“Any investment in an industry requires good information to make decisions around which to invest,” Gelhorn said, “whether that investment is a big investment like developing new facilities or even just the location of your labor camp for a new season.”
When checking if a region of forest is good for harvesting, it depends on the type of wood (and how much) it currently has and the rate of growth. Tree height, species and canopy cover are also important.
“If there’s a surplus of older, mature wood, if there’s a deficit of a certain age class that needs to be covered,” Gelhorn said. “From a wood supply perspective, those are kind of the big things, but we don’t just manage the wood supply. We manage forests for habitat, for water conservation, for a whole host of other outcomes.
“There’s a lot of field work, a lot of sweat, a lot of wet feet, and a lot of trees being assessed in order to come up with these durability estimates,” he added.
Because they manage an area from south of Prince Albert all the way to La Ronge and stretching from the Alberta borders to Manitoba, there is a lot of ground for Gelhorn and his crews to cover. And because of a cold and snowy winter, their season was slightly delayed.
“Usually we can find areas where the roads are dry enough to ride, but the late snowfall has delayed us a bit,” Gelhorn said. “We are not afraid to get wet, but we have to get close enough to be able to walk.”
According to the provincial government, 30% of the provincial wood supply is allocated to Aboriginal businesses.
On Twitter: @RobMahonPxP