A lot of work is slated for the Beaver Lodge Forest Lands in Campbell River, as the Discovery Coast Recreation District has gotten some funding to go into the area and do various improvements between now and the end of March.
The Beaver Lodge Forest Lands is administered by the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development as it is Crown forest land. The upkeep of the area is managed by the Discovery Coast Recreation District who have been working with Greenways Land Trust to do the majority of the trail work and maintenance in the park. That work was funded by a timber salvage sale done to clear up some trees affected by root rot. However, that fund has just about dried up, and the district has found a new way to cover those costs, and to bring some needed improvements to the area.
“We’ve been looking for an opportunity to enhance the recerational experience in the Beaver Lodge Lands, which has a number of very serious safety concerns that are starting to present themselves,” said Graham Cameron, District Recreation Officer for the Discovery Coast Recreation District, which includes Campbell River.
“There is a number of root disease centres located within the Beaver Lodge Lands. That is essentially a fungus in the ground that acts on the roots of the trees and consumes them, making them very soft and weak and then they’re prone to blowing over,” Cameron explained. “Naturally, you can imagine how that could be impactful for someone walking by with trees coming down in a high wind, as well as just general maintenance within the area. Everytime we have a little bit of wind, we have trees coming down and we have to go in, open it all up again and assess the area to make sure it’s safe for the users.”
Part of the funding is coming from the province’s Forestry Employment Program, which provides jobs for forestry workers who are out of work due to indefinite and permanent closures in the forest sector. That program was originally set up to help workers in B.C.’s interior, but was expanded to include the coast. Through that, the district is planning to do a survey to find out the extent of root rot, as well as remove any hazard trees that could present a safety issue over the next few years. Other plans include improving signage, resurfacing trails and closing off some of the smaller unsanctioned trails within the forest lands.
“Between now and March 31, we’re going to be seeing a couple different contractors in there working and doing these sorts of upgrades,” Cameron said. “Part of the work that they’ll likely have to do is falling some trees to make it safe. Also refreshing some of the small structures and closing off some of the trails that we don’t want people to use.”
“We’re working pretty closely with the district to make sure that the proper trail standards are being applied and we’ve looped some trail specialists into a high level of the project management,” he added. “It’s going to be a very positive thing for the community overall. There certainly will be some pushback from individuals I expect, because they aren’t going to necessarily understand the nature of the work that’s being done and they will not like seeing trees being removed. However, that’s only when there’s a safety concern for the public or the staff that are working on the ground at the location.
“We’re not going in and logging. Definitely not what’s going on.”
While the works are going on, some trails will be closed and equipment will be on site. Cameron said that their long term goal is to ensure that the forest lands are kept as a functional area over the next 10-15 years.
“The challenge is that root disease is very pervasive through that area, which is why we want to do a study and map it out accurately, and we’re going to have to figure out how we’re going to work with the community to manage it,” he said. “It’s going to involve a great deal of concentration between all the stakeholders, the City, the Regional District, the public, First Nations communities, there’s a lot of work that needs to be happening there first.”
Work is expected to begin in the next few weeks, and is funded until the end of March.