Concerned Lantzville resident Niels Schwarz

Group fights for Lantzville forest

NANAIMO – 256-hectare lot used for recreation amid logging.

A push to protect a Lantzville forest is ramping up, with organizers arguing there’s at-risk species and high recreational value.

“Can you imagine if Stanley Park was being logged?” asked Ted Gullison, biologist and concerned resident behind the Save Lantzville Forest effort. “It wouldn’t really matter if they were doing responsible logging, it just doesn’t make any sense.

“It’s the same thing here.”

Woodlot 1475 is at the heart of the fight, an approximate 256-hectare swath in upper Lantzville that’s 96 per cent Crown land.

Save Lantzville Forest campaigners are petitioning to change the designation of the woodlot from a timber production forest to permanently protected area, on the condition the woodlot licensee is compensated, possibly with a swap in timber rights on other Crown land, if government allows third parties to purchase and retire the tenure of the woodlot. Gullison said more than 2,000 signatures have been collected so far. There’s also political support from Lantzville council and Nanaimo MLA Leonard Krog, who supports protecting the woodlot as long as the current operator is compensated.

The woodlot, which can be accessed off of Sywash Ridge Road, is a maze of bridges and trails and home to three amphibian species considered at risk by the province, including the red-legged frog, a citizen-commissioned report by E. Wind Consulting shows. Other provincially listed species like the western screech owl have also been noted in the area and the province reports that 25 per cent of the woodlot is coastal Douglas fir, which it considers an ecosystem at risk.

Woodlot guidelines, however, are not specific to operating in an endangered forest, says Gullison, who along with resident Niels Schwarz points to the area’s high recreational and environmental values.

An end to logging would allow the area to be managed for recreation and the mature forest to get older, which is better for biodiversity and a higher-quality recreation experience, Gullison said.

But there’s no easy solution, according to Michelle Stilwell, Parksville-Qualicum MLA, who notes two sides including licence-holder John Gregson.

“The important thing we have to understand is as much as Save Lantzville Forest wants to see it protected, there are also those individuals who don’t oppose the woodlot and it’s important to acknowledge the Gregsons have a backing by many of their neighbours,” said Stilwell who says she wants to make sure both sides have equal voice.

She also said it’s a working forest and it’s a myth that it is being clearcut or that people will lose trail access.

Lantzville council met with Stilwell and B.C. Forests Minister Steve Thomson in November, and Stilwell said it was asked whether the ministry would consider cancelling the requirement to remove timber if the woodlot licence was acquired by the community but “that’s not something within the minister’s abilities because the purpose of the woodlot is to manage and harvest timber as well as manage for the other values as well.”

She sees the ability to turn the woodlot into protected area as being between woodlot-licence holder and Save Lantzville Forest and that the group should make an offer. Government also has to know what’s on the table.

Gullison asks if the forestry minister can’t cancel the requirement to remove timber, who can? Government is being “way too passive” on this, he said.

Gregson has held the licence for 10 years and said his company has been doing a good job of managing it and would like to continue to do so. He’s possibly open to compensation and acquirement of the licence but can’t comment further until there’s a proposal.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Black Lives solidarity demonstration fills Nanaimo park

Anti-racism protest held at Maffeo Sutton Park on Friday afternoon

Nanaimo RCMP seek help locating missing indigenous youth

Family of William Baker worries he’s in company of people putting him at risk

Nanaimo man wanted on assault warrants

John Bates wanted following two separate incidents from earlier this year

Stz’uminus motivational speaker and musician named ‘emerging cultural leader’ in Nanaimo

Patrick Aleck is among the recipients of the city’s Culture and Heritage Awards

Plan in place for B.C. Ferries to start increasing service levels

Ferry corporation reaches temporary service level agreement with province

‘I’m pissed, I’m outraged’: Federal minister calls out police violence against Indigenous people

Indigenous Minister Marc Miller spoke on recent incidents, including fatal shooting of a B.C. woman

Kelowna Mountie who punched suspect identified, condemned by sister

‘How did he get away with this? How is this justifiable?’

PHOTOS: Anti-racism protesters gather in communities across B.C.

More protests are expected through the weekend

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

Pair accused of ‘horrific’ assault at Vancouver’s Oppenheimer Park at large

Police say Jason Tapp, 30, and Nicole Edwards, 33, did not show up to meet their bail supervisor this week

No charges to be laid against 22 northern B.C. pipeline protesters

Twenty-two people were arrested in February, but Crown has decided not to pursue charges

B.C. starts to see employment return under COVID-19 rules

Jobless rate for young people still over 20% in May

Parcel stolen from front porch, Nanaimo RCMP looking for suspect

Unidentified woman allegedly stole package containing $400 smart watch

Most Read