Western Forestry Contractors’ Association Rumour Mill RoundUpDate Volume 17, Issue 11

May 12, 2017
Volume 17, Issue 11

Warning: Some of the facts in this edition contain warnings.

Spring 2017: Floods, Winds, Slides
This Year Emphasize Need For Emergency Planning.

The Similkameen River running full tilt as this week’s hot weather melts last winter’s snow pack.

We are not dealing with anything of Biblical proportions, but 2017 has so far seen a gamut of trials associated snow, floods, avalanches, mud-slides and, just this week, high winds from a fast moving cold front. We have heard of crews and camps caught behind road washouts in various locations in the South Interior. Workers have also had to muster in safe zones near their camp as this week’s winds uprooted trees in the adjacent woods. Those same winds brought low enough temperatures to snow out crews once more in the South Interior, seeming to repeat a pattern that dogged this year’s Coast season. And this is all happening as we just now head into wild fire and lightning season.

This is, of course, to slightly overstate the calamity. Some would say this year is within the range of normal mayhem for a typical field season. But there is one consistent pattern starting to show up. Over the last five years we have seen a seemingly increasing number of camps evacuated under threat from wildfire, floods, wind, or access lost to mudslides. In some cases rounding up crews and camp has had to take place within a few hours—just ahead of disaster. Whether this is a real trend, or just us starting to notice, doesn’t take away from the fact that silviculture camps are vulnerable and emergency planning needs to be in place, practiced and ready.

Related to this we have heard from a field manager that danger tree assessing can only go so far in eliminating the risks associated with camping in the woods. In the face of strong winds, inspecting and increment-boring beforehand is no absolute warranty against trees uprooting. Experience in more than one case has shown us that. Managers need to act accordingly when severe winds begin to threaten camps, cut-blocks and the woods in general.

An engineering consultant has told us that it would help them in their emergency planning involving their small crews if licensees would provide them with an overall current operating picture of other operators and assets that might be within reach in an emergency. It makes sense that coordinating mutual aid along these lines could go some way to addressing the risk of crews being spread thin across the landscape when it comes to responding to an emergency.

BCTS Looking For More Participants In Contractor Rating System

(We like the BCTS logo, even if it is a somewhat blurry view of their actual mandate.)

The BCTS contractor rating system is now poised to gain more momentum with business areas being directed to tender at least one tree planting project this year.  So far 16 firms are participating in the new system out of an estimated 70 active tree planting contractors in the province. So there is room to expand the number of contractors as the program gets bigger. Interested contractors can find out how to apply by signing in here.