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Award winner promotes woodlots as a thriving business

Jonathan Seinen receives grant from forests minister
Woodlot licence holder Jonathan Seinen topped off a day of planting spruce and pine seedlings by distributing the remaining ones to Houston Christian School students on May 27, 2022. Seinen was honoured with a provincial award this year for his business and community involvement. (Photo courtesy Sarah Sutton)

Woodlots are a thriving business with the emphasis on longer term thinking, says the Houston woodlot licensee who is the recipient of a provincial award.

“The ownership doesn’t change very often over the generations and there are successful operations that will be producing quality fibre indefinitely,” says Jon Seinen who was presented with the Minister’s Award for Innovation and Excellence in Wood Management for 2023 from forests ministry officials the end of October.

By definition, woodlots are small defined areas managed by individuals, partnerships or First Nations who are provided tenure by the province.

They have exclusive rights within the licence area and must follow provincial forest legislation, including that pertaining now to wildfires. The original program grew and expanded in the 1970s to encourage more people to become licence holders.

Seinen notes that lots of ranchers applied for licences.

His own involvement grew out of his father being granted a woodlot licence in 1981.

“It was just a natural part of family succession,” explained Seinen who assumed responsibility for the woodlot in 2010. “It was a process over a few years as we shifted workload between generations.”

Officially called Woodlot 126, it is 612 hectares in size and is located 13 kilometres south of Houston.

The licence is made up of mixed species and Seinen buys his seedling stock from Woodmere Nursery in Telkwa.

An average of four hectares a year are harvested and planted.

“The majority of the wood has gone to local Canfor mill. Although I do occasionally sell a small portion to a the local pellet plant and few smaller mill operators,” Seinen said.

He also has a small mill and provided lumber this year to the 4-H program fixing up barns at Four Seasons Park.

Just as it is with the much larger licences provided by the province, woodlot operators are not immune from challenges, Seinen said.

“Global market conditions and catastrophic wildfires are the biggest threat to the viability of the woodlot program,” he said.

The award presented to Seinen the end of October at the Federation of British Columbia Woodlot Associations annual general meeting recognized both his own business as well as his involvement within the community and within the woodlot industry.

He is president of the 30-member Nadina Woodlot Association and is a former director of the Federation of British Columbia Woodlot Associations.

There are more than 60 woodlots within the Houston and Burns Lake area and some people have more than one.

The award takes the form of a certificate and a $10,000 grant.