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Local forester recognized for innovative practices

MLA John Slater (L) presents George Delisle with his award of excellence in woodlot forestry; Photo, submitted
Rock Creek woodlot owner George Delisle was recognized this week as one of three foresters in B.C. who have excelled in their forest management practices.
Delisle received the Minister’s Award of Excellence for Woodlot Management from Boundary-Similkameen MLA John Slater at a presentation on behalf of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Minister Steve Thomson.
“It’s really rewarding to have your extra efforts that go beyond basic industrial forestry acknowledged and accepted that it is a call above and beyond what our normal obligations are,” said Delisle. “Lots of times you do lots of things and you never feel that it’s even acknowledged or people even notice, but obviously it does get noticed. I hope that this award process encourages other people to go beyond the basic industrial forestry base and do a better job.”
Delisle has managed a woodlot near Rock Creek since 1984, and is well known for educating local residents about the benefits woodlots bring to the local economy. Some of his achievements include reducing forest fuels to minimize the risk of wildfire and protecting local wildlife by maintaining wildlife trees.
The award was presented on Sunday, Aug. 14 to Delisle who is the Southern Interior award winner and receives $2,500 for excellence in woodlot management and timber growth through innovative silviculture treatments, research application, and close monitoring of growing conditions.
“Without a doubt George Delisle is one of the most conscientious woodlot licensees in British Columbia and is deserving of this recognition,” Mark Clark, president, Federation of BC Woodlot Associations, added. “In addition to the stellar management of his own woodlot licence, George has volunteered countless hours towards the betterment of the woodlot licence program province-wide.”
Delisle practices selective logging that thins from below the larger old growth trees which is different than normal logging practices. By eliminating the smaller trees below he minimizes wildfire risk by knocking down ladder fuels and allowing more moisture into the ground. This practice keeps fires low so that firefighters have a better opportunity to stop a fire before it’s out of control. Delisle also started protecting wildlife trees long before the process became a regulation because it just made sense to help support the different species that thrive in forests.

“As a result I have a really nice healthy vigorously growing forest that is relatively resilient to a forest fire should one go through,” Delisle explained. “I try to look in 100-year terms rather than five-year term. I set my woodlot up so I can tell you where I’ll be harvesting in a hundred years from now. My woodlot now is growing at about four times faster than what the ministry standards say it should be growing. That’s one of the things that probably caught the attention of Victoria.”
Delisle hopes in the future that a program for young people to earn woodlots over time can be created because he has seen the benefits that he has achieved on his lot over many years.
“Right now young people can’t afford it, they can’t get into the woodlot program,” Delisle noted. “Our future is in our youth and we need to get these young people involved in the forest. I believe small scale forestry is the best way to get the communities back involved in managing our resources.”
Slater was pleased that one of the foresters in his constituency was recognized for his work.
“George is clearly committed to education and continuous improvement in forest management,” said Slater. “Through his careful management and hands-on approach I have no doubt George’s woodlot will be a resounding success for many years to come. Great work George!”
For the future Delisle plans to continue to manage his woodlot in the best interests of the community, and hopes that youth will be able to one day achieve the same satisfaction in caring for the forests as he clearly has.
“My sincere hope is that particularly young people can look at (my woodlot) and see what’s been done and can actually see the result of it. We leave two things behind us – our kids and our forests. I feel if we leave our forests in better condition than when we got it, we’ve accomplished something,” Delisle added.
Three regional awards are given for excellence in woodlot management – one for the Southern Interior, one for the Northern Interior and one for the Coast.
Finalists were evaluated by a team with representation from the Federation of BC Woodlot Associations and the ministry.
Nominations for the 2011 awards are due Saturday, Dec. 31, 2011.
Quick Facts:
  • Woodlot licences are small, area-based tenures that combine private land with up to 800 hectares of Crown land on the Coast and 1,200 hectares in the Interior, and are managed by individuals, groups or First Nations;
  • Woodlots are replaceable tenures, usually awarded for an initial term of 20 years;
  • British Columbia has about 860 active woodlots. Each woodlot generates jobs in planning, harvesting, road construction and maintenance, reforestation, silviculture and small-scale timber processing.