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Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations

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Three woodlot operators honoured for excellence, innovation

Big Bull Enterprises (north area and overall provincial award) –

Big Bull enterprises is being recognized for their leadership and guidance in managing the mountain pine beetle epidemic. They are receiving a total of $5,000 ($2,500 each for the provincial Minister’s Award for Innovation and Excellence in Woodlot Management and the north area Minister’s Award for Innovation and Excellence in Woodlot Management).

Owners Brian Harding and Darcy Nygaard prepared their Prince George-area woodlot for harvesting prior to the arrival of the mountain pine beetle, including road-building and bridge replacement. Their efforts created access to the full woodlot and enabled them to remove almost all of the affected pine as green attack, helping reduce the spread of the beetle in the area.

Because of the epidemic, normal sources for purchasing seedlings to replant the harvested area had limited inventory. Big Bull took the initiative to pick their own seed – enough to grow 300,000 seedlings – and, within three months of harvest of the last attacked pine, every opening created by mountain pine beetle salvage operations in their woodlot had been planted.

Big Bull Enterprises’ post-beetle harvesting strategies, including using partial cutting and selective harvesting, have benefitted local sawmills and communities in the Prince George area.

In summer 2015, preliminary reconnaissance of the openings created by the mountain pine beetle on their woodlot showed that all areas are stocked and 95% have reached free to grow status.

Big Bull Enterprises is also the only woodlot licensee to add private land to a woodlot after it was awarded. This occurred in 1996, bringing their total managed private lands to 174 hectares.

Hupačasath First Nation (coast area award) –

The Hupačasath First Nation are being recognized and honoured with the $2,500 Minister’s Award for Innovation and Excellence in Woodlot Management for the Coast area for the incredible strides they have made since being awarded their first woodlot in 1999, when their internal capacity was limited.

In the years since, their ability to manage forest land in their traditional territory has soared and they now manage 2,400 hectares of forest land under two woodlot licences and one First Nations woodland licence.

From the start, Hupačasath First Nation has recognized the long-term benefit of planting harvested areas with western redcedar, despite the added costs and labour of deer browse protection. Their innovative silviculture includes the introduction and follow-up pruning of western white pine and they have shown passion for introducing poorly represented species in current forests.

Their sawmill is used to benefit their nation’s members and for local sales. They sell logs to a variety of end users, including mills large and small. Additionally, Hupačasath First Nation use the lands extensively for traditional plant and medicine gathering and use the majority of post-harvest wood as firewood for Elders and other members of their community.

Their community contributions to the Port Alberni area include providing sustainable recreational and tourism opportunities, archeological surveys, local employment, and sustainable economic development.

They’ve also started Kleekhoot Gold, a big leaf maple syrup operation that could become the largest on Vancouver Island, with up to 1,000 trees tapped and harvesting beginning as early as December 2016.

Bob and Dan Davidson (south area award) –

Brothers Bob and Dan Davidson are being honoured with the $2,500 Minister’s Award for Innovation and Excellence in Woodlot Management for the south area, recognizing the keen focus they have had on integrated resource management and healthy forests.

This focus on forest stewardship began when they took over the woodlot licence from their father, Don Davidson, in the early 1970s.

Examples of their care for the land include practising selection harvesting, particularly of lodgepole pine, that has left behind a fully stocked stand of two-to-four-metre Douglas-fir for the next crop. Those driving by the woodlot are not likely to realize that it has been selectively logged several times because of the Davidson’s attention to aesthetics.

Their salvage logging of blowdown has helped prevent any outbreaks of Douglas-fir bark beetle and reduced wildfire risk for their woodlot and surrounding area north of Rock Creek. They have also been proactive in dealing with small pockets of root rot on their woodlot.

The Davidson’s love of land and everything in it is best exhibited by their actions to nurture all living things on their woodlot, from the hand-made brush piles they leave for squirrels and mice to live in, to the logging debris pile they deferred from burning because a bear had taken up hibernation in it.

The Davidson’s woodlot contributions extend to the community as well, from making sure the right log goes to the best processing plant, to preserving numerous small campsites that hunters use in the fall. This is in addition to hosting tours of their woodlot and their thorough involvement with their local Boundary Woodlot Association.