Mike Pedersen, regional executive director for the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development in the Cariboo-Chilcotin arrived in Williams Lake in 1981 for a silviculture job with the ministry. (Photo submitted)

Our Hometown: Growing a career

Mike Pedersen has spent most of his life working in forestry

Mike Pedersen’s interest in forestry first began when he was a child.

Growing up in Middleton, N.S., he often travelled around the province with his father, who was a log buyer.

“I can remember as a kid watching these guys. At the time they didn’t have those debarkers you see in mills now.”

He would observe as workers, with eight-foot logs sitting on saw horses, used sap peeling knives to peel off the bark off and then throw the logs up onto the pile.

“I just loved the smell,” he recalled.

Fast forward to 2020 and Pedersen has been working with forestry in B.C. since 1981.

Today he is the regional executive director of the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development for the 100 Mile, Cariboo-Chilcotin and Quesnel districts.

Before deciding on forestry, he pursued physical education at Dalhousie University, but soon realized it wasn’t for him.

He quit university to work and then decided he needed to do something for his future.

At the time a second cousin was in his fifth year studying forestry at university and Pedersen remembered all the travelling he’d done with his dad.

“I went to my cousin and asked him about it and then enrolled in the University of New Brunswick’s forestry program.”

After graduation, with no job lined up, he left for Edmonton, Alta. in 1981 and was hired by the Alberta Forest Service.

He was there for about four months, when he a saw a silviculture position with the Ministry of Forests in Williams Lake, B.C. and applied.

When the Greyhound bus stopped in Cache Creek he didn’t want to wait for the connection so he hitchhiked to Williams Lake.

“I was a true Maritimer and I can remember seeing tumbleweed rolling down the highway and I thought ‘oh my God, I am really out west.’ Visions that you had of cowboys and stuff were dancing through my head as I was trying to make my way to Williams Lake, but it was pure excitement about being where I was.”

In 1983, he was laid off due to government downsizing. He went to work for a small sawmill in town, called Khalsa, later called Jackpine. He bought wood on the open market and bid on small business sales. He worked with Starline Cedar owned by Dave Bedford for a time, doing log exchanges.

An opportunity to work in Fort Nelson as the district silviculturalist arose in 1985, so he moved there for work and stayed until 1989.

“That’s where I met my wife Erin,” he said. “From there I went consulting in 1989 with Pacific Regeneration Technologies and I did that right up until 1992 when I got a job in Victoria with the provincial government.”

He was a regeneration survey specialist and travelled all over B.C. helping revamp the survey process.

When the New Democrat Party (NDP) brought in the Forest Practices Code in 1995, Pedersen returned to work in Williams Lake, as the forester responsible for the code’s implementation.

Eventually he took on the forest health officer job in the Cariboo, tackling bark beetle and spruce bud worm and working with districts and branch on implementing forest health policies.

Laid off again in 2002, he went to work for DWB Consulting, which was owned by Dave Bedford.

“In 2004 I landed a job with the ministry again as the district manager of the Chilcotin in Alexis Creek.”

He moved into Williams Lake in 2010 to be district manager of the Cariboo-Chilcotin because the government had amalgamated the two districts.”

He stayed in that position until 2016 when he won the competition to be the regional executive director for the Cariboo where he oversees the ministry’s mandate.

Read more: Forestry officials discuss Williams Lake’s timber supply area with city council

“I still enjoy being in the woods. I still enjoy the community that we have here and the ability to be so close to them as well. It’s a very grounding experience.”

Pedersen and Erin, a teacher with School District 27, have three children.

Chris works for Gibraltar Mine as an electrical engineer, Robbie works for B.C. Wildfire Service in Alexis Creek and Alexandra is an environmental engineer with Golder and Associates.

As for the future, he said the time is getting close for retirement.

“I enjoy the job I do right now, but I know there are a lot of smarter and younger individuals who could do a good job in this position.”

Aside from working, he loves to curl and golf.

When he retires he plans to stay in Williams Lake.

“This is my community,” he said. “I really enjoy it and I want to support it as much as I can.”

Read more: First of Interior Forest Sector Renewal meetings kicks off in Williams Lake



news@wltribune.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

forestryWilliams Lake

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Seniors in Williams Lake visit in the Seniors Activity Centre parking lot during a summer coffee house held during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Turkey ‘Dinner Out the Door’ coming up Nov. 7 at seniors centre

Derksen added in-town delivery is also available by calling 250-392-7946

North District RCMP are urging the public’s assistance in locating Prince George resident Amber Weutz, 25, last seen Oct. 18 in the Canim Mahood Lake area east of 100 Mile House. (Photo submitted)
RCMP release more information on missing Prince George woman

Amber Weutz, 25, was last seen in the Canim and Mahood Lake area on Oct. 18

Greg Sabatino photo - Williams Lake Tribune
SLIDESHOW: Nesika celebrates Halloween with costume parade, dance

Classes took turns within their own cohorts taking part in each event

The Williams Lake Skating Club is thrilled to introduce new coach Brenda Boulin (right) to its team. Boulin joins head coach Joanne Macnair (centre) and coach Breanna Davidson. (Photo submitted)
Williams Lake Skating Club welcomes new coach to team

WLSC longtime head coach Joanne Macnair is thrilled to welcome Brenda Boulin back home

While the weather in Williams Lake wreaked havoc on roads and flooded homes this week, the swans didn’t seem to mind it at all. (David Fait photo)
Waterlogged: Williams Lake downright soggy after days of rain

October has seen an unusual amount of rain fall in the Cariboo this year

Physical distancing signs are a common sight in B.C. stores and businesses. THE CANADIAN PRESS
272 more COVID-19 cases for B.C., outbreak at oil sands project

Three new health care outbreaks, three declared over

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

This house at 414 Royal Ave. became notorious for its residents’ and visitors’ penchant for attracting police. It was also the site of a gruesome torture in August 2018. It was demolished in 2019. KTW
6-year sentence for Kamloops man who helped carve ‘rat’ into flesh of fellow gang member

Ricky Dennis was one of three men involved in the August 2018 attack

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Cpl. Nathan Berze, media officer for the Mission RCMP, giving an update on the investigation at 11:30 a.m., Oct. 30. Patrick Penner photo.
VIDEO: Prisoner convicted of first-degree murder still at large from Mission Institution

When 10 p.m. count was conducted, staff discovered Roderick Muchikekwanape had disappeared

Among the pumpkin carvings created this year by Rick Chong of Abbotsford is this tribute to fallen officer Cont. Allan Young.
Abbotsford pumpkin carver’s creations include fallen police officer

Rick Chong carves and displays 30 pumpkins every year

An online fundraising campaign in support of the six-year-old boy, Edgar Colby, who was hit by a car on Range Road Oct. 25 has raised more than $62,000 in a day. (Submitted)
$62K raised in 1 day for boy in coma at BC Children’s after being hit by vehicle in Yukon

The boy’s aunt says the family is “very grateful” for the support they’ve received from the community

Health care employees take extensive precautions when working with people infected or suspected of having COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
WorkSafeBC disallows majority of COVID-19 job injury claims

Health care, social services employees filing the most claims

Most Read