John and Joyce Helweg of Fort St. James were recognized during the 2013 Woodlot Management Awards handed out this past weekend by the province and the Federation of BC Woodlot Associations.
Each year there are three winners, each representing their region. The Helwegs are this year's northern honourees while a Bella Coola / Hagensborg operator (Rodney Krimmer, a co-founder of the Cariboo Woodlot Association) won for the coast and a Nanaimo operation (John Gregson and Dave Gregson) won for the southern region.
While major mill companies have vast regions assigned to them for harvesting and replanting trees, woodlots are designed to sustain a First Nation or community, and many are so small they are handled by a single family. They offer small-scale, sustainable income for a household plus spinoff economy and employment opportunities within their communities.
The Helwegs received a $2,500 regional award for their work in demonstrating a commitment to sound forestry practices and dexemplary forest stewardship.
Woodlot licenses often combine private land with up to 1,200 hectares of Crown land in the interior region. British Columbia has more than 860 active woodlots. Each woodlot is operated on a sustainable forestry cycle generating jobs in planning, harvesting, road construction and maintenance, forest health, silviculture and small-scale timber processing.