Doug Kerley is the owner of Creekside Wood Supply located in White Horse, the capital of northwest Canada’s Yukon territory. Kerley has made substantial investments in his local small-scale mill that uses selective harvesting to produce rough lumber products made and used in the territory.
Kerley is one of a number of wood product companies in the Yukon that are troubled by a lack of planning to bring new harvesting lots online. He said the department has failed in its obligation to plan and identify areas where local companies can harvest wood.
“We practice selective timber harvesting. It’s low impact in order to leave the forest healthier than it was before we went and minimal waste. It is just about harvesting a sustainable resource and doing it in a manner that is socially acceptable in the Yukon,” he said. “But I need to know now if we have wood.”
Kerley said the supply of suitable trees — they must be a minimum size for the lumber product — has been exhausted.
Minister of Energy, Mines, and Resources John Streicker said he’s aware of the situation and has directed the forest resource branch to assist companies that are struggling with supply. Streicker said the department is trying to identify short-term solutions, including smaller areas of land that don’t require special approvals in order to harvest wood — including areas already slated for tree removal and routine clearing along highways and firebreaks.
Kerley countered saying that the issue with these shortcut solutions is that although these small areas might work for firewood, they have not been assessed for quality trees and may not be efficient areas for operating.
Long-term, Streicker acknowledged more long-term thinking is necessary. Streicker went onto say, “I think that we are in a shortage, and I think that there is some responsibility that we have to take for sure,” he said. “Wood is a very important piece of the puzzle for us. We’ve gone through some challenges. I think we did not anticipate that we would be in this position but that’s our responsibility to get it sorted and to make sure that we get that supply in place.”
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Local mill owner says lack of wood identified for harvesting threatens business