Forest companies release harvest plans

Tolko Industries, West Fraser Timber and Millar Western Forest Products, presented draft harvesting plans at a forest operations joint open house May 30 at the High Prairie Legion Hall. Left-right, are Tolko northwest regional forestry superintendent Hillary Wait, Millar Western Forest Products forestry superintendent Stuart Adkins and West Fraser Timber planning forester Aileen Sturges.

Richard Froese
South Peace News

Harvesting plans for three forestry companies operating in the High Prairie and Slave Lake regions were presented May 30 at a joint open house at the High Prairie Legion Hall.

Plans were displayed by West Fraser Timber that operates High Prairie Forest Products, Tolko and by Millar Western Forest Products that purchased the Slave Lake Pulp Mill from West Fraser and became the owner in April 2024.

Companies hosted the event to allow citizens to comment on the proposed plans.

Plans for harvesting trees are getting back on track for the three companies after extensive wildfires in the spring and summer 2023 destroyed countless trees.

Tolko northwest regional forestry superintendent Hillary Wait says the company plans to return to its harvesting plans.

“We’re looking to harvest the salvage area around Kimiwan Lake near McLennan,” Wait says.

“Our green harvest will probably be in the Salt Prairie area north of High Prairie.”

The Tolko plant west of High Prairie is getting back into operation after a major fire May 20, 2022.

“We pressed our first board May 8 as we progress into full operation,” Wait says.

“We’re trying to get all the parts running before we’ll be in full operation.”

Harvesting plans are on track for High Prairie Forest Products, owned by West Fraser Timber Co. Ltd.

“We’re looking to a regular harvest this year,” planning forester Aileen Sturges says.

“We’re going to be all over the place, from north of Red Earth Creek, south to the Swan Hills area, east to Wabasca and west to the Peace River area.”

Millar Western plans to start with salvage, says forestry superintendent Stuart Adkins.

“Our harvesting plans are to continue with fire salvage from the 2023 wildfires,” Adkins says.

Millar plans to salvage in the area west of Highway 33, north of Driftpile Cree Nation and south of Banana Belt located south of High Prairie, he says.

“We also plan to harvest green if there’s not enough fire salvage,” Adkins says.

He notes it’s business as usual for the operations as the new owner.

“With the transition, we really haven’t changed our plans for the pulp mill,” Adkins says.

All proposed harvesting plans must be approved by Alberta Forestry and Parks.

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