Sunday, November 6, 2016

American Keen Durand hiking shoes comparison with top European hiking footwear

After wearing European hiking shoes and boots for several years, I tried a pair of Keen, Durand hiking shoes. Their general specifications were similar to high quality European hiking shoes:

  1. Polyurethane (PU) mid-soles. This material adds to the durability of the shoe and is superior to EVA mid-soles. EVA mid-soles feel softer and more comfortable than the harder polyurethane when you try them on in the store, but after a long hike your feet will feel better on polyurethane.
  2. Good thick sole with deep tread.
  3. Quality leather upper.
How do the American Keen, Durand hiking shoes compare with the European shoes after 2,500 kilometers of use?
  1. The body of the shoe and especially the arch support remains in as new condition after considerable use. Some of the European manufacturers are going for reduced shoe weight and have compromised on arch support. The Keen Durand shoes had superior arch support that has been maintained after considerable use.
  2. Toe room in the Keen shoes enables toes move in shoe. This can help to increase stability if you like to press down with toes on rough trail sections. European shoes tend to be narrow and bind toes.
  3. The Keen shoes do not use Vibram soles like many of the European shoes. However, the material used by Keen provides better grip on wet rock and wood in the rain forests of the Pacific northwest. After 2,500 kilometers of use the tread of the sole is about half worn. This equals the European shoes with the advantage of better grip.
  4. The leather upper has good quality leather and it is standing up to wear and tear and winter use in the Pacific northwest as well as European shoes.
American Keen Durand hiking shoes are as good as top quality European shoes and are to be recommended. My favorite feature in European hiking shoes is glove leather lining now found only in a select few shoes. While you might expect glove leather lined shoes to be hot in summer, the glove leather absorbs moisture and keeps the feet dry and blister free. Keen Durand shoes have a durable synthetic liner, but the option of glove leather lining would make a very good shoe into a leader.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Truck Loggers BC: Contractor sustainability

Truck Loggers, an organization of forest contractors in British Columbia has been a robust male enclave for most of its history, but it now has a woman president. Jacqui Beban realizes that the economic sustainability of forest contractors is tied to the sustainability of forest dependent communities. The Truck Loggers Association differs from most other forest sector organizations. Most other organizations represent central interests that are headquartered in big cities rather than the hinterland forest communities. Forest dependent communities and forest contractors have felt the pinch in recent years and Jacqui wants to reverse the trend by setting aside the old paradigms and eliminating the box entirely. The box is the legal and institutional framework for the management of public forests in BC. The Truck Loggers have supported the status quo, but now have a leader that wants to eliminate the box to achieve forest contractor sustainability.

Forest contractor sustainability is about sustainable forests and also about sharing the wealth that is derived from sustainable forest management. When times get tough, forest contractors are expected to shoulder more than their fair share of austerity, keep welding aging equipment and hope that they can remain solvent. They are at the bottom of any trickle down of surplus wealth from public forests.

The box works against forest contractors in many ways. Stewardship of public forests is arranged around rights to harvest public timber held by forest corporations. There two major problems with this arrangement. First, rights to harvest timber are not a sensible foundation for sustainable forest management. Rather, some arrangement based on responsibility for sustainable stewardship is needed to prevent future timber supply problems that result from greed for harvest in the short term. The box is already experiencing these timber supply problems. The box is a central arrangement for disposition of surplus wealth from public forests. The BC Government takes its cut of the surplus in the form of log stumpage charges. In tough times,the government reduces its take to buffer the surplus wealth taken in in the form of forest corporation profits. This buffering does not extend to the forest contractor. The buffering arrangements of government administered timber prices is viewed by trading partner countries as a subsidy and the the forest contractor can get further squeezed by the negative impacts of lumber export duties, tariffs and taxes.

To eliminate the box, Jacqui Beban will need to encourage her members to an about face that sees the Truck Loggers become an advocate for new legal and institutional arrangements that devolve responsibility for forest stewardship from central BC Government to communities. It will mean an end to harvesting rights and progress toward local institutions that are entrusted with long term sustainable stewardship of forest resources. The Truck Loggers have been progressive in encouraging First Nations participation in forestry employment. Aboriginal title has been defined by the Supreme Court of Canada as a community trust to ensure the sustainability of natural resources for present and future generations. The inside the box thinking is that First Nations will exercise this stewardship by consultation with the existing framework for resource allocation, such as harvesting rights in public forests. Aboriginal title needs its own institution to ensure sustainability. Responsibility for stewardship needs to be devolved from the Province to a trust that has registered professional managers and an elected board. The same arrangement could apply to forest dependent communities through the formation of local forest trusts.

The local forest trust would operate as a business that would sell logs on an open market. Forest corporations could not gain harvesting rights in local forest trusts. Professional forest managers would plan and operate the forest with the services of local forest contractors. Non-timber forest economic activities in minor forest products and recreational and tourist enterprises would also be encouraged. The central purpose of a forest trust would be to sustain the local forest to realize multiple economic and social benefit for the local communities. Forest contractor sustainability would be a central part of the deal. Jacqui Beban wants to ensure that the Truck Loggers are "in it for the long run". Truck Loggers can play a key role in ensuring there is a long run for forestry in BC








Sunday, May 8, 2016

Minnie Mouse or Donald Duck for President of USA

How will the forests of British Columbia be affected by the race for President of USA?  USA has been the major market for British Columbia softwood lumber exports. Although there is a free trade agreement between Canada and USA softwood lumber has been subject to export taxes or tariffs. When mature timber supplies in USA recovered in the later part of the 20th Century, lumber trade issues surfaced. US lumber producers argue that lower cost public timber supply of Canadian producers is an unfair advantage. The softwood lumber agreement, involving taxes, tariffs or quotas is up for renewal.

Meanwhile, a US presidential race is in full swing and perhaps the only usual feature of this years race is that the nominees have wealth and or celebrity. Otherwise the race has been unusual with venting of much steam generated by a pressure cooker of social and economic inequality. Neither candidate may be up to the task of defusing the underlying tensions in the country. An unstable USA would not be good for Canada.

Trade agreements have been a major issue in the Presidential primaries owing to the loss of US manufacturing jobs to other countries. Donald on the right of the political spectrum seems to be favoring pure protectionism. Bernie Saunders on the other hand, points out that existing free trade agreements favor corporations and enable them to operate or move to countries that offer low wages, limited social programs or weak environmental regulations. The issue is the fairness of trade and its affects on the average person.  USA has already identified unfairness in the arrangements that hand over most of BC's public forests to forest corporations that pay administered prices rather than market prices for public timber. Export taxes or tariffs have resulted. The present vulnerability to these taxes could be removed by making communities rather than forest corporations the beneficiaries of public forests in BC. Local trusts with professional managers would provide stewardship to local forests and timber or logs would be sold a market prices. The local trusts would also manage the forests for multiple social, environmental, and economic benefits so no valid argument could be made that these values are being compromised to reduce timber costs.

While Bernie Sanders may not become President of USA, the ideas of the Bernie Sanders movement may grow and influence future events. Political discourse in USA has always divided on the ideas of limited government versus big government. Government and the state are confused or seen by some as the same. In a democracy, the government protects or represents the people from the power of the state. Good government does that! However, throughout the democratic western world, corporations or large economic entities have been favored by governments.  The state and corporations have become closely aligned in a new system of corporate feudalism that is not questioned. The public forests of British Columbia have been managed under such a system. The winds of change have started to blow.

The public forests of British Columbia were instituted on winds of change that blew from USA. Gifford Pinchot, the advocate for National Forests in USA also advised a BC Royal Commission on forests in 1909 that recommended public public forests. National or public forests embodied the idea of the greatest good to the greatest number.