A fiery end for the wood ‘nobody wanted’

An on-site contractor said it’s 20 to 30 cords of wood. The forest management branch said it’s debris and branches.

An on-site contractor said it’s 20 to 30 cords of wood.

The forest management branch said it’s debris and branches.

Either way, it’s going to burn.

Within hours, three piles of dry wood at a log dump off McLean Lake Road salvaged from the Hamilton Boulevard extension are slated to be cleared by burning through an order from the community services division of the Yukon government.

The forest management branch maintains that the piles will not be salvaged by residents — leaving burning as the only option to remove the wood.

“There are surely incidental amounts of logs in last year’s piles, much of that volume is aspen and small tops which were not picked up while the piles were available for salvage,” Damien Burns, tenured forester for the forest management branch, said in an e-mail on Tuesday.

“Keep in mind that piles have already been available for over a year at this site,” he said.

Remaining wood would also be difficult to access as it would be buried in the debris piles, said Burns.

“Nobody thinks it’s 25 cords out there, but they do believe it’s a lot of slash, and there may be some salvageable wood if somebody really wanted to put some work into it, but they’re at the point now with the contract to either pull the wood out or get rid of it,” said community services media spokesperson Ron Billingham.

If left for too long, wood piles can become hazardous, violating worksite regulations, said Billingham.

The contractor tasked with performing the burn said that if he simply spread the pile around, it could be salvaged within a matter of months.

As well, Lobird residents without vehicles to access other sources of firewood could easily enter the area with snowmobiles, he said.

“Some people take to burning boxes in the winter, so why wouldn’t they come and pick through this wood?” he said.

The burn will potentially take two days, creating tons of woodsmoke — and posing a potential annoyance for residents of the nearby Lobird subdivision.

While every effort will be made to direct the smoke away from the Lobird subdivision, the contractor said prevailing wind patterns will inevitably flood the area with woodsmoke.

“We tried blowing them up, and now we’re going to smoke them out,” he said, facetiously.

“Why would we burn wood as waste, when we can put it in woodstoves and warm our houses?” said Morris Lamrock, a Lobird resident whose house was struck by rock debris from Sidhu Trucking’s botched explosion in early May.

“For me, this is just another side of the cost of trying to do things quickly,” he said.

“Red tape” has often forced workers to rush through forest clearing — and burn wood that, with a little bit of planning, could have been used by residents, said the contractor.

Lots of free wood has been available, and will be available, through government log clearing operations, said Burns.

Green wood cleared from the Arkell subdivision will still be available at the McLean Lake Road log dump — and the government estimates that it has distributed more than 100 cords of cleared wood over the last years.

“I am very confident that community services and the forest management branch have made every effort to get all of this wood to the public,” said Burns.

“YTG has spent considerable effort and money on the salvage and processing of this timber, and we should be celebrating that many hundreds of cords have been allocated to the public in this way,” he said.

Contact Tristin Hopper at tristinh@yukon-news.com