P.E.I. Woodlot Owners Salvage Wood Months After Hurricane Fiona

Hurricane Fiona had a detrimental effect on a number of booming industries, the woodlot industry is one of them.

We know woodlot owners need a plan to help in the salvage of downed wood after the hurricane,” said minister of environment, energy, and climate action, Steven Myers. “PEI’s Emergency Forestry Task Force will develop a plan that will address public safety concerns, reduce fire risk, and determine the best end use for wood salvage.

This leaves a significant clean-up for forestry contractors like Matt Hughes, owner of Timberjack’s Sawmill & Logging, located in Kelly’s cross, P.E.I. Matt explained how “it’s difficult because there could be some very high-value wood that has obviously lost value due to the inefficiencies of harvesting, as well as a lot of broken-down or broken trees.” He continued, “it’s unfortunate for land owners that have lost a lot of value of timber.” The largest city in P.E.I., Charlottetown, saw a number of 100-year-old trees fall down during the tropical storm and many were lost completely. The city of Charlottetown owned the majority of the generational trees and was hoping to use them for future projects.

Salvaged Wood Needed For Future Projects

Forestry contractors and carpenters have stepped up and offered their expertise to identify suitable wood to salvage and utilize for future projects.“Looking for something that hasn’t rotted,” said Elliot Mallett, Charlottetown carpenter. “So, lots of the middles of these trees are rotted out, and that’s probably the reason that they fell down, so we’re looking for something that’s still a solid tree throughout.”

The plan is to use the downed trees and salvaged wood for tables, art pieces, benches, and mementos. Before being used, the wood will need to be milled and kilned, and once prepared, the first few pieces can be ready sometime in early 2023. “We have a very short period of time before a lot of the softwood begins to lose its value,” said Hughes. Stud wood is a particular wood grade used to frame walls and is sold by weight. As the weight dries out on the wood, it will lose some of that weight.

Forestry carpenters will go through the downed trees and wood thoroughly to discard anything that is unusable, cut it into small chunks, and grade and organize it. “Part of salvaging these trees is really being able to, down the road, tell the story of what can be built from what’s been lost,” said Siopis.

There is a remaining window of less than two years to salvage value from the downed wood and reduce the risk of future forest fires. The P.E.I. Emergency Forestry Task Force will advise on work needed and support the government on how to effectively salvage and clean up.

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