Sales Fund Innovative Harvesting Training Program
people are learning new harvesting techniques.
By Jim Stirling
Copyright 1996. Contact publisher for permission to use.
Eighteen people are learning new harvesting and silvicultural
techniques on the job in an unusual co-operative training program underway this winter in
the southeast Yukon.
The 18 are members of the Liard First Nation in Watson Lake,
Yukon. The band was awarded a 75,000 m3 licence in the La Biche River Valley by the
federal government, but band members lacked the necessary skills to harvest it. The band
invited interested parties to bid on a training package that will be paid for by proceeds
from what is logged. Ted Cobbett Resources of Fort Nelson, BC seized the opportunity.
"There is no bureaucracy, no problems and no BS,"
declares Cobbett. "People told me all the problems I'd have with this but so far I've
had no problems whatsoever. I'd rather have my 18 students than 180 from anywhere
else." Cobbett is a logging contractor and operates a wood yard in Fort Nelson,
sending logs by rail for processing at Rustad Bros. & Co. Ltd.'s mill in Prince
George. A primary reason for the smooth start to the project is the students'
determination to succeed. The group ranges from 19 to 45, including four women. "We
interviewed about 50 people and 18 were picked for their desire to do it," reports
project co-ordinator Kathleen Shepherd. "They turned out to be a terrific bunch of
people who haven't missed a day."
The other key participant in the project is the Northern Lights
Regional College in Fort Nelson that developed and presented an intensive training
package. It started last September with a crash course in life skills at the request of
the band before immersion in the forest industry. The Northern Lights course covered the
rules and regulations covering harvesting and silvicultural practices, including WCB
safety regulations, first aid, the Forest Practices Code and an introduction to forest
ecology. Then the emphasis was switched to the methods, the machinery and the techniques
that the students would use in the bush. Instruction was given in hand falling, bucking
and on the operation of the type of feller bunchers, skidders and butt n top log loaders
they will be using this winter. The practical application was supported by instruction in
heavy equipment maintenance and repair.
Throughout the paper gauntlet and the practical work, the
students have maintained an amazingly positive outlook, says Shepherd. The students were
expected to stay in the bush from freeze-up in November to the end of the regular
harvesting season in April. They were to be supervised by their college instructor, and by
and Cobbet and his representatives.
The skills and experience the students acquire during the winter
is expected to open employment doors, improve self-esteem and provide a blueprint for
other band members. "There's no government money underwriting the training
program," says Shepherd. "It is a very innovative program." It has also
attracted considerable attention. "There are a lot of eyes on us to see how well we
do," she says.