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Chilcotin pulpwood headed to the Island

If you can’t east, go west.

That’s exactly what West Chilcotin Forest Products is doing. Located near Anahim Lake in the Chilcotin, the nearest Interior pulp mill is a full day’s drive away to the east. So that raises the question of what the mill should do with with fibre suited for pulp.

Thanks to funding by the Forest Enhancement Society of B.C. (FESBC) the company is moving the fibre the other way … west.

“The West Chilcotin plateau lacks the infrastructure many other areas of our province take for granted,” said Stephen James, Executive Director of WCFP. “Given the distance to markets for our forest products, enhanced utilization of our forest fibre has always been a struggle. With funding from FESBC, we can now start to do our part to fight climate change while at the same time provide much needed employment for our band members.”

The fibre recovery program is enabling WCFP to increase utilization of non-merchantable and undersize logs by providing economic support for the cost of harvesting and hauling of the pulp wood down the infamous Bella Coola Hill to Bella Coola to then by ship to the Harmac Pacific pulp mill in Nanaimo.

“This program has many benefits for the area that would not be a reality without this funding,” said James. “We’ve been able to contribute to economic benefits for the west Chilcotin area through increasing the number of good jobs – a total of approximately 20 full time positions for local harvesting companies, log haulers, and pulp mill workers. Plus, we are forging strong relationships with the community of Bella Coola, the Bella Coola Community Forest, and Harmac Pacific. This is a good news story for our area and for the community members.”

On the ground, the fibre recovery program is increasing utilization of forest fibre by approximately 20 per cent based on current harvest plans with the added benefit of addressing the use of waste wood which has concerned local citizens in the past. As a result, cull piles are now smaller, and less material is burned as waste in cut blocks.

“This was one of eight expedited fibre recovery projects we funded earlier this year,” said Dave Conly, Operations Manager for FESBC. “Expedited funding allowed for operations on the ground to commence immediately so West Chilcotin Forest Products had a good opportunity to utilize the fibre concurrent with normal harvesting.”

Usually, non-merchantable fibre is left in piles along forest roads and is legally required to be burned. By utilizing the fibre instead with the FESBC funding support, carbon benefits are created which contribute to the mitigation of climate change.

“The Ulkatcho First Nation, as an owner of West Chilcotin Forest Products, very much appreciates the support of the governments of B.C. and Canada,” said James. “The funding they’ve provided through the Forest Enhancement Society of B.C. to assist with fibre utilization is a great benefit to our community and to our environment.”

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