The lush forests surrounding the Village of Cumberland are enjoyed by thousands of visitors each year who come to the area for both recreation and relaxation.
Beautiful walking and hiking paths and renowned mountain biking trails zigzag through a thriving coastal forest filled with wetlands, streams, historic landmarks and diverse flora and fauna.
This forest also provides a beautiful green backdrop to a community that defines itself by its proximity to the woods — a Village in the Forest.
What many residents and visitors don’t know is that significant parts of this privately owned forest are slated to be logged as early as 2016. The Cumberland Community Forest Society (CCFS) is launching a new campaign to ensure that doesn’t happen.
“Our next purchase is critical to preserving key trails and protecting the southern viewscape of the Village,” says CCFS president Andrew Nicoll.
“The first piece is a large parcel to the left of the yellow gate at the bottom of Sutton Road. It contains some of the first mountain biking trails built in the area including Black Hole and Space Nugget. This area is also a huge part of the south facing viewscape of the community.
“The second piece, also scheduled to be logged in 2016, is the beautiful forest just beyond No. 1 Japanese Town along Comox Lake Road.
“This historically important area was used by the Japanese community and is home to the Perseverance Creek wetlands. It is a stunning natural area and we’re also exploring the possibility of a multi-use board walk project as part of this purchase. This could create accessibility for visitors or diverse ability while at the same time protecting a fragile natural area.”
All of the forests surrounding Cumberland are privately owned as part of the legacy of the E&N Land Transfer in the late 1800s in which more than two million acres of land along the eastern side of Vancouver Island transferred into private hands in exchange for building a railway.
The CCFS began to purchase privately owned forest lands back in 2000, working co-operatively with land owners and timber companies. To date, the CCFS has raised over $1.2 million and purchased over 150 acres.
The purchased lands are connected to the Coal Creek Heritage Park. Together these protected lands are part of an important natural corridor along the south side of the Village called the Cumberland Forest.
A vibrant mountain biking community, naturalists, herbalists, hikers, families, artists, photographers, runners and many others consider the Cumberland Forest to be an integral part of the community.
“Our purchases have been funded solely by individuals and organizations committed to forest preservation, without any taxpayer dollars,” Nicoll notes. “Our next purchase will increase this protected area by 50 per cent but that is still just a small part of a big forest.
“The CCFS is committed to continuing its work to acquire all forest lands available in this area to further establish the Cumberland Forest as a protected space for generations to come.
“Monthly donors are how we make these purchases possible and already new donors are signing on to make sure we save these forests in time!”
Big plans are underway to kick off this new campaign in October with a special celebration and big launch event. A fundraising raffle is also underway featuring great prizes including Canucks VIP Package Tickets, a Cruiser Bike, Whale Watching Adventures, Tofino Accommodations, Corre Alice original artwork, gift certificates and much more.
Check www.cumberlandforest.com or the Facebook page Cumberland Forest for details on how to support the efforts of the CCFS.
— Cumberland Community Forest Society