With the tree planting season nearing its end, the two companies that have been planting in and around Burns Lake share their experience, after completing two seasons through the pandemic.
Lasse Lutick, owner of Hybrid 17 said that the company’s crew began its tree planting on May 5, and will be concluding their planting on June 25, after planting around 6.15 million trees on the southside, and around Burns Lake and Fraser Lake.
The company had a total of around 100 tree planters and support staff this year. However, the big aspect of this year’s planting has been that the planters have no longer been confined to their camps and have been able to come in to the town, unlike in the past two years through the pandemic.
“We have loved being welcomed back to the community, and I cannot count the number of times we’ve been told that we’ve been missed. It’s so great to be part of the community again.” said Lutick.
According to Lutick, while planting the trees this year had been great as the ground has been saturated and therefore soft, and the trees have been going into the ground easily and quickly, however, logistically it has been very challenging as the crew was chasing snow right up until two weeks ago.
“We had to sometimes plant the lower half of a block and then come back to get the upper half a week later after the snow had melted. We’ve also been snowed out three days this year, which is a record for us,” he said. “The crews have been amazing though, and it’s been a good year so far.”
Another company, Waterside Ventures, also began their planting on May 5 and will be completing their work around June 25. With around 40 tree planters, the crew had around 3 million trees to plant. The work undertaken by Waterside Ventures has all been close to the town, said Shameus Hughes of the company.
Hughes noted that this year’s production had been very good with a really experienced crew.
“Most of my workers are those who have worked for me for at least five years, which makes things run smoothly. Running a tree-planting crew is a logistical nightmare; so, when I have a crew that is trained and experienced it makes it that much easier,” said Hughes.
He also said that the start to the season was bumpy.
“I think not only for us, but for many companies the start of this season has been challenging. First, the weather has been extremely cold and wet. Not only does this make living in a tent uncomfortable, cold, wet weather increases the risk of developing musculoskeletal injuries like tendonitis; the bane of all tree planters,” he said.
Second, Hughes added, due to the cold weather and late snow melt, many of the blocks at higher elevations were unplantable and the crew ran into a lot of snow and frozen ground.
“It was a bit of a scramble to find plantable ground at first. Even now we are finding patches of snow on some blocks,” he said, adding, “Third, while thankfully there has been no C0vid in our camp, we did have an outbreak of adenovirus which usually only causes mild, cold-like symptoms.”
While this made for a difficult time for the planters, they pulled through, and made the planting season a success.
To top it, with the C0vid restrictions lifted, the planting crew, just like the Hybrid 17 crew, was able to enjoy reconnecting with the community.
“Now that C0vid restrictions have been lifted, it has been a huge relief to the planters to not be restricted to camp, and a huge relief for me not to have to deal with all of the extra paperwork and enforcement of the policies,” he said. “I think many of the businesses in town are also very happy to have the planters back, especially the coffee shops, restaurants, and thrift store. I’ve heard the coffee shops have been particularly busy.”