The logging season in Burns Lake is off to a delayed start this year, leaving many wondering about the reasons behind the unusual change in schedule. Lakes District News reached out to Steve Zika, CEO of Hampton Lumber, to shed light on the matter. In response, Zika provided insights into the factors influencing the delayed logging season, as well as Hampton Lumber’s business performance and plans for the year.
According to Zika, the decision to commence logging later than usual is attributed to two primary factors. First, Hampton Lumber entered the year with higher log inventories than normal. This precautionary measure was taken to safeguard against potential log shortages caused by the decline in timber sales from the British Columbia Timber Sales (BCTS). The scarcity of available BCTS timber sales has prompted the need for strategic planning and careful management of resources.
Furthermore, Zika highlighted the favourable logging weather experienced during the previous winter.
“We also had good logging weather last winter that boosted deliveries; so that is why we will start our logging later than normal this summer,” said Zika.
As for Hampton Lumber’s overall business performance this year, Zika revealed a mixed picture. While the lumber market in the United States has been slightly better than anticipated, it has fallen short of the exceptional growth observed in the years 2020 to 2022, said Zika. Conversely, the situation has been considerably challenging for the company’s operations in British Columbia. Hampton Lumber has faced substantially higher log costs in this region compared to other areas in North America.
Despite these challenges, Hampton Lumber has managed to keep all its mills in British Columbia operational. The company strives to retain its employees and contractors by ensuring safe operations and reliable lumber deliveries to customers.
“We have no plans for curtailment, but if the lumber market worsens we could take some downtime,” said Zika, when asked about the Babine Forest Products sawmill, adding, “We are also nervous about the dry conditions in the woods and the risk of wildfires.”
Regarding recent business developments, Zika mentioned that Hampton Lumber has reached an agreement to purchase some logs from Canfor Houston. This decision was prompted by Canfor’s prior assistance to Hampton Lumber when the Babine Forest Products sawmill faced closure following the tragic incident in 2012.
As the logging season in Burns Lake gets underway, the delayed start serves as a reminder of the complex factors affecting the industry.