Salvaging wildfire trees

Alanna Kelly

Last year’s wildfire season impacted the Interior’s lumber industry.

Gorman Bros. Lumber Ltd. operation supervisor Shawn Clerke, who has been working in the industry for over 25 years, said he is hoping this year won’t be as bad as last year.

“It was fairly detrimental to certainly our harvesting operations and the mill itself, we had to shut down for over two months last year,” he said.

Clerke added it’s hard to tell what is to come and you can’t predict the weather.

“It was by far the worst fire season we ever had, so we are hopefully you can’t have two seasons in a row,” he said.

A 400-hectare wildfire that ripped through the mountainside in Joe Rich, off of Highway 33 and Philpott Forest Service Road, left behind a graveyard of burnt trees.

Clerke and his crew from Gorman Bros. will spend the next six weeks salvaging the trees for lumber.

“Six-hundred cubic metres a day, 12 truck loads a day and about 10-to 11,000 cubic metres of wood in here,” he said.

Approval was given to close a section of High Rim Trail, as there is an extreme risk of heavy equipment working in the area to cut down the burnt trees.

The public is being asked to stay out of the area and signage has been posted.

“These trees are fairly dangerous because they are brittle and as a feller buncher grabs the tree at the bottom the top could snap off and fall in any direction,” he said.

The plan is to start at the bottom next to Highway 33, where trees are dried out and crews will work their way up the hill where snow has just melted away.

“It is fairly challenging terrain, it has some steep pitches, the duff layer has been burnt off so you are right down to the rock in some places,” said Clerke.

The burned trees are difficult to work with and are hard on the machines.

Work is expected to be completed in the third week of June and reforesting will start next spring.

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