Friday, January 19, 2018

BC Wildfire Photos, Fall 2017

When I was doing some reforestation viewing work in October and November of 2017, I ended up driving around many regions throughout central BC.  I was stunned by how extensive the wildfire damage was.

Obviously, the wildfires had been in the news for months, as it was BC's busiest fire season in history.  Several records were set, including records for the total amount of area burned in the province in a single year (1.2 million hectares), the number of people evacuated (over 65,000), and for hosting the largest single wildfire in BC's history (the Plateau fire, at 545,000 hectares, which is the size of Prince Edward Island).  More statistics can be found at these links:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2017_British_Columbia_wildfires

https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/safety/wildfire-status/wildfire-statistics/wildfire-season-summary

Despite the news coverage, and despite knowing the scope of the damage, it was still very surreal to drive through those areas.  There were a few areas where I drove for over two hours through completely burned out devastation.

A very small portion of this area will be replanted by hand in 2018, but most of the burned area will have to rely on natural regeneration, and it will be decades before natural forests regenerate.  The amount of burned area is far beyond the scope of BC's reforestation industry to address, and even if enough tree planters and funding could be found to tackle the problem over the next 5-10 years, all the western Canadian forestry nurseries combined don't have nearly enough capacity to produce the required amount of seedlings.

On a positive note, a lot of the area that was burned had pine trees, and lodgepole pine comes back very quickly and densely after a fire.  This is because the cones usually survive fires, and the heat opens them so the seeds can escape and start a new forest.  However, that only applies in areas where mature stands burned.  Any areas that were logged in the past thirty to forty years wouldn't have the necessary mature trees with cones to initiate this process.

All of the photos here are from the Cariboo region, and specifically, from four different fires:  The Hanceville complex, the Plateau complex, the Central Cariboo complex, and the Gustafsen fire.  These areas were located to the west of 100 Mile House, Williams Lake, and Quesnel.

A lot of tree planters in central BC are going to be working in these areas in 2018.  For more information about tree planting in BC, visit www.Replant.ca

All photos on this page may be shared publicly or commercially without compensation, as long as you leave the attribution to Replant.ca either in the photo or as a text attribution.













































Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Getting a Stuck Truck out of the Mud

Today, I'm going to share some pro tips about getting a truck out of the mud, if you get stuck.  A few weeks ago, I got my F350 stuck while viewing forestry blocks in northern BC.  It was a Saturday, late afternoon, and I was south of Francois Lake.  I was several hours away from my home office, and away from anyone who could come pull me out.  I wanted to try to get my truck out without assistance, so I didn't have to inconvenience anyone else.  I knew that it would take a while, but I could probably do it by myself.  Since it was almost dark when I got stuck, I slept in the truck overnight, and got started as soon as it started to get light out.

The basic approach that I wanted to use was to jack the truck up, build a corduroy road underneath, and drive to safe ground across a bridge of logs.

To be clear, I didn't expect that I'd get stuck.  This is what the road looked like:




After a quick walk for about twenty feet, to make sure it was safe, I started to drive down it.  It was quite solid.  The temperature was slightly below freezing, so the road was actually frozen.  Or so I thought.  There was a slight downhill grade as I was driving down this spur.  After about 200 feet, I got a bad feeling, and decided to back up.  This is where things went badly.  As soon as I tried to reverse, the truck suddenly broke through the frozen upper layer, and into soft sandy muck underneath.  I immediately stopped moving, to assess the situation.  The very worst thing that you can do when you first get stuck is to spin your wheels, and dig your truck in a lot more deeply.

After a visual assessment, I decided that I'd only dig myself in if I kept trying to back out, up the shallow grade.  But I thought it looked like I could probably go forward, and get the truck wheels back "up" onto solid ground.  I gave it a shot, and was successful.  The truck was no longer "stuck" per se.  I just couldn't back out of that road.  I walked ahead to see if there was a turnaround point.  Unfortunately, when I went a few hundred meters further down the road, around a corner, it turned into soup.  There was no way that I'd be able to turn around anywhere on the road, because it was all too narrow.  And if I went further down to the soupy section, the truck would probably be stuck there until next spring.  I knew that my only option was to somehow back out of there, but that wasn't possible with the large ruts in the road.

Here's where I got stuck when I first started to back up:

 


Luckily, that's where I was able to move forward so my truck was at least sitting on the road.  The ruts that you see up ahead (at the top of the photo) came later, the following morning, after I did some strategic manoeuvring.

So let's take a look at what the truck looked like the next morning, before I started to lay down very much of my corduroy road:






I guess that I didn't take a good photo of the front left wheel, but after I had done some manoeuvring in the morning, it was in a bit of a dip, while the other three wheels were pretty good.




My first task was to get all four wheels up onto something solid, above the road surface.  Corduroy refers to a series of logs or sticks or planks which are more solid than the road surface below.  The pressure of the wheels puts pressure downward on the corduroy, but that pressure is then distributed and spread out throughout all of the piece of wood, instead of solely on the ground directly under the tire.  A corduroy road is a great solution for getting through some really muddy areas.  Heavy equipment often builds corduroy bridges in really swampy areas or ephemeral stream areas.

Most of the wood that I was going to use was about six inches in diameter, so I knew that it would be hard for the truck to climb up onto these slippery logs without tire chains.  I knew that I had to use very small pieces (about two inch diameter) at the start, to allow the wheels to "ramp up" to climbing onto the bigger wood.


 


As you can see, my goal was to move forward up onto the small pieces, and then climb onto larger logs, as the first step of getting the truck up high enough off the muddy road surface, before building the proper log corduroy road.  Oh wait, here's a photo of that front left wheel, the one that was the biggest problem.  As long as I could drive up onto the wood here, the wheel (and the rest of the truck) will climb up higher, and there will be a lot more clearance under the rest of the truck.





Let's give it a shot, and see if I can get onto the good logs:








Ok, that's a relief.  Things are looking a lot better now, and all four wheels are on solid wood.  At this point, I need to build a complete corduroy road under the truck, and extending behind the truck.








Great, I'm feeling optimistic.  Now at this point, I know that I need to go backwards about 80 feet to get onto solid ground.  With the logs being about six inch diameter on average, that's 160 logs required to make it to safe ground.  And actually, since I was cutting five foot logs to make it easier to bring them to the truck (I was pulling them off a block a few hundred meters away), I'd need twice as many, so 320 more logs.  It looked like this was going to take all day.

But wait!  I don't need 320 logs.  As long as I have about six feet of logs behind the truck, I can back up five feet, get out, and move the five feet of logs from the front of the truck, and carry them around to the back, and just keep doing this repeatedly, getting five feet closer to safety every ten minutes.  Eventually, I'd have the truck on solid ground again.

Sometimes, when you're working alone in the bush, you have to be especially resourceful.  But with a lot of patience and thinking, there's almost always a chance to solve the problem and drive away.



Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Information for New Replant.ca Forum Members


The following information is for new members of the Forums (message board) on the main Replant.ca website.  If you're reading this page, I'm assuming that you've just registered for an account.  If you haven't, but want to, send me an email with a requested username.


Making Posts

It's important that you make sure you have a check mark in the “keep me logged in” box when you are logging in.  Some users have reported problems with not being able to post if this box isn’t checked when you log in.  And remember to log out when you’re done, especially if you’re at a public computer.



More Detailed Info about the Board

It would also be great if you could skim through the more detailed info at this link:
 http://www.replant.ca/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=13&t=64563

That should answer most other questions that you might have, and also addresses issues such as my full set of rules for members, preventing defamation, company postings vs job postings, making avatars, a reminder that there's a "search" function, etc.


Social Media links

If you’re a regular facebook user, you might also want to put a “like” on the Replant.ca page (mostly designed for non-planters, to showcase photos & environmental articles):
 http://facebook.com/replant.ca

If you're currently a planter or potential planter, you might rather join the Replant facebook group, which is designed more for gossip and industry-specific information:

 http://www.facebook.com/groups/replant.ca

If you use Instagram, you'll probably also enjoy the account at http://instagram.com/replant.ca


Inexperienced Planters

Finally, if you're not a planter yet, but you've either just gotten a job OR you're looking for a job, you should bookmark and visit this link:
 http://www.replant.ca/training



Thanks for your interest in the Replant Forums!  As a reminder, here's a link to the main page:




- Jonathan "Scooter" Clark
Site Administrator


Email:  jonathan.scooter.clark@gmail.com


 



Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Tree Planter Training, Learning How To Plant

I've been working on a series of tree planter training modules for the past three years, to replace the videos that I originally put online in 2005.  Those video had been getting thousands of views every year, but they were very low quality.  It was time for an upgrade.

My training series consists of a total of twenty modules.  The first eight videos (which are the focus of a different post) are meant to be watched a couple months before the season starts, by people who are potentially interested in applying for a job as a planter.  Those videos are designed to let you know what you're getting yourself into if you decide to spend a summer in the bush.

The focus of the last twelve videos (the ones in this post) is more specifically related to the process of understanding the characteristics of trees, learning how to actually plant them, meeting quality & density expectations, and all the other "hands-on" stuff that you'll be expected to know as soon as you strap your bags on.  Although this series was produced in British Columbia, most of the information is also highly relevant to planting in other Canadian provinces (except maybe for the procedures for assessing quality & density).
 




The content in these videos is not targeted solely at inexperienced job applicants.  I'm 100% confident that all current experienced planters will find things in these videos that they didn't know.  You may wonder why I feel bold enough to make this claim?  Simple: because I learned hundreds of new things myself while putting all of this training material together.

These twelve videos are about four hours and twenty minutes in total length, so you'll need to set aside an entire afternoon or evening to watch them.  I'd suggest that you watch them with a pen and paper, so you can make notes about questions that you can ask recruiters or crew bosses at the companies that you apply to.  You should also bookmark this post, because you may want to come back and watch some of these videos more than once.  If you watch them well in advance of the season and this is your first year, you'll probably want to watch them as a refresher just a day or two before you hit the field.  Several companies are showing these as start-up training material when you first arrive to your new job.

In 2018, I'll be publishing a full hard-copy version of this information, which will be available for purchase from Amazon.  For now, you'll have to make do with the videos or the text that I've posted online.  For more information about this entire training series (including text transcriptions), visit:




Without further ado, here are the last twelve videos in the training series.  I hope you find them to be useful.



Basic Silviculture Knowledge
Contents:  Stocking standards, basic seedling physiology, tree structure, shade tolerance, environmental factors affecting growth, basic soils & planting media, seasons.







Stock Handling
Contents:  On-site seedling storage, handling seedling boxes, correct handling of seedlings and bundles.







Common BC Coniferous Trees
Contents:  Pine, spruce, fir, and other important species.







Planning Reforestation Activities
Contents:  The Pre-Work conference, the planting prescription, potential non-planting components, block boundaries, mixing species.







Planting Gear
Contents:  Planting bags, your shovel, miscellaneous planting gear, gear demonstration, non-planting gear.







Planting A Seedling
Contents:  Selecting the best microsite, microsite preparation, opening the hole & grabbing the seedling, planting the tree & closing the hole, planting demonstration.







Meeting Quality Requirements
Contents:  FS 704 system overview, throwing plots, specific faults, damage to seedlings, microsite selection, planting quality.







Spacing, Density, & Excess
Contents:  What's in a plot, plotted versus planted density, target spacing and minimum spacing, excess, missed spots (a quality fault), penalties.








Site Preparation
Contents:  Untreated (raw) ground, trenching, mounding, scrapes, windrows, drag scarification, chemical scarification, prescribed burning, selective harvesting, assessing a block.








Maximizing Productivity
Contents:  Staying organized, efficient planting techniques, efficient work strategies, staying focused.








Behaviours & Attitudes
Contents:  Maintaining the health of the ecosystem, responsible behaviour, safe behaviour, respectful behaviour, treatment of co-workers, stashing.








Wrap-Up
Contents:  Field practice, career options, final advice.





Here are some additional links and resources that might be of interest to potential planters:

Getting a Job:  replant.ca/jobs
Photo Galleries:  replant.ca/photos
Planting Books:  replant.ca/books
Message Board:  replant.ca/phpBB3
Instagram:  instagram.com/replant.ca


Regardless of whether you're a first-time or experienced planter, if you're applying for work at a new company, use the following list of questions to help determine if that employer would be a good fit:
 www.replant.ca/docs/Questions_To_Ask_A_Potential_Employer.pdf

If you're trying to figure out what you'll need for gear, here's a PDF that might help:
 www.replant.ca/docs/equipment_list.pdf


Ok, I think that's the main stuff for now.  You may wonder why I'm offering all of this stuff for free?  You may think, "what does he want in return?"  Well, that's a good question, because I actually DO want something in return:  I want you all to share this with as many other potential planters as you can.

- Jonathan "Scooter" Clark 
www.Replant.ca


PS:  Here's a link to the other blog post which outlines the first eight videos in this series, the "Pre-Season Overview" videos:



PPS:  If you'd like to have access to transcriptions of the video contents, you can find them in all the posts in this forum:

 


  




PS:  Many thanks to the WFCA (Western Forestry Contractors' Association) which helped get this project started several years ago, through a grant from the BC government.  Here is the WFCA's website link:





Saturday, February 11, 2017

Tree Planter Training, Pre-Season Overview

I've been working on a series of tree planter training modules for the past three years, to replace the videos that I originally put online in 2005.  Those video had been getting thousands of views every year, but they were very low quality.  I finally feel that the content of the current series is at a sufficient quality level that I now feel comfortable sharing these with our entire industry.

The training consists of twenty modules altogether.  The first eight (which are the focus of this post) are meant to be watched a couple months before the season starts, by people who are potentially interested in applying for a job as a planter.  If you're looking for the last twelve videos, which focus more on the hands-on aspects of the job, go to this link.
 
These videos will help you understand what you're getting yourself into!  This is NOT an easy job.  The number of first-year planters who try the job for a few days or weeks and then quit is pretty high.  If you're not going to enjoy the work, it's better that you make that decision before you start planting, rather than after you've spent a few thousand dollars on buying equipment and traveling to your first work site.






The content in these videos is not targeted solely at inexperienced job applicants.  I'm 100% confident that all current experienced planters will find things in these videos that they didn't know.  You may wonder why I feel bold enough to make this claim?  Simple: because I learned hundreds of new things myself while putting all of this training material together.

I highly recommend that if you're thinking about planting, you watch these videos very carefully before you commit to accepting a position at a planting company.  These eight videos are just slightly under four hours in total length, so you'll need to set aside an entire afternoon or evening to watch them.  I'd suggest that you watch them with a pen and paper, so you can make notes about questions that you can ask recruiters or crew bosses at the companies that you apply to.  You should also bookmark this post, because you may want to come back and watch some of these videos more than once.

In 2018, I'll be publishing a full hard-copy version of this information, which will be available for purchase from Amazon.  For now, you'll have to make do with the videos or the text that I've posted online.  For more information about this entire training series, visit:




Here are the first eight videos in the training series.  I hope you find them to be useful.  I think I would have made about five thousand dollars more in my first season if I had known all of this information before I started planting.  Crew bosses take note ... you should share this information with everyone on your crews.




Introduction, History of Tree Planting
Contents:  A history of BC's Tree Planting Industry, the modern BC Tree Planting industry.







Why Do We Plant Trees?  What Makes A Good/Bad Planter?
Contents:  Overview of forest management in BC, administration of logging & reforestation, people who should go planting, people who should not go planting, some common myths about planters.







Long-Term Worker Health, & Nutrition
Contents:  Water/hydration, alcohol/drugs/tobacco, fitness & avoiding injuries, personal protective equipment, minimizing the risk of illness, mental health.







Working Safely from Day to Day, Understanding Hazards
Contents:  Assessing risk, personal protective equipment, vehicles, natural worksite hazards, weather, chemicals in the workplace, wildfires, bears, other large animals, insects, miscellaneous, industry-certified training courses.







Rules & Regulations that Protect the Worker
Contents:  Employment Standards Act, Workers' Compensation Act, Canada Human Rights Act, minimum camp standards, complying with client/licensee policies, employer policies, camp-specific or crew-specific policies, corporate organization.







What It's Like to Live in a Tree Planting Bush Camp
Contents:  Overview of basic structure, the daily routine, your cooks & meals, other equipment, when you're not in a tent camp.







Map Reading and GPS Systems
Contents:  GPS systems, other map features, understanding scales, geo-referenced digital maps, always know where you are.







Nature & the Environment
Contents:  Weather, determining direction from the sun, plants, animals, birds.





Here are some additional links and resources that might be of interest to potential planters:

Getting a Job:  replant.ca/jobs
Photo Galleries:  replant.ca/photos
Planting Books:  replant.ca/books
Message Board:  replant.ca/phpBB3
Instagram:  instagram.com/replant.ca


Regardless of whether you're a first-time or experienced planter, if you're applying for work at a new company, use the following list of questions to help determine if that employer would be a good fit:
 www.replant.ca/docs/Questions_To_Ask_A_Potential_Employer.pdf

If you're trying to figure out what you'll need for gear, here's a PDF that might help:
 www.replant.ca/docs/equipment_list.pdf


Ok, I think that's the main stuff for now.  You may wonder why I'm offering all of this stuff for free?  You may think, "what does he want in return?"  Well, that's a good question, because I actually DO want something in return:  I want you all to share this with as many other potential planters as you can.  Make sure they have the opportunity to get a full understanding of what they're getting themselves into, BEFORE they put their first tree in the ground.  If someone isn't suited for tree planting, it's much better that they "quit" before they start, instead of three or four days into the season.

 Here's a link to the post which last the last twelve videos in my tree planter training series:

http://jonathan-scooter-clark.blogspot.com/2017/02/tree-planter-training-learning-how-to.html  

Oh, and by the way, keep this in mindI don't like to get my cameras wet.  Almost all of the photos and videos in these tutorials look all sunny and happy.  It's a facade.  We live in a world of mud, rain, and misery.

- Jonathan "Scooter" Clark
 www.Replant.ca


PS:  If you'd like to have access to transcriptions of the video contents, you can find them in all the posts in this forum:


  






Also, after watching all the videos, you'll probably be sick of the background song.  But if not, and if you want to hear (or download) the entire song, here's a SoundCloud link:









PS:  Many thanks to the WFCA (Western Forestry Contractors' Association) which helped get this project started several years ago, through a grant from the BC government.  Here is the WFCA's website link:


Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Canadian Tree Planting Books

I thought I'd make a page here to summarize some of the books that have been written about Tree Planting in Canada.  Hopefully I'll be adding a few of my own to this page eventually!  A handful of the books at the bottom of this list aren't actually about tree planting, but they're either related to west coast forestry, or they're handy books for any tree planters who are trying to improve their species identification skills.



Title:  Eating Dirt
Author:  Charlotte Gill
Published:  2011
Link:  http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/12464152-eating-dirt







Title:  Six Million Trees
Author:  Kristel Derkowski
Published:  2016
Link:  http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/29613245-six-million-trees







Title:  Handmade Forests
Author:  Helene Cyr
Published:  1998
Link:  https://www.amazon.ca/Handmade-Forests-Treeplanters-Helene-Cyr/dp/0865713936
(This one is fairly hard to get now, although you can find used copies from Amazon resellers).







Title:  Whatever It Takes
Author:  Nick Kaminski
Published:  2006
Link:  https://www.amazon.com/Whatever-Journey-Through-Canadian-Wilderness/dp/097805010X
(Quite hard to find, not currently available online: I have one of the only two copies that I know of).







Title:  Pounders
Author:  Josh Barkey
Published:  2016
Link:  https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/32507730-pounders







Title:  To Plant Or Not To Plant (That Is The Question)
Author:  Byron Goerz
Published:  1996
Link:  https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/21566671-to-plant-or-not-to-plant








Title:  We Will All Be Trees
Author:  Josh Massey
Published:  2010
Link:  http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/7264802-we-will-all-be-trees#bookDetails
(The only science fiction book here about tree planting).







Title:  The Book Of Tree Planter Suicides
Author:  Toby Pikelin
Published:  2013
Link:  https://issuu.com/efterblivet/docs/btps_online_book_pdf
(This is a free one, just check out the link!).







Title:  Empire Of The Beetle
Author:  Andrew Nikiforuk
Published:  2011
Link:  http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/11066432-empire-of-the-beetle
(Not about planting, but close enough, and a fascinating read).







Title:  The Golden Spruce
Author:  John Vaillant
Published:  2006
Link:  http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/88335.The_Golden_Spruce
(Not about planting, but a lot of planters have really enjoyed this one).







Title:  Plants of Northern British Columbia
Authors:  MacKinnon, Pojar, & Coupe
Published:  1941 (revised since then)
Link:  http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2063430.Plants_of_Northern_British_Columbia
(Not about planting, but a great species identification guide for northern BC).







Title:  Plants of Southern Interior British Columbia
Authors:  Parish, Coupe, & Lloyd
Published:  1996
Link:  http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/530070.Plants_of_Southern_Interior_British_Columbia_and_the_Inland_Northwest
(Not about planting, but a great species identification guide for southern BC).







Title:  Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast
Authors:  Pojar & MacKinnon
Published:  1994
Link:  http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/606055.Plants_of_the_Pacific_Northwest_Coast
(Not about planting, but a great species identification guide for the coast).






For more information about tree planting in Canada, visit:

www.Replant.ca