Brothers humble about woodlot management award

Bob and Dan Davidson, Rock Creek residents who manage a ranch and a substantial woodlot, were recognized by the provincial government.

Brothers Bob (left) and Dan (right) Davidson have been caring for a woodlot that was handed down to them from their parents in 1976. They won an award from the Minister of Forests

It’s not every day Boundary residents are recognized province wide for their outstanding work. But to hear the Davidsons talk, you’d think their names were chosen out of a hat for the prestigious provincial award for woodlot management.

Bob and Dan Davidson, Rock Creek residents who manage a ranch and a substantial woodlot, were recognized this month for their “excellence and innovation” in woodlot management by the provincial government. The award, given by the Minister for Forests, Land and Natural Resource Operations, was presented in Prince George on Sept. 30 at the B.C. Woodlot Association annual general meeting.

When asked why they thought they won the award, the brothers were typically humble.

“Maybe because we’ve had [the woodlot] so long. Though that doesn’t mean we should get an award,” Bob Davidson said, laughing a little.

The Davidson brothers live on their ranch in Rock Creek, and manage 13 hectares of their land in addition to a 600-hectare woodlot. It’s the woodlot license they took over from their parents, who moved onto the property in the late 1940s and got a woodlot license in 1962, the Davidson brothers said. The brothers took over the woodlot in 1976.

Over the course of several hours visiting the woodlot and getting a sense of how it works, the Davidsons give many reasons why they’ve been doing the work for so long, and more importantly, why they love it.

“You can come out here and forget all your worries. It is just you and the bush,” Dan said. “It’s fun because at the end of the day you can look and say, hey that looks good.”

That attention to aesthetics is one of many aspects the award recognizes about their woodlot management. The Davidsons practise selective logging based on tree health and aesthetics, fostering a healthy, diverse and full (but not overcrowded) forest. They have an encyclopedic knowledge of the land and its history.

The woodlot program allows individuals and groups to manage small pieces of government land. Woodlot licensees are responsible for the management and logging of the forest on their lot. In exchange, they can log the land and sell the logs; a small portion (determined annually) goes back to the province. Across B.C., the program has 860 members generating about $200 million in revenue for the province annually.

Bob travelled to Prince George to accept the award, which was presented by Mike Morris, MLA for Prince George-Mackenzie on behalf of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Steve Thomson.

“Woodlots provide opportunity for greater local input into the type of integrated forest management and resource stewardship exemplified by Bob and Dan Davidson. I offer them my sincere congratulations on a job well done,” Thomson said in a press release.

President of the B.C. Woodlot Association, Mark Clark, said the Davidsons were an example to be emulated.

“Congratulations to the Davidsons. Bob and Dan’s focus on biodiversity is a model that all of us woodlot operators should strive to follow—from preventing wildfire and pest outbreaks through salvage of blowdown, to their care for creatures great and small,” said Clark in a press release.

“They also set the benchmark for being good neighbours by paying attention to aesthetics and their contributions to the local community.”

The Boundary Woodlot Association recognized the Davidsons for their excellent management in the spring, hosting its annual meeting there and inviting RDKB representatives on a tour of the lot. The Davidsons figure that attention is part of what got them recognized for the Minister’s Award, and the Boundary Woodlot Association has several former winners of the prestigious award.

Don Davidson, their father, came onto the land in 1948 and managed a small farm where the kids grew up. Driving around the woodlot, Bob and Dan can point out spots they had logged with their father, sometimes even pointing to a specific stump they cut or group of trees they had planted and regrown.

The woodlot model works for the brothers, who also have a cattle ranch but like the independence of logging. Managing both can be tricky, said Dan Davidson, but it comes together: they log predominately in the spring, fall and into winter, after the busy summer season on the farm is over.

“For us it’s really worthwhile because we didn’t have a very large farm. With the woodlot, we could stay and live in the community. Otherwise we’d have to leave,” Bob said.

The Davidsons do the work on their woodlot by hand, with Dan felling most of the trees with a chainsaw—one of many ways their woodlot is unique. Bob estimated that most logging on woodlots is done by large logging companies hired by the licensees, but they prefer to do the work themselves where possible.

“I think it will continue, but most of the harvesting will be done by contractors,” he said. “Not with human hands like us. It’s just a fact, things have changed, it’s always change. At one time you did it with a hand scythe. It’s evolution, all the time.”