R&A Logging Deals With Forest Management Through Tigercat Machines

R&A Logging Deals With Forest Management Through Tigercat Machines

Brothers Ron and Rodney Volansky own R & A Logging, operating in BC’s southern interior. Their dad, Ron Senior and his partner Al Olsen started the company in 1973, working in the bush for fifteen years before retiring in 1988.

In 1983, Brent and Blair, the eldest Volansky brothers, started Twin B Logging, which operated as a subcontractor for R & A.

“When Dad retired in 1988, Twin B assumed the workload,” explains Ron. Once he finished high school, Ron started working for Twin B Logging. His brother Rodney did carpentry for a couple of years before also committing to the family logging business.

R & A Logging owners, Ron and Rodney Volansky.

In 1996, Ron and Rodney were approached by Pope & Talbot (which later became Interfor) about buying a tower yarder. That is when they decided to bring R & A Logging out of dormancy. The two brothers purchased the old equipment from their father and yarded until 2002, before switching to conventional ground-based logging.

“Back then, we were just one buncher, one skidder and one processor, and then we just kind of grew after that. Now we run two sides, a yarding side and a ground-based side,”

tells Ron.

In 2002, R & A purchased its first Tigercat, an L870 track feller buncher. It served as the primary production machine until 2017. “I want to say it had 30,000 plus hours on it,” says Ron. “It was an awesome machine. I bet we only lost twenty days. It never broke down,” adds Rodney.

875E logger with power clam grapple loading trucks that are headed to the water dump.

The company is based out of a small logging community in the BC southern interior called Nakusp. The harvest area includes a mix of cedar, hemlock, fir and lodgepole pine. It is typical Kootenay second growth – around 45-50 cm (18-20 in) diameter and 30 m (100 ft) tall. R & A Logging handles all operational phases from road construction to log hauling.

The company has purchased twelve Tigercat machines over the years and currently operates L870C, LX870D and L855E feller bunchers, 630E and 632H skidders, LS855E and LSX870D shovel loggers, an 850 processor equipped with a 568 head, and an 875E logger. R & A purchases from heavy equipment sales specialist Tavis Mann, based out of Inland’s Vernon branch. “They are really good to work with,” says Ron. “Service sells.”

LSX870D equipped with shovel clam grapple working the hillside.

2021 fires

In 2021, R & A was helping to build a fire guard, also known as a fire break, to control one of the wildfires in the area.
“We would typically start early and end early, ending the day around two o’clock. We parked the machines. We parked the 630E skidder in the middle of the block. The other skidder and the excavator were parked across from each other on a switchback, and the buncher was up the road about a half kilometre,”
says Ron.Within two hours after leaving the job site, around four o’clock, the fire had taken over.
“It probably burned two and a half mountain ranges in two hours. This fire and the one across the lake happened at exactly the same time. I watched the one across the lake really start to burn. You could just tell by the black smoke,”
says Ron.The crew were making bets on what pieces of equipment they thought would be burned. The processor and loader were parked in a regen area, and they didn’t get touched by the flames. On the 630E, the handles on the fire tools burned off, the windows melted, and two tires were damaged. The excavator, the other skidder, and the buncher were a complete loss, along with the company’s water truck.Now R & A is back on the site to clean up and salvage. “The burnt wood will last about two to three years,” says Ron.
LSX870D operator Matt Robins.
The wood gets hauled to Interfor’s mill in Castlegar, also the location of a hydroelectric dam. All the processed logs are brought to a remote dump, banded, then pushed into Arrow Lake above the dam. When the wood is ready for intake into the mill, it is rafted, taken through the dam and into the Columbia River to the mill downstream. “They can take 35 loads in a raft through the dam at a time,” says Rodney.Inventorying the stock in the river has many benefits. The water helps preserve the logs and there is plenty of storage space in the lake. Transport and intake costs are reduced. “It’s unlimited space for the mill to store logs. And they can tow 1,000 loads at once versus one load at a time,” says Ron.
The next generation 
Ron’s sense is that there aren’t many new people getting into the industry in his region. At the same time, he is losing the experienced veterans.
“We need to educate younger generations on the forest industry in Canada. It is a sustainable industry. Mother nature just burned down these two valleys. Now we are coming to salvage the burned wood. Then we are going to go back and plant new trees.”
Ron’s son Quinton works in the business, doing whatever needs to get done, whether it’s driving a log truck or hauling a lowbed. Rodney’s son Adam is a talented operator, and nephews Blain and Tyson work on the yarding side. Ron believes the industry will stay steady over the next five years. He is grateful to have his son and nephews to keep the family business going.
“There were very few elk here in the eighties, now we have herds of them. That isn’t from deforestation. That is because we have created a good habitat for them. I want to see that message passed along. I want the people in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, Montreal, and Halifax, to know that we manage the forests sustainably,”
says Ron
(L-R) Blair Volansky; Rodney Volansky; Ron Volansky; R & A safety manager, Chris Ewings; Inland heavy equipment sales specialist, Tavis Mann.