Sproat Lake Woodlands Society
Presentation to Sproat Lake Community Association – Feb. 28, 2022
One of the greatest benefits of living here at the lake is that we are surrounded by beautiful forests, and miles of trails. Hundreds of residents use these regularly for hiking, biking, nature, watching, photography or other activities.
We have come to take these forests for granted and we should not, because for the most part they are on private land owned by Mosaic and part of an actively managed tree farm. We had a sharp reminder of this last year with the clear-cut logging that Mosaic did next to Stirling Arm Drive, close to a residential area. We also learned that this kind of thing can happen with only a couple of months’ notice.
For this reason, over 100 local residents have come together and formed the Sproat Lake Woodlands Society, with the goal of finding ways to permanently protect woodland areas of significant natural or recreational value. We respect the rights of the land owners, in particular Mosaic, and believe that they should be fairly compensated for the loss of any land preserved.
Mosaics current logging plan impacts a very popular trail called “Holy Cow” that winds through a beautiful grove of very large, older (100 + years) cedar trees. A number of these are as large as 3 or 4 feet in diameter. This is undoubtably one of the most unique, well used, easily accessible and beloved trails in our area. Additionally, it crosses two streams which raises concerns regarding the impact of logging on the watershed and the lake water we drink.
Residents only learned in January that this area was to be logged. The Sproat Lake Woodlands Society immediately contacted Mosaic who provided more details of their plans during a “Zoom” call and on a site visit. Following these discussions the Society presented a formal proposal to Mosaic, requesting that they defer logging of specific trees in an area around the trail for a period of two years. This would reduce the area to be logged this year by about 20%. During that time the Society would work with Mosaic to identify priority trees to be saved and to establish a monetary value for them. The Society would commit to raising funds to compensate Mosaic for the loss of the timber value. Additionally, they would work with the community to find a means to permanently preserve the trail and the trees that border it, hopefully as a community park.
Unfortunately, we learned today, that Mosaic will not be accepting our proposal. They have instead committed to implementing a “partial cut” approach along the trail, so that some of the larger trees and the trail itself would remain. We hope to have another meeting with Mosaic to clarify their plans. We must consider what our next steps will be in regard to Holy Cow, and what other approaches we might take to save special areas of our woodlands.
The preservation of trails and the creation of new parks is identified as a priority under the Sproat Lake Official Community Plan which has specific policies around working with private land owners and residents to develop a comprehensive trail network and additional parks. And of course, water quality is a concern to all of us.
These policies must be translated into actions, while there are still areas to preserve. Trees are now being harvested in 40 to 50 year cycles, so once the big trees are logged we will not see them again in this area.
We know we need to enlist more support from individuals, groups and government to have a strong voice. We will be asking the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District, as well as local residents and user groups such as hikers, bikers and nature lovers for their support with our efforts. We hope we can count on the Community Association to become a supporter.