TREE TRADITION – Doug Goodwin is continuing a family tradition of harvesting Christmas trees, a practice that helps maintain an open forest ecosystem. Photo by Greg Amos

By Greg Amos

Pioneer Staff

For one valley man, harvesting local Christmas trees is not only a matter of family tradition its also a matter of ecological integrity.

My father and grandfather both Christmas treed when I was a boy, said Doug Goodwin, whos a member of the valleys pioneering Tegart family. I just recently got back into it.

On an 80-hectare tenure located in the Spur Valley area between Pinnacle Creek and Kindersley Creek, Doug and his wife Cheryl have been working the land since purchasing their permit four years ago, harvesting wild Douglas fir and lodgepole pine trees while clearing out thickets of non-productive forest.

One of the reasons I got into Christmas treeing is because I really think its important to retain our natural grasslands and natural ecosystems, and Christmas treeing is one way that we can promote a semi-open grassland system that supports a lot of habitat for wildlife, everything from the badger, which has been extirpated in a lot of our area, to winter range for mule deer, sheep, and elk, he said.

Most Christmas tree permits occur in the lower elevations of the Columbia valley, at roughly 1,000 metres to 1,100 metres, where traditionally a forest fire would occur every five to 20 years, he explained.

It would naturally be kind of a rolling grassy meadows interspersed with small thickets of fir, and big, gnarly fire-resistant fir, he said. Without the impact of fires, thickets develop to the point where animals cant move through the area, and no grass can grow.

Doug sells his trees to Rory Hromadnik, another valley tree harvester, who buys from local producers and sells to the Lower Mainland.

As for family involvement, Doug said his father still helps with treeing when he can – and hell be 90 in February, so hes doing pretty good, he said.