A local forest engineer has been honoured for demonstrating excellence, cooperation and leadership throughout his career.
Lee Deslauriers, a Campbell River-based professional engineer and registered professional forester, was granted the 2021 Forest Engineering Award of Excellence. This is awarded jointly by Engineers and Geoscientists BC and the Association of BC Forest Professionals, which is given in recognition of exemplary professional, technical and community contributions in the field.
Deslauriers says the award was a welcomed surprise.
“It was a humbling experience to have my colleagues, mentors and people that I have volunteered with supporting me for the award, and I have had great support from our crew” he said. “It’s something that I’m proud of.”
After growing up in Port Alice, Deslauriers started working in forest engineering fresh out of high school in Port McNeill with the Ministry of Forests Small Business Forest Enterprise Program, which led him to pursue a career in the field.
“That experience basically led me to want to go to school and study forest engineering and 25 or so years later, I’m still doing it,” he said.
Deslauriers’ work focuses on building infrastructure, such as roads and bridges, primarily in resource industries. He is also a specialist auditor for the BC Forest Practices Board and has volunteered on the Joint Practices Board with his professional associations, helping to write practice guidelines and technical papers.
Deslauriers is the principal and managing engineer of Stonecroft Engineering Ltd. This Campbell River-based engineering firm started in the forest industry in 1989, but over the years it has branched into structural engineering and other sectors, including mining, First Nations infrastructure, parks and renewables.
“Basically, we’re applying the same skillset but in different industries, by being environmentally sound and building innovative structures,” he said. “We try to use our forest industry and construction background to keep a practical approach to what we are doing.”
Being a forest engineer involves both time in the office and out in the field. So Deslauriers recommends anyone interested in following a similar career path to first get acquainted with the backcountry.
“Make sure you find yourself a summer job in the bush, ideally in forestry to gain experience before getting more specialized,” he said. “It helps to be outdoorsy and enjoy working in all types of different weather and terrain conditions.”
Work as a forest engineer can be challenging, but also rewarding, he said.
“You’re hiking up and down steep hills, in timber and in adverse weather conditions, but you also get to see amazing country and wildlife. You’re riding in helicopters, planes and boats, and doing stuff that most people don’t get to do — that’s always been a huge perk for me.”