Job Opportunities for Tree Planting in Western Canada

This update: April 9th, 2021

(If you visit this page multiple times, do a "hard refresh" in your browser with Ctrl+F5 to ensure you're seeing the most recent version of this ad)


Coronavirus: It is obvious that Covid-19 will still be a problem for society and for our industry going into 2021. We were able to fully complete a very successful season in 2020 thanks to strong commitment from our amazing planters. The industry has committed to extend the implementation of Covid-related protocols in 2021, to maximize our health and safety at work. Despite Covid restrictions, we're expecting to have another strong season, building on lessons learned in 2020. There are a lot of trees that need to be planted in western Canada in 2021.

if you're just learning about tree planting, it is a much more complex job than most people realize. Please go to this link to get a digital copy of a book called "Step By Step," which has essentially become an industry standard training manual. A group of five major BC-based reforestation companies have sponsored the distribution of this book, so it is a free download. Know what you're getting yourself into, before you start to apply for a job. The 2021 edition is now available, as of the end of March.



Applications are Currently Closed

My name is Jonathan "Scooter" Clark. Replant.ca is an educational website; and Folklore Contracting is a well-established tree planting company that I currently work for.

In terms of planters, I am currently fully hired. If you're looking for work for the spring/summer of 2022, please check this page again in early December. I'll leave the information up here so you have an idea of approximately what to expect if you are offered a job in my camp at Folklore. You can also check the Folklore website to see if any of our other camps are still accepting applications.

Do not apply if you're not a Canadian, unless you already have a work visa in place and you've been issued a valid Canadian social insurance number.


Cooks & Camps

My first head cook, Stephane Levesque, has cooked for me since the late 1990's. Dee is our second head cook, and worked for several reforestation companies in the past before she started working with us a few years ago. Dee and Stephane are highly trained professional cooks, and excellent personalities in camp, who care strongly about the nutritional and emotional well-being of the planters. Camp costs are $25 when we're in BC and $27 in Alberta. You'll be very well fed.

In early 2019, we discussed the pros and cons of eliminating camp costs. We had a choice between either raising the tree prices, or eliminating camp costs. After receiving widespread feedback from members of my camp, it was obvious that our employees' preference was to leave camp costs in place, so everybody in camp would pay exactly the same daily dollar amount to be fed. Due to this consensus, we were able to raise tree prices instead. If you want to understand more about camp costs, visit this link: www.replant.ca/campcosts

Due to Covid protocols, employees remain in our planting camps on days off. On these days, we continue to provide hot food and other camp amenities. Our employees are not charged camp costs on days off.

As far as the camps go, Folklore excels at putting up functional mobile camps. The company invests a lot of money into mess tents, generators, pumps and water systems, shower and kitchen trailers, dry tents, and basic remote satellite internet capabilities. We also use trucked-in potable water for everything but the showers, to avoid the risk of water-borne pathogens which could cause a sickness in camp.


Foremen

Our camp has a total of seven foremen running crews in 2020. Our management team has worked together for several years, with the average crew leader having 7-8 years of industry experience. Every crew leader has experience working at multiple planting companies.


Safety

All of our drivers have submitted driver's abstracts, and go through annual driver certification or refresher training.

All drivers and occupants must wear seatbelts, 100% of the time, non-negotiable.

All of our trucks have GPS fleet devices to help prevent speeding via remote monitoring.

We do not use vans or buses. All of our vehicles are crew cab pickups or crummies mounted on F450 or F550 pickup chassis. All of our vehicles are 4-wheel drive. Every vehicle gets a safety and maintance inspection before the season starts, and then normally undergoes regular maintenance and full safety inspections at licensed mechanical facilities every four weeks during the season (although Covid may impact our inspection schedule in 2021).

We have approximately twenty individuals in camp with the basic WorkSafe BC certified two-day "Level 1" occupational first aid training.

We typically have five to seven individuals in camp with the advanced WorkSafe BC certified multi-week "Level 3" occupational first aid training.

All planters will be provided WHMIS training and other basic industry-related training.

A significant number of additional employees, both in-camp management and regular planters, have elected to take a large number of additional training courses, including but not limited to: Transportation of Dangerous Goods, ATV training, Chainsaw training, Safe Food Handling, Danger Tree Assessor, PAL certification, H2S and Poisonous Gas training, Supervisory Safety Management training, EMS courses, etc. If we schedule you into any training courses (which depends on your role in the camp), all training course costs are covered by Folklore Contracting.


Preventing Harassment

Workplace harassment and sexual harassment have been in the media recently, and we consider any type of harassment to be a serious issue that needs to be addressed. For the past year, we have been reviewing and improving our programs and protocols. We want to be one of the leading camps in the industry with respect to dealing with these issues. I have been consulting with more than a dozen of the senior members of my camp (mostly women) with respect to this. We will be providing advanced professional training sessions before the season starts. This training will be mandatory for all management personnel (supervisor, crew leaders, checkers, tree runners). Our management team includes a number of women, who are crucial in continuing to inform our best path going forward. We will be bringing an industry Safety Advocate into camp (pending Covid restrictions) to talk to employees about harassment and additional issues. We expect to be sponsoring visits from appropriate agencies (such as the NSDP) to come into our camp for presentations and interactive sessions with the full camp (similar to our regular visits from Total Physio). Our management team will all be signing a Pledge of Conduct, which will guide us to ensure that we follow standards of professionalism which are higher than those that are expected elsewhere in the modern workplace.

Our camp has two Safety & Harassment Officers (female planters with several years of experience in the camp) who ensure that if any safety or harassment issues arise, they are dealt with appropriately. I take the safety and comfort level of the people in my camp very seriously. I introduce all new women that we hire to female planters who have already worked in the camp. This allows our new hires to begin to understand our camp culture, and to be part of our commitment to safety and a harassment-free workplace. This applies to both first-time planters and also to new-to-Folklore planters with planting experience at other companies.


Length of Season

Aside from the current expectation of working until the beginning of August, we have the option of picking up additional trees from other Folklore contracts if we get ahead of schedule. I have also communicated to all of our foresters that I will accept all nursery overruns, which happens quite frequently. Our industry had a record-setting year in 2020. Based upon sowing requests at the nurseries, and contracts that have been tendered, 2021 will be a similarly strong year for tree planting in BC.

Our camp had 72 planting days in 2019 and 70 days in 2020. I expect to have a longer season in 2021, as we will be able to start significantly earlier than last year (this is because the entire industry was put on pause until May 4th last year, due to Covid). Our first day of planting in 2021 is tentatively planned to be approximately April 18th. We realize that some people who attend college or university in person may still be writing exams at that point, so some planters will arrive in early May. Shifts are usually 3&1's until approximately May 15th, while people are getting back into shape, and then 4&1's in late May and throughout June. In July, we often move back to 3&1's if we're comfortable with meeting project deadlines. Our last day of planting this year will probably be August 3nd.

The top twenty percent of planters in my camp averaged approximately $29k apiece for earnings in 2020. That breakdown included a group of planters who mostly had 3-4 years of prior planting experience). Our late start (due to Covid) hurt our average in 2020. I expect higher average earnings in 2021, due to a longer season with fewer planters in the camp.

I expect that most first-year planters who work our full season in 2021 will probably gross between $17k and $20k, before items such as equipment, camp costs, etc. If a planter is unable to make the equivalent of minimum wage from per-tree earnings at the start of the season, as you are learning to plant and/or getting back into shape, we top up payroll to that amount. This applies to all planters, not just rookies. Having said that, our tree prices are quite strong for 2021, so we don't anticipate that our top-up wages will be significant other than for inexperienced planters during the first pay period.


Contracts / Schedule

As noted above, we tentatively intend to start planting in mid to late April, and our first contracts will be in south central BC.

Our first contract will be located in the Riske Creek area, which is located west of Williams Lake in the central Cariboo region of BC. That contract consists of slightly over a million trees in ground that is predominantly disc trenched, on five large blocks that are touching each other. This ground is slightly technical due to mixing multiple species, so planters will be earning 14.0 cents per tree.

Our second and third contracts will be located up the Scottie Creek FSR in the Cache Creek area, for a consulting company called Forsite. These locations fall within the Kamloops forest district. Earnings on these contracts will range from a minimum of 16.0 cents per tree to a high price of 23.0 cents. The average on these two contracts will be 18.0 cents per tree. All blocks on both contracts are burned raw ground that were scorched during the 2017 and/or 2018 wildfire seasons. I spent three weeks on these blocks in late October and early November, flagging access trails for the quads, and laying out ribbon lines. This region has some sloped and hilly ground, and a couple blocks have moderate rock, but overall both of these contracts are very nice. We worked close to this area in 2020 on quite similar ground, and our camp did very well. I will be sharing full sets of block maps, trail maps, and multiple photos of each block on these contracts with everyone in camp, so you will be able to see in advance what the ground looks like.

In early June, we'll be doing three to four weeks of work for a private mill west of Calgary. All of the ground is normal easy post-harvest raw and/or chain-dragged cutblocks, and earnings will range from 14.0 to 17.0 cents per tree (average slightly above 15.0 cents). Some of the blocks will require ATV Side-by-Side access.

In July, we'll round out the season with a large contract around Whitecourt. Earnings will range from 12.0 to 14.5 cents per tree for prepped ground, and from 14.0 to 16.5 cents for raw ground. We also have a couple other small contracts during July, which will mean that a few of our crews will be going off to do those jobs for one to four days at a time, and working temporarily out of motels. Earnings on those jobs will range from 15.0 to 22.0 cents per tree, depending on the job.


Prices vs. Earnings

As far as prices go, Folklore generally tries to focus upon finding work on lower-priced, easy ground, which offers an easy learning curve for inexperienced planters and for planters migrating from Ontario. If you look through lots of the photo galleries on the Replant website, you'll see the types of ground that is typical for our camp. In 2020, our overall weighted-average all-inclusive earnings per tree for the entire season was 16.8 cents, including all of the site prepped ground in Alberta factored in. Our average will be about the same in 2021 (slight downward pressure due to the first million trees which are in trenches, offset by slightly higher prices on the other contracts). However, if you do much research, you'll soon realize that prices are completely irrelevant unless taken in context with the difficulty of the land, and you can never understand how difficult the land is from a job advertisement. You should focus on expected daily earnings rather than tree prices.

Gross daily earnings for the average first-year planter at Folklore, company-wide, were approximately $238/day in 2020 (based on planters who worked for a full season, not including anyone who quit early). Similarly, company-wide earnings for our full-season experienced planters averaged approximately $362/day in 2020. These numbers represent gross earnings, before daily camp costs were deducted, and were based on full days of work. We expect these numbers to increase company-wide in 2021 due to similar strong pricing and an expectation of increased efficiency in navigating the challenges of Covid, coupled with a longer season that lets us complete our overall program with less planters.

Note that when I suggest that you check out the photos on the main Replant website or on my Instagram account, do not look at the coastal photos as examples of the ground that our camp plants! Folklore doesn't do coastal planting. The coastal galleries are when I work separately for other companies on the coast each spring and fall. The contracts that my camp plants are much, much easier. And as mentioned, I have extensive photos and/or video footage of most of our upcoming blocks that I will share with successful applicants.


Payroll

Folklore pays earnings bi-weekly, with direct deposit into your bank accounts. In the decade and a half that we've been using this system, the payroll has never been even one day late. Ever.

We pay 100% of the tree price. You will not receive deductions for quality fines.

We follow the BC provincial regulations for minimum wage, which mostly affects first-year planters, although this sometimes comes into play for imported vets on their first paycheque. We schedule our workday to reflect 11 hours of work, including the portal-to-portal drive time. Unless we work a part day during the ramp-up at the start of the season or on the last day of a contract, you should expect to receive 11 hours on your payroll and 11 hours for your ROE (for EI). Minimum wage equivalents (which we pay to planters who do not earn the equivalent of minimum wage in their piece-rate earnings) are approximately $196 per 11 hour day in BC (rising to $206/day when minimum wage goes up on June 1st 2021), and approximately $202 per 11 hour day in Alberta. These numbers go slightly higher after 40 or 44 hours in a work week. If you're a first year planter, and you're applying at ANY planting company in BC or Alberta, ask them for clarification in writing about whether they pay minimum wage top-up for portal-to-portal work, when applicable, and how many hours they plan for in a standard work day for payroll and ROE's. Alberta's minimum wage rose significantly last year, and that number ($202) is not a typo. A standard 11 hour day dictates minimum wage of $15.00/hr for eight hours of straight time, plus three hours of time-and-a-half, plus vacation and statutory holiday pay on top. Every company working in Alberta this year should be paying these minimums. Almost two thirds of our season is in Alberta.

Our planters do not have to buy their own flagging tape.

Our planters do not have to buy their own tarps for tree caches.

We pay minimum wage to planters if they are involved in camp setup or breakdown.

If reefers have to be unloaded into summer shade tents by planters, we pay for that. Very few of the other major northern Interior planting companies do this.

You will know your tree prices before planting each block. This is required as per BC's Employment Standards, and I will make sure that all block prices are listed in writing before you start planting. Everyone in camp will have access to an online summary spreadsheet, at all times, which details prices on all prior and current blocks. In fact, I'll often do that for the entire contract in advance, when I'm able to figure out that information.


Miscellaneous

No pets permitted. I love dogs, but we've inadvertently killed too many in our camps.

Musical instruments (especially guitars, etc.) are highly encouraged.

If anyone wants to and has the capability to bring a mountain bike to camp, I think you should consider it. We've often talked in the past about how it would be nice to have a few bikes in camp for days off. We had two bikes last year. I don't mean to suggest that you should bring a good bike to donate for communal use; I'm just saying that you might enjoy having one for yourself if you're a frequent biker.

If you have a specific food allergy or specialized diet, please let us know that when applying, so we can let you know what can be and what can't be provided. Our cooks have quite a challenge in cooking for almost seventy people, so it can be difficult for them to provide specialized meals for individuals. We want to be able to plan in advance and make sure that we can accommodate everyone's needs satisfactorily.

We have a number of gay and non-binary people in camp (including several members of our management team), and we openly welcome gender diversity. We have no tolerance for homophobia, racism, or any other forms of bullying or harassment.

We have a predominantly English-speaking camp, although we have about a dozen people who also speak French, half a dozen who speak Spanish, and a few who speak other languages.

We already have people in our camp from most of the ten Canadian provinces.

Although tree planting camps have traditionally hired male-dominated workforces, Folklore encourages gender equality. We strongly encourage applications from women and persons who identify as gender neutral or non-binary. We attempt to aim for an approximate 50/50 mix of male/female members in our camp (enhanced with the addition of our non-binary folk), although we select individual applicants based upon their qualifications rather than upon their gender identity.

We have satellite internet in camp. However, it's not the fastest internet you'll ever use. Email and simple web pages are fine. Videos and torrents, not so much. Most people prefer to browse with their phones whenever we have cell coverage in camp. If Elon Musk's StarLink system is up and running in time, we are planning to have StarLink systems in each of our camps for the planters to use.

Planters are responsible for getting to Prince George at the start of the season in late April. After the season is over, you are responsible for your own travel costs (from either Whitecourt or Prince George) to wherever your destination is. During the season, on all camp moves, you will be able to travel with our convoy of trucks and it will not cost you anything. This point will be obvious to experienced planters, but is a common question from first-year planters.

Our management team is extremely organized. We will be sharing digital copies of all block maps on our BC contracts (plus drone overflight footage) with everyone in camp, long before the season starts. These maps will show quad trails, individual planter pieces along with the hectare sizes of each piece, and all other pertinent info that planters may be curious about. I've already spent a few weeks in October building designated quad trail systems though many of the blocks on our first two contracts, and I've tried to set everything up so the planting distance from any given cache to the back of the piece is around a maximum of 250 meters, to minimize the need to heavy bag-ups or dead-walking.


Ontario Planters

We've had a lot of success in the past several years with bringing more than a dozen planters into camp each year who had experience in Ontario. If you have prior experience in Ontario and would like to move out west, this is a great opportunity. I can introduce you to other planters who made the same transition. Folklore doesn't have the highest prices in the industry, due to the company's focus on fast ground, but it certainly doesn't have the worst either. What we do have is some of the easiest ground in Western Canada, and a company that strives to follow all employment laws. Alberta is shitty when it rains, and full of mud, but if you can live with that, you can make quite a bit of money in a summer (as mentioned already, we work in both BC and then Alberta, as the season progresses). If I had to try to give an unbiased assessment, which of course is hard to do when you're talking about yourself, I'd say that my camp has, "Very good earnings, a big emphasis on safety, excellent equipment, excellent organization, a tight-knit community, and a long Interior season."

If you're worried about the travel costs to BC versus remaining in Ontario, you will easily be able to make significantly more money in BC, and your higher summer earnings will offset the extra travel costs many times over.

Applicants must be available for work from the end of April until the first week of August.

If you've planted in Ontario, you're going to be in for a culture shock for the first shift or two as you adapt to higher quality standards, but you'll catch on pretty quickly (typically within 4-6 days). If you're seriously considering a switch from central Canada to the west coast, I'm also willing to introduce you to several people in my camp who recently made the move from Ontario to BC. That way, you can talk to them directly to get a better idea of what to expect when you make the transition, and to answer more questions about my camp in general. You'll get a better idea of the true conditions in the camp from them than you would from anything that I can write, since I've never planted in Ontario myself. I know it's a big step moving away from a company that you know to join a bunch of strangers on the other side of the country. However, if you meet some of the people in my camp beforehand, that should help you make the decision.

Also, most of my foremen originally started their planting careers in Ontario (at Thunderhouse, Brinkman, HRI, Haveman, and A&M), so you can rest assured that it's not hard to make a successful transition to planting in BC/Alberta. In fact, we have multiple people in my camp who, between them, have worked for every significant company in Ontario. Approximately fifty percent of the people in our camp originally started their careers in Ontario.

We don't tolerate stashing. We actively audit pieces to prevent stashing and overclaims. This is not usually a problem, but it needs to be mentioned.


Residents of the Maritime Provinces

It may seem to be a big jump to travel all the way to the west coast to plant, when there are also planting jobs in the Maritimes or Ontario. As mentioned above, the significantly higher wages on the west coast definitely outweigh the travel costs. However, I'd like to take a moment to specifically encourage people from the Maritime provinces to apply. I do a small amount of planting work in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia in late August, so I might have an extra week or two of planting work available for a handful of planters at that time of year. This would be especially suitable for Maritime residents who want to earn a bit more money. Please note that we're happy to receive applications from the rest of the country too! We usually have planters from almost every province in each of our camps.


For Applicants with Previous Planting Experience

I need to know where you've worked, company names and planting locations (and who your contracts were for, if possible). I need to be able to check references. We have no tolerance for stashing. We work pretty hard - there's no partying during the work week, but on the night before the day off, some members of the camp will bring out the musical instruments and have refreshing adult beverages around the campfire, or have a dance party in the mess tent (others go to bed early on nights off). Now that pot has been legalized, we're comfortable with people smoking in camp in the evenings, but we will not tolerate impairment at work or on the blocks. As mentioned, we have a fairly long season compared to many other western Canadian planting contractors.

Please don't apply if you've had a season that was cut short by a planting injury. If that happened to you, and you think it could happen again, you should look for a different career. The job is challenging enough as it is without having to worry about past injuries that may come back to haunt you.

If you currently have a British Columbia OFA3 first aid ticket that is valid until at least August 1st of 2021, please mention this in your application. Any planter (including applicants without previous planting experience) who has this certification will have a significant advantage during the interview process. We specifically seek additional employees with the OFA Level 3 certification, not any alternative first aid tickets.


Additional Staff Positions - Covid Assistant

In addition to employing a large number of planters, we have two positions for persons to join our kitchen and camp operations staff. Each of these two positions should have previous kitchen experience. Upate March 8th: We've temporarily stopped accepting applications for Covid Assistants, as we have a large number of interviews scheduled for this week.

The successful applicants will be working a steady 3&1 rotation throughout the course of the season. A typical shift will consist of one day working in our prep and lunch service area, a second day working in the kitchen as an assistant cook, a third day working in the prep and lunch service area again, then the fourth day becomes the employee's day off. This schedule rotates without change throughout the season, except during camp moves, when the schedule is temporarily suspended for two days.

Duties of the prep staff on their prep and lunch service days include: preparing lunches for planters, serving lunches to planters, serving coffee & other beverages at breakfast, doing dishes after breakfast, two to three hours of camp cleanup, afternoons off, serving beverages and dessert at dinner, helping with after-dinner cleanup, and closing up service areas for the night.

Duties of the prep staff on their Assistant Cook day include: helping prepare breakfast, post-breakfast kitchen cleanup, baking bread, baking block treats, afternoons off, helping to serve dinner, then post-dinner cleanup and closing the kitchen for the night.

Successful candidates will possess or be able to obtain a BC Safe Food Handler's certificate, have some previous experience in a commercial kitchen, and have the drive and motivation to keep a camp of 70 persons healthy and well fed. Candidates should also have some basic camping experience. Ideally, at least one of the two successful candidates will also have a valid unrestricted driver's license good in any Canadian province, with a fairly good driving record, plus some experience driving full-size pickups.

If applying for one of these two positions, please clarify this in your application, and provide qualifications and why you believe that you would be a good candidate for the position.


Progress Report

I have hired 58 planters in total for the 2021 season - 47 experienced and 11 first-time planters. Applications are now closed.


Final Notes

To apply, please email me at jonathan.scooter.clark@gmail.com

The ideal application would include a detailed cover letter to give us some background about yourself, plus a short resume. The resume does not have to be too extensive; a one-pager or two-pager is sufficient. If possible, please convert all attachments to PDF's rather than sending Word files or Page files.

Do not contact me through Facebook or Instagram messaging, because I frequently ignore those messaging systems for months at a time. I will acknowledge receipt of all email applications. However, not all applicants will be interviewed.

For more information about Folklore Contracting, visit: www.folklorecontracting.ca

If you've looked at this advertisement multiple times, hit the "Refresh" button on your browser, in case I've made updates. If you don't know how to do this, it's Ctrl-F5 with Windows, Apple-R or Command-R with Mac, F5 with Linux, and pull-refresh on Mobile devices. I generally update this document about once every two weeks, until I've filled all the spots in my camp. And again, even if my own camp fills up, I can forward good applications to other camp supervisors at Folklore who have similar seasons to my own camp's.

Thanks for your interest.