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By Adam Soames on juin 16 2017
Hello fellow forest enthusiasts! I’m really excited to be sharing my experiences with all of you this summer. The first month of work has been jam packed with all sorts of forestry fun, including everything from helicopter rides to bear encounters, but before I jump into that, I should take a moment to introduce myself.
My name is Adam Soames, and this summer I’m working as a Silviculture summer intern for Weyerhaeuser in Grande Prairie, Alberta. During the school year, when I’m not working to keep the trees healthy and happy, I’m studying Natural Resource Science at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, BC. There, I will be entering into my fourth year of schooling. The degree has provided me with amazing opportunities to exploit my passion for the outdoors, and of course to experience edifying work experiences like this one.
On my first day, our motley crew of summer students was driven to the Weyerhaeuser offices by my boss, Angie. These were the people I’d be spending the rest of my summer working with most closely: Emery, Wilson, Brendan, and Spencer. They have proven to be excellent working companions and good friends, despite the many initial awkwardly silent drives. After the completion of onboarding procedures and the procurement of our equipment, the real work began. So far, our primary responsibilities have included writing silviculture prescriptions, planting quality checks, and tree planter oversight. We have also had a few odd jobs involving community involvement. For Arbor Day, we took a day to help a group of girl guides plant some trees throughout their camp compound. While I had a blast, and did my best to teach them, I don’t think the poor trees are going to last long… Despite that, the girls still had a great time, and maybe have developed a better appreciation for nature and forestry. Another instance was an event called “Walk in the Woods”, where our crew helped teach elementary school students how to identify a selection of tree species. It was a great opportunity for me to nerd out about plants for a while, and the kids may even have learned something in the process.
The most rewarding experiences I’ve had so far are those where I’ve encountered wildlife. Some have been more constructive than others, however. I have already lost count of how many bears, deer, moose, and elk I’ve come across both while in the woods and in the truck, but a few really stand out in my mind. The most exciting and chaotic is undoubtedly the apparent army of black and grizzly bears that seems to be laying siege to one of our tree planting camps. At least seven bears, including a mother grizzly and three cubs have been spotted within a few hundred meters of the camp, and they aren’t shy of humans either. For a while, we were receiving frequent reports of tents being ripped open and other pandemonium. As a solution, a bear fence was erected around the area to ward them off, but even that seems to have only limited success. Ron, the head of the camp described an instant where he watched a bear “gallop like a horse” and jump clean over the fence. He also recounted a time another bear “leaped like a ninja” through the wires of the fence. I myself had to help scare one out of the area with an air horn during a visit. Needless to say, they are taking every precaution to keep their food out of a potential bear burglar’s reach, and to keep the bears from causing more havoc, but I’m sure they’ll be happy to finish up their planting in the area so they can get the heck out of there.
The helicopter rides were also memorable. We use them to both transport trees to cutblocks not accessible by road, as well as to transport the occasional passenger. While I have been in a helicopter before, I still find the experience thrilling. There’s nothing quite like looking down at all the trees, like so many blades of grass, and the people milling about like ants. It provides a strange perspective on the whole forestry operation; reminding me of how peerless nature really is. When my partner and I arrived, we descended down into our cutblock, watching the forest rise up around us, and afterwards, watched the helicopter fly away, leaving us to our devices. The quiet that followed was kind of harrowing after the storm of helicopter blades, but it didn’t take long for the sounds of the forest to start up again, and for us to get to work.
I’ve had a lot more experiences, including chats with forestry professionals, and rainy days getting caught in the mud, but I think I’ll save some of those for another time. I hope you all continue to enjoy my entries, and I’m looking forward to sharing the rest of my amazing summer!