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Yukon’s fuelwood supply is improving, director says

The Yukon government is putting up $200,000 to help harvesters and retailers get wood to market
Firewood harvesting occurs in the Quill Creek area, seen on Aug. 13, 2022. The Yukon government has introduced a new forestry support program intended to get more firewood to market. (Dana Hatherly/Yukon News)

A new forestry support program is offering $200,000 in total to help harvesters and retailers overcome barriers in getting more firewood to market, according to a Yukon government press release.

The Aug. 31 press release announcing the program indicates reimbursements of up to $15,000 are available for businesses.

The program is intended to assist commercial timber harvesters and retailers who process and sell timber and firewood in the Yukon by giving money to help businesses buy equipment and pay for services, per the Yukon government’s website.

Businesses can apply for three tiers of funding on eligible purchases such as harvest equipment, work vehicles and trailers, personal protective equipment, fuel spill kits, fire prevention gear, planning and administration costs made between April 1, 2023, and March 31, 2024 (or until funds are exhausted, whichever comes first).

Funding will not be provided for maintenance or purchase of personal vehicles, fuel, labour and goods or services funded by other Yukon government programs, per the website.

The website states that applicants will find out within three weeks if their application has been approved or rejected.

Businesses can also use the territorial government’s timber harvesting incentive to get $10 per cubic metre ($22.65 per full cord) back for the timber harvested for the business, if the timber harvested meets certain criteria.

In a September 2022 interview, Energy, Mines and Resources Minister John Streicker said he was concerned about the fuelwood supply given the number of calls his department had been fielding from Yukoners struggling to get wood to heat their homes through the winter. He has been aware of this issue since he met with the Yukon Wood Products Association to hear about fuelwood supply challenges in 2021.

“We’re getting enough of those calls that we’re nervous,” he told the News on Sept. 27, 2022.

“It’s why we’ve been trying to get more supply into the marketplace all along.”

READ MORE: Minister concerned about firewood shortage

Michelle Sicotte, director of the department’s forest management branch, said the department has not been getting calls from individuals like last year.

“The situation is getting better, and we think it is going to be easier for people to get wood this year, and also there’s still plenty of work to do to get to a more stable situation,” Sicotte said.

Per the release, the program and the incentive are intended to provide short-term relief as the government works with the forest industry, First Nations and the Yukon Wood Products Association to ensure a consistent long-term wood supply.

The release notes that reported timber harvest volumes for last fall and winter were up 20 per cent compared to the previous two years. More than 96,000 cubic metres (42,000 cords) of timber are currently permitted, mostly in the Haines Junction area. Typically, 15,000 cubic metres (6,600 cords) of firewood is harvested each season from public lands in the territory.

The territory’s 2016 biomass strategy indicates about 0.1 per cent of the entire forested land base in the Yukon has been dedicated to harvest, so far. A 2018 document titled Yukon’s energy context estimates between 15 to 25 per cent of Yukon homes are heated with wood as a main or backup heat source.

Per the documents, the government is encouraging more wood heating in the territory as part of reducing the Yukon’s dependence on fossil fuels and greenhouse gas emissions. The government’s website states a downside of using wood, a renewable resource, as a heat source is the supply of wood relies on fossil fuels to cut, gather and transport wood to the home.

Sicotte said the department is working with First Nations in some of the communities to come up with new timber harvest plans and options for operators.

There are currently about 70 harvesters that are potentially eligible for the program and, while there’s no hard number of retailers, Sicotte estimated there are about 70 to 80 retailers.

“The availability of firewood is important to Yukoners, especially with winter approaching,” Streicker said in the release.

“Investing in our local harvesters and retailers is an investment in the heart of our economy. We encourage all eligible commercial harvesters and retailers to apply.”

READ MORE: Wood heat makes a comeback

Contact Dana Hatherly at

Dana Hatherly

About the Author: Dana Hatherly

I’m the legislative reporter for the Yukon News.
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