Bettor Enterprises new log loader and grapple skidder working on the community forest in Salloompt.

Bella Coola Community Forest expecting markets will improve in 2013

Bella Coola Community Forest expecting markets will improve in 2013

It has been a while since there were any logging trucks hauling community forest wood here in the valley, but starting in mid-January, the trucks will be rolling again.  2012 was a quiet year but there was always something going on behind the scenes.

Although market conditions were slowly, but steadily improving during the year, log prices were not adequate to justify logging the blocks available on the community forest and the first half of the year was spent trying to come up with a viable logging plan. By re-engineering the cutblock that was burned in the 2009 Salloompt fire and applying some innovative log processing and marketing ideas, a plan was formulated to salvage log approximately 5,000 m3 of Douglas-fir, hemlock and cedar.

The challenge in salvage logging the partially burned timber was the marketing of the logs as most mills and export customers will not purchase scorched timber. However, by bucking off the charred part of the log, which local mills are interested in purchasing, the remaining log is upgraded and sellable at prices that makes logging the block economical.

Once our local contractors became available from finishing some flood restoration projects, road construction began in late October, felling of the block began in late November and by early December logs were being skidded to the landings. All the work was done by local workers with Bella Coola Contractors doing the road building, Redline Falling doing the timber cutting and Bettor Enterprises doing the logging.

The other challenge in salvage logging the burned block was safety. The Salloompt fire was a very hot ground fire which burned out the roots of shallow rooted trees, like hemlock and cedar, making them potential danger trees that are difficult to fall and they could easily topple over unexpectedly. Extra precautions were incorporated into the safety plan and the falling phase was completed without incident.

In laying out the Salloompt cut block a number of factors had to be incorporated into the design.  The block is located on the highly visible west side hill of Salloompt peak but the block is barely visible from view sites along Hwy 20 due to its small size, natural shape and foreground screening. Small glimpses of the block can be seen just north of the old ‘triangle’ block.

The other key consideration was goshawk habitat and in collaboration with Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations biologist a comprehensive habitat reserve plan has been produced for the community forest and much of the timber above the Salloompt block is now designated for goshawk nesting habitat.

Other activities in 2012 included salvage of more than 20 truckloads for firewood from blocks logged in previous years in Nusatsum. Roadside slash piles were burned to create plantable spots and all the blocks logged in the valley have been planted and stocking surveys indicate good survival and growth.

Going into 2013, markets are expected to continue to improve and the community forest is working on a logging plan that will hopefully see more work and logged timber than 2012.