Joyce and John Helweg of Fort St. James received a regional award for forest stewardship last week.
The couple won the award based on their years of managing their own woodlot and the work they have done in education and training for woodlot licensees in the north region.
In their application, the Helwegs detailed not only their basic forestry practices, but also their other woodlot-based activities, which include small mill operations and the use of all the wood put through the mill – from timbers for homes to using the slabs for firewood to putting the sawdust in the cow birthing yard.
Within the woodlot, in addition to the selective logging activities, morel mushrooms were picked, willow was harvested for willow furniture, Christmas trees cut, tours given, duck nesting boxes were put up, hunting has taken place, snowmobiles have utilized the trails, wild berries were harvested, and birch sap has been collected.
In addition to the utilization and work going on within the woodlot, the Helwegs have both been very involved in other ways.
Joyce Helweg chaired the local woodlot association meetings and added educational aspects to the meetings.
She also assisted the B.C. Woodlot Federation with audits for three years and helped or organized with a number of educational sessions – some for for licensees, some for sawmill students of the College of New Caledonia.
John Helweg taught milling to others in the community, demonstrating both his band saw mill and Alaskan milling.
They have also both continued to educate themselves on different aspects of woodlot management and ecosystem function and management.
The couple currently volunteer with Frog Watch, a University of British Columbia research project as well.
They report to the researchers on a number of amphibians on their farm and woodlot to help with global warming research.
One of the latest projects the couple has been involved with is helping the Scottish Woodlot Association, a newly formed woodlot project just in the early stages.
The stewarship award includes $2,500 in funds, which Joyce Helweg said she would like to use to help the couple travel to Scotland to see the work being done there – if her husband agrees, of course.