The winners for Woodland Owner of the Year have been announced and Georgie and Helen Uhlman of Caledonia have won the top awards.
The Uhlmans have not only won to award for best in the Western region of the province but also best overall in the province.
“It was quite a surprise actually,” says Georgie Uhlman. “It’s not just me using the woodlot, every body uses it, I never ever would have dreamt winning an award like that.”
The Uhlman’s are well known in the community for the recreational use of their woodlot. Georgie says much of his 122 acre wood lot is use for that purpose.
“I would say 70 per-cent of my woodlot is recreation,” says Georgie.
Much of the Uhlman’s property is open to the public for nature walks, fishing and more. The natural waterfalls are also popular. Georgie says children from the nursery school and seniors from the senior’s home take trips to the property for special events.
“It’s an education thing for them. They come up and do nature walks and things like that,” says Georgie.
The woodlot has become a sort of hub for the community. The children in Caledonia have their annual Easter Egg Hunt, and Georgie and Helen host a special Thanksgiving supper every year.
“Thanksgiving weekend we invite in, especially people who don’t have anywhere to go for Thanksgiving,” says Georgie. “We all get together and make a big meal,”
The turkey and the fixings are all cooked over the open fire and everyone brings what they can. What started off with just a few people has turned into an event that sees over 60 people in attendance.
The Woodland Owner of the Year Awards have been given out for over 20 years as a way to promote sustainable woodland stewardship. Nominations for the award come from the general public. A plaque and a prize are given out at a ceremony held at the woodland owner’s property.
“It’s someone who practices sustainable forestry methods and has for some time and is a good example to other woodlot owners to be a good steward of the land,” says Charlie Parker, Minister of the provincial Department of Natural Resources.
Minister Parker says a ceremony will be held some time in September or October at the Uhlman’s woodlot. Displays will be set up by DNR, sustainability groups. Demonstrations will be given on topics like how to sustainably harvest.
“It’s more than just producing wood, it’s a lot of other sustainable uses of the woodlot so there’ll probably be a few hundred people come out that day.”