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By Mitch Martell on August 17 2017
Over the past few weeks I’ve had a lot of questions from family and friends who have seen my previous blogs, and it continues to baffle me how people will believe any rumour they hear. I had one friend who I’ve known for a long time ask me “what’s the point of talking about sustainability in your blog when the mill is constantly cutting trees down?”. I didn’t even know where to start.
I figure this is a good opportunity to debunk some of the common misconceptions of the forestry industry, and maybe get people to look at the big steam stacks of Millar Western a bit more positively.
Millar Western works by harvesting and regenerating trees on a 75-year term. What that means is they will cut a plot of trees, shortly after a tree planter will come and plant 3 new tree seedlings (forestry statistics show that 1 of every 3 trees planted survives to adulthood), Which they will then let grow for 75 years until it is cut down again. Now I understand 75 years sounds like a long time, but as of now, we are already cutting down trees that we planted years ago.
I really shouldn’t have to say this, but it fires me up every time I hear someone mention the ‘Millar Western smoke stacks’. In the process of making the pulp, a lot of heat is generated from the boiler and refiners. This heat needs to go somewhere, so it is shot into the sky and once it hits the cooler outside air it creates steam (this is why the ‘clouds’ look bigger in the winter, and are nearly not noticeable on a hot summer day).
False. A million times over, false. Using Millar Western as an example, to even be looked at for a career, a potential candidate must have earned their 4th Class Power Engineer degree and have a certain number of hours working with a boiler. On top of the required standards, I can honestly say over my past 3 summers working at the mill, I’ve met some of the most mechanically inclined problem solvers I know. These guys can literally fix anything. If I can give any advice to someone looking to work in the forestry industry it’s that you’ve got to be willing to learn from the veteran guys. They have a ton of knowledge to share.
Hopefully these points will remind people that the forestry industry committed to sustainability and growth, while providing challenging careers to thousands of people across Canada.