PacBio Focussed on Innovation and Sustainability

Pacific BioEnergy is taking an innovative approach to its new forest licence near Prince George, British Columbia – preserving many more trees than traditional harvesting, supporting local saw and pulp mills and producing high quality pellets to make clean, renewable energy.

The composition of the forest is typical of most areas harvested in the region and according to Government mapping is not located in caribou habitat. However, PacBio is taking a different approach than traditional harvesting – exceeding BC Government standards and regulations and reflecting the company’s commitment to sustainability, including:

  • Not harvesting 30% of the volume in the stand;
  • The stand is mature forest not Old Growth as defined by provincial government standards;
  • Protecting large diameter Cedar and Douglas Fir trees; which have already been marked with ribbon to ensure they are not to be harvested;
  • Leaving 90% of the Cedar in the stand;
  • Saw logs will be sold to sawmills. Pulp logs will be sold to pulp mills. Other logs will be sold to specialty mills;
  • Only low-quality logs and harvesting residues such as treetops and limbs will be used to make pellets, material which would normally be ‘piled and burned’;
  • Following all government guidelines and practices to ensure the protection of wildlife habitat; and
  • Adhering to our Sustainable Forestry Management certification.

Our commitment to sustainability is reflected in everything we do: from harvesting to the production of pellets to our relationships with local mills, members of our communities and to our customers. We have demonstrated this consistently during the past 25 years we have been operating in Prince George. We are proud of the work our forestry team and our contractors deliver on a daily basis.

John Stirling
CEO
Pacific BioEnergy

Goats & Sheep Help PacBio Reforest Bobtail Fire

Pacific BioEnergy (PacBio) is turning to some BC forest history this summer while conducting ‘brushing & weeding’ activities under its silviculture responsibilities.  PacBio is testing the use of goats and sheep on sites totaling approximately 150 hectares in the Bobtail Fire Rehabilitation Area as an alternative to using mechanical equipment or herbicide applications.  Use of goats and sheep to help with reforestation was common in the 1990s and earlier in the BC Interior but the practice has become less common since then.

PacBio Planning Forester, Aiden Wiechula states, “PacBio has been working in the Bobtail area hit hard by a wildfire in 2015 for the past two years.  We are taking burnt wood unwanted by other mills and converting it to wood pellets for customers in Japan and Europe.  With harvesting opportunities comes reforestation responsibilities including getting recently replanted sites to the ‘free to grow’ stage.  PacBio has always been an innovator in the wood pellet industry. We were the first to perfect onsite grinding of wood fibre that otherwise would have been ‘piled & burned’.  We are the first to consider introduction of more Aspen in our reforestation plans and now we’re using a clean, green, and re-vitalizing method to achieve our ‘brushing & weeding’ obligations.”

PacBio is working with two local companies providing goats and sheep.  The first is BC Timber Goats of Quesnel, BC.  Owner Bruce Bradley manages about 100 goats using herding dogs and drones.  The second company is owned by Bonnie Zawada and Tom Robertson who have a ranch on Blackwater Road.  Their 80 sheep and 20 goats have forestry brushing experience on sites adjacent to their ranch.  Tom gained experience with sheep grazing for silviculture when it was more widely used in the 1990s.

BC Timber Goats owner, Bruce Bradley says, “Goats prefer to feed on herbaceous material and deciduous trees, and they clear the lower canopy so crop trees can compete.  Goats provide further value to forestry because they do not just eliminate competing vegetation, goats harvest and biologically process this fiber, and redistribute that matter back into the soil.  This increases soil biological activity and makes the landscape more resilient and productive over time.  Finally, the goats are delivering a tremendous amount of renewable, kinetic energy to the forest surface, our 110 goats are constantly trampling and degrading dry surface fuels, which reduce the fire hazard and speed their decomposition.”

PacBio Woodlands Manager, Joe Kenney adds, “Part of our decision to use goats and sheep in this area of the Bobtail was to continue moving forward on our sustainability efforts.  Avoiding the use of loud, diesel-driven mechanical equipment together with the benefits of using goats and sheep should have an incredibly positive outcome for the recently planted seedlings and area wildlife.  We will continue to look for innovative ways to conduct our business in the most sustainable manner possible.”

PacBio President and CEO, John Stirling states, “PacBio is proud to take low-grade and burnt wood fibre and make high-energy, all-natural wood pellets for sale to customers in Japan and Europe.  We use the latest technologies in our pellet plant to make high-quality wood pellets and we have the best forest planning and partnerships to acquire our wood fibre.  We see the use of goats and sheep in our reforestation work as just another part of our creative and sustainable approach. We are not afraid to try new strategies when it makes sense from a forest management perspective or in producing our high-quality pellets.  At PacBio, we will keep pushing the boundaries of innovation and ingenuity, even if means trying a traditional practice such as using goats and sheep to help our reforestation efforts.”

Incident at PacBio’s PG Plant

Pacific Bioenergy Corporation (PacBio) today confirmed that Prince George Fire Department (PGFD) was called at approximately 5:00 p.m. yesterday after an incident occurred in an exterior conveyor system. PGFD arrived on the scene shortly afterwards.

PacBio CEO John Stirling stated “We are very thankful that none of our employees or members of the PGFD team were injured during and while responding to the incident. Our emergency response training paid off as our employees contacted PGFD immediately following the incident. PGFD remained onsite for a few hours to extinguish smolders. We were cleared by PGFD at approximately 8:00 p.m. to begin receiving fibre deliveries to the plant. The incident is under investigation by our staff and WorkSafeBC. The investigation is expected to take several days to complete. We will make the necessary repairs to the plant and resume production of wood pellets as soon as it is safe to proceed.”

PacBio Completes 2020 Tree Planting Season

On Saturday, July 11, PacBio achieved another milestone when planting crews with Freya Logging wrapped up PacBio’s first tree planting season. Crews planted the last of 1.1 million seedlings to complete PacBio’s planting responsibilities as part of its commitments to access burned fibre in the Bobtail Biomass Recovery Area.

The season began on May 8 with the planting of the 1st seedling. PacBio contracted with three Prince George based companies to complete the 2020 planting season. Along with Freya Logging, Strategic Natural Resource Consultants and Folklore Contracting safely and successfully completed the planting season. Between the three companies, the 2020 planting season created employment for approximately twenty local people.

PacBio Woodlands Manager, Joe Kenney, adds “Despite the challenges presented by Covid-19, 2020 has turned out to be very rewarding for our Woodlands Team. We’ve learned to take burnt fibre from the 2015 Bobtail wildfire and our Pellet Mill Team is producing quality wood pellets for our customers in Japan and Europe. We’ve experienced our 1st full season of planting seedlings which will renew the forests for future generations. We’re working with a number of different stakeholders to consider new forest management approaches such as introducing more Aspen into reforestation plans. We’re also celebrating over a decade of working with Excel Transport to grind fibre onsite in the forests that would otherwise have been piled and burned. While we’re only half-way through 2020 we’re feeling very good about the year so far.”

PacBio Forestry Planner, Aiden Wiechula added, “Watching as crews planted over one million new trees this year has been very rewarding. These seedlings are the basis of a new forest that will grow and flourish over the next several decades and provide food and shelter for birds and wildlife in the process. Its extremely rewarding as a forest professional to be able to participate in the full circle of planning, harvesting and reforestation. This year’s planting program now enables PacBio to say that it is a full-circle wood pellet company.”

PacBio Forestry Operations Supervisor, Conor O’Donnell, states “PacBio is leading the Canadian wood pellet industry with its innovative fibre acquisition strategies and is now fully involved in reforestation. While I focus the majority of my time and energy working with our contractors to acquire fibre and get it to our Prince George Plant, it is equally satisfying to see our Company now planting seedlings which will sustain forests for tomorrow. Everyone at PacBio can feel very proud of what we’ve accomplished this year with the help of our contractors and their crews.”

PacBio CEO John Stirling was on hand to plant the 1st seedling on May 8 and toured the Folklore planting site on July 9 to see the planting of some of the last seedlings in the 2020 planting season. John added, “We are very proud to be recovering fibre that would have been wasted and then replanting the forest in those areas. This year’s planting program was a huge step for us and especially as it began when British Columbia was still in the initial lockdown phase of Covid-19. I want to thank our Woodlands Team, our contractors, and their crews for successfully responding to the safety challenges. I want to thank all the planters and their companies for helping us achieve this extraordinary milestone. I also want to thank our PG Pellet Plant Team for figuring out how to process the burned fibre from the 2015 Bobtail wildfire. We have gained important new capabilities that will carry us forward into the future.”

PacBio Plants Half-Millionth Seedling

On Saturday, June 13, PacBio achieved another milestone when planting crews with Strategic Natural Resource Consultants planted the half-millionth seedling as part of PacBio planting program. The seedling was planted in a block near the Norman Lake West Forest Service Road, west of Prince George.

PacBio will conclude its Spring Plant on June 24 with the planting of approximately 680,000 new seedings. The Summer Plant is scheduled to begin on July 4 with another 450,000 seedlings to be planted.

PacBio CEO John Stirling planted PacBio’s 1st seedling on May 8 in the Bobtail Fire Biomass Recovery Area. “This year’s planting program is our first experience with replanting forests that were burned by an early season wildfire in 2015. We determined that we could salvage a lot of the burned wood and truck it to our plant in Prince George to make wood pellets. We’ve created economic opportunity and accelerated the reforestation in the fire damaged areas without piling and burning before replanting. I want to thank the planting crews for their work this spring and our Woodlands team for leading this project. We look forward to celebrating the planting of our One Millionth Seedling next month.”

In 2015, the Bobtail area west of Prince George was hit by a major wildfire which burned an area covering 25,533 hectares. The extent of the fire damage prevented salvage by the traditional forest industry.

In 2019, PacBio reached agreement with one of the major licensees in the area to salvage some of the burned fibre utilizing the licensee’s bioenergy license. PacBio proceeded to complete forest development planning and harvest unit layout while taking into account all the resource values that are present such as wildlife habitat, visual quality objectives, fisheries, and archeological resources.

PacBio Completes McBride Residual Fibre Recovery Project

Pacific BioEnergy Corp. (PacBio) recently announced that it has completed the McBride Residual Fibre Recovery Project. The project was conceived in 2018 as PacBio became aware that there was substantial residual harvest or “slash” fibre available from the McBride Community Forest. The fibre was slated to be burned to prepare the harvest sites for replanting. However, climate conditions in the mountainous Robson Valley can often limit burning opportunities as the resulting smoke can settle in the Valley for long periods and negatively impact local air quality. The McBride Community Forest went looking for a solution and PacBio responded.

PacBio has been grinding available forest residuals for the past 10 years to partially supply its Prince George plant where it manufactures wood pellets for customers in Europe and the Pacific Rim. Why burn fibre that can generate local jobs, new contract opportunities and improve Canada’s balance of trade by exporting wood pellets to energy customers wanting to lower their GHG emissions? In fact, PacBio has led the industry during the past decade by grinding fibre that was destined to be ‘piled & burned’. This was a solution that met the needs of the McBride Community Forest while providing additional local benefits.

McBride Mayor Eugene ‘Gene’ Runtz says, “This project was a triple win for McBride. We all breathed easier when we learned that the fibre would be used at PacBio’s plant in Prince George instead of being burned and filling the air in McBride with wood smoke. We all celebrated the grinding and trucking jobs for local residents that came with the project. PacBio told us they would hire local whenever possible and they were true to their word. The project also presented new opportunities for local businesses. PacBio hired local contractors for road maintenance, fibre sorting and truck loading, and rented land at a local business to inventory fibre before it was trucked to Prince George. Opportunities like these are important for a small community like ours and we thank PacBio for making it all possible.”

The project began in February 2019 and involved grinding harvest residuals that would have otherwise been ‘piled & burned’. The project resulted in almost 9,000 tonnes of fibre being used for pellets instead of being burned. It also created seasonal employment for people in the McBride area involved with grinding and trucking, along with new contracting opportunities for local businesses.

PacBio Forestry Operations Supervisor, Conor O’Donnell, says, “The opportunity to create local employment local contract opportunities is one of the side-benefits of projects like this. And, especially in smaller communities like McBride, a project like this one can have a big positive impact and we’re pleased to participate. Hopefully, based on the success of this project, we’ll be able to continue to provide local employment opportunities and secure fibre for our facility though partnerships with local contractors and the McBride Community Forest.”

The McBride Residual Fibre Recovery Project was completed with the support of the Forest Enhancement Society of BC (FES). FES is an agency established by the Province of BC to help reforest and sustain BC forests. PacBio applied for funding to partially offset the trucking costs for utilizing fibre outside PacBio’s normal economic range to make the project feasible. FES knew that the community supported the project and that made it even easier to support.

Forest Enhancement Society BC Executive Director Steve Kozuki added “One of the goals of FESBC and the Governments of BC and Canada is to mitigate climate change by improving the management of greenhouse gases in forestry. We are now making significant contributions to achieving this goal because there are so many communities, First Nations, companies like PacBio and others who are working together to create a sustainable bioeconomy that provides good jobs, community stability and cleaner air. This project with PacBio demonstrates that the economy and the environment can go hand-in-hand when the right partners come together with a common vision. The result was additional fibre for PacBio to support its wood pellet operation to make green energy in Prince George, less smoke in McBride, and new employment and economic opportunities for McBride which would not have occurred had the fibre been piled and burned.”

PacBio Woodlands Manager, Joe Kenny, says “Forest professionals work hard to develop solutions to maximize utilization of harvest residuals. British Columbians support the forest industry with the knowledge that forests will be managed sustainably, and that waste will be minimized after logging crews fell the timber. This project speaks to that vision. The Community Forest directed saw-logs to the sawmills for conversion into lumber, suitable wood chips went to the pulp & paper mills in Prince George, and the rest we ground to make wood pellets instead of it being ‘piled & burned’. This project is a great example of the old saying ‘Waste not, want not’. Our Company and the BC wood pellet industry is part of the solution to maximize utilization of harvested fibre and we’re very proud of our role in that process.”

PacBio CEO John Stirling stated, “The McBride Residual Fibre Recovery Project is another example of the innovation that comes with collaboration, a willingness to maximize utilization of harvested fibre, and a resolve to minimize impacts on the environment and people’s health. I want to thank the McBride community, local contractors, and the Forest Enhancement Society of BC (FES) for their collaboration to make this project a success. We approached the project on the principle that it is better to ultilize already harvested fibre and create new employment and contracting opportunities versus burning it in the Robson Valley and impacting local air quality. We believe this project can be repeated elsewhere in BC with similar success.”

PacBio McBride Residual Fibre Recovery Project

Pacific BioEnergy Corp. (PacBio) today announced that it has completed the McBride Residual Fibre Recovery Project. The project began in February 2019 and involved grinding harvesting residuals that would have otherwise been ‘piled & burned’ to prepare harvesting sites for replanting. The material was trucked to PacBio’s Prince George plant for conversion into wood pellets. The project resulted in almost 9,000 tonnes of fibre being used for pellets instead of being burned. The project also created seasonal employment for people in the McBride area involved with grinding and trucking, along with new contracting opportunities for local businesses.

PacBio CEO John Stirling stated, “The McBride Residual Fibre Recovery Project is another example of the innovation that comes with collaboration, a willingness to maximize utilization of harvested fibre, and a resolve to minimize impacts on the environment and people’s health. PacBio is proud of the collaboration with local people and contractors, and the Forest Enhancement Society of BC (FESBC) to make this project work. We approached the project on the principle that it is better to ultilize already harvested fibre and create new employment and contracting opportunities versus burning it and impacting local air quality.”

FESBC Executive Director Steve Kozuki added, “One of the goals of FESBC and the Governments of BC and Canada is to mitigate climate change by improving the management of greenhouse gases in forestry. We are now making significant contributions to achieving this goal because there are so many communities, First Nations, companies like PacBio and others who are working together to create a sustainable bioeconomy that provides good jobs, community stability, and cleaner air. This project with PacBio demonstrates that benefits for both the economy and the environment are achievable when the right partners come together with a common vision. The results of this project include additional fibre for PacBio to support its wood pellet operation to make green energy in Prince George, less smoke in McBride as well as new employment and economic opportunities for the community which would not have occurred had the fibre been piled and burned.”

McBride Mayor Eugene ‘Gene’ Runtz says, “This project was a triple win for McBride. We all breathed easier when we learned that the fibre would be used at PacBio’s plant in Prince George instead of being burned and filling the air in McBride with wood smoke. We all celebrated the grinding and trucking jobs for local residents that came with the project. PacBio told us they would hire local whenever possible and they were true to their word. The project also presented new opportunities for local businesses.”

Mayor Runtz continued “PacBio hired local contractors for road maintenance, fibre sorting and truck loading, and rented land at a local business to inventory fibre before it was trucked to Prince George. Opportunities like these are important for a small community like ours and we thank PacBio and FES for making it all possible.”

PacBio and the Bobtail Fire Biomass Recovery Area

‘A Story of Innovation, Renewed Forests and Environmental Recovery’

On May 1st Pacific BioEnergy Corp. (PacBio) achieved another milestone by planting its 1st seedling in the Bobtail fire area west of Prince George. During the next two months, tree-planters working for Freya Logging and Strategic Natural Resource Consultants, both based in Prince George, will plant 1.1 million seedlings in the area. This is the first tree planting project for PacBio which began its wood pellet operations in 1994.

In 2015, the Bobtail area west of Prince George was hit by a major wildfire which burned an area covering 25,533 hectares. The extent of the fire damage prevented salvage by the traditional forest industry.

In 2019, PacBio reached agreement with one of the major licensees in the area to salvage some of the burned fibre utilizing their bioenergy license. PacBio proceeded to complete forest development planning and harvest unit layout while taking into account all the resource values that are present such as wildlife habitat, visual quality objectives, fisheries and archeological resources.

The project also adheres to the BC Chief Forester’s Guidance and retains the entirety of Riparian Management Areas. PacBio was also able to achieve major connectivity retention in the area that respects the Moose Objectives contained in the Carrier Sekani Tribal Council’s Environmental Stewardship Initiative.

Upon completing harvest unit planning, PacBio applied for and received a cutting permit from the Ministry of Forests. PacBio hired local contractors to harvest the burned fibre and truck it to the company’s PG plant to make wood pellets. Had this harvesting not occurred, the fibre would have remained on site and decayed in the forest releasing greenhouse gases for many years.

 

Through tree planting and utilizing this fibre, PacBio has effectively changed this area of the Bobtail fire from a carbon source to a carbon sink while at the same time restoring the forest ecosystem and reforesting the site for the benefit of future generations.

However, an unexpected twist occurred in mid-March, as the ramifications of the Covid-19 pandemic started to become apparent and PacBio realized that the traditional labour model used by the planting industry would be highly affected. PacBio believed that running a planting camp with transient workers from across the country would not be a good model for success. PacBio thought local labour would be a much better solution to the challenges that Covid-19 presented.

PacBio looked to its current pool of contractors that were impacted by the Covid-19 downturn and two of our contractors stepped up and said they had experienced staff and resources necessary to fill the void. As a result, PacBio has Strategic Natural Resource Consultants (SNRC), our layout contractor, and Freya Logging, our harvesting contractor, planting trees and employing local labour.

PacBio Planning Forester Aiden Wiechula said, “The one million seedlings we plan to plant will cover an area of about 800 hectares. Additionally, PacBio plans to direct-seed 200 hectares this year and plant the remaining area next year. The project will employ about twenty local residents, most of whom would not be working due to Covid-19 impacts. This project represents welcome economic opportunity for our two contractors and their employees and a great start to renewing the Bobtail forests that were devastated by wildfire in 2015.”

Alex Forrester, Regional Manager for SNRC, said “This project is directly employing nine personnel in the field, who would otherwise be laid off due to the COVID-19 pandemic and sectoral slowdown, and two more in the office to help with planning and logistics.”

Freya Logging owner Liam Parfitt, stated “Working with PacBio at the Bobtail burn represents a huge and exciting chance to allow Freya logging to innovate around the low grade, dead, blowdown timber in order to make the recovery process cost effective with wood that was already dead. Even more exciting is the chance to finish the process by being stump to dump and back to the stump by being involved in the tree planting.”
The project, fully funded by PacBio, will recover biomass fibre from over 2,250 hectares of heavily damaged pine beetle killed burnt stands. PacBio’s Woodlands Manager, Joe Kenny, stated “Harvesting in the Bobtail fire area represents the first time in BC where there has been large-scale use of a bioenergy forest license to harvest fibre that would have otherwise been left to decay.”

PacBio CEO John Stirling stated, “After five days, the planters have restocked the area with almost 63,000 seedlings distributed over 57 hectares. PacBio has led the wood pellet industry in development of innovative fibre supply strategies including grinding and trucking harvest residuals which would have been ‘piled and burned’. Harvest residuals include low-grade, beetle-killed, and deciduous logs that the sawmills and pulp and paper mills can’t use. Our ability to access this material has allowed us to supplement our fibre supply and keep our PG plant operating. It has also enabled us to help advance reforestation of this area that was devastated by the 2015 wildfire. In addition to the fibre supply and Carbon benefits, we are pleased to support local employment in these challenging times.”

PacBio expects planting to wrap up around June 30.

 

PacBio Plants 1st Seedling in Bobtail Fire Biomass Recovery Area

Pacific BioEnergy Corp. (PacBio) today achieved another milestone by planting its 1st seedling in the Bobtail Fire Biomass Recovery Area west of Prince George. In 2015, the Bobtail area was hit by a major early season wildfire which burned an area covering 25,533 hectares. The extent of the damage in the fire area prevented salvage by the traditional forest industry.

In 2019, PacBio reached agreement with one of the major licensees in the area to salvage some of the burned fibre utilizing their bioenergy license. In order to complete the harvesting, PacBio hired several local contractors to harvest the burned fibre and truck it to the company’s PG Plant to make wood pellets. Had this harvesting not occurred, the fibre would have remained on site and decayed in the forest releasing greenhouse gases for many years.

Through tree planting and utilizing this fibre, PacBio has effectively changed the Bobtail fire area from a carbon source to a carbon sink while at the same time restoring the forest ecosystem and reforesting the site for the benefit of future generations.

PacBio CEO John Stirling stated, “Today is another milestone event for PacBio. We’ve led the wood pellet industry in the development of innovative fibre supply strategies including grinding and trucking harvest residuals which would have been ‘piled and burned’. Harvest residuals include low-grade, beetle-killed, and deciduous logs that the sawmills and pulp and paper mills can’t use. Our ability to access this material has allowed us to supplement our fibre supply and keep our PG Plant operating. It has also enabled us to help advance reforestation of this area that was devastated by the 2015 wildfire by planting over 1 million seedlings in the coming weeks. In addition to the fibre supply, and carbon benefits, we are pleased to support local employment in these challenging times.”

John Stirling, CEO, PacBio (left)
Alex Forrester, Regional Manager, Strategic Natural Resource Consultants (middle)
Joe Kenny, Woodlands Manager, PacBio (right)

Thanks to Employees, Contractors & Suppliers

As we say goodbye to April and welcome the start of May with its longer days and warmer temperatures, I want to thank the outstanding team at Pacific BioEnergy, our suppliers, and our contractors for stepping up and doing a fantastic job during this Covid-19 pandemic.

The BC Wood Pellet industry was declared an essential service in mid-March and our customers in Europe and Japan are grateful for everyone’s dedication. Our product is essential to their power production and I want to pass along their thanks to our team.

To support our operations, we have developed new policies, procedures, training, and communication for employees and contractors. We’ve all learned new safety and physical-distancing protocols that have enabled our plant to operate fairly smoothly through this historic time. This has allowed our staff to continue working to support their families and for that we are also grateful. Again, thank you for your dedication, commitment, and your positive approach during this unusual period. I also want to recognize the creativity and innovation of our team to ensure that we have an adequate supply of fibre to see us through break-up.

Thanks to our contractors and suppliers who help us continue to run our operations by adapting to the Covid-19 protocols at our Prince George Plant. Their staff have adapted to these changes with a positive attitude. I think it speaks very well to the ‘Can Do’ approach I’ve seen from our partners in Prince George.

As we look ahead to May and June, there is still considerable uncertainty as to when the lockdown measures will be lifted and just how the transition will take place. It does seem clear that the return to “normal” will come in stages and that it may take longer than we would like. Our Covid-19 protocols will remain in place until it is safe to modify or withdraw.

Our goal remains to continue providing our customers with the pellets we’ve promised them while continuing to work safely and observing our Covid-19 protocols. Thanks to everyone for helping us through this unprecedented period.

John Stirling
CEO