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September 2006 - The Logging and Sawmilling Journal



The industry may be going through some tough times right now, but there are some young loggers out there, like BC’s Travis Englund, who remain optimistic about the future of logging, and their place in that future.

By Jim Stirling

If Travis Englund is any indication, the log harvesting sector retains some allure for attracting a new generation of young loggers.

The forest industry is in keen competition for experienced machine operators and mechanics— let alone the myriad of abilities that are needed to become a successful logging contractor working in British Columbia. But with six years experience under his belt—the last couple out on his own—Englund is gung-ho about his chosen profession and upbeat about its future.

“I always wanted to run my own company,” says the 27-year-old logger. “And be my own boss. It’s been tough on us as a family to do at times, but the benefits far outweigh the negatives.”

Englund operates Jarosa Contracting Ltd, based in Quesnel, BC. Jarosa is a compound from the Christian names of his first three children: James, Rosa and Sara. Little Emma came along after the company was formed.

Englund gives great credit to his wife, Maria, for her support and for taking care of the home front and a young family while Englund works loggers’ hours. Actually, the hours weren’t too bad earlier this summer during a visit to the operation; his machine was being single shifted close to home. It was in transition from roadbuilding/excavator work mode back to dangle head processor.

Travis Englund (bottom) of Jarosa Contracting operates with two machines—two New Holland 20-ton carriers fitted with 7000 series LogMax processing heads, which can take on large wood quite nicely. Jarosa was recently working in a helicopter logging show where the New Holland/LogMax combo had little difficulty handling 30-inch diameter fir.

Jarosa has two machines: two New Holland 20-ton carriers fitted with 7000 series LogMax processing heads for logging. And Englund has been happy with both ends of the system.

He was quick to learn the value of good working relationships with key equipment suppliers. Douglas Lake Equipment is the Kobelco/New Holland dealer in Quesnel. “They’ve been very helpful to me right from the beginning,” says Englund.

The LogMax heads were sold and serviced through Pro-Max in Kamloops, BC. “Those guys are really interested in the jobs the heads are doing. If you have a problem, you can talk with them on the phone and they can walk you through it. If that doesn’t work, they’re right up there themselves to deal with it,” credits Englund.

He had one of his contract processors working for West Fraser Timber, east of Quesnel. The other was working in a helicopter logging show of Cattermole Timber’s near Hope, BC.

The operator there was Jordan Cook, 23, a buddy of Englund’s since they both worked together at the McDonald’s in Quesnel.

Englund says he and Cook are in daily communication, and things were working out well with the two-sided operation. “He’ll let me know if there are any problems he can’t handle.” Englund adds the New Holland and 7000 LogMax combo had little difficulty handling the big old 30-inch diameter fir encountered at the Hope show.

East of Quesnel, Englund’s other machine was working the bottom end of a high lead block, predominantly in spruce. It’s the pine forests of the BC Interior that garner all the headlines in the wake of Canada’s worst mountain pine beetle epidemic. But some of the same factors that helped spawn that devastation—wildfire fighting and mild winter temperatures during key times of the beetles’ life cycle—are also causing severe spruce bark beetle infestations.

Englund was processing short logs up to 16 feet, five inches, and other required sorts at roadside included pulling peeler material. Englund believes as log harvesting conditions and circumstances change in the bush, they will do so to the benefit of the younger loggers. “We’re not set in our ways,” explains Englund. “Here’s the machine, here’s the wood, get it down.”

Englund says he read a recent survey of logging contractors and how they viewed their jobs. He says he was surprised to learn less than half the respondents would recommend logging as a career to their children. “I’m damn proud of what I do. Maybe you shouldn’t be doing it if you can’t recommend it to your children,” suggests Englund. He’s the first in his immediate family to look to the bush to put food on the table, although Quesnel is a forestry dependent city and his dad works there in the sawmilling sector.

Englund says he doesn’t waste too much time fretting about forest industry politics, including the proposed softwood lumber deal outcome with the US. They are matters out of his control, he notes. Instead, he adopts a more pragmatic approach.

“I feel there will be options,” he explains. All that beetle wood out there has to be harvested and roads have to be built to access it. “And the older guys are leaving the business,” he notes.

In time, the new guard may not be working exclusively with feedstock for commodity lumber production. Englund points to the announcement last year by Ainsworth Lumber Ltd, of its intention to invest about $400 million to build two oriented strand board (OSB) plants based on mountain pine beetle-killed timber. One of those is planned for the Quesnel area, pretty much in Englund’s back yard.

And TallOil Canada Inc has plans to build four pellet plants at an estimated cost of $30 million each near Vanderhoof, Fraser Lake and two in the Quesnel area. A possible fifth plant could follow in the Williams Lake area. What all that translates to are some of the possible options Englund was referring to. In the meantime, Jarosa Contracting will do what needs to be done. “We’ll move a machine wherever it needs to go to work,” says Englund. “We’re flexible.” Spoken like a veteran logger.

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