Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Journey from Prince George to Terrace -- May 14

We departed Prince George this morning heading for Terrace. With only one appointment and a BBQ scheduled, we felt a little more relaxed this morning. Our mid-morning stop was in Vanderhoof to meet with Bob Clark of Ducks Unlimited. The only hitch was not having a clear indication of where we were meeting. We did notice a duck on a big wooden sign so we pulled in. Well, it was the Vanderhoof sign. Obviously, a photo was needed and the rubber chicken had to have a ride on the duck's back. Yes, we've gotten a little goofier.
We continued down the road I guess hoping for some divine guidance as we had no address. We passed a white truck on the side of the road. The gentleman was on the phone outisde the vehicle. Kristen immediately said his attire looked like that of a birder so we turned around. Sure enough, this was Bob, a volunteer with Ducks Unlimited. Where we met Bob was a relatively recent acquisition for DU. This marshy area had previously been over-grazed. This project was part of a compensatory mitigation effort. A new runway had been put in Prince George so the mitigation for the change in land use was this particular property. In this part of British Columbia, Ducks Unlimited is seen as the primary contact for mitigation. There definitely was a lot of ducks, geese and other birds in the vicinity as we spoke with Bob.

We left Bob at the local Tim Horton's (I think there is at least one in each town!). At this point we have been in BC for seven days and we are on the wildlife hunt! I'm not talking about squirrels or deer. We're talking bears, moose and elk. We started really looking as we drove down the highway. Kristen and I decided we'd better do whatever we could to document the existence of moose since our opportunities to see one would become more limited as we headed to the coast. Well, the picture says it. The sign would have to do for now. I'm not totally convinced there are moose in Canada. The pictures I've seen make it look like a neat animal. Must be lots of people who come to Canada to look for moose right? Ecotourism maybe? I can see it now, a room of Canadians saying "Let's tell people we have moose, put signs up warning them and watch all the Southerners come look for them." Sounds like a good idea. I jest but hopefully we'll see the real deal before we leave Canada.

By the time we hit Smithers, we were in dire need of food (ok, we definitely could have survived given the volume of food we've already eaten on this trip). We decided on Louise's Kitchen. To our surprise it was a wonderful Ukranian restaurant. I had a delightful perogie dish. As many people we passed were wondering, Louise asked about our clothing. We had been attracting attention all through BC when we walk in somewhere all wearing the same clothes (I'm sure that we also get attention for the 4 women and 1 man team!). We told Louise that we were on a Rotary study tour and Louise told us the Rotary Club meets in her restaurant! So we left Louise with our information, a South Carolina Rotary pin and the Rotary District's flag to pass on to the local Club. After lunch, we took a quick look around Smithers. You see more moose "advertising" in the picture below.

The town had beautiful views of the mountains. Unfortunately, every view of the mountains also afforded us with views of power lines. Oh well.

This is definitely a tourist type area imitating a Bavarian town. With that in mind, I went to take a picture of a figure in the median and found it next to impossible not to have Movie Gallery or some other sign of modern life also in the shot.

The team piled back in to continue the drive to Terrace. I've really been enjoying looking at the aspen and birch bark everywhere. I really love seeing the white bark. This picture is of aspen.

The scenery continued to amaze all of us. What incredible views the residents have!

Our traveling companion, rubber chicken Russken, moved to the well in the dash for a premium view!

The next stop was at the K'San Museum in Hazelton. The bridge we crossed to get there generated a lot of audible gasps. We would be driving back over the same bridge on the way back from our detour to the Museum. We were unable to go in most of the Museum buildings but there was a great exhibit on the K'San and salmon fishing. There was also an exhibit on traditional clothing and tools. Outside the museum there were several totem poles.

The added treat for me was the unobstructed view of the mountains!

We headed back over the one-lane bridge. The bridge had a walking lane that provided excellent views of the water below.

The "important" Kodak moment though was catching those funky things that are Canada. In Haxelton on the side of the road were these figures representing forestry. I had to get this guy. Maybe I can find one for my house!

The views continued the rest of the way to Terrace. The river continued to command our attention with its power and beauty. This is the Skeena River, one of many we have followed so far on our journey.

We also saw the mountains known as the Seven Sisters. Very impressive!

The day ended in Terrace. The local Rotarians were having a BBQ for us, our hosts and some local foresters. I had a wonderful time chatting with a consulting forester. It was so interesting to learn what types of work he does in BC. Paul had some great questions about Southern forestry. It appears that the forestry community in BC has heard of TIMOs (timberland investment management organization) and has some concerns about their ownership/management of land. Since I had worked with those organizations we were able to have a great conversation.
Paul's little boy Jesse had been running around. I loved just watching him explore. He's two and since Max is only 3.5 years old, Jesse really reminded me of Max. Paul had decided based on my background that he and his wife Lisa would host me for the night. I jokingly mentioned to Paul that I thought moose didn't really exist and it was all a big joke. Paul told me he had moose jerky at home! Jesse turned into a great excuse to leave and head back to the house so he could go to bed. I hear everyone had a great time at the BBQ. I was glad to get to the house for some rest.
We got to the Hanna's house and immediately had some moose jerky (remember my think about eating different foods? I'm at least trying what is offered). The jerky was tasty and Paul sent me with some for the rest of the journey. Paul worked on Jesse's bath and bedtime while Lisa and I took the dog for a walk through the neighborhood park. The park was full of big trees (aspen, Douglas fir and cedar). I had a wonderful time talking with Lisa about forestry (she had worked for the Ministry), our families, and where we lived. This was definitely a good match for me. I look forward to keeping in touch with the Hanna's.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

One extremely jam-packed day! May 13

We're off on another busy day starting at the Northern Development Initiative Trust with Brodie Guy (Economic Development Manager). This trust was legislatively formed with a capital base of $185 million. After five years they have spent $56 million on economic development projects but due to returns on investments (31%), they still have a balance of almost $184 million! Very impressive. The goal of the Trust is to diversify and stimulate economic growth. They work towards this goal through grants and loans of various types to municipalities. The Trust functions outside of government and is able to quickly turn around applications for projects with a very small staff. Municipalities that receive funding are required to report for five years on job creation, revenues and economic impacts. Some of the project areas are industry attraction (bioenergy for example) and the Pine Beetle Diversification Fund. The Pine Beetle Fund is to help communities hardest hit by mountain pine beetle diversity into other areas. The Trust has funded 61 projects in Pine Beetle Diversification totalling $19 million. It was quite interesting to learn about economic development especially in forest-based communities. This was a topic I had never really delved into (

It had been arranged that Brodie would serve as our guide for the day getting us to our appointments. Our next stop was the University of Northern British Columbia. Kathy took us to the beautiful library which you see in the picture below. They make great use of wood!

After the library we went to the Administration building. The facilities are very modern and include lots of light and wood (look at the picture below). We were able to sit down with Kathy and learn about her program. The university is small with 4,000 students. What surprised me is that the budget for the university is stable. UNBC has the only combined wildlife and fisheries degree in Canada. Accreditation standards have changed recently for forestry to reflect the broader nature of forestry and UNBC was the first to be accredited under the new standards.

Kathy had been able to arrange a brief visit for us with the Chief Forester for BC, Jim Snetsinger. His position is appointed and also includes responsibility as one of the Assistant Deputy Ministers. We learned that 90% of BC is covered by land use management plans that involve representatives for all stakeholders. These land use plans identify all special management zones. The Chief Forester is responsible for setting the allowable cut for the Province based on timber supply areas. The cut may be volume or area based. When setting the allowable cut, the Chief Forester looks primarily at biophysical factors (inventory, growth rate, silviculture and riparian impacts) with some consideration for socio-economic impact.

Third party certification covers 60 million hectares in BC (Forest Stewardship Council, Sustainable Forestry Initiative and Canadian Standards Association). The Chief told us that there are forestry classes in high school but they are typically aimed at the less academically talented students. I was happy to hear about the classes but hated to hear that the Canadians aren't pushing their bright students into the forestry profession (something we also struggle with in the South). The bright students just seem to find us. It does sound as though the BC public is reasonably informed about forestry. So many people in the United States are disconnected from agriculture and forestry. Other than in the big cities (like Vancouver), forestry is more visible in BC. Our visit with the Chief Forester was brief but informative. It was great that he could find the time to meet with us. Again, I believe Kathy Lewis set this up and for that we owe her a big thanks.

After the Chief left we were shown to what I guess is some kind of boiler room. The university is heated entirely by pellets. Later this year they expect to have the rough biomass facility online. It will be a gasification plant using the same equipment as the University of South Carolina. There are still questions about supply but they are attempting to work with a sawmill. There is also continuing dialogue about removing coarse woody debris from sites as far as biodiversity is concerned and the removal of nutrients.

We continued into one of Kathy's labs. Most of her research is on dendrochronology. Kathy explained her work in dendroarcheology which involves dating wood that is used in structures like old barns. It definitely sounds like very interesting work.

After a great visit on campus we had to rush to a Rotary lunch. The team separated and sat with Rotarians representing three of the local clubs. I had a wonderful lunch with the Rotarians at my table. They had lots of questions about my axe throwing hobby. It was a great group and I enjoyed the company. Our team was the program for the meeting. The presentation involves each of us telling a little about ourselves, our career and a short discussion about some aspect of forestry in South Carolina. We were all pleasantly surprised to receive applause after each of us. Once we were finished the club took care of the rest of their business. Our presentation was well received.

Off we went to our next appointment at Canfor's Prince George sawmill where the general manager, Charlie greeted us. The mill's major customers are Lowe's and Home Depot. They are usually running 80% of the production as mountain pine beetle wood. They primarily run MPB wood because it is drier reducing drying costs but resulting in more waste.

Today they are experimenting with green wood (about 12 hours additional drying time). As the mountain pine beetle wood is used up the mill will need to transition to green wood. You can see all of the logs in the yard waiting for processing.

This mill produces 369 different products. The process begins with a computer optimizer to capture maximum value from each log. Logs are also scanned to determine moisture levels to optimize drying time.

Near the end of the process the wood is hand graded at the rate of 31 pieces per minute! We watched the hand grading and it was fast! The picture below shows these two hand graders who were waiting for the line to start back up after a break. They really wanted us to take their picture!

The picture below shows the symbols that are marked on each piece of wood as it quickly goes by the graders.

The mill produces 1.5 million board feet of lumber a day! Certainly impressive to see all that wood moving through the mill. The picture below shows some of the blue-stained final product.

Time to move on to our last appointment of the day. We met Doug Routledge (Vice President) and Chris Lear (Manager, Forest Education) of the Council of Forest Industries (COFI). The organization operates at the Provincial level but it's membership is primarily Interior industry. COFI consists of four units: Public Policy, Lumber Grade Stamp, Forest Education, and Markets and Trade. Public policy focuses on advocacy for the industry at the federal and provincial level. The Lumber Grade unit conducts training of graders as well as monitoring of the graders through sampling. The Markets and Trade unit works on building codes and marketing wood products. Chris works on education at all levels (teachers, children, general public). Some fo the education is career awareness. He does mainly hands-on activities and helps to make sure that teachers have materials available to teach forestry related topics in a way that can be integrated into curriculum goals.
There are 27 member companies in COFI representing 100 facilities in BC. The industry is focusing energy on trying to diversify into China. They are also battling land use planning. The industry wants to keep the land base secure and in forestry. Doug did his best to try to help us Southerners figure out the tenure system. For me, every time I start to understand some part of it, I hear something new and have to figure how everything fits in. This was another great visit. I really enjoyed hearing about Chris' approach to getting in the schools and teaching kids about forestry. His passion for what he does is very evident.
Our long day of appointments had come to an end. We took in a ton of information. It will take a while for us to process and put pieces together. What is increasingly obvious is there are some wonderful people working in forestry in British Columbia.
We all went our separate ways for teh evening activities. I headed out to run a few errands in Prince George since we were headed out in the morning. The picture below is PG man. I wanted a shot of him and when I pulled up found these young guys trying to use the automatic function on a camera and time a jump in the air in front of PG. I took their picture and found out they were from Australia. Reminded me of my new friends from Australia that I met at Rotary conference in Greenville.
The people at the Northern Development Initiative Trust had told me about an artist's reception at a local gallery. I really wanted to find something made out of blue stained mountain pine beetle wood so I headed to the Gallery. I didn't stay for the conversation with the artist but had a look through the gift shop. There was a beautiful selection of wooden bowls from blue stained wood. What a great find! I bought myself a vase with three wooden tulips, one of which was made from beetle killed wood. I headed back to the hotel happy with my find. I grabbed a quick bite to eat in my room and enjoyed some mindless television. A nice quiet end to a very busy day!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Air time, stud mill and a lecture -- May 12

There is nothing to say except we had an incredible host family! Keith wanted to take us up in his plane to see the beetle damage from the air. What an opportunity! You can see the damage on the ground but to see the extent of it from the air would definitely be a treat. So we left at 5:30 a.m. in his 1953 Piper. The view was phenomenal!
I was able to really get the big picture from the air. You can see in the picture below all the red trees. Those are dying lodgepole pines.

This picture shows areas that were harvested as a salvage due to mountain pine beetle. This is on Keith's property. We saw lots of these patches and more areas that needed to be cut. Very devestating.

I guess Keith didn't think we could see the black bear from the air so he did a tight 360 to get close (pretty much buzzed the bear). It didn't even move! Meanwhile I was trying to figure out where I was in the plane. Keith let me take control for a few minutes. What a scary feeling being in charge of that plane (mind you, he could just reach out and take control). I was really surprised how sensitive the controls are. I was relieved when Keith took over again. What an experience! What a beautiful morning for a flight. Such incredible views! Seeing all the area with dying trees and all the patch cuts really put things in perspective. There is just so much dead pine it is depressing.
Our appointment with the pellet facility fell through so we had some time to grab breakfast and get back on the internet. If the rest of the trip goes this way, it is going to be difficult to communicate with my family and keep the blog current (seeing that I'm actually entering this 12 days later, you probably get that!). I was able to get on Skype to see and speak with Mark and Max. They are holding down the fort. Max let me know that Mark had painted our room (spoiling the surprise). You can't expect a 3 year old to keep a secret.
After our short break we were off to Prince George. We arrived and were greeted by Assistant Governor Gary Gurnsey and Rotarian Brian who is the hotel manager. After the warm welcome we sat down to a nice lunch at a local restaurant. Gary would be spending the rest of the day as our guide.
Our first stop this afternoon is to meet with the Prince George office of the Ministry for Forests and Range. We met with five of the staff from this office including John McClary (Stewardship Officer), Yvonne Parkinson (Forest Science Officer) and Craig DeLong (Research Ecologist). Craig gave a presentation on climate change and extreme weather. He has developed a risk analysis tool for forestry. John explained his role as the Stewardship Officer and some of our questions were answered. We learned today that the Crown owns 95% of the land. That is such an difference from our ownership in the south.
Next stop was Lakeland Mills. Chris led us on a tour of the stud mill. We saw a lot of blue wood. After pine beetle attacks a tree, blue stain fungus is in the wood. This produces a staining. This is not so much a structural problem as a visual defect. In fact, we learned the Japanese market will not purchase blue stained wood. In this mill the process is very automated including final quality grading of the product. The pictures show from start to finish, lots of wood!

We rushed from Lakeland Mills to the University of Northern British Columbia. The program chair, Dr. Kathy Lewis had arranged a wine and cheese reception for us. I owe Kathy a big thank you for advertising and arranging for me to give a lecture on campus. Counting the team, there were 25 or so people in attendance. I struggled early on with what type of content to provide but after just a few days in British Columbia I realized our land ownership and tax systems were completely different. So I was able to give an overview of who owns the land in the United States and the South. This topic did get several questions as they struggled to understand how it would with with 86% private ownership. Their questions led me right into an overview of our complicated tax structure and our landowner incentives. I think by the end it was clear that our system has problems (so does theirs). An international version of "is the grass really greener on the other side". We had heard rumors that the province was considering transferring ownership of some land to individuals. I think this lecture showed those in attendance what the extreme opposite as far as land ownership might look like. There were lots of great questions from the audience. I thought my lecture would run short but timing was good and the questions had to be cut off and fielded in the hallway. This was a great opportunity for me and I appreciate Kathy's help in making it happen!

Thus ended a really long day. From great views to great opportunity. What a day!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Rotary, pulp and Canadian BBQ -- May 11

We started the day with a visit to the Sunrise Rotary Club in Quesnel. The club meets in a beautiful facility that I believe is modeled after a Japanese style. We were welcomed in and all shoes were left at the door and exchanged for slippers (or not). After coffee, tea and quick greetings, the meeting was called to order. Introductions were made all around the table (about 20 present) and we were sent off to lead the breakfast line. After breakfast the club paid their respects to the Queen and sang the national anthem, O Canada. It was the first time we had heard the national anthem since we arrived. To our pleasant surprise, Keith was belting it out beautifully! So impressed with his singing ability. Mark was given a few minutes to talk about why we were here in BC and we each made our introductions. The day's speaker was a young man who had attended RYLA (Rotary Youth Leadership Academy). It was great to see his enthusiasm and desire to help other teens. I enjoyed watching the good-natured "fines". We had a nice time this morning meeting with this group of Rotarians.
We had some time to kill and all were eager to reconnect with our lives through the internet so we tried the public library. We were too early. So we all pulled out laptops in the van and hoped for a wireless signal outside the library. Well that didn't work. We had all gone a whole three days without internet access so we asked someone where to go for WiFi. We landed at a coffee shop with about twenty minutes of online time. Helene came in and informed us we looked ridiculous with us all on our laptops. Looked pretty normal for the states! I was able to get a quick video call home to see my husband and little boy. As I was warned by the Aussie team visiting South Carolina, I was okay until I saw my family. We were so busy, I hadn't had a chance to miss them. It was great to see Mark and Max and hear Max's little voice. Our break was short and we were off to our next appointment.

At Quesnel River Pulp we met with Anna Rankin the Environmental Coordinator for the mill. QRP is a division of West Fraser and produces 330,000 tons of pulp per year. The pulp is packaged and sent to buyers who will produce coated boxes, cigarette boxes, food grade boxes, tissues, writing papers, and newsprint from the pulp.
The process used at this facility is known as BCTMP -- bleached chemi-thermo mechanical pulp. This process uses chemicals to loosen wood fibers, the material is then steamed and mechanically ground to separate wood fibers. At this facility hydrogen peroxide is used to bleach the pulp. I found it interesting that the mill only employs 17 people per shift and they have a 90-95% conversion of wood to pulp. Very little waste! The BCTMP process uses a lot of electricity but the mill uses a very low volume of water. Because of the low volume of water used, there is a high concentration of chemical in the water. QRP has an onsite water treatment facility and water quality is tested using a trout test. Fish are put in the water and five out of ten must survive for a set period of time. We saw the process of pulp production from chips to one-quarter ton blocks of pulp. A very interesting and efficient facility!

We headed to lunch where I was able to feed my inner Greek. Had wonderful spanokopitka. After lunch we headed to Cariboo Pulp and Paper Mill. Wayne Strang (Environmental Supervisor) attempted to explain in great detail the complicated process of making pulp. I can't explain it but have the PowerPoint if you dig that kind of information. The mill was different from Quesnel River Pulp in that the fibers were chemically separated (rather than mechanical). Like the other pulp mill, most of the action takes place inside boilers and out of sight making this an informative yet not entirely visual tour.
After the tour we had a little down time. We headed into town and took about an hour break. I was able to get on the internet at the library and call home again. Our busy schedule was starting to take it's toll. It was so nice to have the mental break and a chance to really chat with Mark and the kids. They've been busy while I've been gone. Max was excited to tell me he had done his homework (he's 3 1/2 and stays home but wants to be like his sister hence the homework). Emma was ready for bed and reported on all Max's transgressions. That's what big sisters do!
This evening we got our first taste of Canadian BBQ. The five of us and our two host families met at Moose Meadows Farm. Tim and Eloise (and their two girls) were wonderful hosts. They own forty something acres and have multiple enterprises. We had some casual conversations on the deck while we waited for dinner. The meal was blessed and we headed in for the much anticipated BBQ (remember we are Southerners!). Much to our surprise (and delight) it wasn't BBQ at all but rather fixings for burritos. Definitely a delight. I will admit to getting more adventuresome with my eating (now that I know eating elk won't kill me!). So I tried the bison sausage and blackberries. You read that right, I've never tried blackberries. I grew up in a strawberry eating family. I will definitely add blackberries to my fruit list. You are probably starting to see that I'm the type of person who has a favorite restaurant and eats the same thing every time never venturing to try new foods. That's pretty accurate. But in keeping with the whole theme of this trip, I'm trying what is offered to me (well, I'm probably going to pass on any sushi containing raw fish). So the bison sausage wasn't bad (not as good as the elk stroganoff though). Good meal and conversations. It was nice to have this casual time with our hosts.

After dinner Tim led a tour of the property. We learned about birch syrup. It is a very labor intensive process for Tim (he takes three weeks off to make the syrup). He sells this stuff for $88 per liter. It was obvious this is work Tim really enjoys. Eloise showed us the peacocks, chickens, goats, llamas, alpacas, horses and the cow. They sell the eggs and send the alpaca hair off for processing. Tim and Eloise also grow Christmas trees. Definitely a lot going on! Both of them have forestry degrees. They have also started giving tours and having children's birthday parties on the farm. After an apple crumble dessert (complete with birch syrup) we left for the evening. A little side note, birch syrup does not have that super sweet flavor like maple. You probably wouldn't like it on your pancakes. Tim suggested putting it on fish or pork.

Well, it was a long day. The sun comes up some time around 5 a.m. I know this because I've been waking up at this time (without an alarm) and it is daylight! Hope I can get on this schedule soon!
Not anticipating having a chance in the morning, we gave the Corbett's their gifts this evening. I was happy to see their excitement over Greg Yarrow's autographed Managing Wildlife text. Definitely the right gift for them!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Logging, building and assembling, May 10

So the girls shared beds last night. No big deal when you are tired it really doesn't matter. Michelle stayed on her side and despite her warnings, she didn't spoon me! We had a full day ahead of us starting at the Ministry of Forests and Range. We met Malcolm (field unit supervisor and Registered Forestry Technician), Diane and Tyler (Enforcement Specialists). Due to heroic efforts by Rotary, we were able to go onto an active logging job. It was great to get out into the woods. The stand we were next to was 15 years old and was about 10 feet tall! What a difference from our Southern pines.

Lodgepole pine was the dominant species and is managed here on an 80 year rotation. We spoke for quite a while with these foresters about land management. I knew that the majority of Canadian land belonged to the Crown. What I didn't understand was how complex that arrangement is. I hope we can get more clarity on the tenure system in Canada. Malcolm explained that the allowable cut is determined for each timber supply region by the Chief Forester for the Province. The Forest and Range Act has really changed the job responsibilities of foresters in the Ministry. Their function is now enforcement of the Code. This essentially has them checking on the logging job at the end, verifying regeneration and risk-based visits to stands and active logging. Each stand and logging job is evaluated for risk due to health, age, logger experience, etc. to decide if it is a priority for a visit. It appears to be a very reactive model. It would definitely be a cost savings from a workload perspective but could result in problems getting out of control before anyone knows it. The system puts a lot of trust in loggers. The cut we saw was not a clearcut but no trees were marked.
The law also requires that regeneration be established by the buyer. They are responsible for regen until it is "free to grow". That appears to be 10-15 years! The foresters seemed unsure how well this current system would work but pointed out this was legislation enacted when the political party changed. A change in party could result in another change in how the Ministry operates. This was definitely an interesting visit and Mary was able to learn about the timber sales process. She even scored a timber sale package! Malcolm was kind enough to give me a tree identification guide which will really help me.

Mary Jane and Peter had helped line up a visit at a log home builder. We met Wally of Sitka Log Homes.
The homes are primarily made of lodgepole pine and all the wood is from dying or dead trees. The home below is made from spruce (they are made to order).

I was so surprised to see that all the logs were hand-peeled. What physically demanding work! The logs were so beautiful. Homes are also made from spruce, Douglas-fir, and cedar. Sitka produces about thirty homes per year ( All homes are custom built to order on-site, marked, taken apart, shipped and re-assembled on location.
Before the economic crisis, the United States was a big part of their market. Focus has lately been on Western Canada. Sitka does export to Europe but houses sent to Europe may only be made from cedar because cedar will resist insects. I really enjoyed this visit. This is not a market I knew much about and isn't what we typically think of as a use for our wood.

We left 105 Mile House behind us and headed toward Quesnel. We arrived an hour and a half later and met Liane. Her family had a lot of ties to the plywood mill in Quesnel. Currently her husband is employed there. After our safety briefing, Chris led us around West Fraser's plywood mill. They primarily utilize spruce and Douglas-fir. It was an interesting tour. There were definitely some big logs coming in. The mill accepts logs 7-32" in diameter. Liane's husband operated the controls of the machine that peeled the veneer off the logs. We were all given the opportunity to see the operation from his chair. This view really allowed us to see the blade peeling very long sheets of veneer. It was impressive to see the long sheets!

Notice all the safety equipment we have donned so there are no accidents on our mill tour!

After the mill tour we were led to Tim Horton's. These places are everywhere! They are kind of like a Starbucks with coffee and pastries. Happening place to be! We took a coffee break and waited for our next host families.
Keith and Helene showed up and we headed to their homes for the night. At Keith's home we were introduced to his wife Peggy and son Adam. The Corbett family owns 563 acres and has a woodlot license on around 1400 acres. So, a woodlot license must be applied for and basically allows the holder of the license to manage the Crown land. The licensee will pay the government a set amount for harvests. Kind of a way for individuals to manage and make money from Crown land (something like that). This tenure system is getting complicated!
Peggy cooked a wonderful meal. After dinner we took a walk down to the river. We had discussed the wildlife before our walk so we all stayed together (bears are common, cougars aren't but could be in the area and they are dangerous!). We completed our 5K walk just as Keith returned from a meeting.
Peggy fed us strawberries and ice cream as we continued to get to know each other. As we started preparing to retire for the evening, I inquired about the large elk head hanging over the stairs. Keith had killed that elk and I asked Adam if they had eaten the meat. He replied, "Yes, and so did you tonight". So matter of fact. I'm sure a photo taken at that moment would have gotten some laughs. I had never tried elk and I don't know how I would have reacted if told ahead of time it was elk stroganoff. I must admit it was a great dinner!

What a wonderful day and great evening we had. Looking forward to what tomorrow will bring!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The long drive to 105 Mile House (which wasn't 105 miles)!

Today began with breakfast with the District Governor Gordon and the GSE Coordinator Gary Shearer. We enjoyed a nice breakfast and good company. Gordon gave us a quick run-through of the adventure ahead of us next weekend in Price Rupert at the District Conference.

Our next meeting was with Scott Rehmus the CEO of Coast Opportunity Funds. Scott's organization manages $60 million that is to be used to help with conservation on First Nations land in coastal British Columbia. Scott gave us an incredible overview of the opportunities and challenges associated with land belonging to First Nations. The money is already allocated to the First Nations based on a formula that takes into account quality, continuity and size of the ecosystem as well as their commitment to ecosystem based management.

After spending the morning with Scott, the driving tour began. We left Vancouver and headed to 105 Mile House, which is not 105 miles from where the road began but referred to the wagon trail. We had exquisite views of mountains as we headed east then north. It got harder and harder not to stop and take in the scenery. We did convince Mark to stop at Yale Tunnel. We had been admiring the river views from the car and were ready to get some pictures. What an incredible day --- bright blue skies and a very comfortable temperature. The views were just spectacular. My pictures don't do it justice!

Max, Emma and Mark (my family) would have loved watching all the trains! I just enjoyed the snow-capped mountains and lots of trees!

Lest you think it has been all work and no play, we found a sign we couldn't resis photographing. Since my daughter's class may read this, I won't post it here (you can remind me to post to facebook). Let's just say we liked it so much we risked our lives for a photo!

We passed the sign, found a place to turn around a ways down the road, couldn't stop on the road so passed the sign going the other way and parked. We walked along the winding mountain two-lane very close to the cliff edge to get to the sign. If we are this goofy at this point, imagine what we may be like at the end of the journey!

After a major change in ecosystem type, we started seeing the problem -- dead trees. Mountain pine beetle has been killing lodgepole pine. I've seen areas killed by southern pine beetle but seeing so many dead trees on the mountain side is startling. I expect we will see more of this on this trip.

For my non-forester friends, the red and grey trees are dying or dead. These are lodgepole pine which is all over the place up here.

After about six hours of driving we arrived at 105 Mile House and met our hosts for the evening, Mary Jane and Peter Castonguay. Peter takes amazing photos ( and runs a ranch. Mary Jane is an economic development consultant. Their house was situated on a beautiful lake. The four girls were to stay at the Castonguay's while Mark was to stay next door. We had a wonderful steak dinner and great company. Mark's hosts, Peter and Ursula joined us for dinner. We'd had a long day of driving and called it a night. Busy days ahead!