Woodlot licensees from around the province gathered in Golden for their annual general meeting over the weekend. The Columbia Woodlot Association hosted the three-day event, which showcased woodlots done in the “Rocky Mountain Way.”
Woodlots were first introduced to B.C. in 1948 to allow farmers and ranchers access to Crown timber. This program was established as a means for farmers to supplement their income. The present agreement, introduced in 1979, allows individuals or organizations to manage up to 1200 hectares in the interior regions of the province.
The conference began with a short video that recognized some of the families in Golden and area that have operated woodlots over the years. Several local families appeared in the video, including the Braishers and the Schiessers, both long time members of the woodlot program.
The Braishers got their start in logging when Alfred Braisher settled a farm in Parson in 1918.
Later, Ormond Braisher had the first woodlot in the entire B.C. interior. His son, Joe Braisher, continues to work on the same woodlot, while his other son, Dugan Braisher operates an adjacent woodlot.
Dugan logged on his grandfather’s original woodlot for many years, but when the program changed he found his own land. Now, he runs the woodlot with the help of his sons Bill and Bud Braisher.
“I do the marketing, logging, I run loader, I work with all aspects of it,” Dugan said. “I enjoy it quite a bit and I’m also working with my boys Bill and Bud to try and get them into it.”
Bill isn’t as involved with the woodlot as he continues to run the Winston Lodge, but he clearly recognizes the importance of the woodlot to his family. Altogether, five generations have worked on the family’s woodlot.
“There’s a lot of pride there,” he said. “It gave me a good start, growing up and working on the woodlot…I still go to all of the meetings and everything just to stay on top of what’s there.”
Bernie Schiesser, who runs his woodlot in the Moberley/Blaeberry area, got into the woodlot program with his brother Jack in 1985. Jack died 15 years ago, but his son (Dylan) works alongside Schiesser on the woodlot now.
“We sometimes hire one other person but usually it’s just the two of us,” Scheisser explained. “We have the equipment and the background.”
One vital aspect of the program for Bernie is its environmental impact.
“(Sustainbility) is really important for me. That’s part of the whole principal of the woodlot program,” he said.
According to a Federation of BC Woodlot Associations report, woodlot licenses feature a “high standard of sustainable forest management as they are often located in hard-to-manage, even controversial, areas where personal attention to management and leaving a light footprint on the land are necessary.”
Additionally, the report states that most transactions from woodlots take place in areas where the woodlot operator resides, which makes woodlots a supporter of local communities through employment, economic activity and providing goods to local mills and manufacturers.
It’s clear that woodlotters take a great deal of pride in their work and having their woodlots legacy passed along to future generations. For Schiesser, it’s also about being outdoors, and at 77, he says he’ll keep working on the woodlot as long as he is able.
“Every faller loves being in the woods,” he grinned.