Forest Enhancement Society approves $8 million for forest enhancement projects in Thompson-Okanagan

Millions to clean up forests

Eight projects in the Thompson-Okanagan totalling $8 million in funding are among 42 projects announced Tuesday by the Forest Enhancement Society of BC — work that aims to help the environment while keeping the forestry sector humming.

The majority of the funded projects in the region will allow for the transportation of low value logs, fibre and waste piles to energy facilities and pulp mills, including the River City Fibre mill in Kamloops.

According to FESBC, the spending will create 77 jobs in the Thompson-Okanagan.

The funding comes off the back of $50 million given to the society earlier this year by the Ministry of Forests to boost fibre supply by utilizing uneconomic fibre and reduce wildfire risk. The 42 projects represent $34 million in spending, according to FESBC.

“Most of the projects are going to — right now, for today's 42 projects that we've announced — will help bring in waste wood from the forest that otherwise would have been piled and burned,” said Steve Kazuki, FESBC executive director.

“By bringing them in and making green energy, we're avoiding a greenhouse gas emission that would be resulting from piling and burning it. And so that's a huge benefit for the climate and reducing the greenhouse gases.”

Kazuki said the new projects will supply the River City mill with a steady source of fibre, which helps to reduce wildfire risks by cleaning up potential fuels from logging operations.

Paul Donald, CEO of Simpcw Resources Group, who will transport low value logs to River City Fibre as part of one of the newly funded projects, said the funding will ensure long term job security for its work force and will help mitigate wildfire risks.

“By strategically allocating resources that are aimed at managing otherwise uneconomic forest fibres, we're taking proactive measures to safeguard against wildfire events,” said Donald.

Tom Hoffman, fibre manager for Kruger Kamloops Pulp, said the mill produces about 1,150 metric tons of pulp a day, employs 340 workers on site and indirectly creates over 1,000 jobs tied to its operations.

“We're definitely in a transition period in the forest sector,” said Hoffman.

“FES is not a subsidy, it's actually a program designed to take wood from the forest that allows the forest to be then silviculturally treated to come back as a green vibrant forest, producing oxygen, reducing the carbon in our atmosphere.”

Hoffman said the mill produces 460 megawatts per year, about 60 per cent of Kamloops’ power supply, and has an economic impact of about $1 billion dollars.

The Kamloops mills produces five different grades of pulp that are used in the production of a variety of products, including exterior sidings, cement boards and tissues, according to Hoffman.

Greg Kilba, Arrow Transportation division manager, said the funding allowed for trials to be performed to analyze the quality of wood chips produced from burnt logs.

FESBC said of the 42 projects funded, 24 have had direct First Nations involvement and eight had some First Nations involvement.

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