Second-generation loggers Dennis and Brian Hoobanoff have seen quite a few changes in forest industry practices since their dad started cutting timber in the 1960s, and they say the changes have had a profound effect on their logging operation. The major change has been mechanization—moving from hand-felling to highly sophisticated machines.

“The forest industry has changed dramatically in the ensuing five decades,” says Dennis. Modernized equipment incorporates computerized monitoring of production and quality, from the felling of the trees to the delimbing and loading on the trucks.

The other noticeable change is where they are harvesting. Hoobanoff Logging is located in Canal Flats, and they have had to adapt to where they can log in the East Kootenay.

“Easy access timber is limited, so now we’re moving on to steeper slopes that require more specialized equipment and expertise.”

It’s equipment that comes with a higher price tag, but that has provided them with a competitive advantage, too.

During this past year, Hoobanoff Logging worked with the Trust on financial restructuring that helped them continue to adapt to changes in the forest industry. This has helped keep jobs local and supported a business in a rural Basin community.

“Right now, we have one feller buncher, two skidders, three excavators and two processors along with a log loader.” Then there’s the cable yarder, used for logging and clearing old growth found on some of the Kootenays’ steepest slopes. This specialized equipment makes an operation more productive. Although Dennis says financing the equipment over four years is “not much different than buying a new car,” the price tag surely is—the average machine costs $375,000 to 600,000. To buy a new cable yarder, it’s going to cost $1.4 to 2 million.

By investing in machines that can safely harvest timber in challenging conditions, Hoobanoff Logging has ensured its future success.

Through their decades of operation, Dennis, Brian and their families have seen many changes to the logging and forest industry. Throughout, they have remained competitive, successful and are now one of only a few steep-slope logging specialists in the Columbia Valley.