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Donald E. Green, a.k.a Herb – Outdoorsman of the Bulkley Valley

Tom catches up with a guy who has done it all
Herb (a.k.a. Donald E. Green) relaxes at home with his books and banjo. (Tom Roper photo)

Herb called me a couple of months back mentioning he had met old John Edwards, a character I wrote about in a Bella Coola adventure story. John was the son of Ralph Edwards, the guy who had written a book called Crusoe of Lonesome Lake. A pretty interesting read about saving Trumpeter Swans frozen in the lake.

Seems Herb (a.k.a. Donald Green) was working as a park ranger in Tweedsmuir Park and had dealings with the family. Sounded to me like there might be a story and I got a chance to interview Herb just last week.

Herb grew up in the Enderby area of the Okanagan. He was a middle child in a large family. Negotiating was second nature. Herb’s father was a bushman and heavy horseman. He passed those skills to his son. Hunting, trapping, and bush survival were a big part of Herb’s youth.

His mother was a very capable, witty woman with a strong personality. She taught Herb about people and kindness.

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Herb had other interests, working for a butcher when he was young was one that would bode him well in the future. He also joined cadets as a younger fellow and this led to the junior forest wardens of days past.

As long as Herb was outside in the bush he was happy. As fate would have it, a dream job appeared, How would you like to work at Manning Park during its development. You could cut firewood, build trails and work for the Forest Service at $127 per month, with a 48 hour work week and no overtime.

“What do you think?’ Herb was asked and a 38-year career began. Cutting roads by hand and cutting up beef for the camp, were trades Herb knew and he fit right in to the program.

With Herb’s negotiation and compromising skills, it was not very long before he was moving up the ranks. Wells Gray was a beautiful place to work. Mt. Robson, Atlin, Spatsizi, Liard Hotsprings, the Charlottes, how could one man get so lucky to be in the right place at the right time, with the right job?

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Along the way, Herb ran road crews and pioneered selective logging methods to attempt to prevent the spread of the mountain pine beetle.

He also accepted several management positions with Parks, and finally ended up in the little town of Smithers B.C. as regional director of the Skeena.

This was 1980 and something about this town made Herb feel like he was home.

Herb was able to pursue his hobbies.

He was an expert marksman and involved himself in the local Rod and Gun Club. Herb also got involved in the placing of reflectors along the rail tracks in an attempt to reduce the annual moose kill.

He had utmost respect for the guide outfitters of the area and was involved in several wildlife management programs aimed at improving enhancement.

Herb retired from the Park Service with 38 years under his belt. Now he could return to his other past passions, Fly tying, fishing, trapping and survival training.

This guy has done it all and said he would do it again if the chance presented itself. That is the sign of a man who chose the right profession.

After several entertaining stories while sitting in Herb’s basement amongst park memorabilia and books, Herb pulled out his banjo.

I on my ukulele and we jammed out a few tunes ending our fun with “Ramblin Rose.”

Thanks Herb.

Oh, by the way, where did you score the handle Herb, and what was wrong with Don?

“Well, one of those nicknames you get as a kid and it just sticks.”

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Thom Barker

About the Author: Thom Barker

After graduating with a geology degree from Carleton University and taking a detour through the high tech business, Thom started his journalism career as a fact-checker for a magazine in Ottawa in 2002.
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