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Tembec focuses on safety as tree-planting operations hit the halfway mark

Tembec’s tree-planting operations are around the halfway point as camps and crews have been set up near Opasatika. No-hunting zones have been in place since May as the spring bear hunt pilot program has just wrapped up in the north.

Tembec, in tandem with its seed planting contractor Outland, runs one of the only planting operations with bear security. Luc Cayoutte is the man responsible for keeping tree planters in the deep bush safe from bears, sometimes being forced to dispatch them only as a last resort. Cayouette says there can be close calls as bears can be unpredictable, including in an encounter he had in his first year with these crews.

Safety is a priority for Tembec and its tree planters in the deep bush at this time of year. Manager for Health and Safety in the woodlands for Tembec, Ron Isaac says it’s imperative Tembec secures the safety of its planters. Isaac says the crews are trained in the event of any emergency on where and how to congregate. Which means there’s a protocol for everything from a bear which gets too close, to a medical emergency to a forest fire breaking out.

The planters are isolated in the deep bush from around early May to late July, depending on the season. Something Crew Boss Meg Krystens says takes a huge mental toll on the planters, is spending entire days alone in the field.

Some of the more experienced planters, in their second year or above have the potential to make over $500 a day. Forestry operations out of Kapuskasing’s mill have taken part in re-foresting and seed planting for nearly 100 years.

(Written by: Greg Rosser)

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