A locked gate prevents access to a logging road on Mosaic Forests land in 2017. (ELENA RARDON/ Alberni Valley News)

A locked gate prevents access to a logging road on Mosaic Forests land in 2017. (ELENA RARDON/ Alberni Valley News)

Pilot project aimed at keeping access open to Vancouver Island back country

Trial access plan in Alberni could provide template for other Mosiac forestry roads and properties

Many Vancouver Islanders consider access to the Island’s back country part of their birthright.

But in many cases it’s not, it’s a privilege granted by a co-operative neighbour, and one that has been jeopardized by misbehaviour.

In an effort at preventing one of Vancouver Island’s largest forest companies from locking its gates to the public, a new working group has been formed to provide public access to private forest lands in the Alberni Valley.

On Tuesday March 2, Mosaic Forest Management and the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District (ACRD) announced they had entered into an agreement, in partnership with the province, to work together to prioritize and explore public access opportunities to areas within or adjacent to Mosaic-managed private forest lands in the Alberni-Clayoquot region.

READ: Logging companies close gates, deny access to backcountry

READ: Solutions discussed for backcountry access issues in Alberni

Through this agreement, a working group has been established and a pilot project has been identified.

The pilot project, which is expected to launch later this year, will allow increased public access on a trial basis to Scout Beach and Lowry Lake. Both of these are provincially-managed recreation sites that are accessed via Mosaic’s privately-owned roads.

Mosaic is evaluating road design, signage and other modifications that will allow the public to safely use this industrial road. Once safe parameters are established, says Mosaic, regular public access through this corridor will be initiated.

The working group will evaluate the results of the pilot project. If it is deemed a success — with no illegal dumping, vandalism or risks to the forest — the working group will start to evaluate access solutions for other areas, too.

“This agreement presents a positive path forward for all parties as we look to facilitate safe and responsible public enjoyment of Mosaic’s private managed forest lands,” said Jeff Zweig, Mosaic’s CEO, in a press release. “The working group establishes a much-needed forum to mutually address the challenges we face in opening private lands to the public.”

Josie Osborne, the MLA for Mid Island-Pacific Rim, said backcountry access is “extremely important” to residents of the Alberni-Clayoquot region.

“Through this partnership agreement, the province is helping to increase people’s access to campsites, trails and day trip destinations in or near managed forest lands,” she said.

John Jack, the chair of the ACRD board of directors, agreed.

“People choose to live in the Alberni-Clayoquot region in large part because of the area’s natural beauty and the opportunities to enjoy nature and the outdoors,” he said. “The ACRD sees this agreement as a significant step toward resolving public concerns related to backcountry access to sites within or adjacent to private lands, and we look forward to working with Mosaic and the province to find solutions that support recreation opportunities.”

RELATED: City of Port Alberni jumps into locked gate fray

Over the past few years, residents of the Alberni Valley have expressed concern about the lack of access to recreational land surrounding the Valley. The ACRD first reached out to Mosaic back in 2019 with the intention of drafting a tri-partnership agreement with Mosaic and the province in order to provide public access.

Mosaic currently offers weekend public access to some areas of its private managed forests, but according to Mosaic, this access is limited by issues related to legal liability, wildfire risk, safety concerns related to forestry operations and industrial traffic and costs associated with illegal dumping and vandalism.

Up-to-date information about public access can be found at www.mosaicforests.com.

For more news from Vancouver Island and beyond delivered daily into your inbox, please click here.

Alberni-Clayoquot Regional DistrictforestryOutdoors and Recreation

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Danita Bilozaze and her daughter Dani in Comox. Photo by Karen McKinnon
Making a name for herself: Valley woman reclaiming her Indigenous name

First in Canada to be issued new passport under the TRC Calls to Action

For Leela Harrop, the recent death of her brother Raju Tiwari pushed her to sign up for the vaccine. Photo supplied
Comox woman on fence about vaccine prompted by brother’s death

Leela Harrop says she did have issues with signing up online this past week

Most categories of crime held steady from year to year in Cumberland. File photo
Cumberland crime numbers hold steady year to year

A few categories had notable changes but many were similar to 2019

The colourful Taylor’s Checkerspot butterfly has been reintroduced on Hornby Island, BC. Photo courtesy the Taylor’s Checkerspot Butterfly Recovery Project.
Checkerspot Butterfly Recovery Project releases more caterpillars on Hornby Island

Chris Junck Special to Black Press The number of Taylor’s checkerspot butterflies… Continue reading

Paper Excellence took over Catalyst Paper operations in B.C. in 2018. (Paper Excellence photo)
Rainbow trouts thrashing with life as they’re about to be transferred to the largest lake of their lives, even though it’s pretty small. These rainbows have a blue tinge because they matched the blue of their hatchery pen, but soon they’ll take on the green-browns of their new home at Lookout Lake. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
VIDEO: B.C. lake stocked with hatchery trout to delight of a seniors fishing club

The Cherish Trout Scouts made plans to come back fishing soon

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The following is a list of restaurants offering take-out and patio dining. ADOBE STOCK IMAGE
List of Comox Valley restaurants offering take-out, patio dining options

Restaurants in the Comox Valley continue to adapt to government-imposed restrictions in… Continue reading

(Police handout/Kamloops RCMP)
B.C. man dies in custody awaiting trial for Valentine’s Day robbery, kidnapping spree

Robert James Rennie, who was on the Kamloops RCMP’s most wanted list, passed away at the North Fraser Pretrial Centre in Coquitlam

Photos of Vancouver Canucks players are pictured outside the closed box office of Rogers Arena in downtown Vancouver Thursday, April 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Canucks games against Leafs postponed as team returns from COVID-19

The team has had 11 games postponed since an outbreak late last month

Danita Bilozaze and her daughter Dani in Comox. Photo by Karen McKinnon
Island woman makes historic name change for truth and reconciliation

Becomes first person in Canada to be issued new passport under the TRC Calls to Action

Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops. (Dave Eagles/Kamloops This Week file photo)
RCMP intercept vehicle fleeing with infant taken from Kamloops hospital

The baby was at the hospital receiving life-saving care

Vancouver Police Const. Deepak Sood is under review by the Independent Investigations Office of B.C. after making comments to a harm reduction advocate Sunday, April 11. (Screen grab)
VIDEO: Vancouver officer convicted of uttering threats under watchdog review again

Const. Deepak Sood was recorded Sunday saying ‘I’ll smack you’ and ‘go back to selling drugs’ to a harm reduction advocate

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry prepares a daily update on the coronavirus pandemic, April 21, 2020. (B.C. Government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate persists, 1,005 new cases Friday

Hospitalization up to 425, six more virus-related deaths

Most Read