Working forests provide excellent value

The following is offered as balance to the suggestion by Garth McGeary to retain municipal forests solely as parks.

The following is offered as balance to the suggestion by Garth McGeary to retain municipal forests solely as parks.

Forest “parks” require road maintenance, upkeep, gates, security, fire protection and more, and generate no revenue and actually have a cost. North Cowichan’s managed forest provides recreational opportunities as well as real revenue streams at no net cost to the taxpayer. The forest lands are managed by a Registered Professional Forester and support staff, under the ongoing review by a team of volunteer RPFs. The managed lands provide the following: greater recreational access and trails within 25 per cent of the municipal land base, that otherwise would be significantly less accessible to local users. They provide mountain biking opportunities, walking and horseback trails, and contributed to the development of the walking trail around Chemainus Lake. The forestry department provided 10.8 direct person years of employment in 2014. The trickle down effect of that includes homes and equipment purchased, as well as vehicles, clothing, food etc., and annual contributions to the tax base by those workers.

The forestry department provides bursaries, donates log loads to charities, works with school groups, cleans up unwanted roadside debris in the woods, is involved in the development of a community wildfire protection plan, and assists volunteer groups.

What did that cost North Cowichan in 2014? Nothing; in fact a profit was generated of approximately $400,000.

The municipal forestry logging best practices allow a regenerative selective program of thinning, logging, planting and maintenance of the forests on a long term sustainable basis that should allow generations to come to benefit from the forestry program, while users can meanwhile access and enjoy the many kilometres of recreational roads and trails at no cost.

Wayne Gourlay

North Cowichan