Forest Stewardship and Partnerships = Good Forest Practices
Scotch Creek, located by beautiful Shuswap Lake in the Vernon Forest District of British Columbia was the scene of a large forest fire sometime between 1890 and 1900.
Little facts surrounding the Scotch Creek Shuswap Fire are known however science and Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) historical documents have helped Pioneer in estimating the time when this fire was accidently started by a CPR crew who were burning brush when the fire got away. Dating this fire has been done by confirming the era that CPR was in BC’s interior and examining the timber that surrounds the burned standing dead Western Red Cedar trees, and determining that the “New Growth” in the area is approximately 120 to 130 years old. Historical records confirm that CPR was operating paddle wheelers in the interior of British Columbia beginning in 1893 to move rail building materials and supplies into the area.
At the turn of the century, there were really no resources to fight forest fires, so they burned until eventually they ran out of fuel or the fall rains doused them. Today, this burn area is made up of new growth and other mature trees, primarily Douglas Fir with approximately 20-30% of the standing timber is dead Western Red Cedar left standing after the fire. It is amazing to see that after 120 to 130 years, these majestic trees, while no longer alive, remain standing among the naturally regenerated forest.
Pioneer Log Homes of British Columbia has been working with a local family operated company for approximately 12 years. They are primarily small salvage loggers that target Western Red Cedar stands for shake and shingle mills, and of course house logs for Pioneer.
Their salvage and harvest techniques involve using helicopters and small cats. This method of helicopter harvesting is called “Single Stem Extraction”. Helicopter harvesting or heli-logging is recognized as a true sustainable harvesting technique that does not require roads and cuts through the forest. This method of harvesting results in less environmental disruption than traditional logging methods, provides for minimal disturbance of the forest floor and allows variable harvests of specifically selected trees. Together with this local company, Pioneer is using this sustainable harvest system, “Single Stem Extraction” to salvage the standing dead Western Red Cedar from the site of the Scotch Creek Shuswap fire. The fact that even after roughly 130 years, the fire killed Western Red Cedar logs are able to be utilized is one of nature’s greatest gifts. Western Red Cedar contains natural oils and resins that help prevent deterioration even after the tree has ceased to grow. These natural oils and resins also help to deter insects, resulting in a naturally cured, sound building log. Many of Pioneer’s Western Red Cedar homes that have been built in Europe over the 38 years we have been building log homes, have not had an exterior log finish or stain applied to them. These log homes, at the request of the clients have been left to allow the logs to naturally “silver” giving them a centuries old appearance.
No other species of wood have these natural oils and resins to preserve themselves and is proof of the amazing resiliency of the Western Red Cedar.
Among the standing dead timber at this fire site, are select mature “green” Douglas Fir that are also being selectively harvested by the Dubois brothers using the “Single Stem Extraction” system for the production of dimensional lumber and plywood. The process of “Single Stem Extraction” harvesting, can be likened to thinning plants in a garden, allowing the emerging new forest growth to flourish.
British Columbia is known worldwide for its’ incredible ability to grow beautiful timber. Approximately 90% of BC’s forest lands are certified sustainable.
The Pioneer Group is proud to be considered and known as “Stewards of the Forest”, and in keeping with good forest practices, develops working relationships with other groups whose family and company values are similar to that of Pioneer’s. Hardworking, local families, working together to provide sustainable forest management, harvesting and re-forestation activities and community economic diversity means good forest practices.
In 2010, the Pioneer Group planted approximately 588,000 trees with over a million trees scheduled for planting in 2011. With the title and designation of being “Stewards of the Forests” comes great responsibility that the Pioneer Group is proud to have. The BC Ministry of Forests regularly monitors all Forest Stewards ensuring adherence to BC’s Forest Practices Code, the strictest Forest Practices Code on the planet. Pioneer’s reputation for consistently meeting and exceeding the BC Forest Practices Code is something we, the Pioneer Group are very proud of.
This is just one of many stories that are a testament to Pioneer’s commitment and dedication to the longevity and sustainability of BC Forest Lands.
We are thankful to the Dubois Brothers and Mr. David Eddy, Consulting Forester for their friendship, partnership, and expertise working with Pioneer and for many of the facts and photos that have been incorporated into this story.
For more information on “Sustainable Forestry” and the beautiful fire killed Western Red Cedar we invite you to browse our web site and contact Pioneer Log Homes of British Columbia, handcrafters of the Finest Log Homes on Earth.