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FOREST INK: Using wood chips in the Cariboo region

Governments of B.C. and Canada and Forest Enhancement Society of B.C. (FESBC) invest in forestry
Forest Ink columnist Jim Hilton. (File photo)

The last time I went to the recycling depot in Glendale I noticed a large chip truck unloading the 50-plus foot trailer with its automatic unloading system next to the existing pile of wood chips. A moving chain on the floor of the trailer was slowly pushing the chips out the back of the trailer. This reminded me of the fertilizer spreader we had on the farm which had a similar system we used to spread the farm manure over our fields in the 1960s.

I recognized the truck as one belonging to a local company so did some research on their operation. An article in the Canadian Biomass Journal by Maria Church describes an interview with Phil Theriault manager of Tsi Del Del Enterprises. The joint venture company established a number of decades ago started with 10 employees, a skidder, a loader and two or three trucks and today employs nearly 100 staff members and subcontractors, running around 40 machines in the bush. Depending on the year, they harvest between 340,000 and 400,000 cubic metres a year – about 40 to 45 loads a day. The majority of their logging is in dry west Chilcotin pine low volume stands. Typical volume is less than 100 cubic and trees range from 0.07 to 0.16 cubic metres per log.

Mr. Theriault describes how at least 60 to 70 per cent of the volume is from beetle kill from 20 years ago and states that as long as the province of B.C. sees it as an efficient way of using the carbon tax money they should continue operating in these marginal stands. “I think we’re a winner, especially if you think about all the small northern towns that will lose jobs because of the downturn in forestry. These are the same people, and the same jobs. The skills are transferable,” he says. “This is how we can save the little towns like Quesnel, Williams Lake, 100 Mile House, Prince George, you name it.”

The funding source described above is part of the investment from the governments of British Columbia and Canada and the Forest Enhancement Society of B.C. (FESBC). I went to their website and got the following information. Up to now they have had 269 projects spending $239 million dollars which has generated 357 million dollars of forestry activity. Viewers are able to see some short videos describing a few of the projects they have supported. The first one is how drones are being used to plant trees on some of the most extreme sites burned by the wildfires of 2017. Small drones are used to develop site planning maps so that each tree is placed in the best spot to ensure its survival. Large drones are then used to drop each tree seedling which has been grow in disk about the size of a hockey puck. This disk keeps the seedling in an upright position and provides nutrients until the roots are able to establish.

Another video entitled BC Forester Workers are Climate Change Heroes describes a number of ongoing projects including tree planting, commercial thinning and fertilizing as well as projects that use road side logging debris for energy production rather than burning residual logging material at the landing.

Read More: FOREST INK: Timber supply reviews are underway in four interior TSAs

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