Submitted to The Record
A major land purchase for the Cumberland Community Forest in the Village of Cumberland has been finalized. More than 225 acres of additional forested land has been acquired in the Perseverance Creek watershed for protection – the result of a collaborative partnership between conservation organizations, local governments, and a private timber company.
The land purchase was championed by the Cumberland Community Forest Society (CCFS), a conservation organization formed 20 years ago by residents concerned about logging next to their community. Since its inception, the CCFS has purchased and protected over 500 acres of privately owned forest next to the Village for ecological protection and low impact recreation.
“We are proud of the rich partnership we have had with the Cumberland Community Forest Society over the past 20 years,” said Cumberland Mayor Leslie Baird.
“The Cumberland Community Forest contributes greatly to the quality of life of Village residents and the wider Comox Valley. This project has also strengthened inter-regional relationships and shown that small communities are capable of great things when people work together.”
The $2.5 million purchase is the largest to date for the CCFS, and is unique from previous purchases because of the creek system that runs through it. Perseverance Creek is a salmon-bearing tributary of Comox Lake, the drinking water supply for over 45,000 Comox Valley residents. The protection of the Valley’s drinking water is the responsibility of the CVRD and the purchase was supported as part of Comox Lake Watershed Protection Plan (WPP) recommendations.
Cumberland Community Forest lands have been purchased from Hancock Timber Resource Group, a Manulife Investment Management Company and one of the major landowners of forest lands in the region. They have worked closely with the CCFS and the Village as active partners in the sale.
“Source water protection is key to ensuring the Comox Lake watershed is healthy, resilient and able to provide drinking water for our community into the future,” explained Ken Grant, chair of the Comox Valley Water Committee. “We are pleased to partner with the CCFS and the Village of Cumberland in this unique watershed protection collaboration that benefits the whole Comox Valley.”
Both the CCFS and Village note that their work has only just begun. A management planning process will be initiated soon to consider restoration planning, and trail management to address historic, current and future impacts, and on the landscape. CCFS-led educational initiatives and biodiversity projects are well underway.
“The business of buying and protecting land doesn’t stop once the purchase is made. The CCFS takes our responsibility as stewards and active partners in caring for these lands seriously. We look forward to working with our community partners to help plan the important work ahead,” said Evan Gough, chair of the CCFS.
To find out about the Cumberland Community Forest or the Cumberland Community Forest Society, visit www.cumberlandforest.com