The Friends of Comox-Lazo Forest Reserve Society has dissolved.
The society was formed in 1996 as a stewardship group for the newly protected Comox Northeast Woods. In the early 1990s the Town of Comox had proposed development of a large part of the Crown lands that make up the Northeast Woods. As a result of citizen action, the provincial government protected the Northeast Woods in a Provincial Map Reserve for as long as required. As such protection could be overturned by a Cabinet decision, the Friends of Comox-Lazo Forest Reserve Society sought stronger protection and spearheaded the creation of a Wildlife Management Area. They were successful and this Wildlife Management Area is made up of the Northeast Woods, all of Lazo Marsh and the ‘return to Crown land’ which stretches down to Curtis Road.
The ‘Friends’ were responsible for saving development of the area on a more recent occasion as well.
Thirty acres of treed Crown land had been set aside as a site for schools, and when it was determined the site was no longer needed for schools, the Comox Town Plan proposed residential development including extending Torrence Road straight through the forest.
The Friends of Comox Lazo Forest Reserve Society again raised the alarm and citizens overwhelmingly said ‘No’! The province heard and responded with a historic solution which both protected the forest and recognized the territorial rights of the K’ómoks First Nation (KFN). In 2012, the Town of Comox and KFN agreed to seek a Crown grant from the province which would see the province first grant the land to the Town and later have it sell the land to KFN for $10. Further at the time of sale, KFN agreed to lease the lands back to the Town at a rate of $10 for a 99-year term for recreational use and as a wildlife buffer to the Wildlife Management Area. This historic land transfer agreement was recently finalized.
Friends of Comox-Lazo Forest Reserve Society president Barbara Price said the society has served its purpose.
“We are (confident) that the Northeast Woods is well protected,” said Price.
With the dissolution, the matter of what to do with general funds had to be resolved.
The outstanding balance of $1,700 was donated to another conservation program in the Comox Valley – the Cumberland Community Forest Society (CCFS).
“We were pleased to receive over $1,700 towards our next forest land purchase,” said CCFS board member Annabelle Sproule.
Over the many years the Friends of Comox Lazo Forest Reserve Society has hosted forest clean ups, helped with tree planting and most importantly, been the eyes and ears of the forest.
“I am honoured to have served as the Friends president for over 25 years along with many longtime executive members,” said Price. “We are confident that the governing bodies will continue to care for the (Northeast) Woods and that they are protected for all times.”