Bill Whimp, a logger from Watson Lake, says there is untapped logging and biomass potential in Watson Lake that the Yukon government needs to consider. (Wikimedia Commons)

Logger wants YG to improve logging, biomass industry in Watson Lake

YG spokesperson said biomass could be scaled up

There is untapped logging and biomass potential in Watson Lake that the Yukon government needs to consider, according to a logger from that community.

“There’s no industry,” said Bill Whimp. “If we had an industry like that, we would have a community again. Our kids have no future here.”

He said Watson Lake used to be a boomtown before sawmills were shuttered. That’s why he’s calling on the government to establish a 20-year timber harvest plan, which includes biomass, the hope being that the eye of an investor will be caught.

There’s upwards of a million cubic metres of burnt wood that can be used for biomass, Whimp said, adding that, when paired with his trade, it makes good business sense.

“Looking at the whole picture is cleaning up these burns so we got a forest growing back and not a forest that grows over all the windfall and potentially burns in another 30 years from now.

“Still keeping control of wood in the Yukon, so we don’t have Smithers loggers coming up,” he continued. “We have enough people in our community to do it.”

Lisa Walker, director of the Yukon government’s forest management branch, said there are timber harvest plans in the community already, and loggers can apply for additional volumes. She noted policies that dictate when wood can be harvested and consultation with First Nations.

A maximum volume of 120,000 cubic metres can be harvested, Walker said, but it usually comes in as less than this. Whimp wants a local economy that pulls 250,000 cubic metres.

“That would be lovely,” she said, referring to bringing in a mill. “We understand that region of Yukon has the best trees, just because where they’re geographically located. We’re working with First Nations to make those long-term visions the reality because forestry planning is not done in isolation.”

Walker said roughly 90 per cent of harvesting in the territory is related to biomass.

Asked whether it could be scaled up, she said it’s a possibility.

“We’re really on the cusp of all of these conversations.”

A panel tasked with informing the government on its plan to reduce emissions released a report recently that warns against increased thermal generation.

The Yukon government released a draft plan in November that seeks to axe greenhouse gas emissions by 30 per cent by 2030. Central to it is ensuring that 93 per cent of power is derived from renewable energy sources while balancing demand due to a growing population.

The panel is an offshoot of this work. It visited Whitehorse, Watson Lake and Haines Junction shortly after the plan was released in order to collect information from Yukoners and stakeholders. Whimp said he submitted comments when the panel visited his community.

Harnessing biomass is an issue the panel suggests needs more movement on, adding that oil and propane heating contributes the second highest amount of greenhouse gases (16 per cent).

“Both cord wood and wood pellets cost significantly less than conventional heating sources, including electricity,” the report says. “Pairing biomass with electric heating could be incentivized to improve seasonal load, with electric heating during spring/fall, and biomass heating in winter months.”

Roughly 25 per cent of homes use wood as a heat source. This could be scaled up, the report says, “to convert half of the 69 per cent of homes that heat with oil to biomass.”

Contact Julien Gignac at

julien.gignac@yukon-news.com

Watson Lake

Just Posted

YESAB extends public comment period for Kudz Ze Kayah mine project

The extension pushes the public comment period far beyond the 60 days provided in YESAB’s own rules

Police shouldn’t use ‘excessive force,’ Bagnell says regarding national resistance to B.C. pipeline

Yukoners have been pressing Bagnell to clarify his position on RCMP action in Wet’suwet’en territory

WYATT’S WORLD

Wyatt’s World

Council sends procurement policy back to staff for more work

Whitehorse chamber of commerce says policy that was proposed won’t support local business

Updated: Yukon government announces review of inclusive and special education in the territory

Review stems from a 2019 auditor general report. Recommendations are expected in June

Olivia Webster is the final musher to finish the Yukon Quest

‘I guess I’ve always been a grandpa’s girl and he’s my best friend, so I kind of wanted to be like him and so I did it’

Yukon’s Rob Cooke and company finish 10th in the 2020 Yukon Quest

Cooke and his 14 Siberians crossed the finish line at 9:07 a.m. on Feb. 15 in Whitehorse

Mailbox: Rendezvous memories, accountability

Letters to the editor published Feb. 7

Mailbox: Rendezvous and protests

Letters to the editor from Feb. 14

More Yukon Quest mushers reach finish in Whitehorse

Swedish musher Nora Sjalin is this year’s Rookie of the Year Award winner

History Hunter: Will Rogers and Wiley Post: Their historic visit to the Yukon

The story of the American pilot and the film star has a Yukon connection

EDITORIAL: What would happen if Whitehorse transit was free?

If the city is considering cheaper fares we might as well crunch the numbers on no fares at all

City news, briefly

Some of the decisions made at Whitehorse city council’s meeting on Feb. 10

Most Read