Natural Resources 2013 Woodland Owner of the Year


         
  View pictures of the 2013 winners
 


Western 2013 WinnerGeorgie and Helen Uhlman –
Western and Provincial Winners

Having spent much of his youth in the woods, Georgie Uhlman truly fell in love with the forests of Western Nova Scotia while helping his father and brothers haul logs many moons ago. Since then, he and his wife Helen have set up camp (literally—they usually have about ten guests come and camp in their lot every summer) in Caledonia, just east of Kejimkujik National Park in Queens County. The Uhlman’s efforts on their 52 hectare (128 acre) woodland over their short 19 year ownership prove that a little work and dedication go a long way, and have made them the 2013 Western Region Woodland Owner of the Year!

Having previously worked as a heavy equipment operator, Georgie definitely doesn’t take his work home with him. He does all harvesting and maintenance on his land with the aid of horses only. Often he harvests just for furnace wood, but does sell any good hemlock, spruce, and pine logs to a local sawmill; L&S Lumber Ltd. On average he completes about 5 hectares (12 acres) of category 7 selection management each year, and has recently taken advantage of Association for Sustainable Forestry silviculture assistance with visible benefits. The Uhlman’s had the honour of being the among the first Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified woodlands in the region after implementing a new management plan three years ago.

In managing his woodlands, Georgie has paid particular effort to protecting watercourses. A brook runs through his property providing clear water for trout and contributing to beaver and partridge habitat. He has no bridges or culverts as he prefers to “travel with the water, not across it”, and ensures he cares for special management zones around the water bodies. Despite having excellent relationships with the neighbouring woodland owners, Georgie understands the importance of maintaining well-defined boundary lines; as he puts it, “land does not shrink and does not grow.”

Lucky for him, Georgie has had a great helper out in the woods for the past few years – his grandson, Foster. With Foster starting school in the fall, he and his grandfather have been busy spreading sawdust and woodchips for new walking trails. Helen and Georgie hope that their grandchildren (they have 8!) will take over the woodland work someday and are taking care to produce a few stands of good trees that they can reap the rewards from in the future.

At present, Georgie and Helen do not rely on their woodland for its economic value but for its many other values. They estimate that over 70% of their woodland use is for recreation! Georgie’s motto with his woodland seems to be the more people he can bring the joy of the forest to, the better! Not a month goes by without some sort of community event on their land. From New Year’s sleigh rides, outdoor Easter egg hunts, summer barbeques, trail rides on horseback, wood harvesting demos, thanksgiving potlucks, and so much more; it’s easy to see why the Uhlman’s describe their woodland as “multipurpose”.

With so many visitors to his woodland, Georgie takes the time to be knowledgeable and safe through participating in DNR educational programs and keeping his Wilderness First Aid Training up to date. He advises anyone spending time or working out in the woods to have the proper safety training. The Uhlman’s are proud of the enjoyment their woodland provides to them and other members of the community, and Georgie’s passion for working in the woods is not wavering as he says, “this is what I dreamed of doing and I wouldn’t change my dream no matter what!” Having attended the regional WOYA event last year, Georgie is eager to welcome people to his woodland for a public field day this fall. His woodland is a great example of all that can be accomplished in just 20 years.

FIELD DAY: Oct. 5, 2013 — 9am - 4pm

AGENDA
1. Arrival (8:30 -9:00 am)
2. Guest book signing and registration (up on arrival)
3. Field tours (from 9:00 am)
4. Lunch (12:00 pm)
5. Recognition speech by Russell MacKinlay, DNR Western Region Director (12:30 pm)
6. Award presentation by Russell MacKinlay, DNR Western Region Director (12:40 pm)
7. Speech by the Uhlman family (12:50 pm)
8. Prize draw (1:00 pm)
9. Tour continues until 4 pm

POSTER FOR EVENT: Download the PDF poster for this event

DIRECTIONS:
From Hwy 101: Take Exit 22. Follow Nova Scotia Trunk 8 South for 64 km. Once in Caledonia, turn right onto Hibernia Rd. Turn a slight right on West Caledonia Rd. Continue for 1.4 km and turn right.
From Hwy 103 (Bridgewater): Take Exit 13. Turn right onto NS-325N (signs for Caledonia/Baker Settlement/Kejimkujik). Travel 25.0 km. Turn left onto NS-208 W (signs for NS-8/Kejimkujik/Caledonia). Travel 17.5 km. Turn right onto Nova Scotia Trunk 8 N (signs for Nova Scotia 8 Trunk N/Caledonia/Kejimkujik/Annapolis Royal). Travel 4.9 km. Turn left onto Hibernia Rd. Turn a slight right on West Caledonia Rd. Continue for 1.4 km and turn right. Watch for signs


2013 Central WinnerKarl and Faye Crawford – Central Winner

It’s impossible not to fall in love with Karl and Faye Crawford’s property in Scotsburn, Pictou County. There is something for everyone to appreciate: the expansive view of PEI from the hilltop, the beautiful craftsmanship of their 250 year old wood home, and nearly 140 hectares (345 acres) of forested area including mature stands of spruce, pine, and tamarack. The total 187 hectares (463 acres) is an outdoorsman’s paradise due to the Crawford’s committed maintenance over the past 34 years to creating trails, wildlife habitat, and harvestable timber. It is for this commitment that Karl and Faye have been named the 2013 Central Region Woodland Owner of the Year!

Hailing from Abercrombie, Karl achieved financial success as a young adult and was able to realize his dream of owning woodland early on. In the beginning he and his family produced Christmas trees as part of the Northeastern Christmas Tree Association, and used the rest of the land solely for recreation, before Karl was approached by a contractor about wood harvesting. Under the advice of past Woodland Owner of the Year Award winner, Tom Miller, Karl decided to put the woodland under management with the help of the West Pictou Forest Owners Co-op. Since then, he served 4 years on the Forest Owners Co-op board, purchased three additional woodlands, and implemented specific management plans for each. Last year, with the advice and guidance of forestry contractor Dave MacMillan, Karl updated his plan for his main woodland to be more representative of protecting forest health and restoring Acadian forest characteristics. The management plan was completed by Peter Burchell with the assistance of Nova Scotia Landowners and Forest Fibre Producers Association (NSLFFPA).

Despite his early good fortune in obtaining his woodland, Karl has not been immune to hardships: a market crash affecting his real-estate business, timber theft, ending of the West Pictou Forest Owners Co-op, and management plans that no longer met his own woodland objectives. However, he and his family have persevered and are now happy for the direction these events have pushed them. Karl believes owning woodland is one of the best investments, and encourages woodland owners to get out and enjoy their land.

It is easy to see how much joy the Crawford’s have had living on their land while scanning through their old photo albums. The day-to-day activities on the woodland are meticulously recorded (with much thanks to Faye, Karl’s wife of 45 years). Karl and Faye’s two sons, Kevin and Kris, opposed the move to Scotsburn from Abercrombie but were eventually won over by opportunities to cross-country ski, fish, use off-highway vehicles on their property, and observe wildlife. A memorable event for the whole family was collaborating with Ducks Unlimited to release nearly 300 wood ducks in habitat on the woodland; an act that significantly contributed to the re-establishment of wood ducks in the province. The sons now manage Adventure Motors, a vehicle dealership started by Karl in 1992, which provides the family convenient access to ATVs and snowmobiles for exploring their woodland in all seasons!

Karl employs two people who assist with pre-commercial thinning, commercial thinning, and selection management treatments in various forest stands. Experienced and trained forest workers, Allan Bezanson and Marty van den Eynden have been working full time for the Crawfords for many years. The sheer volume of work that has been completed is impressive, as well as the flawless hand-saw pruning—a technique Karl has perfected while pruning thousands of crop trees. His future forestry plans include additional pruning, harvesting of mature stands (which he does on an as-needed basis), and some understory planting to promote development of un-even aged stands of long-lived species. The Crawford’s sons are interested in managing the family woodlands in the future, and Karl has proactively set up a family trust and inquired about intergenerational tax transfers to help them with financing.

Already having accomplished so much, the Crawford’s remain busy with maintaining their forests along with 21 head of highland cattle, 7 llamas, and a gorgeous Rottweiler named Jagger. Despite having some regrets about past management choices, they have a clear vision for their woodlands future. As Karl puts it, “forestry is such a long process; you can’t go back and re-do it, but you can get older and wiser and change.” With a keen interest in learning about woodlands and forest management, Karl has a wealth of knowledge to share about his experiences and hopes his woodland can serve as an example for others.

FIELD DAY: Sept. 28, 2013 — 9am - 4pm

AGENDA
1. Arrival (8:30 -9:00 am)
2. Guest book signing and registration (up on arrival)
3. Field tours (from 9:00 am)
4. Lunch (11:30 am)
5. Recognition speech by Mike MacDonald, DNR Central Region Director (12:30 pm)
6. Award presentation by Mike MacDonald, DNR Central region Director (12:40 pm)
7. Speech by the Crawford family (12:50 pm)
8. Prize draw (1:00 pm)
9. Tour continues until 4 pm

POSTER FOR EVENT: Download the PDF poster for this event

DIRECTIONS:
From Truro direction: From Hwy 104, Take Exit 19 at Saltsprings to Hwy 4 – turn right (east); drive 5km – turn left (North) at Hwy 376; Drive 11km to Hwy 256 and turn hard left; drive 1km – turn right on Hardwood Hill Rd; Drive 6km to destination - .
Directions from Antigonish: From Hwy 104 take Exit 22, to Pictou Rotary; take Scotsburn exit; to Lyons Brook; take right at Y towards Scotsburn; after approx. 1km turn right at Hardwood Hill Rd and drive to Civic No. 873.


2013 Eastern WinnerHenry and Elaine Van Berkel - Eastern Winner

Sometimes the timing is just right. That’s how Henry and Elaine Van Berkel feel about their purchase of 640 acres of land in the Ashdale area of Antigonish back in 1984. Having lived in the area for over 30 years, they were searching for woodland to buy when the property came up for sale. They have since sold half of the acreage, but are happily living on and sustainably managing the remaining 320 acres (130 hectares). They produce Christmas trees, harvest wood, and conserve wildlife habitat and historical sites on their land. Their efforts have awarded them the 2013 Eastern Region Woodland Owner of the Year Award!

Henry had a vision for his woodland early on as both an economic and environmental investment. His main reasons for purchasing the land were interest in growing Christmas trees on the property and the land’s potential to be a sanctuary for wildlife. Although not officially recognized as a wildlife sanctuary, Henry makes an effort to accommodate the local wildlife including eagles, ducks, geese, beavers, rabbits, deer, fish, turtles, and the occasional coyote or porcupine (which are not always welcome visitors). With the help of expert foresters, a management plan for most of the land was developed in 1985, and Henry has followed it well, improving access with over 5 kilometers of well-maintained roads and clearly defined boundary lines. With his brother living next door, they have collaborated with road planning and share management knowledge and equipment.

In moving ahead with his vision, a new management plan was created in 2010 that covers the full woodland and promotes the restoration of Acadian forest attributes while maintaining economic return and protecting wildlife habitat. It is clear Henry has done a lot of work with his woodland but finds it difficult to see it that way; as he says, “you’re always looking at the stuff you haven’t done.” Henry hauls about 100-130 cords of softwood and 10 cords of hardwood, used primarily for pulp and saw logs, and sells on average 650 Christmas trees each year. He has tried to expand his Christmas tree sales but finds the market is against him; last year he sold his best Christmas trees ever at the lowest price yet. He has employed over 260 seasonal workers since purchasing the land, providing woodland management experience to youth, including his own two children, and other interested community members. However, he wonders who will be willing and able to continue his vision once he can no longer work on the woodland as many youth have left the community in recent years.

The Van Berkel family bought more than land back in 1984, they bought a piece of local history in the tale of Big Alex McDonald. Born in Nova Scotia, Big Alex made millions during the Klondike gold rush and was later known as a “Klondike King”. Years later, he died penniless and many believe he may have stored his fortunes on his former family land – the Van Berkel property. It’s hard to believe Henry hasn’t found more than he’s telling us as he says with a smile, “Where did all the money go?”

The rich history of their woodland has attracted visitors from the local region and beyond; their property was even featured in the spring 2008 issue of Canadian Home & Country magazine. People from the community use the roads for walking and Henry takes pleasure in seeing them use the land and telling the story of Big Alex. He has engaged with groups such as the Antigonish Historical Society, giving them tours of the old McDonald settlement. His interest in teaching and sharing likely comes from his past career as a teacher at a local junior high school and later experience as a financial planner. He only requests that visitors leave wildlife alone and do not litter on his property.

Now retired, Henry is able to dedicate much more of his time to managing his woodland. Ample older stands are ready for harvest within the next 5-10 years, and plans to ease harvest with additional road development and thinning are underway. He may also encourage more community member activity on his woodland by offering a u-pick Christmas tree option next winter. Already a member of the Northeastern Christmas Tree Association, the Forest Products Association of Nova Scotia, and the Association for Sustainable Forestry, he hopes to engage with other provincial and regional woodland owner groups in the future. Henry’s dedication and ambition is clear as he says, “I’m just revving up now, still young yet!”

FIELD DAY: Sept. 21, 2013 — 9am - 4pm

AGENDA
1. Arrival (8:30 -9:00 am)
2. Guest book signing and registration (up on arrival)
3. Field tours (from 9:00 am)
4. Lunch (12:00 pm)
5. Recognition speech by Natural Resources Minister’s delegate (12:30 pm)
6. Award presentation by Natural Resources Minister’s delegate (12:40 pm)
7. Speech by the Van Berkel family (12:50 pm)
8. Prize draw (1:00 pm)
9. Tour continues until 4 pm

POSTER FOR EVENT: Download the PDF poster for this event

DIRECTIONS:
From the TCH 104 at exit 32 (St. F. X. University) travel Hwy 7 for approximately 14 km to address 2897. Watch for signs.

Google map showing location of this event