By Roger Bales and Martha Conklin

Many of California’s 33 million acres of forests face widespread threats stemming from past management choices. Today the U.S. Forest Service estimates that of the 20 million acres it manages in California, 6-9 million acres need to be restored.

Forest restoration basically means removing the less fire-resistant smaller trees and returning to a forest with larger trees that are widely spaced. These stewardship projects require partnerships across the many interests who benefit from healthy forests, to help bring innovative financing to this huge challenge.

The California Wildfires in Photos

california wildfires

We are engineers who work on many natural resource challenges, including forest management. We’re encouraged to see California and other western states striving to use forest management to reduce the risk of high-severity wildfire.

But there are major bottlenecks. They include scarce resources and limited engagement between forest managers and many local, regional and state agencies and organizations that have roles to play in managing forests.

However, some of these groups are forming local partnerships to work with land managers and develop innovative financing strategies. We see these partnerships as key to increasing the pace and scale of forest restoration.

Under contemporary conditions, trees in California’s forests experience increased competition for water. The exceptionally warm 2011-2015 California drought contributed to the death of over 100 million trees. As the forest’s water demand exceeded the amount available during the drought, water-stressed trees succumbed to insect attacks.

Funding is a significant barrier to scaling up treatments. Nearly half of the Forest Service’s annual budget is spent on fighting wildfires, which is important for protecting communities and other built infrastructure. But this means the agency can restore only a fraction of the acres that need treatment each year.

The Benefits of Restoration

Forest restoration provides many benefits in

Even with its bankruptcy exit still not final, J.C. Penney is attracting new national brands to get ready for a holiday shopping season that’ll begin earlier than usual.



J. C. Penney at Collin Creek Mall in Plano last year during the holiday shopping season. That store is still open but is among the 150 stores closing soon.


© Staff Photographer/Nathan Hunsinger/The Dallas Morning News/TNS
J. C. Penney at Collin Creek Mall in Plano last year during the holiday shopping season. That store is still open but is among the 150 stores closing soon.

Penney’s new brands are mostly in its home department, which is where Americans have been spending money during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Plano-based Penney plans to exit bankruptcy this year so it has to stay in the game. It responded to Amazon Prime Day with its own Cyber Days Monday through Wednesday.

Retailers including Walmart, Target, Best Buy and others are moving up Black Friday discounts to compete with Prime Day. The two-day Prime Day was delayed from its usual mid-summer dates as even Amazon was overwhelmed with new demand from shoppers who were staying at home due to the coronavirus. This year, Amazon’s Tuesday and Wednesday U.S. sales are expected to exceed $6 billion, up from $4.4 billion last year, according to eMarketer.

In a statement, Penney CEO Jill Soltau said her team is “working to secure partnerships with new national brands and to expand our product offerings as part of our efforts to provide compelling merchandise and deliver an engaging shopping experience to our customers.” She has declined interview requests during the bankruptcy.

Among Penney’s new brands announced Monday are Schott Zwiesel wine glasses and Luminarc glassware, Cambridge flatware and Nordic Ware cookware. Those brands are also sold at specialty stores Williams-Sonoma, Sur La Table and Bed Bath & Beyond and direct competitor in the mall, Macy’s. New brands include Taste of Home cooking magazine bakeware, which is also sold at Macy’s and

Spain's Rafael Nadal plays a shot against Argentina's Diego Schwartzman in the semifinal match of the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadium in Paris, France, Friday, Oct. 9, 2020. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)

Michel Euler/Associated Press

Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal will meet for the ninth time in a Grand Slam final Sunday at the 2020 French Open. 

The two legendary players have not met in a title clash at a major since the 2019 Australian Open. Most of their head-to-head showdowns in Grand Slam finals occurred at the start of their reigns atop the men’s game alongside Roger Federer.  

Nadal is chasing after his 20th overall major and 13th crown on the clay at Roland Garros, while Djokovic is trying to capture his second title in Paris and 18th overall major. 

As he typically does in Paris, Nadal dominated his first six matches on the path to the final, as he won every set. 

Djokovic faced more difficulties in the previous two rounds, and he will enter at a disadvantage based off those recent struggles and Nadal’s career-long form on clay.

           

French Open Men’s Final Information

Start Time: 9 a.m. ET

TV: NBC

Live Stream: NBC Sports app or NBCSports.com

Prize Money: Winner earns $1.88 million

      

Prediction

Rafael Nadal over Novak Djokovic

All of the statistics in Nadal’s favor suggest the Spaniard will come away with his 13th Roland Garros title. 

Nadal is 17-7 against Djokovic on clay courts and 6-1 versus the Serbian at the French Open. 

Although the numbers are overwhelmingly in Nadal’s favor, he admitted that he must play a solid match against Djokovic, per ATPTour.com.

“The only thing I know is to play against Novak, I need to play my best. Without playing my best tennis, [the] situation is very difficult. I know that it’s a court that I have been playing well on for such a long time, so that helps. But at the same time, he has an amazing record here too. [He’s] one of the

Construction of Nord Stream's EUGAL Pipeline Compressor Site

Photographer: Krisztian Bocsi/Bloomberg

Germany won’t need additional gas flows this season, giving Chancellor Angela Merkel and Russian President Vladimir Putin another reason to bide their time on the controversial Nord Stream 2 pipeline.

After two warm winters and the coronavirus pandemic, demand for the fuel used for heat and power generation is sagging across the continent. Supplies remain abundant, with U.S. cargoes of liquefied natural gas returning to Europe. Benchmark gas prices remain below their 10-year average at the start of the period for peak consumption.

Those metrics may inform how Putin and Merkel respond to Poland’s decision last week to slap a record $7.6 billion fine on the pipeline’s sponsor, Gazprom PJSC. Berlin was silent on the matter, and Russia said only that Poland aligned itself with the U.S. on the issue. For now, there’s no reason to rush ahead with the long-delayed 1,230-kilometer link under the Baltic Sea.

“There is no urgency now for Nord Stream 2 as the existing pipelines and LNG should provide enough gas for the months to come,” said Richard Morningstar, founding chairman of the Atlantic Council’s Global Energy Center and a former U.S. ambassador to the European Union.

Who’s Dependent on Russia’s Gas?

Fourteen countries get more than 50% of their gas from Russia

Source: Agency for Cooperation of Energy Regulators, 2017 data

Nord Stream 2 will run parallel to an existing pipeline by the same name and will double capacity of the route from Russia under the Baltic Sea into Germany. Merkel allowed it to go ahead as a commercial project that would shore up fuel supplies to heavy industry including BASF AG. Russia and Gazprom started promoting the link in 2012, saying additional flows will be needed needed by the mid-2020s.

The U.S. has opposed the pipeline



kiplinger-retirement-2020930

There are several estate planning strategies to consider before the rules change.




This year is an opportune time to consider succession and wealth planning.

One reason is the federal estate and gift tax exemption is at a historic high of $11,580,000 in 2020 — $23,160,000 for couples if portability is elected on a federal estate tax return. Portability allows a married decedent’s unused estate and gift tax exemption to pass to the surviving spouse. The tax rate is 40%.

This exemption amount expires at the end of 2025, but if the Democrats win big in November, odds are good the exemption will fall sooner because Joe Biden has called for lowering it. He hasn’t given an exact figure, but it could revert to pre-2018 levels of about $5 million ($10 million for couples), with inflation adjustments.

Here are two estate planning strategies to consider now before the rules change:

  • You can give up to $15,000 to each child, grandchild or any other person in 2020 without having to file a gift tax return, pay gift tax or tap your exemption. The recipient isn’t taxed on the amount received either.

Gifts made in 2020 that exceed the $15,000 per person limit will require the donor to file a gift tax return using IRS Form 709, but no gift tax will be due in 2020 unless your total lifetime gifts exceed $11,580,000. If you’ve been thinking of making a large gift to a family member, now might be the time to do it.

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