife, the one I was talking to, told me that she had an easier time because of her gender.

What I remembered was the advice. They told us that if we wanted to work in forestry, the only chance we would have would be either to buy our own forest or move to the South, where there were more jobs. Ironically, I kind of did both things.

I have no right to complain. Life worked out well for me. I got the best of all worlds. I am my own boss in forestry and I enjoyed a great career in diplomacy, a job I had no idea even existed back in 1974. It is a good example of what seemed a roadblock turned out to be a better bridge to the future.

At the time, however, it seemed a big issue. I considered being a HS history teacher and coaching swim on the side. My subsequent goal was to be a college professor, but I was behind the curve on that too. I was a middle baby boomer. The early boomers got there first. They got their PhDs during the Vietnam period and filled most of the jobs. Timing is important and a few years makes a big difference.

On the other hand, I was lucky with the FS. I took the test just before a hiring boom in the middle of the Reagan time. Well, boom is relative, since they hire only a few hundred FSOs every year, but hiring a few more opened it up. You don’t need to be so smart if you are lucky.

My pictures are from our Tree Farm meeting in Baltimore and the walk from the train station. I prefer the train to driving. I got into Penn Station and did the easy walk to the Inner Harbor along Saint Paul. Baltimore is a very nice city, but some areas are risky for crime. Mariza told me that this route was safe and she was right. It was a pleasant walk. I was lucky that the rain stopped in time for my transit.

We need GMOs

Too much about the Tree Farm Conference to write about, so I will hit only a few highlights.


Standards of sustainability may not permit the use of GMOs.  Our standards conform to European-based standards of PEFC.  Europeans often have an anti-science bias when it comes to GMOs.  We should not let that prevail.

We NEED GMOs, especially GMO chestnut trees. I resolved that I would bring this up in the standards discussion, but feared I would be a lone voice crying in the wilderness.   To my surprise and delight, many people in the room were in favor of GMOs in the forest. Most of us clearly know the need for GMOs and the need to fight the science-deniers. I hope this will be included in the new standards. If not, I will no longer be a certified tree farmer, since I will plant GMO chestnuts on my land as soon as I can get hold of them. If the standards tell me I cannot, I will disregard the standards. We have a higher duty to the environment. I hope it does not come to that, and I will do my best to make sure it does not.  

Let me make this clear. I hate the science-denying anti-GMO idiots. Can I make this any clearer. I consider this an issue of values. I love our American forests and consider those anti-GMO folks a threat to this value. There are few things that I see as black and white. This is one.  

Nothing else was so dramatic. We talked about the white oak initiative. This has affected me already. I planted 100 white oaks last week and will manage for thousands more. The coordinator of the initiative asked me about it. What was my economic plan, she asked. I have no economic plan. The oaks will take 50-60 years to mature. I do not think I will live to be 120 years old. I plant white oak because I want to plant white oaks. I will never benefit economically, but I love what it does spiritually. Man does not live by bead alone.   If we do not manage for oak today, oak forests will simply not endure and I love oak forests. The same reason I support GMO chestnuts is why I plant white oaks.   My first two pictures are from Baltimore. Last is age groups for oaks. We have a lot of mature oaks, but not the next generation.

Lighten Up

I still get StoryWorth questions, even though my subscription ran out. I can no longer post to their webpage. I suppose they hope I will re-up, so they keep sending questions. It costs them almost nothing.

“What would you consider your motto?”

This one made me think a little. I have a lot of habitual sayings, but I am not sure if any are mottos. But I came up with one that I use a lot and think is good for my life & others.

“Lighten up”

Most people take things way to seriously. They inflict on themselves all sorts of needless pain and stress. They get easily offended by slights real and (more often) imagined. And their serious attitude makes it hard for them to enjoy life. They are so dull that they inspire dullness in others.

They just need to lighten up. It is a choice. I know lots of people are going to come back with all the reason why their lives suck and most of those reasons will be valid from their point of view. I would just point to the corollary to lighten up – “get over it,” and the addition to that, “nobody wants to know how you feel about everything.”

Serious people, those who always feel the weight of the world on their shoulders are narcissistic. Let me stipulate that there are some people who really have big responsibility and some times when we all do, but if you let it grind you do, if you take it personally, you are doing nobody any good.

Graveyards are full of indispensable men.

Lots of people are credited with that thought. I first heard it attributed to Charles de Gaulle. Even if he was not first to use it, he is the kind of guy who should have said it, and he was right.

This brings me to another motto, this one much more erudite, Latin no less – “sic transit gloria mundi” – so passes the glory of this world. I always thought it was a classier way of telling me to “lighten up.”

Or maybe from Casablanca, “Ilsa, I’m no good at being noble, but it doesn’t take much to see that the problems of three little people don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world.” Lighten up.

Longleaf resilience and Espen on the ATV

Checking out my recently burned longleaf, I discovered that they are already starting to grow of the season, very early. The remarkable thing is that even “completely burned” branches are coming back, as you can see in the picture. My last picture is one of the shortleaf seedlings. They sometimes have a characteristic kink.

I finished planting the shortleaf today. I am putting them in to some blank spaces in the 2012 longleaf for diversity sake. The snow melted away and so I could get at the ground.
Espen came to help, but I mostly “assigned” him to ride the new ATV. I wanted him to have some fun on the farms and not think of it just as work.

Oak, shortleaf & snow

Snow. The weather man said that the moisture came all the way from the Sea of Cortez, like a river in the atmosphere and then some sort of kink in the jet stream. I did not understand exactly what they meant, but I think it is really interesting if my snow is from Sea of Cortez water.

We don’t get that much snow in Virginia, but it snowed today on my forests. The ground was still soft but the snow made my planting a different experience. the snow fell in big flakes and it made a pleasant sound as it fell through the trees. But it was also wet and chilly. As a Wisconsin native, I should be adapted to cold, but I was not dressed warmly enough.

I got 300 shortleaf, 50 white oak and 50 swamp white oak. They are all bare root, so I have to use my different tool, seen in the picture. I didn’t get much done. It was not teh snow; it was the rock. I had planned to plant in a rocky area. Unfortunately, it was too rocky. There were few places I could sink the dibble stick, but I had to pound on the ground with it to find them. I ended up planting only 50 oaks before I knocked off early because of the snow.
Anyway, I was tired. I drove about 6 hours to get here, since I had to go to Augusta to pick up the trees and then drive down to the farms. It was not a hard drive but just driving that far is draining.

Pictures show the conditions. The Russians have a word for the season before winter freezes the ground and then before spring dries it out. They call it “rasputitsa.” Dirt roads at that time are impassible. It really was rasputitsa and not the famous Russian winter that defeated the Nazis. They got mired in the mud. Virginia is luckier. We just have a couple days like that, not whole seasons.

My first picture is me and the bare root trees. Next is the bare root dibble stick, followed by my muddy road. Last two pictures show snowing in my woods. It is very light and will melt off by tomorrow. Good, I have more work to do.

— Still a few more trees to plant.  I am getting 300 shortleaf pine, 50 white oak and 50 swamp white oak on Tuesday.

Gee, I got rocks
I picked out a good place for the oaks, a rocky place I found when trying to plant longleaf. I finally gave up when I determined that I could not get the density I needed, since I could not find enough places in rows where I could sink the dibble stick.
I think it will work wonderfully for the oaks. They will be planted irregularly, in the places I can dig. I think it will be aesthetically pleasing. The rocks will limit competition and mitigate the fires I will need to set. Oaks can survive fire and even thrive, but they are not as fire resistant as longleaf.

Oak pine savanna
I visited an oak-pitch pine savanna in Pennsylvania. It was rocky with shallow soils. I think I can make something like that but with the shortleaf and the few longleaf I managed before I gave up. Another pattern may be those oak openings near Baraboo, Wisconsin, a landscape I also love. Of course, I figure it will be a long time coming and – to use my concept – I will be compost before the trees are mature.

The site is a gentle slope facing northwest and leading into the stream management zone.

The Rodney Dangerfield of southern pines
Shortleaf pine usually grow mixed in hardwood forests, and so do not behave like other southern pine. This also makes them less obvious. Even though they are the most geographically widespread southern pine, they do not enjoy the following of the iconic longleaf or the wonderfully productive loblolly.  They get no respect, and have been declining.  We can bring back a few.

There is a shortleaf initiative. Webpage is linked.

My Virginia

My Virginia
I am a Wisconsin guy by birth and a Virginian by choice. I have been in Virginia, with gaps for diplomatic duty, since 1984. Some people say that you cannot be a Virginia unless your family has been here for at least three or four generations. I don’t know about that, but I feel part and accepted in my adopted state. I have owned a home in Virginia since 1997 and forest land since 2005. All three of my kids graduated Virginia public universities: UVA, James Madison and George Mason, respectively.

A “disposition to preserve” combined with an “ability to improve.”
That is what I found in Virginia, what I treasure about Virginia. The deep history and heritage is remarkable. We can visit Washington one day, Jefferson, Madison & Madison the next. I know that people now sometime disparage our history.

It takes a smart man to be cynical but a wise man not to be.
My guess is that I know history better than most of those critics. They generally are intellectual adolescents, who have discovered flaws and are eager to signal their “insight” aggressively. They don’t yet know what they don’t know. Intellectual adults understand that all humans have significant faults and individuals who accomplish great things also often have bigger than average ones. The same energy that produces greatness enables and accentuates good can also empower flaws, or at least make them more salient. The same fire that makes our civilized lives possible can also burn and destroy.

Putting down deep roots
The Virginia I know best, however, are the Commonwealth’s forests. This was a big surprise for me. I didn’t think of Virginia as a forest state, but 62% of Virginia is covered in forests. Trees cover only about half of Wisconsin, and a lot of that is up north in national and state forests. Most of Virginia’s forest land is owned by non-industrial individuals and families, and I could get in on that.

What a hare-brained idea, an urban Yankee becoming a forest landowner in rural Virginia. I had a lot to learn. I knew next to nothing about forestry in Virginia and some of what I did know was wrong, but I got a lot of help. My new neighbors in Brunswick County were eager to give me good advice. They knew “my” land intimately, having hunted, hiked & sometime cut timber there for generations – literally generations. Loggers and other contractors were honest and easy to work with. The Virginia Dept of Forestry guys were so available. Virginia Tech and others provided free, or low-cost events to learn the business. The evidence of their friendliness and competence is that an unconnected novice like me could so quickly thrive.

I drive a lot around in Virginia and there is no part of Old Dominion that I have not visited, yet I am always finding something new and interesting. Change is inevitable. Virginia has changed remarkable in my time here and I expect it will continue. This fitting and proper and I welcome positive change, but I take offense at the implication that we should reject and even obliterate old Virginia.

I think we need the ability to improve, but with the disposition to preserve.

Canadian Provinces

I attended “The Premiers’ Perspective: A Canada-U.S. Relations Outlook for the New Decade” at Wilson Center on February 7, 2020.  It was advertised as “a conversation with the Honourable Scott Moe, Premier of Saskatchewan and the Honourable Jason Kenney, Premier of Alberta. The Premiers will speak on how provincial interests play a role in Canada’s vision and presence on the global stage and how topics such as trade, energy, and innovation will shape Canada-U.S. relations in 2020 and beyond” and that was what it was.  “Politico” co-sponsored the event and so Luiza Savage Executive Director at “Politico” joined Jane Harman President & CEO, The Wilson Center in welcoming the guests and Lauren Gardner Reporter from “Politico Pro Canada” moderated the discussion. The program lasted about an hour and fifteen minutes.
Jane Harman introduced Chris Sands as the new director of the Canada Institute.
 Notes are below.

The funniest part of the “Premiers’ Perspective: A Canada-U.S. Relations Outlook for the New Decade” came when Scott Moe, Premier of Saskatchewan seemed to say he disagreed with everything Premier of Alberta, Jason Kenney said, after they agreed on everything else up to that point.  What he had in fact that is that “I would JUST agree …”  Kenny asked right away, and Moe cleared it up on the spot.  Goes to show how misunderstandings happen.
Besides what would have been big news, but wasn’t, there was probably little that surprised people familiar with the two leaders, but there was a lot of useful insights and explanations.  Saskatchewan & Alberta are especially tightly integrated into the North American market, so it was no surprise that both premiers strongly endorse USMCA.  They foresaw no problems getting the agreement ratified by the Federal Parliament and reported that the premiers of all the provinces had come out strongly for the agreement. Jason Kenny said that it was especially important to get ensconced in the North American zone, as there are growing concerns about protectionism in the USA and around the world.
Both agreed that the new USMCA was an improvement over NAFTA, although they did not voice complaints about NAFTA.  When asked about concerns about specific products, they mentioned forestry, aluminum and dairy.  Softwood lumber exports are important in both provinces.  Detailed adjustments can be made within the treaty, so the sooner they get in the better to start the detailed work.
Defer to the Federal Government in international affairs
Both premiers made a point of emphasizing while they want to make the concerns of their own provinces well-known, it is the Federal Government that runs foreign policy and trade negotiations.  Jason Kenny added that this is especially important to recall now, given the challenge of China.  They don’t want to give the Chinese the impression that they can divide Canadians.
Huawei dispute hurts
Western Canada has been hurt by the Huawei extradition dispute.  When the USA and China have disputes, Canada suffers collateral damage.  Scott Moe mentioned harm done to potash exports from his province, as well as general agricultural products.  Beef and pork restrictions have also hurt, but the thorniest problem might be the canola ban.  They did not explain.
Speaking about China tensions, Jason Kenny said that there was more than two Canadians (Former diplomat Michael Kovrig and entrepreneur Michael Spavor) imprisoned related to diplomatic dispute surrounding the Huawei extradition.  He made special mention of Huseyin Celil, a Canadian citizen and former Uighur activist who has been imprisoned in China for 13 years.
Both provinces are producers of raw materials and especially energy and this is the biggest bone of contention between these provincial and the Federal authorities.  Some of it has to do with the provinces thinking that they pay too much to the Federal Government, but more of it is related to policies that restrict, or at least do not encourage, energy exploration and transportation.
Pipelines and transporting energy
Scott Moe characterized their concerns “the three Ts”: taxes, trade and transportation.  Jason Kenny said that he must assume that the Trudeau government is in favor of the Trans Mountain Pipeline, since the Canada Development Investment Corporation (CDIC), accountable to the Canadian Parliament, acquired the responsibly in 2018.  He explained that Canada’s Federal Court of Appeal cleared the way by ruling against challenges from First Nations groups concerned about the environmental impacts of the project.  [The Trans Mountain expansion would add more than 600 miles to the pipeline and increase its capacity from 300,000 barrels per day to 890,000.]  The government has a duty to consult indigenous people, but this does not imply their power to veto a project.
Kenny regretted the Obama decision to stop the Keystone XL pipeline and implicated the new (at the time) Trudeau government.  He suspected the there was at least a tacit agreement by Trudeau not to kick up a fuss.  Kenny believed that the veto violated the spirit if not the letter of NAFTA.
Scott Moe went on to explain the importance of pipelines.  No form of energy exploration or transport is risk-free but moving oil by pipeline is by far the safest, compared with alternatives such as rail and trucks.  Beyond that, moving oil by rail gets in the way of other commodities, such as potash, timber and other agricultural products.
The Keystone XL pipeline is beneficial for international interests, Jason Kenny added.  It will produce billions in revenues, create jobs and enhance closer relationships between the USA in Canada.  It also creates jobs in the USA as far away as the Gulf Coast, where refiners are tooled to refine heavy crude, no longer so easily available from Venezuela.
North American energy
Scott Moe pointed out that North American energy is important for geopolitical as well as straight economic reasons.  We are transitioning from oil to renewable or other non-fossil forms of energy. This transition will take some time, but when it happens much of the world’s oil will become a stranded resource.  It is better if the last useful barrels of oil come from North America and that if the resource is stranded, better it be stranded elsewhere.  Until then, current demand will be satisfied from somewhere. North American energy is more secure and extracted in more ecologically friendly ways than in places where environmental protection is viewed with somewhat less enthusiasm.
Science-based regulation
Both premiers advocated a science-based regulation process.  Kenny pointed to his province’s $30/ton tax on industrial carbon tax as part of his government’s commitment weaning the world off fossil fuels. [The tax went into effect on January 1, 2020 and is the centerpiece of Premier Jason Kenney’s climate strategy. The tax could increase in future years to keep pace with the federal government’s climate plan for industry. Alberta’s oil sands are included in the tax.]
Don’t mock the people: the rise of populism
In response to questions, the premiers talked about the rise of populism. This factor in all advanced Western countries. Kenny thought that Canada was less affect by this malady (my word) and he credited Canada’s better immigration policies as well as the Canadian energy industry.  Canada’s skill-based immigration system matches potential immigrants with Canada’s needs.  They integrate much easier into society and are more easily welcomed by Canadians, since they provide useful skills.  The other factor, the energy industry, is less direct, but Kenny explained that semi-skilled workers in downsizing industries could move into the booming energy industries, and their related functions.  Many have moved some distance from declining eastern areas to the booming prairie provinces.
Kenny recommended former Prime Minister Stephen Harpers 2018 book, “Right Here, Right Now,” that addressed the root causes of populism.  When political elites dismiss the concerns of ordinary people or even mock them, they react with populism.
Addressing the “Wexit” issue, calls for Alberta to leave the Federation, Kenny said that concerns are genuine and serious, and he would not want it to develop further, but it is mostly talk. Still, polls show that 25-30% of the Alberta population supports Wexit, but that 75-80% understand the concerns.
Canadians first
Both Kenny & Moe emphasized that they thought it important to be Canadians first.  They emphasized that it was important that the Federal government run foreign policy and trade negotiations.  They singled out Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland for special praise two separate times and praised the work of Canadian diplomats in Washington.  They also referenced section 92 of the Canadian 1867 Constitution that gives significant power to provinces to develop and manage natural resources.  Good balance.
Moe and Kenny agreed on most things, in fact it seemed on all things discussed at the Wilson Center meeting, so much so that there was little need to differentiate.  Besides getting along very well, they gave the impression of being practical and competent leaders.
A complete video of the program is attached.

Planting more trees and my new ATV

Chrissy told me not to get any more trees, but someone cancelled a longleaf order and I got two more boxes, 668 trees, native Virginians from Garland Grey. There was no other choice.

So back to work filling in places we missed.

I have improved mobility now. You can see my new Yamaha Kodiak 450. I can get a disc harrow and middle buster to pull behind. They make them for four-wheelers like mine. I would like to plant wild flowers more successfully, especially on the landing areas. It makes me sad & frustrated that dirt gets so compressed at these places that it makes it hard for plants to grow. The buster and the discs can help.

Of course, it is fun to ride around on the new machine. It can go almost anywhere. I tested it. You rarely even need to engage the 4 wheel drive.
My challenge is to do actual work and not just ride around “inspecting”.
My first picture is my new tool. Next is me getting ready to plant the next tranche of longleaf. Last is my 4 wheeler at work. It does make the job a lot easier. It is hard to carry boxes of trees and I can just get there fastest with the mostest.

We get about an hour more daylight than we did in December. That helped get the trees in the ground. I got about 500 longleaf planted today, and it was still light when I finished. Professionals can plant more than 1000 trees in a day. I am good for less than half that number and that is hard for me.

My planting method is different, however. The professionals use hoedads I have never mastered that. I also like to do each by hand, as you can see in my first photo today. Planting trees is not just a task. I will not say it is a joy while I am doing it under time pressure, but it is a great experience to recall, being in the woods and putting up the next tree generation. Next photo is the last of my trees planted. I put it into a place where our recent fire had burned hot. I wonder if the biochar will help it grow. Picture #3 are rocks on the farm. There was maybe a half acre of rock. I could not plant, but I figure that nature will plant some for me. The penultimate picture is Shell Gas station in Petersburg. The Exxon in the background did not show on the picture, but it was only $1.99, breaking the $2 barrier for the first time in a long time. Last is my unfortunate tan line. I wear a hat when I am out on the farms, so I get tan on my face, but not the top of my head. I noticed as I walked by the mirror. Just another bald guy problem.