Log #58q The logging industry

October 4, 2014 in Log Series 50-59, Logs by Series, Series 58, The Logs

Long Harbour, Saltspring Island, B.C.
Oct. 2, 2014
Hi Folks,
We are enjoying gunkholing around the Gulf Islands for a few weeks before we make a presentation to a sailing club in Port Moody on the 15th, put Veleda away for the winter on Thetis Island by the 25th and go  to Okanagan Falls for our winter house sitting on Oct. 28th. The pleasant Indian summer continues.
This log gives an account of our visit to a logging camp on Belize Inlet. I found it quite interesting and would welcome any corrections of my observations or comments on my attitude towards the industry. I am more positively disposed to logging than I am towards fish farming ( see Log #58n),  although I have not toured a fish farm yet.
All the best,

Log #58q The logging industry
Tod Inlet, Saanich Peninsula, B.C.
Sept. 23, 2014
Visit to a logging camp
We went alongside a large logging camp barge of the Lemare Lake Logging company, with its associated timber slide, in Alison Sound to see first-hand how these locations work.
   Lemare Lake Logging camp on Belize Inlet
We have seen many of these lumber slide areas in our passage up the coast from the Gulf Islands to Desolation Sound, the Broughtons and up here, some active and others abandoned. We went alongside and walked up the ramp into the large barge to see if we could talk to the foreman in charge. We were welcomed by the few workers and they called the foreman to talk with us in the cafeteria. The couple of ladies in the kitchen offered us coffee and tea and gave us a plate of freshly baked cookies. Gord, the foreman, sat down with us to enquire what our interest was. He was initially leery, asking us about our attitude towards logging, as he was concerned about bad publicity. However he saw our attitude was not automatically opposed to the industry and answered our questions openly.
I have been impressed with how loggers operate in such harsh environments on mountainsides, away from civilization, in all kinds of weather, felling the trees, stripping them and hauling them down to the water to be floated in log booms to lumber mills miles down the coast.
Criticisms of the Logging Industry
Some people would say the pristine beauty of Alison Sound is marred by the scars created by logging. To some extent it is. On the other hand, such logged spaces provide texture to the uniform carpeting greenery of the forests, just as rock faces, cliffs, waterfalls, forest fire and landslide areas break up the uniformity of the coniferous mountain sides. Or, in more settled areas of the lower B.C. mainland and Vancouver Island, towns, suburban developments, farms, and industries have wrested and scarred their locations from the magnificent forests in this spectacular part of the world. There are very few areas of the B.C. coast which have not been logged at some time and in which there is original old growth. Thus most of the greenery we see on the mountain sides is second and third growth cycles recovering from over 150 years of logging, a major resource industry for B.C. and Canada.
Judy and I lived in Espanola, a northern Ontario town that has a paper mill as its major (only) industry. When the wind was blowing across the town there was a smell from the mill. When we commented upon it, several people said they didn’t mind it as it was the smell of money. The town depended upon the mill. It provided my employment as a high school teacher and Judy’s career in her dental office. Similarly the scars we see on the mountain sides are signs of a vibrant resource based economy providing the raison d’etre for the many towns of Vancouver Island and the mainland including Squamish, Powel River, Lund, Chemainus, Nanaimo, Campbell River, Port McNeill and Port Hardy.
Another environmental criticism of the logging industry is that it is detrimental to salmon spawning. The problem is associated with the silt runoff created by the erosion of the barren hillsides, covering the gravel of the spawning grounds used by the fish to lay their eggs. I guess this would be a problem linked to lumber operations along streams and rivers where salmon return to spawn. However this location is on the shore of a long salt water inlet, not a river, and thus any runoff or silting would be no worse than silting caused by a landslide or other sources of erosion.
The Barge
Let me start with the barge. Incidentally, it is leased from a First Nations group and several of the workers were from the local First Nations. It is a large platform on two levels, the upper one on the deck level where we were in the cafeteria and the lower inside the hull. The upper level had the accommodations, with the cafeteria and 30 single occupancy cabins. Each cabin has a bed, desk, reading lamp, opening window, and storage shelves.
Cabin CabinLayout
   Typical logger’s cabin                                               Cabin layout
In addition there is a large clean shower/washroom/toilet area, and a games/lounge area in the central section.
Lounge Showers
          Lounge                                                              Showers
There is a laundry as well. Internet access is available throughout. The lounge has a large TV screen, computer terminal, pool table and comfortable upholstered chairs and couches. The accommodations reminded me of the accommodations area we saw when we toured an oil platform in Louisiana a few years ago. Very comfortable.
(In another camp visited, there were a half dozen or so RV trailers on shore, as well as the accommodation barge for the personnel.)
TrailersPersonal RV trailers

The lower area has workshops, generators, storage tanks for waste products, diesel, gas, other supplies, and the equivalent of a mud/locker room, as the workers are not to go to the upper level in their hobnailed boots or grimy work clothes. Around the outside is a floating pier, alongside which Veleda was moored.

From it, there is a ramp going up to the kitchen area on the upper level and at the end a walkway and ramp going up the shore to the parking lot and log slide.
As I remember, there are three shifts of at least ten men in each. Two shifts are active while one shift is off. The men work for two weeks, then have one week off. They have a supply boat to take the shifts back and forth and pick up supplies weekly from Powell River. Two women staff the kitchen, with a third off shift. These ladies were quite friendly and showed us around the barge and explained many of the operations.
The tasks for the workers involve several duties. The Fallers are lumber jacks in the traditional sense who individually fell trees at the upper reaches where the machines cannot reach. The Scalers strip the branches and bark from the logs. The Sorters classify the logs for the specific types of wood such as red cedar, hemlock, pine, etc. and by size. Bundlers bundle similar groups of logs and load them on the trucks to be brought down to the slide area. Other workers in the forests manipulating the logs are the Choker Men, Rigging Slingers and Hookers.
Launching into the water
For safety reasons we were not allowed onto the land, but could watch from the barge a load being trucked down to the launch/slide area from the sorting and bundling on an upper lot. Down came a truck with a gigantic bundle of logs between the two sets of prongs.
LoggingTruck Truck coming down
These prongs are 16 feet wide, cradling the load of logs cut into 18 or 27 foot lengths. The truck stopped above the slides while another worker lashed wire strops around each end of the load. These flexible steel wire strops would keep the bundle intact when it was dumped onto the slipway and into the water. It was interesting to see how this man lashed the wire over the truck load, like a cowboy waving a lasso.
                              Bundler crimping aft wire
A tractor with a curved claw then supported the load from the shoreside as the waterside supporting prongs were lowered. This tractor then nudged the load off the truck onto the steel slides, delivering the bundle with a gigantic splash into the water.
LoggingTruck4 Bundle tipped off truck
      Bundle launched LoggingTruck5

The tractor was then used to detach and load the after section of the truck bed onto the forward section, thus shortening the length of the trailer, allowing the truck to turn around and head back up the hill for the next load.
Logging truck with aft section piggy-backed
A small boom boat called a dozer then shepherded the bundle into the appropriate log boom for later towing by a tug to a lumber mill. These are versatile vessels, with a low centre of gravity so they will not capsize while weaving around a boom, pushing logs and bundles into their proper locations. These boats can even jump over logs to get to another location. They reminded me of sheep dogs herding flocks.
BoomBoat1 BoomBoat2

  Dozer’s hull & 360 degree prop
Volumes of Logs
Trying to grasp the number of trees, and the amount of wood being cut and transported was difficult. Basically one log would be equal to one cubic metre of wood.
Lumber made from one log    
The truck load just dumped would contain about 100 cubic metres and is considered a large load. As can be seen by the tote board inside the barge, the haul the day before was a total of 684.604 cubic metres delivered to the water in nine truck loads. The total of logs taken from this site since starting on July 28 was 6,710.171 cubic metres.
Tote board from July 28 to Aug. 8
Incidentally this site just started from uncleared forest in March of this year. I find it impressive that in four months, the barge was located and moored alongside, ramps and working lots at two or three levels were cleared, three kilometres of logging road constructed and zigzagged up the mountain side, and all was operational by late July. It is anticipated that the location will be worked for four to five years before being shut down to allow the area to regenerate.
I asked if they were under the obligation to replant. It seems replanting is done only in the more southerly operations due to the presence of more people and political correctness. The attitude seemed to be that the forest would regenerate itself in a five to ten year span, and would be ready to be logged again in 20 or 30 years.
Below are a couple of pictures from a retired logger friend, one of which  shows some chokers standing on a large log with the chains used to move it, and the other of the base of the same tree showing a diameter of about 12 feet.



There is a good forestry museum near Duncan on Vancouver Island showing many of the forestry operations and products. The logging industry is an important first step in the extraction of this renewable resource, and I was thankful for this opportunity to see it close up. Thank you Gord and Lemare Lake Logging.