MOBERLY LAKE, B.C. – The Saulteau First Nations have been recognized by the Province through the Minister’s Award for Innovation and Excellence in Woodlot Management for the North.Woodlot licences are small, area-based tenures managed by individuals, groups or First Nations that generate jobs in planning, harvesting, road construction and maintenance, reforestation, silviculture and small-scale timber processing.B.C. has 857 active woodlots, which generate about $200 million of economic activity for the province every year. Operated by John Stokmans, the Province said that the stand density and productivity of the woodlot is above average and achieved without using herbicides. The First Nation has held the woodlot since 1990.“Saulteau First Nations have clearly shown innovation and strong, sound forest management,” said Doug Donaldson, Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development. “Their consideration for wildlife and non-timber values, while maintaining high woodlot productivity, is a job well done.”The Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development said that the Firt Nation’s innovation extends to buying a flock of sheep and mobile pens and employing two full-time shepherds to aid in the removal of unwanted foliage. The high values placement of moose habitat management, wildlife tree retention and support of Treaty 8 rights to hunt and trap was also mentioned by the government as reasons the First Nation received the award.“Despite many silvicultural difficulties and other arduous challenges, Saulteau First Nations and John Stokmans have persevered and managed a woodlot that is a model for others to follow,” said Scott Fraser, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation. “Their woodlot provides jobs for members of their nations, is operated with environmental impacts front of mind and is an added revenue stream for the Saulteau peoples.”“Congratulations to Saulteau First Nations. It hasn’t been an easy road for them, but they are proof of what can be accomplished with some ingenuity and determination,” said Jeff Beale, president of the Federation of British Columbia Woodlot Associations. “I would like to thank their woodlot operator, John Stokmans, for his drive to acquire a small sawmill to enable a squared-log small home and cabin business to be operated by Saulteau First Nations members in their home community, and also for his insightful commentaries on woodlot licence and pest management plans for other woodlot operators in the area.”Award winners not only receive a signed, framed certificate of recognition from the minister, but the recipients also take home $2,500 each for their area awards, with an additional $2,500 going to the Charles Bloom Secondary school for also being named the top performer provincially.