Snowden mountain biking trails provide excellent value to Campbell River

Re: Proposed Protection of Snowden Demonstration Forest

Roadbuilding and clearcut logging are proposed for the heart of the Snowden Forest where 80 km of trails are concentrated. The roads and logging will destroy the wilderness feel that attracts runners, hikers, mountain bikers, geocachers and others to Snowden.

Both in B.C. and globally, high quality trails generate millions and, in some cases, tens of millions of dollars of mountain bike tourism activity annually. This economic sector continues to grow and yet we are about to significantly degrade the one asset that could bring millions in economic benefits to our community.

Snowden’s location next to town, the high quality trails of varying difficulty, wilderness feel, and low elevation make it a year-round magnet for visitors and for retirees and young families who are seeking a high quality of life. This quality of life helps our businesses recruit talented staff.

The City’s Vision 2025 and Official Community Plan documents clearly state that residents want to preserve the quality of Campbell River’s air, water, and land, yet the proposed logging is in our drinking water watershed.

Related: City of Campbell River to call for management strategy for Snowden

From a financial perspective, trails provide excellent value. Compared to the $4 million cost to repair the Sportsplex, trails are cheap! In many cases, volunteers build and maintain them.

If residents deserve high quality indoor recreation assets, don’t residents who enjoy being outside deserve high quality outdoor recreation amenities like Snowden?

As a former logging company CEO, I understand the value of the forest industry to our economy. This issue isn’t about logging. It’s about what our collective vision is for our community and the quality of the recreational and tourism assets that we want to pass on to our children and grandchildren.

It’s also about thinking strategically about our local assets in the context of an increasingly competitive marketplace and what the highest and best use is for those 1,200 hectares known as Snowden’s Core Area.

If your vision for our city includes diversifying our economy and providing residents with the best possible quality of life, please join me in calling for the protection of Snowden’s world-class trail network. Please sign the petition by Googling “Change.org Protect Snowden’s Trails.”

Joni Mitchell sang “You don’t know what you got till it’s gone…” Let’s not make that mistake.

Garry Ullstrom