Road-building delayed at Snowden Demonstration Forest

Strathcona Regional District to ask province to back planning process

To assist long-term planning for the Snowden Demonstration Forest, BC Timber Sales has put off forestry-related road-building for a while.

The road work was originally slated for this fall, according to Jeff Hamilton, a planning forester with the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development.

He told the Strathcona Regional District board at their Aug. 15 meeting that road construction will hold off until the spring of 2019 at the earliest. In the meantime, BCTS and partners will work on planning for the demonstration forest.

“We’ll invite stakeholders to have input into the harvest planning,” he said. “We’re working to have further meetings or field trips.”

Some in the community have called for a halt to any logging plans in the area.

RELATED STORY: City of Campbell River to request moratorium on logging in Snowden

Hamilton, ministry planner Laura Chessor and Graham Cameron, a recreation officer for Recreation Sites and Trails BC, which is part of the ministry, each updated the SRD on the project.

“It’s basically integrating forestry with many other values,” Chessor said. “We need to work closely with Recreation Sites and Trails.”

As a demonstration forest, Snowden, which lies in the Campbell River Forest District, is both a working forest and a site for education, research and recreation, complete with trails and structures such as outhouses and picnic tables.

“Really, we are representing the public recreation value for the land base,” Cameron said.

As a staff member for Recreation Sites and Trails BC, Cameron deals with day-to-day issues of managing the site. As part of the process, the decision has been to close Snowden to motorized vehicles.

“We did not want to see off-road vehicles go off on these trails,” he told the board.

Work on the site includes some activities that require authorization, such as passing over waterways, while other less complicated ones, such as route finding or minor brush cleaning, do not.

Part of the key for planning is the role of partners such as River City Cycle Club, which help with the work on the trails. He cited precedents for these relationships in other provincial communities, such as Squamish, Cumberland and Sechelt.

A key factor that affects a planning process, which involves government, harvesting companies and grassroots groups, is community input, Cameron told the SRD board.

“It really expedites the process,” he added.

RELATED STORY: Developing a long-term vision for Snowden

Another challenge is resources. Charlie Cornfield, one of the City of Campbell River directors, suggested the SRD board contact the provincial government about providing support for Snowden, which is estimated to need about $30,000. Because of harvesting plans for Snowden, he said they should not wait to tackle funding questions.

“This has got a bit of a time crunch. We don’t have the luxury of four or five years,” he said. “It’s better to have funding just made available.”

Cameron was only too glad to have the SRD support.

“I wouldn’t fight you if you wanted to hand me a cheque,” he said with a laugh.

Cornfield asked the board to consider adding wording to approach the provincial about funding for the development of the plan for Snowden. The board then passed the motion.