Natural Resources 2011 Woodlot Owner of the Year

2011 Woya Winners - WesternWhen Eldon White discovered that an area he loved to explore as a child was available to purchase, he and his wife Lucille worked hard to ensure they could keep it protected. Since purchasing their woodlot in 1999, the Whites have attended to neglected stands and made the property a showcase for nearly every silviculture technique used in Nova Scotia. Eldon and Lucille were selected as the provincial and western region winners for this diversity of excellent management practices and ingenuity.

Their 520 acre (210 hectare) property in Richfield, Digby County, showcases the planning, hard work and dedication the Whites have employed in their lot, sometimes in challenging situations. Eldon uses a variety of treatments to suit every situation. A 19 acre (8 hectare) section, weakened by wind damage, is now a demo plot for mixed species planting and vigorous regrowth. They are also champions of the Category 7 program and have used their woodlot to show the benefits of merchantable thinning, hosting forestry consultants and any interested woodlot owners to their property.

As owners and operators of Richfield Forestry since the 1980s, they show that an active forest is a healthy forest. Lucille remembers a season when they employed 12 planters to put over half a million trees on the property. Much of the property was harvested in the 1920s, with the hardwood sent to the Miller and Gordon Manufacturing Company Ltd. This locally known 'clothespin factory' also made many domestic products such as dowels, washboards, and berry boxes. The Whites are now working to re-establish that hardwood stand through selection management. The diversity of species and height in this conversion site provide great cover for wildlife.

The Whites also understand the value of other non-timber forest products; their woodlots border both First and Second Briar Lakes, a recreation haven for children in the community. A healthy deer population and a well-maintained camp have made it a favourite hunting spot for three generations of Whites and their friends. Eldon and Lucille are careful to practice due diligence on their lot, especially concerning safety and accessibility for ATV operators. They have found a perfect balance between opening up their property to the community, and maintaining strict safety standards - an excellent example for other woodlot owners.

woodlot signTheir attention to detail can be seen in the numerous hand-made signs that guide visitors through the lot and let them know what was thinned or planted and when. These signs were graciously painted by a neighbour. Most memorable are the signs of wild blueberry fields and that a "pileated woodpecker lives here". Other regular wildlife on the White's woodlot include red-tailed hawks, snakes, the occasional moose, beaver, mink, rabbits, wild turkeys - and of course, the loyal family dog Jasper.

Though much of the original work on their woodlot was done by hand, the use of large-scale equipment today demonstrates the productivity and quality of work that is possible with skilled employees and well-maintained machines. Eldon and Lucille give a demonstration of their hydraulic winch, used to keep their firewood business competitive, admittedly the 'best thing they ever bought'. Through the use of proper equipment, the Whites keep their roads, bridges, and riparian zones meticulously maintained to reduce damage.

We would like to congratulate Eldon and Lucille for their commitment to the Richfield community and the dedication they show in maintaining their woodlot, especially through challenging situations.

FIELD DAY: October 1, 2011. Richfield, Digby County.
TIME: the event starts at 9:00 am and ends at 4:00 pm.
  • See photos of Field Day

From Digby: Take Exit 27 off Highway 101. Take Highway 1 south
to Weymouth. At the flashing lights turn left onto Highway 340.
From Yarmouth: Take Exit 34 off Highway 101.
Turn right onto Highway 340.
From Shelburne: Take Exit 26 off Highway 103.
Turn right onto Highway 203. When Highway 203 ends at Carlton,
turn right onto Highway 340.
The site is located at 77 Highway 340.
Parking is at 58 Highway 340.
Watch for signs.

Google map showing location of this event
PDF brochure for this field day.

2011 WOYA Winners - EasternThere is a woodlot near Baddeck, Victoria County that proves the existence of good quality hardwoods in Cape Breton - something that Peter and Candace Christiano say is often considered a myth. Their 75 acre (30 hectare) plot features glowing yellow birches, vigorous super maple regeneration, and the benefits that selection management can bring. For these, and many other reasons, we present the Christianos as the Eastern Region winner of the Woodlot Owner of the Year Award.

Bordering on the Middle River Wilderness Area, the Christianos' woodlot has a large number of what Peter calls "legacy trees" which they will never cut, as they have come to appreciate not only the science of silviculture, but also the art of the forest itself. Even a quick walk through the woods with Candace as she points out hidden patches of rare wildflowers, or with Peter as he guides you to hidden old-growth trees, will strengthen your love of nature.

Their advice for other woodlot owners is to "work with what you have, and don't be intimidated to start." When they bought their property in the mid-70s, there was much work to be done; today, Peter and Candace are stewards for Category 7 Uneven-Aged Management and are certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. One of their many memorable lines from the tour, regarding selection management for fast growth, was that "a tree is like a sailboat, just as you open a sail to the wind, you need to open the tree to sunlight". The Christianos manage for quality, not quantity, and girdle undesirable trees instead of cutting to reduce damage to other trees and the understory. They tell of a visitor who once doubted the benefits of girdling trees - when a pileated woodpecker, right on cue, landed on one of the girdled trees in question, to demonstrate their usefulness as habitat.

large sugar mapleThe family business, Finewood Flooring and Lumber Ltd., is another showcase for their ingenuity; hardwood floors from both locally sourced and imported lumber, biomass heating, wood pellets, and a high-energy torrefaction kiln demonstrate the range of products that can come from well-managed hardwood stands. As they prepare to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Finewood next year, with a large portion of their products shipped to Europe, they are proud to share that all manufacturing is done at their plant by 10 local employees and 2 other family members.

Peter and Candace have demonstrated leadership in the local lumber industry and are excellent stewards of hardwood forests, managing it all with a fine sense of humour. We commend them for their environmental stewardship, contribution to the community, and a successful 30 years in business!

FIELD DAY: September 10. Baddeck, Victoria County.
  • See photos of Field Day

From Highway 105, take Exit 7 (at the Big Red Barn).
Travel north for 15 kms through the community of Middle River.
Look for the Finewood Flooring and Lumber sign.
Turn right and drive 300 m down the laneway
Watch for signs.


2011 WOYA CentralTime spent with Steve Keddy and his family is a time of humour and storytelling, making a visit to their 425 acre (172 hectare) woodlot more than a chance to see a healthy forest. Steve considers his woodlot as an extension of his farm, putting the same care and attention to detail for his oxen and sheep, and does the same for trees. Stepping into an old hemlock stand is immediately relaxing, and it is easy to understand why they plan to preserve it, especially as you listen to the rustle of the wind in the crowns. He has seen the effects of clearcutting on the neighbouring properties, particularly the increased susceptibility to wind damage to adjacent stands. This has only re-inforced his commitment to selection management.

Serving his second year as director of Conform Ltd., Steve Keddy is an advocate of the benefits available to woodlot owners by partnering with forestry consultants. Although challenged by hurricane damage and steep terrain, having to use different treatments on his woodlot has resulted in the many benefits of uneven-aged management. He talks of the wide range of equipment he has had access to, not to mention the expertise to guide his decisions, which have benefited his property for the long-term. Also, given the dramatically changing topography, he may not be able to work at all in portions of his woods if it wasn't for skilled contractors and specialized equipment.

Their commitment to non-timber forest values is seen as the Keddy family mentions how recreation has really brought friends and family together. The proximity of their woodlot cabin to the house, and the range of outdoor activities available, has truly deepened the family's appreciation for the property and the wildlife that surround them.

An active member in the community of Meadowvale, especially known for his role in the young fire brigade, Steve is proud to share his love of hard work with the next generation. He laughs at the idea of "sawdust in the porridge", explaining how the woodlot was so engrained in his life growing up. Steve has certainly succeeded in teaching stewardship values, as all six Keddy children are keen to take part in management responsibilities. For this commitment to the local community, preservation of wildlife habitat, all while remaining self-employed, the Keddy family demonstrates leadership to woodlot owners across the province.

FIELD DAY: September 24, 2011, Meadowvale, Colchester County.
  • See photos of Field Day

From Hwy 102, take Exit 12.
Merge onto Hwy 289 and travel approx 14.5 km towards
Upper Stewiacke. Turn right onto Cloverdale Road.
Take the first left onto S Branch Road.
S Branch Road becomes Meadowvale Road.
Watch for signs.