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Logging and Sawmilling Journal November 2014

March/april 2015

On the Cover:
A Cat 522B feller buncher was the most recent equipment purchase for logging contractor Mid-Boundary Contracting, which is based in the rugged B.C. Southern Interior. Read all about how the new Cat buncher is performing for Mid-Boundary in this issue of Logging and Sawmilling Journa. (Photo of Cat 522B buncher courtesy of Mid-Boundary Contracting)

The clock is ticking on the Softwood Lumber Agreement
There is a united front on the part of Canada’s lumber producing provinces for extending the Softwood Lumber Agreement, but the U.S. government—and the U.S. lumber industry—have yet to say where they stand, even though the agreement expires this October.

Upping lumber recovery at Lakeview
Tolko Industries’ Lakeview Lumber Division in Williams Lake, B.C., has recently seen some significant upgrades that are already delivering results in lumber productivity and recovery.

Safety in B.C.’s logging industry: a work in progress
Safety has always been a priority for logging contractor Reid Hedlund, of Mid-Boundary Contracting—who is also chair of the Interior Logging Association—and though the industry has seen success at reducing the number of accidents, it continues to take ongoing effort, he notes.

Top Lumber Producers – Who’s on Top?
Logging and Sawmilling Journal’s annual listing of Canada’s Top Lumber Producers, produced in co-operation with industry consultants, International WOOD MARKETS Group.

Canada North Resources Expo
Visitors to the upcoming Canada North Resources Expo, being held in Prince George, B.C. May 29 -30, will enjoy an extensive range of displays, an excavator rodeo, sawmill and wood processing equipment demos—and perhaps even a grapple skidder show.

Upgrades bring efficiency—and green power
Alberta’s Manning Diversified Forest Products has invested $30 million in sawmill upgrades, new equipment that delivers higher production and more efficiency—and green power.

Cat—through and through
B.C.’s Kineshanko Logging recently celebrated its 40th year in logging, and all through that time their equipment has only been one colour: Cat yellow.

Careful logging in Algonquin Park
A careful approach to logging by contractors such as Jessup Bros. Forest Products is yielding jobs, good quality timber and an ample wood supply from Ontario’s well-known Algonquin Provincial Park—timber that also helps to sustain jobs at local sawmills.

Focus on Filing
The upcoming B.C. Saw Filer’s Association conference in Kamloops, B.C., features a solid line-up of speakers—and the opportunity to see the latest in saw filing equipment from equipment manufacturers.

Plywood going up - literally
B.C.’s Thompson River Veneer Products Ltd is benefiting from the general upturn in the economy, and sees demand for its plywood growing with building codes now allowing an increase in wood structure heights.

The Edge
Included in The Edge, Canada’s leading publication on research in the forest industry, are stories from the Canadian Wood Fibre Centre, Alberta Innovates - Bio Solutions and FPInnovations.

The Last Word
Tony Kryzanowski says a lack of joint ventures may be stunting the growth of the forest industry.

 

 

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A careful approach to logging by contractors such as Jessup Bros. Forest ProductsCareful logging in Algonquin Park

A careful approach to logging by contractors such as Jessup Bros. Forest Products is yielding jobs, good quality timber and an ample wood supply from Ontario’s well-known Algonquin Provincial Park—timber that also helps to sustain jobs at local sawmills.

By Tony Kryzanowski

Mention Ontario’s well-known Algonquin Provincial Park, and for some it brings to mind the sound of loon calls and canoe paddles breaking the water. For others like Pembroke-based Jessup Bros. Forest Products Ltd, it also brings to mind the sound of feller bunchers and skidders, which has helped to support this family business and other area loggers for generations.

In the past, there has been plenty of room for multiple uses in the park. Established in 1893, it is the oldest provincial park in Canada, and at close to 3,000 square miles, it is about one-and-a-half times the size of Prince Edward Island—or about a quarter the size of Belgium.

Over the past 50 years, a wide range of opinions have been expressed about what activity should and should not be allowed in the park, however.

A careful approach to logging by contractors such as Jessup Bros. Forest ProductsA zero tail swing Tigercat 822C feller buncher is the right tool for the job to carefully log in Algonquin Provincial Park, say contractors Jessup Bros. Forest Products.

As recently as this past October, Ontario’s Environmental Commissioner, Gord Millar, called for an end to logging in the park, despite the fact that logging has occurred in the area since 1830. He said it was time to bring it “in line with modern values,” while also claiming that there is an ample wood supply outside the park to support the local forest industry.

That is certainly a questionable point, as wood from the park accounts for 45 per cent of the Crown land harvest in areas of Ontario south of North Bay—and area sawmills depend on its quality as they manufacture a variety of appearance grade products from both the softwood and hardwood species harvested from the park. There is an ample supply of pulp wood, but sawlogs, utility poles, and veneer quality logs are in short supply throughout the region.

The Algonquin Forestry Authority (AFA), a self-financing Operational Enterprise Crown Agency established in 1974, oversees logging in the park. Back then, the timber licenses owned by 20 companies operating within the park were cancelled and assigned to the AFA. It generates revenue by marketing the wood harvested by its contractors to a variety of sources, and several area sawmills and pulp mills have come to depend on it.

Stephen Bursey, Manager of Operations in AFA’s Pembroke office, says wood harvested in the park is in high demand because it is “as good or better” than the wood fibre basket that surrounds the park.

Wood fibre from within the park is an important local source of red and white pine, poplar, oak, maple, yellow birch, white birch, jack pine, spruce and hemlock, much of it prime timber in the 120 year old range. Bursey says what has contributed to the wood fibre’s high quality is AFA’s careful management of the park’s forest resource.

Bursey’s responsibilities include managing the Pembroke AFA office, co-ordinating harvest activities in the northern and eastern half of Algonquin Provincial Park, negotiating timber sales, ensuring that committed volumes are delivered to client mills, and overseeing and enforcing the long laundry list of restrictions placed on logging contractors working within the park.

A careful approach to logging by contractors such as Jessup Bros. Forest ProductsStephen Bursey (left, in photo), AFA Manager of Operations, Pembroke, reviews harvesting plans with Jessup Bros. Forest Products owners Eldon (centre) and Glen Jessup. Given the delicate nature of logging in Algonquin Provincial Park, this conversation is constant.

For example, logging is prohibited in July and August within 1.6 kilometres of a canoe route, including lakes, or within 30 metres of a public access road or recreation site. No logging can occur within 60 metres of campsites, portages, hiking and ski trails, and only modified partial cutting within 120 metres of all these recreational features.

Ontario’s new Endangered Species Act presents an entirely new set of guidelines as to when logging can occur. For example, species at risk restrictions limit logging in many areas between October and April. There are a host of species-specific harvest and road construction restrictions, including timing and harvest modifications for wildlife such as hawk nests, wolves, moose and trout. There is also concern with certain species of turtles and the need to preserve their habitat, as they are long lived and don’t reproduce quickly.

These are just some of the many guidelines that AFA operates under and must enforce, so Bursey says they appreciate working with conscientious loggers like Jessup Bros. Forest Products. They have a lot of experience logging in the park.

Owned by Glen and Eldon Jessup, Jessup Bros. Forest Products logs primarily on the east side of Algonquin Provincial Park on contract for the AFA, harvesting about 45,000 cubic metres annually over about a 10 month season. They have 14 employees and a number are family members and relatives. Glen and Eldon work well as a team, with Eldon supervising harvesting operations to the landing and Glen taking care of the log haul.

“There are only certain places where we can work in the summertime and there are some roads we can’t use from Canada Day to the Labor Day long weekend because of tourist traffic,” Glen explains. Because of logging and haul restrictions, it’s sometimes a challenge to find enough area to keep working during the summer until other areas are opened up, he says. Then there are issues like the turtle habitat, which also restricts where and when they can log.

“We’ve been managing to work around everything, but it takes a lot of planning,” Glen says. One of the challenges for the company is the number of moves they have to make to work within the guidelines, because it’s costly to move logging equipment and it represents downtime and loss of production.

Glen and Eldon got their start in logging working with their father. At that time, horse logging was on its way out and mechanical cable skidders arrived on the scene, which speeded up the logging process considerably.

A careful approach to logging by contractors such as Jessup Bros. Forest ProductsThe transition from cable skidders and chainsaw crews to grapple skidders has resulted in significantly higher production for Jessup Bros. Forest Products. Their skidder line-up is made up of three John Deere 648E skidders.

“There was a big blowdown in the park in 1984 so we logged here salvaging that wood for a couple of years,” says Glen. By 1990, they were logging exclusively in the park full time.

About a decade ago, feller bunchers—as an alternative to chainsaw operators—started to become the norm in that part of Ontario in the shade tolerant forest south of the Ottawa River. There has also been a conversion from line skidders working with chainsaw crews to grapple skidders, driven primarily by chainsaw operators being less available since the industry downturn in 2008, and the greater efficiency of grapple skidders.

Today, Jessup Bros. Forest Products is almost entirely a mechanical harvesting operation, and Glen says that this method is definitely a safer way to log. He adds that the feller buncher and grapple skidder combination is also much more efficient, with the feller buncher’s ability to accumulate trees, especially when dealing with small stems, and the grapple skidder’s ability to quickly grapple and transport large drags of trees without the need to choke the trees. Also, the feller buncher and skidders work more efficiently in snow. This area can accumulate over a metre of snow in winter.

Glen says a major difference between their logging operation compared to other area loggers is that they don’t handle the marketing of their wood. Other area loggers who belong to Sustainable Forest License (SFL) groups are responsible for selling the wood they harvest, whereas the AFA is responsible for selling the wood harvested from the park as a major source of its income.

In a reflection of their approach to careful logging, Jessup Bros. Forest Products has opted for a Tigercat zero tail swing feller buncher.

“With the zero tail swing feller buncher, wherever the tracks go through, the machine will spin a circle and not touch trees,” says Glen. “So this approach is better for the trees that are left behind because you don’t bump the trees and skin the bark off of them.”

A careful approach to logging by contractors such as Jessup Bros. Forest ProductsThis approach also allows the feller buncher to fit through tighter spots and it maintains a healthier wood basket for the next time that an area is selectively logged. The logging is essentially a sustainable, select harvesting approach where AFA will enter an area and mark trees for harvesting, with the intention of returning to the area on about a 30 year cycle to harvest trees that have achieved merchantable size within that interval.

The Jessup fleet includes a Tigercat 822 feller buncher, purchased in 2011.

“When we are in select cutting and trying to fit through the trees that are being left, you have to have the right size machine,” says Glen.

They also have three John Deere 648E skidders, two Serco 270 slashers, a Serco 270 log loader, a Serco 200 log loader, and a Serco 125 log loader. For hauling logs, they have two Western Star trucks, with 48’ trailers.

Glen says that the wood market has definitely improved since the downturn, which took quite a severe toll on the local forestry workforce. For example, at one time, there were a number of sub-contractor skidders available, but many packed it in during the downturn because it was hard to keep their equipment working at a reasonable rate.

With the wood market improving, it’s now difficult to find people and equipment in the area to meet their needs. That’s one reason, despite a reduction in the volume of wood the company was harvesting prior to the downturn, that Jessup Bros. Forest Products is satisfied with the volume and workforce it has in place right now.

“Along with extra production comes three times the headaches. So we are happy working with the one feller buncher and the volume we are producing,” Glen says.

The Jessups also understand that strict logging guidelines are a fact of life of working in Algonquin Provincial Park, and the best they can do is adapt to what is asked of them. They are also passing along their knowledge and experience to younger family members who may one day decide that there is a future for them in forestry—and this careful style of logging.