The B.C. coastal forest industry relies heavily on water transport for the movement of logs. Logs are traditionally made into bundle booms or loaded onto barges and are towed by tug boats to sort yards or docks, or to mills for processing. This method of transport has been preferred due to its cost-effectiveness, given the unique and challenging terrain of the coast. However, by transporting logs in water, additional cost is incurred in the mill due to corrosion of equipment from salt water. Further, it is more challenging to find uses for, and to dispose of, salt-laden mill residuals, such as hog fuel.
Previous work done by FPInnovations compared different modes of log transport: truck, boom, and small and large barge on a hypothetical trip from Campbell River to Nanaimo. The study found that when both direct and indirect costs are included, transporting logs by small barge and keeping them out of salt water is the most economical means of transport. Operations south of Cape Caution, which is on the east side of Vancouver Island, and the west coast of mainland B.C., could potentially replace log booms with small barges, should it be more economical to do so. The original report compared truck transport to water transport. The current report will solely focus on comparing the costs and operational implications of switching from log booms to small barges.