I have been very excited to share this story as it’s one of the most memorable experiences from my time at Canfor and could not have happened without the support of my managers and some amazing colleagues. I like to call this story “the goat lick trip”.
During my first few weeks as a co-op at Canfor, I had conversations with my managers about my interests and we tried to find projects that fit those areas. Among other things, I shared that I was really interested in field work even though it was not part of the role I was in. Months later I connected with a colleague from Canfor’s forestry group, asking a mix of questions for the sustainability report and for my own personal interest. I was very curious about our woodlands operations and how animal habitats, species at risk and wildfires were considered in our sustainable forest management plans and harvesting operations. We had a great discussion about sustainable forest management practices at Canfor. The conversation ended with an invite to join our Manager of Biodiversity and Wildlife, Kari Stuart-Smith, in Cranbrook, B.C., on an important field trip to assess a potential area of ‘high biodiversity value’.
The area of high biodiversity value turned out to be a series of mountain goat licks that were found in one of the forest tenures that Canfor is authorized to harvest in. A goat lick is a mineral rich area of soil that goats (and other ungulates like elk, deer, and bighorn sheep) lick to obtain important nutrients for their health. I brought up to my managers the possibility of going to Cranbrook for a week to join my colleague on this exciting field trip. They responded with full support and thought it was a wonderful idea! The plans were made, and the trip was set, I was pumped!
Since the goat lick field day wasn’t until Friday, I had the opportunity to shadow different colleagues in the field for the rest of the week. My days consisted of long field days spent hiking through the woods and asking as many questions as I could think of. One highlight was a day that was spent hiking through a planned cut-block identifying and mapping potential breeding habitat for Flammulated Owl (a Blue-listed or Species of Concern in B.C.) to ensure their habitat would be protected during the harvesting process.
Finally, on the day of the goat lick trip, I was surprised to be joined by a Biologist from the provincial government and a representative from a prominent environmental organization also interested in assessing the significance of the goat licks. The area we were going to wasn’t accessible by vehicle, so we took ATVs until we were close enough to hike up the mountain to the site. Between riding an ATV, hiking and the beautiful views of the Canadian Rocky Mountains, it hardly seemed like a workday!
Once at the site, we set up remote cameras to learn more about how goats use these licks. How often did the goats use these licks? How many goats used the licks? At what times of the year were the licks used? These were all important questions that needed to be answered before any logging activity could occur near the site. As someone who cares deeply about the environment and biodiversity, it was comforting to see the due diligence process and effort that Canfor puts into protecting species at risk and their habitats.
The goat lick trip to Cranbrook was one I will remember for the rest of my life, and I have to thank my managers and colleagues at Canfor for the opportunity. It was an amazing learning experience that will continue to inspire me as I finish school and begin looking for permanent career opportunities after graduation.