Two Merritt-based companies get funding to help tackle residual forest fibre

Project targets wood waste

Two Merritt-based companies are joining forces for a project intended to recover and make full use of leftover forest materials traditionally left behind and burned in slash piles.

In a news release, the Forest Enhancement Society of B.C. announced it will be providing funding to Valley Carriers, a trucking and specialty transportation company, and Stuwix Resources Joint Venture, a First Nations-owned fibre management company.

Lindsay Tighe, SRJV general manager, said in a news release the project came about as a result of the community’s desire to see better-managed forests.

“Our community strongly believes we need to better utilize the resources that the forest provides,” Tighe said.

“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.”

According to the news release, the funding will help support a bush grind project. Leftover forestry material will be ground up and transported to a green energy facility in Merritt instead of being left behind and burned in slash piles.

The companies said this project helps to avoid greenhouse gas emissions produced from the slash piles, and will also reduce wildfire risk by removing residual materials from the forest floor.

This work is part of an overarching pilot project which, according to these companies, aims to manage forest resources more sustainably.

According to the FESBC statement, the BioHub Pilot Project is focused on transitioning from the traditional cut-to-length forestry practice to full-length tree harvesting. A centralized BioHub will be able to handle different types of forestry residuals and will help meet a demand for this material.

The news release said the goal is to create a number of “value-added products” from what has been previously 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,” said Ben Klassen, CEO of Valley Carriers, in a statement.

"This project is about using every metre of the forest in the most sustainable way.”

Klassen said FESBC’s funding will help them grow the operations and create more employment.

Through establishing the BioHub project, SRJV will create eight jobs and Valley Carriers will create an additional eight positions in Merritt during different project phases.

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

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