By Rick Garrick
TEMAGAMI FIRST NATION—Temagami’s Daki Menan Lands and Resources Corp (DMLRC) has found success with the sale of cut and split birch firewood on Bear Island since the ice road opened.
“We ran a little bit before Christmas and started really in earnest on the first of February,” says Jeff Barton, DMLRC’s general manager. “A lot of the customers to date have been on Bear Island, so we waited until the ice road was safe and got the authorization to use the truck and trailer across the ice road. We’re taking advantage of the ice road while we can, and once that breaks up we’ll start to deliver to individuals with road access or to customers on the island or around Lake Temagami that have water access and the ability to move firewood on their own boats.”
DMLRC started up the service in November on an intermittent basis with four part-time employees after purchasing a Cord King M18-20 firewood processor and a small skid-steer loader in September to produce the firewood, which is cut and split at the former Temagami Forest Products site north of Temagami. DMLRC also purchased a three-quarter ton truck and a dump trailer, which can carry three cords, to haul the firewood to customers. DMLRC assembled the components of the business through support from Chief and Council as well as some financial assistance from Waubetek Business Development Corp.
“[DLMRC] is an incorporated not-for-profit company,” Barton says. “The directors are all band members, including representation from the council.”
DLMRC was incorporated in 2004 as part of the band’s forestry strategy, which was developed in 2001.
“Part of the strategy looked at whether it was feasible for the band to harvest the allocation it had through the Temagami Forest Management Plan,” Barton says. “It was quite a small volume, so it was not economically feasible to operate it.”
Barton was hired on at DLMRC in 2015 to begin working on implementing the forestry strategy. He says firewood was one of the initiatives in the strategy, which also includes the provision of fire suppression services, establishment of a processing facility and provision of GIS services.
“It also identified salvaging of sunken logs,” Barton says. “We haven’t quantified it, but presumably with the amount of logging that’s happened in the Temagami area over the last 100 years, there is likely a significant volume of sunken logs in some of the major waterbodies, including Lake Temagami and the Montreal River.”
“We’ve started advertising locally,” Barton says. “We recently bid on an [Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry] parks contract. Our understanding is that the MNRF is going to release another request for bids late in this year or early in 2018, so we’ll be in a much better position to bid on those at that time.”
DLMRC purchased its first loads of birch from a local contractor, but the company plans to purchase logs from other contractors in the area and from their own operations in the future.
“Birch is one of the densest woods we have around [the area] and it burns fairly hot and cleanly as long as it is dried,” Barton says. “So people have a tendency to look for birch if they can.”
Barton says many people on Bear Island are using electricity for their primary source of heat in their homes as there is no natural gas service.
“So if we can help lessen the burden of using electricity for heat, in the long term those people will be better off,” adds Barton.
DLMRC is taking orders for the firewood at the company office or by calling Barton at 705-648-0708 or Carolyn at 705-237-8600.