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Planning Pays Off For MB and Contractor

By listening to the public's concerns, MacMillan Bloedel and logging contractor Ken Sneddon were able to keep a variety of stakeholders satisfied with harvesting plans for commercial thinning on BC's Sunshine Coast.


By Bill Tice
Copyright 1998. Contact publisher for permission to use.

As Sunshine Coast logging contractor Ken Sneddon of Sechelt Creek Contracting Ltd. walks the trails of a healthy, commercially thinned forest near Roberts Creek, BC, a short ferry ride north of Vancouver, he quietly talks about how they planned the harvesting operation to accommodate a number of land users, including the public and the land owner, MacMillan Bloede.

"Prior to our harvesting operation, the area was used by the community for outdoor activities such as horseback riding, biking and hiking. What we heard at public meetings was that the community wanted to continue using the area for those purposes," says Sneddon. "We felt this was a challenge that we could meet and keep all the interested parties happy."

MacMillan Bloedel field engineer Doug McCormick, Sneddon and the Sechelt Creek Contracting crew had to develop a plan that would allow the project to be economically viable for MacMillan Bloedel, while accommodating the other land users and satisfying the Official Community Plan.

When Sechelt Creek Contracting was named the successful bidder over two other contracting companies, Sneddon and McCormick listened to the public's concerns.

"We went to the public meeting with the board of the Official Community Plan (OCP) group and listened. There were three primary concerns. The fust was the ability to maintain water quality. The second was regarding massive roads, right-of-ways and ditches, and the third was keeping communication lines open between the companies involved and the OCP board," says Sneddon.

When you walk through the 48-ha site, you won't find any huge ditches because a double drainage system has been installed to take advantage of the site's quick-draining, gravel-based soils. This system also helps maintain the water quality.

As for the right-of-ways, only narrow, curving roads - just large enough to accommodate logging machinery and trucks that hauled out the harvested logs - can be found. The roads also have a maximum sight line of 100', making them aesthetically pleasing. In addition to the curved roads, visitors to the site will find narrow trails that wind their way through the selectively logged forest for use by hikers, mountain bikers and horseback riders. Sneddon even hired students to clear and maintain the trails earlier this year.

Because the site is on privately owned land, Sechelt Creek Contracting was not required to follow the BC Forest Practices Code, which streamlined the operation from a time standpoint, and also made the open communications concern easier to accommodate.

"It was almost like building a house where you fine-tune things and adapt the original plan as you go. We were able to approach and easily conununicate with the OCP group about suggestions and ideas to make the project work better, all the while realizing that it was still being driven by an economic engine," says Sneddon. 'We were successful in staying within all the parameters and achieving the economic goals of MacMillan Bloedel's Stillwater Division."

The project, which Sneddon initially bid on in March 1997 and completed before the end of the year, yielded almost 20,000 cubic metres of timber.

One of the reasons for the project's success was the selection of equipment. The Sechelt Creek crew needed to utilize small, manoeuvrable machinery in order to meet the criteria of narrower roads and access trails. Their equipment selection included a versatile KMC (Kootenay Manufacturing Co. Ltd.) 1500 Hydrostatic LGP Track Skidder (see KMC Skidder sidebar) and a Komatsu PC 150 Combination Machine.

"The KMC 1500 track skidder allowed us to get into very tight areas and has very low ground impact," says Sneddon.

With the KMC machine, Sneddon's crew was also able to eliminate landings as they could use the skidder to get the logs to the roadside where either a self-loading, or straight logging truck picked them up.

Working in environmentally sensitive areas and meeting restrictive requirements while selectively logging is not new to Sechelt Creek Contracting. In 1996, they used a cable lead system to harvest Crown timber on what was locally known as "The Mushroom Sale," a name that described the fact that apparently rare, and therefore potentially endangered Tricoloma Apium mushrooms had to be protected while selectively harvesting the timber.

Sneddon's privately owned company has grown from the one-man log-booming operation he started in 1981 to where it is today, a 25- to 30-person operation actively involved in logging and log sorting.

Primarily operating on the Sunshine Coast of BC, Sechelt Creek Contracting Ltd. does work for several major players on the Coast, including Canadian Forest Products Ltd. (Canfor) and MacMillan Bloedel, along with a number of smaller companies. Tbrough their logging activities, the company harvests approximately 40,000 cubic metres of timber annually.

Following his latest harvest, Sneddon says one of the only negative comments he has received is that the area is now busier with recreational users than it ever was before the thinning operation. For Sneddon, McCormick and the crew, that's a compliment and reassures them they satisfied the original project criteria.

Ken Sheddon

Ken Sneddon of Sechelt Creek Contracting


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