Wednesday, August 15, 2007

700-800 logs a day and nobody notices

With 75 per cent of their harvest complete the logging by the Metlakatla Band is seemingly going well and for the most part unnoticed. Moving between 800 to 900-metres a day the Band says that things are going well on the project that at one time was quite controversial on this side of the harbour.

With the exception of an occasional helicopter hovering over the forests of the Northern shore of the harbour, you wouldn't probably know there was much logging happening in the area.

The Daily News featured the developments across the harbour as their front page headline story in Wednesday's newspaper.

By Christian Webber
The Daily News
Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Page one

With Metlakatla's logging plans across the harbour about 75 per cent complete, representatives from the forestry company and band council said they have had no complaints about the visual impact.

"So far we have achieved our goal, it is called variable retention. They follow the lay of the land and cloak it," said Dave Martin, manager of A&A Trading, a logging company out of Terrace.
"I think we're looking forward to being able to show Prince Rupert that you can log in the vicinity and it works."

Metlakatla and Hays Forestry Services started falling trees May 15 across the harbour from Prince Rupert. With 15 to 20 forestry workers on the project seven-days a week, it is expected to generate $3-million for the area's economy. Work is expected to continue until September, maybe October.

While there were concerns the plans would impact the visual quality of the Prince Rupert harbour, Martin explained they are selectively logging using helicopters and they have to follow a visual quality objective.

About half the logging you virtually can't even see, he said. And after they are finished, they are required to replant the areas they harvested and look after the new seedlings for about 15 years.

Harold Leighton, chief councilor of the Metlakatla Band Council, said that they have been operating over there for just about six or seven weeks and have cut around 30,000 cubic meters, or about 75 per cent of their planned harvest.

Of that, they have transported over 7,000 meters to the log sort on Ridley Island.
"Our target is between 40,000 and 45,000 cubic meters, we'll soon have that amount of wood on the ground," he said.

However, the length of the project is in part determined by how fast the helicopter moves the timber to the barge and out to the Ridley Island log sort, he said.

Currently, they are moving between 800 to 900-metres a day - that's why the project will continue in to the fall.

"Everything is going well, everything is going as planned, we're very happy with the operation, we haven't had any complaints," said Leighton.

"You could basically look anywhere in Prince Rupert and you wouldn't know we've been logging."

The operation started on the north side of the harbor and is moving down the peninsula. It is all selective logging and a very clean operation, said Leighton. If they drop any debris in the water they pick it up.

The logs are being moved from the ground to the helicopter to the barge and from there to the log sort. All of the cedar will be shipped to Vancouver for milling, the pulp is sold locally and some of the white wood will be exported.

Leighton said transportation costs are taking a good portion of the profits and that is something they hadn't projected. And the price of some of the more valuable wood has peaked and is even starting to fall. The high Canadian dollar is also a factor.

There were concerns raised by the public when the plans were announced that it would have a visual impact on the forest across the harbour.

City council also expressed concern even if they could not see the logging at first, winds would cause blow downs that would damage the area in the future.

Martin said that wind damage from thinning was a concern but he said they had it checked out by a geo-technical engineer who gave them advice on how to counter the problem.

"Wind throws are a naturally occurring event, we're doing our best to fall in strips perpendicular to the natural wind pattern," said Martin.

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