Kalum Ventures Ltd. is set to begin a helicopter logging project on Monday – a first in the company’s 16-year history.
“This is our first kick at it and we’re actually kind of excited about getting into this and getting it done,” said Lyle Bolton, general manager at Kalum Ventures, which is owned by the Kitsumkalum First Nation.
Crews have been on the ground at the site north of Kitsumkalum Lake for the last three weeks falling cedar trees in preparation. On Monday, a helicopter will start picking up logs using a cable and clamp apparatus, moving them to drop zones accessible by road where they will be transported by truck.
Bolton anticipated the helicopter will be at work for 12-14 days.
“They’ll be working 12-hour shifts, helicopter logging is kind of pricey, right, you get into helicopter logging you don’t want that bird sitting there doing nothing for too long,” he said.
Kalum Ventures is working with VIH Helicopters during the project. Based in Victoria, VIH is supplying a Russian Kamov heavy-lift helicopter which has a coaxial rotor design. That means the helicopter has a pair of rotors, one mounted above the other, that turn in different directions.
“Some of these cedar trees, they’re not the biggest cedar trees like what you see down on Vancouver Island but they are big enough, and this Kamov’s legal capacity to lift is about 10,000 pounds,” said Bolton.
The project has been in the making for over a decade. Bolton said that the logging areas were identified more than ten years ago, but the market price for cedar did not make a heli-logging operation worthwhile until more recently. Kalum Ventures is selling the logs to NorthPac Forestry Group Ltd. Bolton said they will be exported to the Asian market.
Not only is it Kalum Ventures’ first heli-logging project, it is also one of the largest logging operations the company has ever undertaken.
“For us it’s right at the top of the list, for other projects around the area I’m sure maybe there’s been bigger projects locally around here, but for us this is going to be probably our biggest show that we’ve had,” said Bolton.