Finding Value in Wood Waste

-How two Merritt-based companies are revolutionizing sustainable forest management-

Merritt, B.C. – In a long-standing alliance, a First Nations-owned and operated fibre management company, Stuwix Resources Joint Venture (SRJV) and Valley Carriers, a visionary multi-generational trucking and specialty transportation company, are working together to make better use of leftover forest materials, i.e., forest residuals. With support from the Forest Enhancement Society of BC (FESBC) funding for a Bush Grind Project, the partners aim to turn these residual materials into valuable biomass products, and they’re pushing the boundaries even further with a significant leap forward in a BioHub Pilot Project, dedicated to managing forest resources sustainably.

The BioHub Pilot Project is centred around the transition that the SRJV is now pursuing, changing from the traditional cut-to-length forestry practice to now full-length tree harvesting, moving toward a full tree utilization and zero-waste approach. This is an enormous step in sustainable forestry practices with significant impacts on forestry residue management. A part of this project is bush grinding of the residuals, for which FESBC has provided funding. Through the Bush Grinding project, forest residuals will be ground instead of being left behind and burned in slash piles, helping to reduce waste and avoid greenhouse gas emissions. This ground fibre will be transported to a green energy facility in Merritt. By extending the use of forest residuals, the two companies look to improve the sustainability of forestry practices by being better stewards of the land.

“Projects like this are a significant step towards a stronger and more sustainable B.C. forestry sector, transforming harvest residue that was once considered waste into value,” said Bruce Ralston, Minister of Forests. “This collaboration between Stuwix Resources Joint Venture and Valley Carriers, with support from FESBC, will also help protect communities from wildfire risks by removing residue from the forest floor, thereby removing wildfire fuel.”

SRJV currently manages the Forest Tenure Opportunity Agreement and the non-replaceable forest licenses on behalf of eight First Nations communities in the Nicola Valley. SRJV’s approach to forest management reflects the cultural, environmental, and social values of these First Nations with a vision to promote healthy ecosystems and communities while integrating traditional uses and practices.

Valley Carriers is part of the family-owned and operated Klassen Business Group, which was founded in 1963. They’ve been working with forest residuals for 60 years, and the family of companies produces and distributes both wholesale and retail wood residual-derived products such as mulch and wood shavings.

Together, the organizations exemplify positive collaboration to pursue the common goal of reducing waste and enhancing the utilization of fibre. However, the project was not envisioned in silos, but came about as a result of the community’s desire to see better-managed forests, according to Lindsay Tighe, General Manager of SRJV.

“It’s all community-driven. Our community strongly believes we need to better utilize the resources that the forest provides. Without the partnership with FESBC, we wouldn’t be able to pursue the transition to full fibre utilization. Their support is critical to enable our operations to adapt to this more sustainable approach,” said Tighe.

The Bush Grind Project is part of a Biohub Pilot Project, with an overarching vision to eradicate the age-old practice of underutilizing, piling, and burning forestry residuals but instead offer a sustainable alternative, converting these residuals into valuable resources, such as clean energy sources, including biogases, advanced biofuels, and various end-use products. By utilizing the entire resource, the two partners are not only respecting the resource itself and the land it is from, but they hope to increase the wood fibre supply for the agriculture, bioproduct, and bioenergy sectors that depend on the biomass generated by the forestry sector.

Ben Klassen, CEO of Valley Carriers, said, “The funding from FESBC is integral for the pilot project, as it helps minimize the risks to private businesses and enables creativity in creating a more sustainable industry.”

The BioHub Pilot Project is a partnership between SRJV, Valley Carriers, FP Innovations, and with support from FESBC funding, it serves as a symbol of improved forestry management practices, emphasizing complete stem utilization.

FESBC Senior Manager, Gord Pratt, said, “FESBC is proud to support the initiatives led by Stuwix and Valley Carriers in finding ways to increase the use of forest fibre that has traditionally not been utilized. Exploring new ways to optimize the delivery and use of forest fibre is long overdue and will only help the economy of the Merritt area. Lessons learned here will help other regions of the province and assist in building a more stable and diverse forest industry which is critical for the future of rural B.C.”

 A centralized, sustainable BioHub, capable of handling a broader spectrum of forestry residuals, will help meet the surging demand for wood residuals and biomass. The goal is to create a variety of value-added products for diverse sectors from what was traditionally thought of as wood waste.

“Our BioHub will increase the stream of residuals and help stabilize the supply of wood fibre to support the needs of the agricultural and clean energy sectors. This project is about using every metre of the forest in the most sustainable way,” said Klassen.

The benefits of the work are far-reaching and move beyond the environmental benefits. By transitioning to full-stem utilization and establishing the BioHub, SRJV will create eight jobs, and Valley Carriers will create an additional eight positions in Merritt, B.C. during the various phases of the project. Considering the level of unemployment in the area and the need to diversify, Klassen and Tighe agree that these jobs mean a lot to people in the region.

“This funding allows us to grow our operations and create more employment. The business of recovering under-utilized residuals has allowed our company to maintain steady employment for 25-30 people in Merritt for the last six years, and we are looking to grow with further resource utilization,” said Klassen.

For companies and communities wanting to move toward full fibre utilization, Klassen recommends maintaining their focus. “Even after many years doing this work, we are still trying to find a long-term solution that isn’t just made up of stop-gap funding. We’ve been able to do this for the last half-decade by not relenting on the conversation,” he said.

From the creation of new jobs to local access to renewable energy, decreasing the waste of natural resources and increasing the supply of wood fibre to combat the shortage in the agricultural sector, the project has a vision to move beyond traditional forestry. In addition to these benefits, fully recovering the forest residuals will remove excess materials that can fuel wildfires while also reducing  greenhouse gas emissions associated with burning these materials in the forest.

“We know we have less wood available; now we need to focus on how to use it properly. It’s like water restrictions; when they are in place, sustainable practices and real change starts to happen. We need to be the ‘Arizona’ of forestry; the forestry industry is not going away, but it is our time to pivot, focus on efficiencies and fully utilize the resources. Everyone can make a difference in forestry residual management, whether it’s a big or small licensee,” said Klassen, adding, “We don’t see this as the end but the start of something that will transform the industry.”

FESBC would like to gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the

Province of British Columbia through the Ministry of Forests.

Constraints to Forestry Innovation as featured in Truck Logger BC

In the Fall 2023 issue of the Truck Logger BC Magazine, Jean Sorensen examines innovation in forestry and what is holding it back, in an article featuring various industry experts, including the Forest Enhancement Society of BC’s (FESBC) Executive Director, Steve Kozuki.

The article, titled “Constraints to Forestry Innovation”, discusses innovation in B.C’s forestry sector and its importance to stay competitive, especially against larger manufacturers. It also emphasizes the need for a supportive business environment and policy stability to encourage innovation.

The forestry industry in BC is facing challenges related to fibre supply uncertainty, which affects the adoption of new technologies and investments. Companies are exploring innovations like LiDAR inventory mapping, the use of drones, and remote-controlled equipment. These innovations are seen as essential, and the article explores their feasibility in the current climate.

In the article,

FESBC Executive Director Steve Kozuki said over the past five years they have funded the utilization of five million cubic metres or roughly 100,000 truckloads of post-harvest residuals that would have been abandoned or burned.

Those five years brought a legacy of operating data. Logging contractors have tried whole log (pulp or biolog) sorts, chipping or grinding fibre at the roadside or landing, baling slash (but it still has a lot of air and costs to transport), central reload sites and sort yards, and barging from the mid and north coast. According to Kozuki, each method has pros and cons and trade-offs, but most contractors favoured transport of fibre in log form or chip/grind in the bush.

Watch the FESBC announcement of the 42 Newly Funded Forest Enhancement Projects in B.C.

Kamloops, B.C.: In January 2023, the Government of BC announced it would provide $50 million in new funding to the Forest Enhancement Society of BC (FESBC) to assist with the delivery of uneconomic forest fibre and to assist communities to reduce their wildfire risk.

On September 12, 2023, FESBC announced 42 newly funded projects valued at $34 million dollars. Watch this video to learn more from funded project partners like Simpcw Resources Group, Arrow Transportation Systems Inc. and Kruger Inc.

Watch the video, where Minister of Forests, Bruce Ralston, talks about the funding, and the work undertaken by FESBC, as well as get a glimpse into the announcement event held on September 12:

FESBC would like to gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the Province of British Columbia through the Ministry of Forests.

FESBC Awarded $50M for Fibre Supply Boost, Wildfire Risk Mitigation, and Job Support – Funding Applications Now Being Accepted

FESBC Awarded $50M for Fibre Supply Boost, Wildfire Risk Mitigation, and Job Support – Funding Applications Now Being Accepted

British Columbia – The Government of BC is providing $50 million in new funding to the Forest Enhancement Society of BC (FESBC) to assist with the delivery of uneconomic forest fibre and to assist communities to reduce their wildfire risk. FESBC is now accepting funding applications. 

“Receiving $50 million in funding from the Province of British Columbia is a significant boost for reducing smoke and greenhouse gas emissions, and will also better protect communities from the devastating impacts of extreme wildfires. This investment will also create and maintain jobs for workers, provide stability in communities, and accelerate Indigenous participation in the forest bioeconomy,” said Steve Kozuki, Executive Director, FESBC.

Williams Lake Band grinding fibre for hauling; Photo Credit: Forest Enhancement Society of BC

This year, the eligible parties for this funding opportunity are:

  • First Nations (Bands, Treaty First Nations and Indigenous Governments with authority for lands and resources) in B.C.
  • Companies and forest tenure holders owned by First Nation governments or Indigenous entrepreneurs.
  • Small area-based tenures such as community forest agreement holders and woodlot licensees.
  • Forest tenure holders, log suppliers, or purchasers of non-sawlog fibre that don’t own or control a primary forest product manufacturing facility.
  • Ministry of Forests and other provincial agencies.
  • Local governments such as Municipalities or Regional Districts.

A document with details on the application process, eligibility criteria and a step-by-step guide on the next steps is now available on the FESBC website, titled FESBC 2023-25 Fibre Utilization Funding Program Guide.

Similar to last year, FESBC will be hosting a virtual information session, aimed at guiding potential applicants on the application criteria and the necessary steps to successfully submit a proposal through the online portal.

Gord Pratt, Senior Manager, FESBC, emphasized the importance of hosting an information session, stating, “Our goal is to ensure that potential applicants have all the information they need to apply for funding and submit successful applications. Based on the success of our last year’s information session, we recognize the value of offering face-to-face interaction with potential proponents. This upcoming information session will allow us to offer guidance and address any inquiries applicants may have, ultimately increasing the likelihood of success for both, the project and the applicant.”

FESBC 2023 – 2025 Fibre Utilization Funding Program Information Session

When: April 18, 2023 at 9 a.m. (Pacific Time)

Where: Online, via Zoom

Register: to register for the information session, please visit:

For those who cannot attend the information session, a recording will be available to view on FESBC’s website the following day or by contacting FESBC Communications Liaison, Aleece Laird, at

Proponents seeking funds to implement Wildfire Risk Reduction (WRR) activities may still apply through FESIMS. Refer to the Forest Enhancement Society of BC (FESBC) 2022-23 Funding Program Application Guide for more information.

FESBC would like to gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the

Province of British Columbia through the Ministry of Forests.

Logan Lake hoping to step up fire mitigation efforts with funding from Forest Enhancement Society of BC

CFJC News is highlighting how the work that Logan Lake did to become FireSmart helped the town survive a catastrophic wildfire. FESBC has funded several projects in and around Logan Lake and Steve Kozuki, FESBC Executive Director, was on hand to talk about the role of fibre utilization.

From the story:

“It’s been well-documented this summer how FireSmart initiatives in Logan Lake helped save the community from the raging Tremont Creek wildfire. Logan Lake was Canada’s first FireSmart community in 2013. However, such efforts have been going on since 2003…

‘When the communities do these treatments and it results in woody fibre, biomass, we like to see projects where that biomass is used to create green energy for British Columbians or even exporting around the world in the form of pellets, or in the case of electricity it can be sold to Alberta and other provinces,’ said Steve Kozuki from the Forest Enhancement Society of BC.”

The full story and video can be found on the CFJC website, here: Logan Lake hoping to step up fire mitigation efforts with funding from Forest Enhancement Society of BC | CFJC Today Kamloops

Truck Logger Magazine – Fibre Utilization Win-Win

The latest issue of Truck Logger Magazine features a story on partnerships created to utilize fibre on the North Coast of B.C. The Forest Enhancement Society of BC provided some of the funding for this project which created much needed employment as well as utilizing fibre which otherwise may have been burnt.

The full story, Working Together for Win-Win Fibre Solutions by Pam Agnew, is available, here:

Truck Logger BC Summer 2021 (

For media enquiries to hear more about fibre utilization in BC, contact:

Forest Enhancement Society of BC
Aleece Laird, Communications Liaison
Direct: 250 574 0221 |

Mercer Celgar and Forest Workers Reduce Greenhouse Emissions in the Kootenays

CASTLEGAR, B.C.— Mercer Celgar is actively working to facilitate and increase fibre utilization in the Kootenay-Boundary Forest Region thanks to $3M in funding from the Forest Enhancement Society of BC (FESBC).

The funding facilitates the recovery of fibre that would otherwise be burned on site, resulting in less burning which avoids the immediate release of carbon into the atmosphere.

Across the company’s operational area, significant volumes of usable fibre have continued to be burned as a result of the harvesting activities by forest licensees or from wildfire risk reduction projects near communities or in parks. Meanwhile, Mercer Celgar has been exploring many ways to have their fibre supply increased by improving utilization of non-sawlog fibre to their pulp mill in Castlegar. FESBC and Mercer both saw the opportunity in the convergence of these two issues.

“The FESBC funding has provided the economic support required for logging contractors to innovate new methods of increasing utilization of fibre from the areas they were harvesting,” said Gord Pratt, Operations Manager, FESBC. “For this project to be successful it took many partners to adjust their operations and policies to allow fibre to make its way to the pulp mill.” 

Pratt said these adjustments included how logs were loaded onto the logging trucks and the support of residents to allow logging trucks to use roads on private land to recover fibre from a wildfire risk reduction treatment in the neighbouring West Arm Park near Nelson. If not recovered, this fibre would have been burned on site. 

“Mercer Celgar’s program with FESBC has strongly influenced the company’s decision to proceed with the woodroom modernization announced last week that incorporates full forest utilization and sustainable resource management as a key requirement of the project,” said Stan Hadikin, RPF, Manager, Fibre Procurement, Mercer Celgar. “Strong collaborative efforts from industry, government, and stakeholders demonstrate a multitude of benefits including reduced wildfire risk, enhanced public safety, increased employment, improved wildlife habitat, ecosystem resilience, and reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.”

Utilization can minimize the overall residual (left over) fibre on site by factors of 10 to 90 per cent. This project involves working with forest operators to increase the use of wood fibre and support the transportation of up to 200,000 cubic metres (one cubic metre is about the size of a telephone pole) of residual fibre for use at Mercer Celgar facilities.

The goal of fibre recovery and carbon benefits are intertwined. Through this project, Mercer Celgar will reduce the amount of carbon and other greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere by avoiding the burning of wood waste, along with the negative health effects associated with the activity.

“Initiatives like this are critical to optimize the use of the existing wood fibre supply as much as possible,”

Gord Pratt, Operations Manager, FESBC

“FESBC is excited to hear that Mercer Celgar was able to take what they learned from their FESBC fibre utilization project and make the decision to invest in a significant improvement to their facility which will result in the long-term increase of forest fibre utilization well into the future,” Gord Pratt, Operations Manager, FESBC

West Arm Park Interface Treatment with Follow Up Discussion: Erik Leslie – Manager, Harrop Proctor Community Forest; Amanda Weber-Roy – Conservation Specialist, BC Parks; Amber Cooke – Wildfire Risk Reduction Specialist, FLNRORD; Charlene Strelaeff – Fibre Forester, Mercer Celgar; Len MacCharles – Fire Chief, City of Nelson; Gord Pratt – FESBC; John Dooley – Mayor, City of Nelson; Grant Walton, Resource Operations Manager, FLNRORD; Eric Wahn, Land & Resource Coordinator FLNRORD

Project Partner

For information on/or an interview with Mercer Celgar regarding this project, contact:

Rose Leslie, Communications Advisor | | 250.365.7211 Ext. 3347 

For information on/or an interview with FESBC regarding this project, contact:

Aleece Laird, Communications Liaison | | 250.574.0221

Print Version: FESBC Mercer Celgar Press Release June-22-2021