2010 Woodlot Owner of the Year
Though Jonny Castonguay makes his living operating a mechanical harvester in northwestern New Brunswick - a schedule that means he's two weeks on and one week off - he does not tire of working in the woods. During his week off one of his passions is to manage his 98 - acre woodlot located west of the Village of Kedgwick. As a result of the huge effort Castonguay has invested into planting, thinning, and tending the woodlot, he has earned the title of North Shore Forest Products Marketing Board Woodlot Owner of the Year 2010.
Castonguay has owned the woodlot for 10 years and is the third Castonguay's generation to own the property.
Although the land around Kedgwick is hilly with deep river valleys, Castonguay's woodlot is on relatively flat land which had been used for agriculture. Entering the woodlot, the well-drained road passes through a 15-year-old white spruce plantation. Castonguay explains that he has seen annual terminal leads growth ranging from 14 to 32 inches. He attributes the good growth to the years of sheep manure laid down when the land was used as a pasture up until a few decades ago.
The most recent silviculture project is a 50-acre precommercial thinning on a mixed wood site carried out from 1998 to 2008. The result is a mix of spruce, fir, birch, maple and poplar with an even spacing and cut stems lying closely to the ground. Castonguay's attention to detail is evident throughout the woodlot. At the intersection of two trails, for exemple, he has created a beautiful space by taking special care and attention to clean around a small stand of cedar.
Castonguay doesn't let failure get in his way. Rather, he adapts. He had tried to establish a commercial blueberry field on a 15-acre site at the back of the woodlot. It didn't work. So instead the area was disc-trenched, sacrified, and planted in white spruce a few years ago.
In the same vein of working with what he has in the ground on his woodlot, a few years ago Castonguay used his ATV to forward logs from a commercial thinning of a 35-year-old balsam fir stand, originally established for Christmas trees. The 13-acre thinning netted five loads (about 80 cords) of wood, three quarters being pulpwood. The operation reveals the great care and skill Castonguay brings to his work.
" I have always liked to play in the woods, I find it very relaxing," says Castonguay. " At my day (and night) job on the harvester, it is always production, production - go, go, go! There is not much time to think about the small trees and growing the next crop. When I am on my woodlot it slows down, and I can look at the young trees and work with them and see them grow. It is very rewarding for me. I like to do silviculture my way, in my own time."