Where are Burns Lake’s tree planters?

With tree planting season in full swing, the number of planters in town seems lower than usual.

Tree planting and reforestation season is in full swing, yet it seems that the number of planters in Burns Lake is down from last season, but is that the case.

Reforestation efforts typically begin around the beginning of May and run through July, with some projects running until the beginning of September.

The peak season for tree planters in the second or third week of May until mid to late June.

At this moment there are 85 tree planters working for B.C. Timber Sales contractors in the Burns Lake area, a number that is significantly lower than the usual.

Typically there is anywhere from 400-1000 tree planters working in the Burns Lake area, including licensees not associated with B.C. Timber Sales.

Tim Tchida of Summit Reforestation says that he is employing 110 planters in Burns Lake this year, which is average for the season, and adds that his planting numbers are actually up.

He says that there may seem to be less planters because most of the planters are living in bush camps.

“All of our guys are in bush camps, and they are just heading into town less frequently,” Tchida said.

B.C. Timber Sales-Babine Operations Technologist Katherine Rogers says an influx of tree planters is not out of the question.

“The peak season for B.C. Timber Sales contracts is right now. However, there may be another influx of planters come mid-June,” Rogers said.

Waterside Ventures, a local tree planting company, run by Earl Hughes and his son Sheamus are currently employing a few tree planting crews.

Sheamus is running a couple of the crews out near Pendleton Bay provincial on Lake Babine.

On average approximately 200 million trees are planted each year in B.C.

In 2013, over 241 million trees were planted across B.C.

According to Rogers, B.C. Timber Sales contractors will be planting 2.4 million trees on their cut blocks and another 1.4 million trees for the Forests for Tomorrow program on crown land.

The Nadina Forest District, which includes the Morice and Burns Lake Timber Supply Areas, reports that 18-19 million seedlings have been planted annually over the two areas by all licensees.

The reforestation of the forests are the responsibility of the companies that harvest the timber for sale, a slow logging season means less area to be reforested, as well as Rogers points out licensees sometimes don’t always replant areas right away.

“It depends on the licensee if they plant or wait until the following year to plant their harvested area,” Rogers said.

The Forests for Tomorrow program is unrelated to the logging season and reforestation.

It is the reforestation of areas that have been impacted by wildfires and the mountain pine beetle.

An example of this is the area that is being reforested that was burnt by the Binta fire in 2010.

Weather is also a contributing factor to the number of tree planters in the area.

A longer winter and colder spring mean snow packs will have dissipated later in the year, the longer the colder weather sticks around the tougher it is for tree planters to do their jobs.

Rogers says there is always a plan in place.

“Snow can be an issue this time of the year, and depends on weather, cut-block aspect and snow packs. Typically lower elevation ground is planted first as they become snow free the quickest,” Rogers said.

“Cut blocks are visited prior to planting to ensure they are ready, meaning snow free and thawed ground.”

According to Rogers conditions for the planters in the area have been good so far this season.

She doesn’t expect another influx of planters, but hasn’t ruled out the possibility.

“For B.C. Timber Sales we are in full swing now. However, it is a possibility in mid-June for more planters when deadlines need to be met.”