The Cumberland Community Forest Society (CCFS) recently launched a huge fundraising campaign to ensure Cumberland remains a “village in the forest.”
The CCFS’ goal is to raise $1.2 million over the next two years and use that money to purchase three parcels — adding to an additional 50 hectares — of forested land surrounding Cumberland.
“The reason we have an end date is there are forest management plans for all of these parcels, and so these parcels currently have schedules for logging in 2015 and 2016,” says CCFS media liaison Meaghan Cursons. “So, our timeline is completely connected to the forestry plans for the pieces we’d like to protect.”
The CCFS has raised $1.2 million and bought 71 hectares of land to the southwest of the village since 2000. These new parcels border the existing Cumberland Community Forest and Coal Creek Historic Park.
One parcel is located east of the community forest at the bottom of Sutton Road, and it contains some of the first mountain biking trails established in Cumberland. The second is located behind the historic Chinatown site and the third is just past #1 Japanese Town along Comox Lake Road.
CCFS president Andrew Nicoll notes this purchase is important for many reasons, one being that the second-growth forest is important to the village’s viewscape, and would very visible from Cumberland if logged.
“There’s 300-year-old trees in there because when they originally logged it they didn’t take everything and all the trees are mature so you have a closed canopy so you can see a long way through the forest,” adds Nicoll.
Much of the forested land around Cumberland has been logged, he continues, especially noting the area north of the village, much of which has now been rezoned for development.
“With these three parcels that we’re buying, that’s sort of like the remaining of the mature second-growth forest that’s close to the village, that’s in walking distance,” he continues.
Meanwhile, Nicoll points out the various recreational activities, like mountain biking, and races such as the coming Perseverance Trail Run, boost Cumberland’s economy.
“Even in terms of the economics, they’re (trees) worth more standing when you look at the long term, when you look out the next 50 years of the village,” he says.
Nicoll cautions that while the CCFS has raised the same amount of money in the past, and was able to purchase the existing community forest land, this time there’s a time crunch.
“What we did in 10 years we have to do in two years,” he says. “But we do have the history and the credibility of the fact we pulled it off.”
Cursons adds the best way to donate to the cause is to sign up as a monthly donor.
“Monthly donors give us also the opportunity to leverage that kind of community commitment, and to reach out to larger funders and show that we have a demonstrated grassroots community commitment,” she explains. “So, we currently are bringing in close to $4,000 a month in monthly donors and we’d like to double that — before the New Year would be ideal.”
She adds people are welcome to increase their monthly donation, too.
The CCFS already has over $200,000 in the bank thanks to ongoing fundraising since the last land purchase. It continues to hold fundraisers like trivia nights, plant sales, and other events.
The CCFS will soon launch new branding and a new website, and will produce merchandise like T-shirts and stickers to help raise funds.
Cursons says the CCFS is excited by the challenge to reach its fundraising goal.
“The groundswell of support is so incredible, such a cross-section of our community, not just in Cumberland but beyond is behind this project,” she says.
“Given that we’ve done it before — and that was before we had all of these amazing tools that are at our hands, and all these online tools — we absolutely believe we’re going to do it again, and the community’s going to help us do it.”
For more information or to make a donation, visit www.cumberlandforest.com or visit Cumberland Forest on Facebook.