Recent Items – 1999
June 22, 1999, By Mark Nielsen, Daily News Staff
Years of dedication and hard work were acknowledged on Saturday evening when Leonard and Molly Donaldson were presented with the L.B. Thomson Conservation Award by the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration (PFRA).
Living on a 1,200 acre farm about 15 miles north of Dawson Creek, the Donaldsons have maintained 500 acres as natural bush, placed 300 acres under a permanent cover of alfalfa, and planted close to 10,000 tree seedlings. And another 25 acres of their land has been dedicated to wildlife habitat, establishing trees and planting wildflowers, sunflowers and wheat to provide nesting food and shelter.
As modest at they are dedicated, the couple accepted the award, along with a scene of the Kiskatinaw River painted by local artist Inez Demuynck and the first annual Dawson Creek Sportsmen’s Club conservation award with a shyness bordering on embarrassment. The awards were presented at their home in front of about 30 friends and family.
“I’m really shocked because we didn’t expect anything like this at all, Leonard Donaldson said afterwards. “We just believe in planting a lot of trees. There are too many disappearing around the country and we enjoy the wildlife so much around here.”
PFRA district soil conservationist Allen Eagle said the Donaldsons were nominated in 1995 by Paul Brun, a PFRA conservation technician, after seeing what the couple were doing. (Brun later moved to Quesnel to work for the Ministry of Forests and was killed in a car accident).
Established in 1987, it’s the first time the award has been presented to a B.C. recipient.
So dedicated are the Donaldsons that Eagle said they’ve foregone vacations to stay at home and tend to the seedlings during their first few years in the soil.
Leonard has lived on the farm since 1948. It was in the last five or six years that he’s worked at converting back some of his farmland to conservation habitat. Their work includes a network of trails and portable viewing stands and they are working to establish a wetland habitat.
A goal of his effort is to resurrect flocks of birds that haven’t been seen here for years, particularly the Mountain Bluebird, similar to a successful effort at the Ellis Bluebird Farm in Lacombe, Alberta. Towards that effort, more than 80 bird nest boxes have been put out specially made to accommodate the species.
Helping the deer get through the harsh Peace winters has met with success as well –almost too much success. When the snow has covered the ground, the Donaldsons will put out bales of alfalfa so that the deer can get the enzymes that help them digest the other forage they seek.
“We have a lot of deer, a few too many. And we we’d like to see our fish and wildlife fellas open up a bit more on the limited entry, but I think we’re on the right track here.”
The prime motivation, however, is to leave a legacy. “I look at some of these farms and they’re leaving behind burned out machinery and fallen down buildings and that’s not good enough,” he said. “We want to leave some trees behind for the wildlife and future generations. Too many have been taken down and we just love doing what we’re doing.”