Nfld. & Labrador

What lies beneath: Deer Lake investigates salvage potential of sunken wood

Who knew that old pulp logs, underwater for decades, can be turned into furniture and musical instruments?

Town to research how many logs are underwater and their potential for furniture, flooring

The town of Deer Lake is doing research to find out how much pulpwood is lying on the floor of the lake and whether it can be salvaged. (CBC)

The town of Deer Lake, on Newfoundland's west coast, is looking into a project that lends a whole new meaning to recycling.

It's investigating the possibility of salvaging old pulp logs that have been on the floor of the lake for decades — remnants of a time when wood was moved to the province's paper mills by water rather than in trucks.

There is good markets for this wood for musical instruments, furnishings, floor covering.- Damon Clarke

There could be money to be made.

"This wood is perfectly preserved because it is underwater and the water has been so cold over the years," said the town's economic development officer Damon Clarke.

"So there is good markets for this wood for musical instruments, furnishings, floor covering, that sort of thing."

Sonar sweep 

Clarke told the Corner Brook Morning Show that the first step is to determine how much wood is underwater and where it is located.

That will involve using sonar equipment on loan from a local search and rescue group.

"We'd like to know how many logs are there, what condition they're in, how easy it could be to get them to the surface," Clarke explained.

"The plan is to bring four or five to the surface so we can send them away for testing to see what the quality of the wood is."

Before pulpwood was trucked to paper mills in western Newfoundland, it was moved by water. (CBC )

Clarke said the town is hoping to partner with Memorial University to hire a couple of students in the spring.

"One specifically to look at the impacts this would have on the habitat, on the bottom of the lake. We are aware it is a salmon area. We don't want to cause any harm to that ... the other student would look at the economic feasibility."

Clarke said it's not a new idea. People are already reclaiming wood from Canada's Great Lakes and in British Columbia.

He said the town will know more by the summer about whether it can be done in Newfoundland and Labrador. 

With notes from Corner Brook Morning Show