Meet the Mayor
August 6, 2014
I just returned thoroughly impressed from a tour of operations in the Little Prairie Community Forest (LPCF). It is not often that an ordinary citizen gets to see forestry operations first hand. Every day we see logs rolling by on the trucks; we see logs being off loaded in the mill yards; we even see logs entering the mill. But to see trees being turned into logs – that doesn’t happen often for many of us.
Because the District of Chetwynd is a partner with West Moberly First Nations and Saulteau First Nations in the LPCF, I with CAO Doug Fleming joined a tour of the work sites with West Fraser foresters in charge of operations in the LPCF. You might wonder why I returned feeling so confident that things are being done right.
It’s not like I am going blindly into the forest. I’ve worked as a logger; I’ve set chokers, felled trees, skidded logs – all of it a half century ago. But I know enough to recognize professionalism when I see it. And I saw the action and product of professional logging in the LPCF.
Let me take you on a word tour of my visual experience.
Before a machine ever rumbles onto the logging site the area has been thoroughly assessed by professional foresters, archaeologists, and other technicians. Cut blocks are ribboned out, and maps prepared to guide the future work of foresters and loggers.
Every logging site needs access – a road or a system of roads. LPCF roads were laid out and built in a manner that will get the job done but not overdone. By this I mean that roads intended for short-term winter use will barely disturb the soil and will be hard to find in a few years. Roads intended for use over several years in all seasons are graded, ditched, and, where necessary, gravelled. Stream crossings are constructed such that siltation is minimized and the stream beds are protected from machine damage – that is, no machine is permitted within the restricted area.
Observing the bunchers, stroker, and dangle processors in operation gave me a sense of assurance that the operators were highly competent. Even the way the trees were bunched for the grapple skidders spoke of organization and careful management.
But it’s not a country garden up there. Once the merchantable timber has been removed the sites do not resemble your back yard (I hope). But there is a future. Clear cuts, and this is a clear cut operation by necessity, will regenerate and a generation down the road we confidently can expect that our descendants will see thriving stands of new forest waving in the mountain breezes.
The next stage in managing the forest has already begun. Some cut blocks harvested during the past winter have already been planted and the remainder is scheduled for planting in August.
I am confident that forestry, still the mainstay of our local economy, is in good hands in Chetwynd.
Merlin Nichols, Mayor