The Forest Around Us



Bill Moore

Let’s clean up Salt Water Main Street

....I had the opportunity recently to fly from the north end of Vancouver Island to Vancouver by helicopter. The Big Yellow Tractor Company pro-vided the chopper and on a clear day we visited various dry land sorting grounds on the avenues and offshoots of B.C.’s Salt Water Main Street. This main street — a unique avenue of salt water, starts at the southern end of B.C.’s coast — the Gulf of Georgia — then protected by 300 miles of Island, it leads up through the Straits of Georgia, Seymour Narrows, Johnston Straits with some open waters in Queen Charlotte Sound. Once out of the Queen Charlotte Sound we head north up Fitz Hugh Sound, Finlayson Channel, Fraser Reach, Greenville Channel and into Prince Rupert. A coastal water highway of six hundred miles that is heavily traveled—winter and summer.
....Every type of ship uses this avenue—from luxury liners loaded with tourists to one-horse powered outboard motor boats with sports fishermen looking for the famed B.C. salmon. There is no other waterway like our Pacific shore to be found in North or South America.
....The Gulf of Georgia is a mecca for small boats, with islands abounding—a modest rainfall—and a feeling for city dwellers of another world. Campbell River, halfway up the inside of Vancouver Island, and Rivers Inlet north of Queen Charlotte Sound provide two of the world’s greatest sports and commercial salmon spas.
....Well, now, back to my helicopter flight—and other flights and boat rides over the past many years up and down this wonderful Salt Water Main Street. The one blemish on this entire avenue is the amount of logs, debris and driftwood the traveler sees and dodges on this trip. There is beach after beach just loaded with logs of every description, and all forms of wood from stumps to limbs to roots. Only from the air—and especially from a helicopter can one see the fantastic amount of wood piled up in every cove, bay and beach—and this exists along our entire coastline.
....A stranger not knowing the reason for this great wasteland of wood, can just not conceive why it happens —

or better still why it is allowed to happen. The topic has been questioned by letters to the editors, angry boaters, shipping people and all forms of environmentalists. The question has been answered by various people connected with the forest industry—but I have never yet found in their answers a realistic solution. Apologists have said that much of it comes from flooded rivers, from natural beach timber blowdown, and some comes from log booms and booming grounds.
....Well, friends of this great forest industry around us—we’ve got a problem. And I think we better do a bit more about it than we are doing—unless we want an angry public forever pointing a finger at us and telling us we are wasters and destroyers. For this problem has really very little to do with flooded rivers or blowdown from beaches. I like many others have walked these beaches of our coast and believe the great majority of this wood—millions and millions of board feet of it, have come from log booming grounds or log booms in transit to mills.
....In the southern area of the Salt Water Main Street—attempts are made to salvage this wood, but north of Campbell river the attempts are sporadic and sometimes nil. Some places like parts of the west coast of Vancouver Island are extremely difficult to remove logs from the beaches due to the nearly constant waves that pound the surf. But even here ways could be found with man’s ingenuity to remove the waste of a resource, that has already cost the industry a great deal of money to bring to the salt water from its growing place.
....One of the ugliest sights to observe of this problem is to travel by boat down the Johnston Straights on the high tides of the winter months. Then it looks to the casual observer as if great booms of logs have been broken loose in tow. Here at these tides are real hazards to navigation besides unneces-sary waste. Deadhead sinker logs contribute greatly to the sights of logs on our beaches. These half sunken logs drop out of the flat booms of logs in transit and eventually find their way

onto some beach. They have caused immense damage to wooden hulled speedboats for they are difficult to see with only one end bobbing up and down in a choppy sea.
....The mills point out that there is a danger in cutting some of these beach-combed logs, for as they pound on the beaches, small rocks and pebbles impregnate themselves in the wood, causing a danger to the saws or knives of a mill.
....A friend of mine from the forest industry of Scandinavia on viewing our masses of logs on the beaches here just shook his head and was reaffirmed in his belief that we simply find wood so easy to get that we don’t bother with such waste as driftwood. I agree with his thinking—for our logging and milling industry has a history of being forced into better utilization. Going back in our history, I remember the but logs and top logs that were left in the woods because they were either too difficult to pull out, or the mills did not want them. We seem to have a built in philosophy about just taking out logs we want to—not clean the ground as we should. Of course Close Utilization laws are now in force—but even here we are still wasting in many areas—not just driftwood. And I challenge anyone to show me different.
....All the above brings a point to mind that is obvious to anyone touring our booming grounds today. The swing to dryland sorting at the log dumpsite is a step in the right direction for the loss of logs we have been allowing. Where dry land sorts exist, and there are more being built all the time, and where the logs are bundled and placed in the salt water there is an immediate saving in the loss from single logs escaping. Many of the larger companies now have quite efficient dry land sorts and they must notice the benefits of the savings in logs.
....However good the bundling of logs is over the old fashioned flat rafts—it is apparent as we look into the future that the next step in the transport of logs will be done entirely by barges. As the tree gets more difficult to get due to tougher terrain or distance from market, it will become imperative that

British Columbia Lumberman, August, 1973

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no loss occurs in transit. Only barges could really accomplish this task and only then when our beaches have been cleaned up and we no longer allow the new escapement of logs from booms or booming grounds, can we expect to get the publics’ approval of clean water-ways.
....But surely there are ways to be devised—that someone could invent some form of a landing barge type of ship that on tasking advantage of calm sea days, could move in on our beaches and start to haul away the millions of board feet now going to waste on our coastal beaches.
....There will have to be much needed help from our Forest Service in setting up equitable stumpage prices—or even subsidies in some cases for the removal of driftwood logs. And ways will have to be found to safely utilize the logs with embedded rocks.
....Our Salt Water Main Street and its offshoot avenues needs a well organized program of beach cleaning. There are hundreds of thousands of dollars laying on our beaches that cause untold trouble and problems for our shipping people, our commercial and sports fishermen and for our boating public. It’s a bad image that is cast on our industry to allow this waste and hazard to continue. Do we have to be forced into doing something about it—do laws have to be passed compelling us? Maybe this time a consortium of companies could get together under our Log Salvage Organization and begin to clean up the mess. Who knows, with some interest and initiative it might be found profitable.
When I think of the toil and sweat that loggers use to get logs to the salt water—I feel a sense of guilt for our industry that allows one single log to escape and float about our waters as a loss and a danger. Are we really that wasteful? Do we still have a spill over from the old philosophies about only bothering with the prime cuts of logs?
....This forest around us has given us in B.C. one of the world’s greatest continuing supplies of wood and fibre. It cannot be wasted for other lands are now competing with us in an ever growing capacity.
....Clean up the Salt Water Main Street and help keep B.C. beautiful!


Keep out of the bight,

British Columbia Lumberman, August, 1973