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Logging company rips through wrong location

A Hadashville man is seeking restitution after a company accidentally cut a three-kilometre-long swath through his forested property, knocking down a fence line and thousands of trees.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 05/04/2019 (1395 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

A Hadashville man is seeking restitution after a company accidentally cut a three-kilometre-long swath through his forested property, knocking down a fence line and thousands of trees.

Jason Van Damme, pictured with his dog, discovered the damage Wednesday. (Supplied)

Jason Van Damme said it was feeding time for his cattle Wednesday when he went to inspect why they hadn’t come into the yard. He found the livestock behind a barn, looking spooked at a yellow skidder in the distance that was knocking down forest.

“They were all lined up looking at this crazy guy smashing down all the fencing and trees,” he told the Free Press in an interview.

Van Damme ran “about half a mile” before he caught up to the man and screamed at him to stop.

“I asked why he did it, and he said he was looking at my trees,” Van Damme said.

When Van Damme contacted the man’s employer, Kurian Forest Products Ltd. in Elma, about 80 km east of Winnipeg, he said the company owner admitted it was “my guy” and “my machine.”

Jason Van Damme discovered on Wednesday that someone had mistakenly bulldozed thousands of trees on his property near Hadashville, east of Winnipeg. (Supplied)

“He said, ‘I didn’t mean to come onto your property.’ I said, ‘It’s not that you came onto my property. It’s that you destroyed my property.'”

Logging company owner Harry Proceviat visited Van Damme at his home Friday to discuss the matter. Hadashville is about 20 km south of Elma.

Van Damme said his property is a 160-acre hobby farm where he keeps a menagerie of animals. In addition to 15 cattle, he has three horses, goats, pigs, rabbits, pet dogs, and 26 wild turkeys.

He called it an “all-natural sanctuary,” made up of natural pastures and forest. The forest is a mix of birch, poplar and pines. The yellow skidder (a heavy machine used for logging) also knocked down prized stands of diamond willows.

“I’ve never taken a single tree down on my property,” said Van Damme, who has lived there nine years.

The skidder cut through the centre and zig-zagged around the land. “He was making roads out of my property that he was going to log.”

“He was making roads out of my property that he was going to log.”–Jason Van Damme

The skidder also destroyed perhaps a kilometre of new five-wire fencing put up a couple of years ago using pressure-treated posts, Van Damme said. “It just (crushed) them like matchsticks.”

Messages left by the Free Press at Kurian Forest Products were not returned.

From his Friday meeting with Proceviat, Van Damme said he learned the skidder operator had been dropped off at the wrong location.

“He definitely apologized. He took responsibility,” Van Damme said, adding Proceviat said he would be contacting his insurance company to assess the damage.

Van Damme said he still has to document the damage, including getting a drone to show aerial shots of the downed trees.

He said it’s hard to assess the loss: “(Proceviat) values trees differently than me.”

The forestry company's skidder cut through the centre and zig-zagged around the land. "He was making roads out of my property that he was going to log," said Van Damme. (Supplied)

“Oh, my goodness!” said Patricia Pohrebniuk, executive director of the Manitoba Forestry Association, when informed about the situation.

Pohrebniuk said she’s heard of instances where a contractor overshot the boundaries of a parcel of land being cleared but never where the wrong property was deforested.

“What you’d have to do is try to determine the volume of wood and equate that into a dollar figure,” she said, but the valuation will be likely be different between the contractor, for whom it is a commodity, and the land owner.

bill.redekop@freepress.mb.ca

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