The Pinnacle of Emission Reduction and Fibre Recovery in Smithers

Smithers is contributing to the achievement of Canada’s and B.C’s climate change targets by diverting residual fibre from the Bulkley Timber Supply Area that would otherwise be burned due to the uneconomic haul distance to Pinnacle Renewable Energy’s newly developed Smithers Pellet Facility. This is a good example of what the transition to green sustainable bioeconomy looks like.

$1.2 million in funding from the Forest Enhancement Society of BC (FESBC) helped to bridge haul costs, meaning the residual fibre is now being delivered to the pellet facility as raw material to create a marketable product, instead of being piled and burned in a cut block in the forest. As a result, air quality is better protected because incineration of biomass is cleaner than open burning of wood piles, Pinnacle Renewable Energy’s customers are able to reduce their overall fossil fuel consumption, all the while creating family-supporting jobs.

“In recent years in the Bulkley Valley, there has been no feasible end destination for any pulp-logs or bio-logs , forcing licensees to burn high amounts of fibre that could have been used to produce energy,” said Josh McQuillin, Superintendent of Biomass, Pinnacle Renewable Energy. “Through this funding we were able to utilize nearly 90,000 cubic metres of fibre that would otherwise have been piled and burned.”

Pinnacle Renewable Energy has a log supply agreement with Pacific Inland Resources, a division of West Fraser and partners with them to recover residual material left behind after timber harvesting within West Fraser’s license area.

“Harvest residuals can add challenges where the logistics costs of transporting fibre from cut blocks to our plant are difficult, or where storage space is limited, as is the case with Smithers,” said Jason Fisher, Vice President Fibre, Pinnacle Renewable Energy. “We know that by turning harvest residuals into pellets we are putting the carbon in that fibre to good use.”

Pinnacle Renewable Energy applied for FESBC funding to help offset any incremental haul costs associated with hauling fibre from greater than five hours away, allowing for the recovery and utilization of fibre that would otherwise not be economically feasible.

“FESBC funding enables Pinnacle to utilize fibre otherwise too expensive to haul to their facility which helps Pinnacle reduce greenhouse gas emissions by avoiding the burning of that residual fibre,” said Gord Pratt, RPF, Operations Manager, FESBC. “We are pleased to support Pinnacle in reducing those emissions.”

Fisher said Pinnacle Renewable Energy recognizes the importance of reducing carbon emissions.

“Our customers buy our pellets to reduce their carbon emissions. FESBC funding allowed us to achieve that goal through enhanced fibre utilization,” said Fisher. “FESBC support turns into local benefits and helps us turn BC harvest residuals into a global carbon solution.”

McQuillin said additional community benefits include improved local air quality and employment opportunities for local contractors. The funding allowed Pinnacle Renewable Energy to find longer-term storage for a surge of fibre supply, resulting in employment continuity.

“We were able to divert fibre being produced by local contractors to an offsite storage facility where it was stored and then hauled to a pellet plant over break-up,” said McQuillin. “Without FESBC, our fibre supply needs in both Burns Lake and Smithers were challenged. Initiatives such as this help balance fibre needs as well as create and sustain several local jobs.”

This project is funded in part by the Government of Canada.

To find projects in your area, visit the FESBC projects pages: www.fesbc.ca/projects

For more information or to arrange interviews:
Aleece Laird, Communications Liaison
Forest Enhancement Society of BC
communications@fesbc.ca | 250.574.0221

Fire Rehabilitation Work Underway – South of Burns Lake

BURNS LAKE – With the help of a $1.25-million grant from the Forest Enhancement Society of BC, the Cheslatta Carrier Nation is rehabilitating tree stands that were severely damaged by wildfires in 2018 and re-establishing productive forest ecosystems.

“This project is an excellent example of how partnerships are improving the health of B.C.’s forests,” said Doug Donaldson, Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development. “The funding that the Province provided to back the society’s projects is making a difference and supporting jobs in many parts of British Columbia.”

Work on this project started in May 2020 on the south side of François Lake between Grassy Plains, Ootsa and Cheslatta Lakes, about 65 kilometres south of the Village of Burns Lake.

Fire-damaged trees are being removed so the wood can be used, instead of burning fibre that would otherwise be uneconomical to deliver to a processing facility. The grant from the Forest Enhancement Society of BC will help Cheslatta Forest Products (which is 100% owned by the Cheslatta Carrier Nation) cover the costs of shipping the residual fibre to a pellet plant or bioenergy facility. Diverting this fibre from burn piles will result in a net reduction of carbon emissions.

The logging operations were planned with the needs of wildlife in mind, ensuring high-value habitat areas and trees will be preserved. Rehabilitation of these fire-damaged stands will improve wildlife habitat in areas heavily impacted by the 2018 wildfires. The treated areas will be reforested, primarily with spruce seedlings.

“The wildfires of 2018 burned 75% of the Cheslatta Community Forest and even more overall on the territory,” said Ben Wilson, forestry co-ordinator, Cheslatta Carrier Nation. “At Cheslatta, we were proportionally impacted along with everyone else, and our goal was to clean the burned wood off the land base and get it growing green again.”

The Cheslatta Carrier Nation has a proven history in the forest industry. Its members depend on forests not only for cultural well-being, but also to provide financial opportunities. Logging had just begun in its harvest permit area when wildfires burned through much of it in the summer of 2018, resulting is a substantial loss of revenue. This project supports local employment and makes use of community-owned equipment to remove dead wood, providing benefits to the larger community and support for the local economy.

“The Forest Enhancement Society of BC is excited to fund this project to improve forest stands heavily impacted by the 2018 wildfires,” said Gord Pratt, operations manager, Forest Enhancement Society of BC. “The rehabilitation of the ecosystem to pre-fire conditions will improve the damaged forests by creating diverse, healthy stands. It will contribute to the future timber supply and improve many forest values, including wildlife habitat.”

Read more on the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development website: https://news.gov.bc.ca/22573

Funding for Replanting of Whitebark Pine Ecosystems in the Skeena Region and 180 Conservation Projects Across BC

Smithers, BC: the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation (HCTF) has announced $9.2 million in funding for more than 180 individual wildlife, freshwater fish, and habitat conservation projects across British Columbia this year.

“This is no small feat,” said Dan Buffett, CEO of HCTF. “It reflects a diversity of funding from our core contributors [hunters, anglers, trappers and guides], court awards, provincial government contributions and endowments, and our partners such as the Forest Enhancement Society of BC (FESBC).”

Tree planting – Sybille Haeussler Photo

Through cooperation with partners such as FESBC, HCTF is able to support conservation organizations like the Bulkley Valley Centre for Natural Resources Research and Management in their efforts to restore endangered whitebark pine ecosystems in the Skeena region. As western Canada’s first officially endangered tree species, the whitebark pine, and the ecosystems they support, are of critical importance to high elevation grizzly bears, birds and other wildlife species that rely on their oil-rich seeds for energy in cold climates.

The centre has been restoring remote whitebark pine ecosystems across the Skeena Region since 2011, contributing to the restoration and conservation of biodiversity, carbon storage and beauty of the region’s scenic mountain ecosystems. Working along-side BC provincial parks, community forests and the forestry industry, the centre collects seeds from healthy parent trees, grows and plants seedlings in disturbed ecosystems and assists breeding efforts to improve resistance to the deadly white pine blister rust disease. Recently, the centre received word that one of their parent trees was found to produce the most disease-resistant seedlings ever tested in BC.

Sybille Haeussler, an adjunct professor at the University of Northern BC and project lead, is hopeful that the 25,000 seedlings currently being grown in a local nursery will contribute to ongoing efforts that see the restoration and persistence of whitebark pine ecosystems across their northeastern range.

“We continue to monitor the growth and survival of restoration trials established across northern BC and are learning much more about how and when the white pine blister rust attacks and kills trees and how to ensure that seedlings are planted in the best possible sites to ensure future survival under climate change. It will be a long time before these young trees start to produce cones and seeds that will support healthy wildlife populations, but we are in this project for the long run,” says Haeussler.

6 year old planted whitebark pine at Morice Lake – Sybille Haeussler photo

Other HCTF funded projects taking place in the Skeena region:

  • $29,900 for research into Mountain Goat range boundaries, habitat selection and population dynamics, co-funded by FESBC.
  • $43,788 for Northern Goshawk nest and habitat assessment led by the Kitasoo Xai’xais First Nation that will inform the implementation of the provincial Northern Goshawk recovery plan.
  • $113,000 for fisheries development, planning and stock assessment activities on the Skeena, Kitwanga, Bulkley, Kispiox and Morice Rivers.

FESBC’s Executive Director Steve Kozuki is “thrilled to partner with the trusted and respected Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation to improve wildlife habitat. With their first-in-class management of funds and projects by talented and professional staff, we know that we are maximizing benefits for wildlife in British Columbia.”

Each project funded through HCTF is reviewed by a multi-level, objective technical review process prior to final Board review and decision. HCTF’s Board of Directors ensures that species important to BC anglers and hunters are supported but also place a great deal of importance on conserving whole ecosystems, species-at-risk and investing in environmental education across the province.

To see the complete list of HCTF funded projects or explore the conservation work being done near you, view the 2020-21 Approved Project List or our 2020-21 Project Map.

$9.2 M in Funding for South Coastal Northern Goshawk Research and Conservation Projects Across BC

The Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation (HCTF) has announced $9.2 million in funding for more than 180 individual wildlife, freshwater fish, and habitat conservation projects across British Columbia this year.

“This is no small feat,” said Dan Buffett, CEO of HCTF. “It reflects a diversity of funding from our core contributors (hunters, anglers, trappers and guides), court awards, provincial government contributions and endowments, and our partners such as the Forest Enhancement Society of BC (FESBC).”

Through cooperation with partners like the FESBC, HCTF is able to support conservation projects such as the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development’s (FLNRORD) study of Northern Goshawk in South Coastal BC. The project, occurring among coastal and transitional forests of the Lower Mainland region, aims to investigate breeding success and habitat requirements of at-risk Northern Goshawk populations in coastal and transitional forest landscapes.

The Northern Goshawk’s short but powerful wings and long tail feathers make the species expertly adapted to maneuvering through forest canopies in search of prey such as squirrels, hares, and grouse. Because of these adaptations the birds require structurally mature forest stands to support both the breeding pair and their chicks, however this habitat type is increasingly becoming fragmented due to forest harvesting activities. As a result, the species has been recognized as threatened by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada and has been placed on BC’s provincial red list. To ensure the survival of the species, it is necessary to fill in some gaps in the scientific understanding of the species and pinpoint crucial habitat areas within their range.

This is where Melanie Wilson, FLNRORD Wildlife Biologist, and her team come in. Utilizing modern tracking technology, fitting birds with telemetry backpacks and placing motion cameras to monitor nest sites, researchers can identify highly valuable foraging areas and better understand the types of prey species being delivered to the nests.

“This research provides a unique opportunity to investigate the ecology of this threatened forest raptor and will provide valuable data to inform provincial management recommendations and ensure species recovery,” said Wilson.

Other HCTF funded projects taking place in the Lower Mainland region:

  • $29,593 for habitat restoration and invasive species removal, restoring and reconnecting a floodplain forest with the Fraser River, co-funded by FESBC.
  • $36,000 for research into grizzly bear ecology, habitat use and movement relative to landscape features and human activity, co-funded by FESBC.
  • $47,804 to facilitate a Bull Trout fishery assessment on Chilliwack Lake, utilizing a tag-return study to assess conservation and management priorities.

FESBC’s Executive Director Steve Kozuki is “thrilled to partner with the trusted and respected Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation to improve wildlife habitat. With their first-in-class management of funds and projects by talented and professional staff, we know that we are maximizing benefits for wildlife in British Columbia.”

Each project funded through HCTF is reviewed by a multi-level, objective technical review process prior to final Board review and decision. HCTF’s Board of Directors ensures that species important to BC anglers and hunters are supported but also place a great deal of importance on conserving whole ecosystems, species-at-risk and investing in environmental education across the province.

To see the complete list of HCTF funded projects or explore the conservation work being done near you view the 2020-21 Approved Project List or our 2020-21 Project Map.