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

Just Posted

B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry speaks at a press conference Monday, April 18. (B.C. Government image)
New COVID-19 cases tick down on the central Island

New cases held to single digits three days in a row

Wickaninnish (Clifford Atleo) plays the drum while singing the Nuu-chah-nulth song on the court steps in Vancouver In a picture from April 2018. Photo credit, Melody Charlie.
Five Nuu-chah-nulth Nations celebrate legal victory in fishing dispute

Ha’oom Fisheries Society and T’aaq-wiihak Fisheries announce “major legal victory”

Chakalaka Bar & Grill remains open in defiance of orders from Island Health to close. (Cole Schisler photo)
Island Health seeks injunction against restaurant defying COVID-19 orders

VIHA says Chakalaka Bar and Grill also violating water and sewer regulations with RV hook-ups

The hiring of out-of-province workers by the Canadian Red Cross to staff the vaccination centre in Langford has raised eyebrows. (Black Press Media file photo)
Red Cross hires out-of-B.C. workers to staff Island vaccination centre

Staffer worries local jobs weren’t offered to local people

Russ Ball (left) and some of the team show off the specimen after they were able to remove it Friday. Photo supplied
Courtenay fossil hunter finds ancient turtle on local river

The specimen will now make its home at the Royal BC Museum

In this image from NASA, NASA’s experimental Mars helicopter Ingenuity lands on the surface of Mars Monday, April 19, 2021. The little 4-pound helicopter rose from the dusty red surface into the thin Martian air Monday, achieving the first powered, controlled flight on another planet. (NASA via AP)
VIDEO: NASA’s Mars helicopter takes flight, 1st for another planet

The $85 million helicopter demo was considered high risk, yet high reward

Pat Kauwell, a semi-retired construction manager, lives in his fifth-wheel trailer on Maxey Road because that’s what he can afford on his pension, but a Regional District of Nanaimo bylaw prohibits using RVs as permanent dwellings, leaving Kauwell and others like him with few affordable housing options. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Housing crunch or not, it’s illegal to live in an RV in Nanaimo

Regional District of Nanaimo bylaw forcing pensioner to move RV he calls home off private farm land

Families of two of three workers killed in a train derailment near Field, B.C., in 2019 have filed lawsuits accusing Canadian Pacific of gross negligence. The derailment sent 99 grain cars and two locomotives off the tracks. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Families of workers killed in Field train derailment allege negligence in lawsuit

Lawsuits allege the workers weren’t provided a safe work environment

(New Westminster Police)
4 youth arrested after 30-person brawl in New Westminster leaves 1 seriously injured

Police are looking for witnesses who saw the incident take place

Dr. Bonnie Henry gives her daily media briefing regarding Covid-19 for the province of British Columbia in Victoria, B.C, Monday, December 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Toddler marks youngest British Columbian to die related to COVID-19

Child one of eight people to die from virus this weekend

One person has been arrested following an assault on a man with Down syndrome along Dallas Road April 17. (Black Press Media file photo)
Man with Down syndrome attacked along Victoria’s Dallas Road

Suspected assailant arrested, sent to hospital for mental health assessment

Victoria police arrested a wanted man April 19, seizing drugs, firearms and body armour. (Courtesy of VicPD)
Drugs, loaded weapons, body armour seized from Victoria suite

Man was wanted for the possession of drugs for the purpose of trafficking

B.C. Labour Minister Harry Bains. (Hansard TV)
B.C. moves to protect employee pay for COVID-19 vaccination

Most won’t need to take time off work, labour minister says

Most Read