78-year-old arrested for standing up for the trees — literally

Sarah MacDonald called her father Myles MacDonald (right) a hero for standing in front of a bulldozer in the RM of Paddockwood in attempt to prevent a worker from clearing trees from a ditch. (Sarah MacDonald/Facebook)

“It was an ethical, moral and environmental issue for me.” – Myles MacDonald

Myles MacDonald was in his rural residence just north of Spruce Home on Tuesday when he heard a disturbing noise outside—it was a bulldozer clearing trees on the side of a grid road.

He said he felt discouraged. He’s been living there for about 40 years, and that those particular spruce trees had been growing there for over 30.

MacDonald, who’s barely able to walk, shuffled into the ditch and stood in front of the machine and its operator. He leaned against the bulldozer for about an hour until RCMP showed up.

“Ever since I was a kid, I was also interested in the small wildlife,” he said, like rabbits, squirrels, mice, salamanders and frogs.

“This guy was busy chewing up all of that habitat for these little creatures. Most people don’t think of any of this stuff as wildlife; they’re interested in deer and bears.”

He emphasized that trees also benefit humans, sequestering carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen.

MacDonald said he told the RM of Paddockwood worker his concerns.

The man said they needed to clear the trees in the ditch because they were causing snow to drift on the road. Additionally, he argued that the RM was getting complaints of muddy road conditions after it rains.

“(The worker) said…I’m supposed to be doing my job here; you’re preventing me from doing my job. I’m going to have to call the police.’ I said ‘Yeah, I guess you’re going to have to call the police,’” explained MacDonald.

The worker did just that.

According to an RCMP spokesperson, an officer attended and gave MacDonald several opportunities to return to his home.

“We attended, we spoke to him. He absolutely refused to leave and he refused to let the mulcher continue clearing the ditch,” said the spokesperson.

“The ditch had been overgrown and trees were starting to grow in it, which makes it very dangerous because trees and bushes have to be a certain distance away from the road to make it safe to travel on.”

MacDonald said he was taken into custody at the RCMP detachment north of Prince Albert at about 2:30 p.m. He was returned back to his home just before 5 p.m. so he could take his prescribed medication.

He said RCMP dropped his mischief charge because the courts need to resolve more pressing crimes.

“It’s the RM’s opinion that this is the way that things have to be done,” said MacDonald.

“This man was very polite, the RCMP man was very polite, too. Just asked why I was there and why I was doing this. They could see my point, but they don’t necessarily agree.”

MacDonald said the area was left as stubble.

“Most people don’t want a change in the way we do things and they prefer to go about their business and be left alone and not having these ancient tree huggers stopping them at their work,” he said.

“It was an ethical, moral and environmental issue for me.”

His daughter, Sarah, made the public aware of the incident on Facebook.

“Pop (Myles MacDonald) is my hero. He’s 78 years old and he can barely stand up, but today he was arrested for standing up for the trees,” the post read. “I am so proud of Pop. He has principles and puts his beliefs into action.”

According to Sarah, the bulldozer was back clearing the ditch the next day.

The Daily Herald reached out to the RM of Paddockwood for comment; however, the administrator was not available by the time of deadline.