Once forest planning is complete Alberta-Pacific's operational planners set to work ensuring our harvest operations meet all regulatory guidelines and expectations. A Capital Roads Plan is used to develop winter and summer harvest areas that takes into account a spatial harvest sequence, the type of watercourse crossings required, which crossings may require a federal Navigable Waters Act approvals and which existing roads can be connected with.
Following a Spatial Harvest Sequence, the Operational Planners map out the harvest areas, or cut blocks. They inspect the forest area to be harvested, put in place creek buffers, identify sensitive areas such as trap lines, raptor nests, public recreational land and private land concerns, ungulate zones and areas that have environmentally sensitive features. Pipelines, well sites and other roads, along with public input received during the consultation stage of planning are also included in the plan.
All of this information is submitted as part of a Forest Harvest Plan to the Alberta government for approval. Once it is attained, the Forest Harvest Plan is rolled into an Annual Operating Plan, which sets out the sequence of harvest. Operations co-coordinators then meet with the harvest contractors to go over wood volumes, total area, sensitive areas and details of the contract. An agreement, called a schedule B, is then signed giving the contractor approval to begin harvesting.
Trees selected for harvest are then cut by feller bunchers, skidded to piles where branches are removed and the stems cut to length by a processor. Al-Pac's harvest contractors use a harvest pattern that leaves existing stand structure which mimics wildfire, a natural occurrence that has helped shape forests for many thousands of years. This is also the time when block roads are constructed to provide log truck access to log decking sites to transport the logs to our mill site.
Once the harvest is complete and the roads are built, an inventory of the harvested logs is taken before they are scheduled for transport by truck to the mill. Al-Pac manages this contracted log haul fleet using a dispatch system programmed to stagger trucks on the roads and avoid hauling during peak traffic flows.
During this entire process regular inspections of the harvest areas and haul take place by Al-Pac coordinators using portable electronic tablets to ensure compliance with pertinent government legislation, as well as Al-Pac policies and procedures.