Students from Sarah Williams’ Grade 5/6 class at Tsuma-as Elementary School took a field trip to McLean Mill National Historic Site to learn about trees during National Forestry Week.
Students toured the site with registered professional forester Paul Dagg and registered forest technologist Mike Waters from the South Island Natural Resource District office on Sept. 20.
Dagg said students asked “lots of thoughtful questions.”
The field trip was the first on-site Forestry Week tour since the COVID-19 pandemic hit the world in early 2020. Prior to that, staff from the South Island Natural Resources District (Port Alberni) office used to host hundreds of students at McLean Mill for a day of learning about forestry and ecology.
“Coming out of COVID, we didn’t identify early enough someone to run with it and lead some activities,” said Dave Robinson, resource manager for the Port Alberni forestry office.
“We’re going to take this year and make sure we devote some time over the winter to ensure we participate in a meaningful way next September,” Robinson said. “It’s an important event, especially for Port Alberni.”
The Port Alberni office represents “a fairly large number” of forestry professionals who have sought out the Alberni Valley as an ideal place to work in the forestry industry, he said. Robinson himself has worked in forestry since 1990, almost all of that time on Vancouver Island—some in private business and some for the provincial government. He has experience in watersheds and water licensing.
He said National Forestry Week brings the importance of forests on the environment to a broader audience. As resource manager, he has professionals working for him such as foresters, forest technologists, road engineers, timber cruisers and log scalers, to name a few. They are responsible for measuring and appraising logs for harvesting, as well as forest stewardship and silviculture.
Another important factor in local forestry is reconciliation with first nations, he added. “Moving forward with nations and forming new partnerships with nations is critically important,” he said.
”Over 50 percent of the tenures held in our district are held either in full or in part by first nations. I think that’s critical.”