A cut block is visible behind the Holy Cow trail sign. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)

A cut block is visible behind the Holy Cow trail sign. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)

EDITORIAL: Mosaic must come to the table and talk with public about forestry plans

Lack of public engagement over logging recreational areas creates unnecessary conflict

A controversy brewing over logging on a much-loved trail beside Sproat Lake underlines a growing problem between private forestry interests and those of the people who live and recreate on the edges of the Alberni Valley’s woods.

The plight of the Holy Cow Trail on Stirling Arm Drive is not new. Residents of the Alberni Valley have opposed logging on recreational trails behind Coombs Country Candy, alongside the trail to China Creek waterfalls, at the top of the Hump on Highway 4 and other places. There has been little public engagement on Mosaic Forest Management’s side, which leads to confrontation and disappointment among the public.

Hikers discovered Mosaic’s logging plans for China Creek only after they arrived for a hike and discovered many of the trees had disappeared.

What is different about the Holy Cow Trail is the public’s forced engagement with the company. The Sproat Lake Woodlands Society presented a proposal to the company asking them to defer logging the area for two years to allow the society to raise money to purchase the land. Mosaic considered the proposal and made a few changes to its plan, but carried through with plans to log the area earlier this month.

Another group of residents has occupied the site in protest, but logging continues.

Residents have shown a willingness to engage with Mosaic in a way that would help the company remain financially viable while appeasing people who would rather see forested areas preserved. Now it’s time for Mosaic to be proactive and more forthcoming with future plans, to give groups like the Woodlands Society the time to raise funds to buy those forested areas.

Mosaic recently announced it would set aside several stands of old-growth via its BigCoast Carbon Credits program, including land around Cathedral Grove and on McLaughlin Ridge.

Wildlife specialists are calling it an innovative approach to keep old-growth forests standing. It shows that Mosaic is willing to act when there is a financial benefit.

Now the company needs to show a willingness to engage with the public on its plans for smaller, second-growth logging areas where they intersect with public activities.

— Alberni Valley News

Alberni Valleyforestry