HELICOPTER LOGGING IN BRITISH COLUMBIA

RITA LEISTNER


The Axe

by Isabella Valancy Crawford (Canadian: 1850-1857)

 

‘BITE deep and wide, O Axe, the tree!
What doth thy bold voice promise me?’

‘I promise thee all joyous things
That furnish forth the lives of kings;

‘For every silver ringing blow
Cities and palaces shall grow.’

‘Bite deep and wide, O Axe, the tree!
Tell wider prophecies to me.’

‘When rust hath gnawed me deep and red.
A nation strong shall lift his head.

‘His crown the very heavens shall smite,
Aeons shall build him in his might.’

‘Bite deep and wide, O Axe, the tree!
Bright Seer, help on thy prophecy!’

 


Helicopter Logging in the Pacific Coast Range Mountains

 

Six months after I’d photographed winter logging in Quebec, I went to British Columbia Canada in July 2006 to photograph Helicopter Logging in the Pacific Coast Range Mountains. Gary Laidlaw, owner of Helifor Industries, the largest helicopter logging outfit on Vancouver Island, welcomed me and flew me to their floating barge camp, Camp Odyssey, near Phillips Arm on the Strait of Georgia.

Helicopter logging (yarding timber by air rather than by land) is one of the most environmentally responsible, and the most expensive logging practice going, with operating costs of about $100.00 per minute (around $70,000.00 per day, for a single aircraft crew). Manning the mountainous terrain and waters below is dangerous, backbreaking work for teams of specialized loggers (fallers, riggers, chasers, boom men, pilots), most of whom have spent the majority of their lives living and working on Vancouver Island.


 

Near Phillips Arm British Columbia Canada, July 2006. Photo of Rita Leistner by Camp Odyssey Foreman Andrew Rivett.