Community Forest workers (L-R) Korbyn Dunn

Community Forest finances purchase of mini-tower, continues operations in Saloompt

Community Forest finances purchase of mini-tower, continues operations in Saloompt

Despite tough market conditions in the past few years, Bella Coola’s Community Forest is still trucking. The company, currently logging in Saloompt, also managed to finance the purchase of some new equipment this year, making the operation much more self-sufficient.

“One of the most exciting developments this year was the purchase of a mini-tower,” said Hans Granander, General Manager. “With assistance from the Williams Lake and District Credit Union, the company was able to finance the purchase by ‘Got Wood Contracting,’ owned by Wayne Bittner and Brent Cole. This was in addition to the purchase of a grapple skidder and log loader by Bettor Enterprises last year, and has allowed us to become more self-sufficient as we are no longer dependent on outside contractors for the necessary equipment.”

The operation in Saloompt has been underway for the past year, and the company is currently working up above the Lost Lake Forest Service Road. “The Community Forest tenure includes all of the Saloompt Valley, but only about seven percent of the total landbase is worth harvesting,” said Granander. “The majority of the watershed is not accessible because it is too steep, or it encompasses tracts of land which are not available for logging, such as critical grizzly bear and goshawk nesting habitat.”

Granander confirmed that, at present, the company is harvesting old growth timber out of Saloompt. “Most of the second growth in the Valley is not harvestable yet,” said Granander. “ We are required by the province to retain at least nine percent of the old growth, but we are retaining much more than that as most of the timber is not accessible or commercially viable.”

While the majority of the wood is sent out for processing and export to foreign markets in the US and Asia, the amount of timber sold locally is also steadily increasing.

“Without the export market we would not be able to afford the Community Forest operations. It’s an essential part of our business and we have to export at least 35 percent,” said Granander. “However, our philosophy has always been to sell as much locally as we can. As the supply has been more consistent, the amount of timber sold locally has been increasing steadily, which is great.”

The company’s Saloompt worksite is the first operation visible to the community, as all previous work took place up Nusatsum. In response to some questions regarding visual impacts, Granander explained that the Community Forest meets with an advisory group once or twice per year that reviews the proposed cutblocks from many perspectives, including tourism. They also hold a public open house once an year for people to review the plans.

“We present visual assessment models at these meetings for review,” said Granander. “So far, the responses have been favourable, and we’ve had no complaints about visuals. I think the small blocks in Saloompt blend in nicely with the surrounding terrain.”

The Community Forest also incorporates a mandate to employ locally, and at present is employing approximately 20 individuals in many different positions throughout the year. The company employs a road building, falling, yarding and loading crewes, two to four truck drivers, and several people at the dryland sort. “The jobs aren’t full-time but they pay well and require various skill sets,” said Granander.

On average, the company is harvesting about 15,000 – 20,000 cubic metres per year, which translates to about 500 truckloads. This is far cry from the heyday of logging in Bella Coola, when about 100,000 – 150,000 cubic metres were harvested every year for forty years.

“When Crown Zellerbach started logging heavily in the 1950’s, continuous clearcuts were the norm and the rules were totally different,” said Granander. “We are operating in a completely different era.”

Granander said the company has several other key initiatives in the works over the next couple of months, so watch the Coast Mountain News for updates.

Just Posted

Road report for Highway 20

Fog patches and slippery sections; Drive BC

Woman killed in head-on crash near Vanderhoof

RCMP say driver crossed the centre line and hit a loaded fuel tanker truck

Mining company prospecting for gold near Bella Coola

Gold discovered in alpine areas where glaciers are receding

‘Tripod’ delays access to Unist’ot’en camp

Social media rumours of cultural significance quashed, meaning police “exclusion zones” should end.

Hereditary chiefs negotiate injunction agreement

Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs abide by interim injunction, but gate stays up. Still opposed.

Giant rotating ice disk forms in Maine river

Ice disk that is roughly 100 yards wide has formed in the Presumpscot River

Liberal candidate steps aside after singling out Jagmeet Singh’s race

Karen Wang says she made comments online that referenced Singh’s cultural background

SUV wedged on top of car in B.C. mall parking lot has customers confused

The accident occurred Tuesday, no injuries were reported

Huawei founder thanks inmates, Canadian justice system for treating daughter well

Ren Zhengfei said he believes there will be a just conclusion to the case of his daughter, Meng Wanzhou

May government faces no-confidence vote after Brexit defeat

British Prime Minister Theresa May said she would stay put in her leadership role

Razor burn: Gillette ad stirs online uproar

A Gillette ad for men invoking the #MeToo movement is sparking intense online backlash

Feds poised to bolster RCMP accountability with external committee

Long-anticipated move is the latest attempt at rebuilding the force following years of sagging morale

Canada needs a digital ID system, bankers association says

The Department of Finance last week officially launched its public consultation on the merits of open banking

Indigenous energy summit includes session on pipeline ownership options

Steven Saddleback of the Indian Resource Council says a session will feature presentations on financing models

Most Read