Mack Williams – woodlot role model

For the one or two of my readers who might have an interest in private woodlot management, I refer you to the Mack Williams Woodlot Story.

It’s inspiring to read about how Mack transformed a degraded Ontario farm into a thriving mixed forest.   As he states,

… As I age I relax on the property much more than ever before, with a folding chair at various points on the trails. I may read, or just enjoy what Mother Nature has been doing. It is exciting to see, within my adult lifetime, a transition from an open, windswept eroding sandy landscape, to plantations up to 59 years old, some with dense sugar maple understory. I have seen quality logs from trees planted by myself and by family members. I see it becoming a sheltered place of peace and refuge from a hectic world. I am aware of gradual changes happening in the soil. I marvel at the contribution I am sure it is making to quality of air and ground water. I dream that it may become a place for teaching health, biological and artistic subjects. I can see the potential growth that lies ahead, including both the maple syrup and timber potential of the hardwood parcels. I can also see much work I could have done, had I had more time and energy, to make the stands even better. I can see other courses of action I could have taken, with equally exciting results. 
I marvel that Canada is a nation of trees and forests, an ecological, economic, social and spiritual treasure. I wish more Canadians could share this awareness and appreciation. I wish more landowners could have similar dreams and the energy and skills to make them happen. I wish that society might recognize how much it benefits from such a forest, perhaps much more than the individual owners, and how it might benefit greatly from offering realistic support to those engaged in private land forestry …  (ref)

Inspiring stuff for a someone who is just a year into being a private woodlot owner (part-owner).  Mack is a role model worth emulating.

However it’s discouraging to consider that he bought the land in 1946 when he was 22 years old.  I recently had my 52nd birthday, so when I reach Mack’s age (84, 85?), any trees that I plant this year will still be juveniles.  However his story ends with this encouragement …

… And I would hope that landowners everywhere will understand that it is never too early or too late to start.  (ref)

I suppose that if I plant fast-growing hybrid poplar I could still be around to reap the benefits.  However I’m more likely to choose slower-growing native species, and hope that my children and grandchildren will appreciate the results.

6 Responses to “Mack Williams – woodlot role model”

  1. Marc says:

    If you are planning on planting some trees, I still have my planting equipment! I may not be as fast as I was (3,600 trees in northern Alberta on my best day), but still…

    That is, if you want them planted reforestation-style, rather than the boyscout way of 3 or 4 people per tree, nursing it, patting it, etc.


  2. Phil L says:

    Hey Marc, thanks for the kind offer. I haen’t gotten beyond preliminary discussions with our co-owners G&G G, but I was thinking of maybe ordering only about 500 or so seedlings this year. At your reforestation-style planting rate, we could be finished before 10:00 coffee time.

  3. Roger Loseth says:

    Hey Phil I was wondering if you guys were going to reforest the whole quarter? If it were mine (I wish it was) I’d plant alfalfa in the field for the ruffies and deer.

  4. Phil L says:

    Roger: The main field had been in wheat for many years. Last year we had it seeded to alfalfa, and will keep it in alfalfa for at least 5 years.
    The old fields need discussion. They were abandoned awhile ago, probably 20 or more years ago. I think that working them up and planting alfalfa would be good for the deer, but I kind of like the semi-open meadow look that they have now. I don’t think I’d want them to be entirely treed. If we ever build a cabin, it will be in one of those old fields.

  5. Roger Loseth says:

    Cool! ya those old fields will grow up all by themselves, just look at the old field where my cabin was.