Island Timberlands, a company that owns about 254,000 hectares of land on Vancouver Island, the mainland and Haida Gwaii, cited the risk of wildfires for its decision to close the company’s forests to public access. Photo courtesy BC Wildfire Service

Island Timberlands closes public access to privately owned forests amid wildfires

Sites including Oyster River closed as crews tackle wildfires in Alberni Valley

Island Timberlands, a Nanaimo-based private forestry company, is closing its lands to public access beginning on Aug. 11 until further notice. That includes the Oyster River site, located south of Campbell River.

The company, which owns about 254,000 hectares of land on Vancouver Island, the mainland and Haida Gwaii, cited the risk of wildfires throughout the province for the decision in an announcement on its blog.

“A high level of wildfire activity throughout the province, in combination with a forecast for ongoing hot and dry weather conditions, have resulted in wildfire danger ratings that are high to extreme on Vancouver Island,” the company said in the statement.

“To ensure public safety and the protection of the forest, all unauthorized access to Island Timberlands forest land is prohibited. Please respect signs and gates.”

The statement pointed to a pair of wildfires on land owned by the company in the Alberni Valley. By Wednesday, crews had contained a three-hectare fire south of Turtle Lake and were in the process of “mopping up” from the blaze, according to Island Timberlands.

Meanwhile, a wildfire estimated at five hectares west of Lucy Lake was “being aggressively actioned by ground and air crews,” the company said.

Responses to the wildfires were being carried out by the Coastal Wildfire Centre “with support from Island Timberlands,” according to the company.

In the post, Island Timberlands provided a list of 17 gates for its forest lands. On Wednesday, all of those gates were listed as “closed.” Firewood cutting opportunities were also “closed until further notice.”

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