Job Opportunities for Tree Planting in Western Canada

This update: April 2nd, 2024

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If you're just learning about tree planting, it is a much more complex job than most people realize. To learn more, we recommend that you get a copy of a book called "Step By Step," which has essentially become an industry standard training manual. Know what you're getting yourself into, before you start to apply for a job. The 2024 print edition is available from Amazon. It's just $28.50 for a full textbook with an immense amount of information. Or even better, download the free digital edition.



Application Information for 2024 Season

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. Although Replant.ca Environmental also does planting on Canada's east coast each fall, the information below refers to openings for spring & summer work with Folklore in western Canada's commercial reforestation industry, running from mid-April until early August. Our Fall plant on the east coast is staffed only with planters who have worked with us at Folklore since April.

Our work opportunities are open to any persons who are legally eligible to work in Canada.

We especially encourage and welcome applications from non-binary and LGBTQ2+ applicants, indigenous applicants, persons of colour or other visible minorities, and similar traditionally under-represented groups.

If you're not a Canadian citizen, please include a copy of your working holiday visa with your application, and read this document before proceeding any futher. I receive several dozen job applications every day from people in countries who are not eligible to apply for a working holiday visa (work permit). I do not have time to answer all of those emails. If you are not a Canadian applicant and you do not include a working holiday visa with your application, I apologize, but I simply will not respond to your inquiry.

My own camp is currently full, with an extensive waiting list. Check back in December for information about opportunities for 2025.


Cooks & Camps

Our camp has highly trained professional cooks 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. Our head cook has over 15 years of kitchen experience, has cooked for several tree planting companies, and is going into her sixth year as the head cook in our camp.

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

As far as the camps go, Folklore excels at putting up functional mobile camps. The company invests a lot of money into dining tents, generators, pumps and water systems, shower and kitchen trailers, dry tents, and 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.


Crew Leaders

Our camp will have a total of six crew leaders running crews in 2024. All members of our management team have a minimum of four years of industry experience, although most have significantly more than four years. Most of our crew leaders have experience working at multiple reforestation 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 (F350's) or crummies mounted on 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.

Smoking is not permitted in our vehicles.

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 a problem in our industry, and we consider any type of harassment to be a serious issue that needs to be addressed. For the past four years, 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. We provide advanced professional training sessions before the season starts. This training is 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 bring an industry Safety Advocate into camp to talk to employees about harassment and additional issues. We sponsor visits and/or online videoconferences from appropriate agencies (such as the NSDP) to meet with all members of our camp for presentations and interactive sessions (similar to our regular visits from Total Physio). Our management team all sign 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 a Safety & Harassment Officer (a female planter with several years of experience in the camp) who ensures that if any safety or harassment issues arise, they are dealt with appropriately. We also have a roster of Designated Allies spread across various crews. I take the safety and comfort level of the people in my camp very seriously. We introduce all new women that we hire to other women (both planters and at a management level) 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 to 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

Our camp expects to have approximately 80-82 planting days for 2024. In 2022 we had 80 days, and in 2023 we had 86 days.

For first-year planters expecially, having a long-season is very important to your success. We won't have very many first-year planters in our camp in 2024. My guess is that we'll have approximately 7-8 first-time planters out of a camp of 66 persons. Our expectation is that the first-time planters that we hire are able to show up for the very beginning of our season and commit to a full season. The learning curve for piece-rate planting work means that your best earnings come in the latter part of your season, hence the reason why it's important to take advantage of the full season that we offer.

I expect that most first-year planters who work our full season in 2024 will probably gross between $21k and $26k, 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 their payroll to that amount. This applies to all planters, not just rookies. Having said that, our tree prices are quite strong for 2024, 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

Late April and early May - Working in central BC in the Cariboo and Thompson Rivers District, near Cache Creek and Clinton. We have more than 2 million trees in blocks that were burned in the 2017 Elephant Hills fire. Earnings per tree will range from 18-22 cents in these burn blocks, with an average of approximately 20 cents.

Late May - Working in northern BC near Fort St John. We have 986,000 trees in blocks that were burned in the summer of 2023. Earnings per tree will range from 19-26 cents in these burn blocks, with an average of approximately 22 cents.

June - Working for West Fraser in southern Alberta, in the Cochrane area west of Calgary. We have more than 2 million trees in blocks which were logged recently. There will be a single camp location, with all blocks within an hour of camp. Average earnings per tree will be approximately 17.5 cents.

July and early August - Working for Canfor near Whitecourt Alberta. We have more than 2.5 million trees in this region, with average earnings per tree expected to be around 17 cents.


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 the photo galleries on the Replant website, you'll see the types of ground that is typical for our camp. In 2023, our overall weighted-average all-inclusive earnings per tree for the entire season was 17.8 cents, including all of the site prepped ground factored in. That number will be higher in 2024, probably around an average of 18.7 cents per tree.

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. Even in one small region, one contract can be completely different from another. You should focus on expected daily earnings rather than tree prices. In addition to the average daily earnings, the length of season is very important in determing your total income for the season.

The upper twenty percent of planters in my camp (the top ten planters) averaged $36,952 apiece for gross earnings in 2023, with some individuals above the $40k mark. The average gross earnings of our first-year planters who completed a full season (ie. missed no more than 5 planting days) was $24,181. That makes sense, since we work fairly easy contracts most of the time. Our ground is not usually very technical, so it doesn't present a steep learning curve.

I expect even better earnings in 2024, which is only fair as the world has been experiencing strong inflation over the past year and a half. Our prices will be higher than they were in 2023.


Payroll

Folklore pays earnings bi-weekly, with direct deposit into your bank accounts. In the two decades 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. 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 $226 per 11 hour day in BC, and approximately $202 per 11 hour day in Alberta. These numbers become 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, and how many hours they plan for in a standard work day for payroll and ROE's.

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 which details prices on all prior and current blocks for the entire season.


Miscellaneous

No dogs permitted. I love dogs, but we've inadvertently killed too many in our camps back in the early 2000's when we last allowed them. Even when precautions are taken, the workplace can be a dangerous place for pets.

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 more than sixty 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 can accommodate some non-standard diets, however, people with complex dietary needs may prefer to work for companies based out of motels, where they can be in complete control of their own diet.

We have a number of gay and non-binary people in camp, 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 (StarLink).

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.

When applying, indicate whether you are applying as an individual or as part of a pair or group. Please note that we do not hire pairs or groups of people unless the applicants have at least one season of previous planting experience. Each individual that we hire will be evaluated on their own merits, and not because they are part of a pair or group.

Our management team is extremely organized. We will be sharing digital copies of all block maps on our BC contracts with everyone in camp, usually long before the season starts. These maps will show ATV trails, individual planter pieces along with the hectare sizes of each piece, and all other pertinent info that planters may be curious about.


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. Work will be available starting in mid-April for select applicants who are available that early.

If you've planted in Ontario, you're going to be in for a minor culture shock for the first shift or two as you adapt to higher quality standards, but you'll catch on very 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. You already did that once when you joined your first company. If you meet some of the people in my camp beforehand, that should help you make a decision.

Also, several of my crew leaders originally started their planting careers in Ontario, 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 forty 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 Atlantic Canada

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 Atlantic provinces to apply. Replant has a division (separate from Folklore) that does some planting work in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia in the late summer and early fall, so I might have four to five extra weeks of planting work available for a handful of planters at that time of year. This would be especially suitable for Atlantic Canadian 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 our camp.

Separately from the above notes, if you're a resident of the Maritimes and you'd specifically prefer to work a full season ONLY in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia (running from late April through late August for university students, with additional work into October for anyone who is interested), I'd recommend that you reach out to Mike Peters at Ravenwood Silviculture, which is based out of Sackville, NB. I've worked with his crews, and he is paying better rates than planters have traditionally come to expect from planting in the Maritimes. Not as high as western Canadian prices, but attractive compared to the rest of the east coast.


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 2024, 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 British Columbia's OFA Level 3 certification. Alternative first aid tickets from other jurisdictions are not relevant as they are not valid in BC.


Additional Staff Positions

My camp has no support staff or management positions available at the present time.

Other Folklore camps currently have openings for experienced crew leaders, quality checkers, and kitchen staff. Let me know if this is something that you might be interested in. If so, I can put you in touch with the right people.


Progress Report - My camp is currently full, with an extensive waiting list.

January 2nd: We have room for a total of 48 planters in my camp based on current planning. So far, we have hired 42 planters with previous planting experience (mostly returning planters from last year), and 6 first-time planters. Therefore, I technically don't have any more openings at the moment.

As noted already, we especially encourage and welcome applications from indigenous applicants, persons of colour or other visible minorities, non-binary and LGBTQ2+ applicants, and similar traditionally under-represented groups.


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. It is better for you to attach the documents to your application email, rather than embedding a cloud link.

When you apply, if possible, please indicate the earliest possible date in April or early May that you would be able to show up for work in British Columbia. By this, I mean literally that, ie. the specific earliest possible day of the month. This will help determine whether you could arrive in time for startup in my own camp, and/or in various other Folklore camps. Our five camps all have varied startup windows. My camp starts the earliest.

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 after my own camp fills up, I will forward good applications to other camp supervisors at Folklore who have similar seasons to my own camp's.

Thanks for your interest.