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Vancouver Island pilot project hopes to increase public use of forest lands

Mosaic Forest Management partners with user groups on access plans
A locked gate prevents access to a logging road on Mosaic Forests land in 2017. (ELENA RARDON/ Alberni Valley News)

A pilot project to set up public access to privately-managed forest lands in the Alberni Valley has been going well, says Mosaic Forest Management.

Representatives from Mosaic attended a Port Alberni city council meeting on Sept. 6 to provide an update on their work in the area. Colin Koszman, land use forester for Mosaic Forest Management, said the company has been working with the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District (ACRD), the Ministry of Forests and other groups to open up public opportunities for access within private-managed forest lands.

A pilot project was started in 2021 on Ash Main to allow increased public access on a trial basis to Scout Beach and Lowry Lake. Koszman says the goal is to open the road “basically 24/7” so the public can access these areas.

“We’ve been really successful there in opening up those lands for public use,” he said.

Details are still being worked out with the province around the final access agreement, which involves multiple owners, explained Koszman. But in the meantime, a kiosk has been installed at the start of the line to communicate to the public that they need to yield to industrial traffic.

“Really, it’s a pilot to see if industrial traffic and public access can happen together safely and without any issues,” he explained. “We really want to learn how that looks.”

Over the past few years, said Koszman, Mosaic has been partnering with various agencies to offer the public more recreational opportunities in the Alberni Valley. The company has signed land access agreements with groups like the Sproat Lake Watersports Association and the Alberni Motocross Association, and they recently partnered with Hupacasath First Nation on a new campground at Loon Lake, called “a?uk ?aama kanis.”

READ MORE: New campground opens at Loon Lake in time for May long weekend

Councillor Ron Corbeil wanted to know when access to Cameron Main would be open to the public. Cameron Main provides access to Mount Arrowsmith.

Koszman said that the new campground “complements that approach and direction,” but the Cameron Main road system and terrain make things more complicated.

“We still need to figure out what worked well with the Ash pilot and then work from there,” he said.

“There are other areas that we are considering, but we want to learn from this initial pilot and then figure out where the next areas might be best.”

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Elena Rardon

About the Author: Elena Rardon

I have worked with the Alberni Valley News since 2016.
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