The inaugural Logger Training Program in the West Kootenay was successfully completed at the endof February, opening up opportunities for employment in the regional forestry sector for thegraduates.

The objective of the training was to introduce individuals to the logging industry – preparing theparticipants to begin a career as a logger. The Logger Training Program was developed through apartnership with Selkirk College, the Nakusp and Area Community Forest (NACFOR), the Kaslo andDistrict Community Forest Society (KDCFS), and local logging contractors and forest industryemployers.

“Before we moved ahead with the program, we met with many of the local logging contractors fromthe Nelson, Nakusp and Kaslo area,” says Gregg Neelin, the manager of Selkirk College’s CommunityEducation & Workplace Training. “The contractors fully supported the program. The Logger TrainingProgram was built on logging contractors’ input and their needs, and this is why the program wassuch a success.”

The 11 week program was a combination of certification training with a focus on safety (first aid,chain saw use and maintenance, tree identification and log merchandizing, wire rope splicing, sawmilling, and more) and on-site logging work experience with local logging contractors. Job coachesworked with students to support their training throughout the program.

“Our focus was on cable harvesting operations because cable logging is very labour intensive andtaught the basic goal of logging – getting the wood to the landing safely and efficiently,” says BillKestell, Manager of the KDFCS.

The participants were introduced to a wide range of logging practices that included setting chokers,rigging the back line, hand bucking on the landing, chasing at the landing, and helping to move theyarder. They were also able to spend some time on a skidder and a log loader on severalconventional logging operations.

The training program stressed the importance of safe logging practices for all phases of conventionaland cable yarding log harvesting operations. Participants were also introduced to the importance offollowing logging plans, emergency management systems, and the use of iPads as a growing toolused in the logging industry.

The training program began with nine participants and ended with eight. Two of the individuals havejobs with local logging contractors, and a third has a mechanics position with a logging contractor.Two participants have scheduled job interviews with a logging contractor and a stand tendingcontractor. Another individual is interviewing with a local forestry development contractor. Theremaining two individuals, although they do not have an insight on a position today, are veryinterested in pursuing a logging career.

Although the program was focused on becoming a logger, the Logger Training program introducedthe participants to other logging industry careers such as fuel management, stand tending, millingoperations, and layout opportunities.

“We believe there is a real benefit for individuals going through this program to enter the world oflogging and technical forestry development, especially as it pertains to cable logging,” says NACFORManager Hugh Watt.

The goal now is to continue with the Logger Training program and make it into a regular program toencourage new employees into the logging industry.

“We believe we faced many of the same obstacles as others have encountered in developing theirtraining programs – program start-up delays and restrictive eligibility criteria being the two biggesthurdles,” says Neelin. “Selkirk College, the Nakusp & Area and Kaslo & District Community Forests,and the local loggers who participated in the program are scheduled to meet soon to have a criticallook at the program and improve on what we have started so we can continue to grow the LoggerTraining program to meet the logging contractors’ and WorkSafe needs. With the terrain andexpertise we have in the area, we will work with local logging contractors and the forestry industry tofurther develop an interior logging training centre in the Selkirk College region. We welcome allcomments or questions regarding this training program.”

Funding for the Logger Training program was provided by Government of Canada through theCanada-British Columbia Job Fund.