Purpose-built Volvo B-Series excavators are helping control spread of mountain pine beetles
ENDERBY, B.C. - Mitch Smith is a logger, not a bug exterminator. Still, Smith and his MiBar Logging crews are on the job around the clock helping rid British Columbia of the mountain pine beetle, a small insect that is wreaking havoc on the province's rich lodgepole pine forests.
Logging in western Canada has always been king. Of late, it has become a 24-hour, seven day a week job as foresters like MiBar are feverishly working to eradicate the dreaded mountain pine beetle. Stopping the voracious mountain pine beetle through mass harvesting of timber is critical to the future of the forest industry not only in Canada, but elsewhere around the globe.
The mountain pine beetle, less than a half-inch long, lives most of its life under the bark of pine trees. Normally these bugs attack old or weakened trees, speeding the development of a younger forest. However, unusual hot and dry summers, combined with mild winters in British Columbia during the last few years, have lead to the largest mountain pine beetle epidemic that Canada has ever seen. To date more than 21 million acres have been destroyed by beetles.
The Battle Begins
The sun has barely peeked above the horizon as Mitch Smith, owner of MiBar Logging, quietly closes the door on his home in Enderby, B.C. and heads out to the jobsite for another sixteen hour day of supervising the harvesting of heavy pine in some of the roughest, most unforgiving territory that the Canadian Rockies can dish out.
On this job site, a cut block almost 60 miles into the heart of the Cascade mountain range, MiBar crews are operating three Volvo purpose-built forest excavators that MiBar has recently purchased from Great West Equipment, Vernon, B.C.
MiBar crews have been very productive on that site, Smith says, due in large part to the Volvo excavators, including a Volvo EC240B BF fitted with a custom, purpose-built, high forestry cabin and log loading grapple. The EC240B BF is powered by a highly reliable and fuel efficient 7.1 liter, 180 hp turbocharged, electronically controlled, 4 stroke diesel engine and a variable main hydraulic pump that work seamlessly together in all working and load conditions. "That Volvo machine is ideal for this job," Smith said.
"We are currently operating 10 forest machines, including our three Volvos," Smith said. "Quite frankly, the Volvos give us the best bang for the buck. We've had very little downtime, and as far as productivity and fuel efficiency goes, they are at the head of the class."
He added, "We keep a very close record of our fuel consumption and in any given shift each Volvo uses 25 to 30 fewer liters (6.5 to 8 gallons) of fuel than our comparable machines."
As he does daily, Smith checked with the EC240B BF operator to get a report on its performance. As usual, he found there have been no problems, no downtime and just routine maintenance. "That machine was getting the job done just as it has from day one," Smith said.