Stokes Falls trails closed as Mosaic harvests in area | Ha-Shilth-Sa Newspaper

Stokes Falls trails closed as Mosaic harvests in area

Port Alberni, BC

A popular series of hiking trails just east of Port Alberni will remain closed until later in February, as Mosaic undergoes logging in the area.

“Harvesting is active in the Stokes Falls area, with operations occurring Monday to Friday, weather dependent,” stated Mosaic Forest Management in an email to Ha-Shilth-Sa. “The harvest area is less than five hectares and includes five harvest units.”

Currently access to the Stokes Falls trails, which run just south of Highway 4 by Port Alberni, are blocked due to the fallen timber. Since November Mosaic has advised of the harvesting activity in the area, which is near the Hole in the Wall waterfall, a popular hiking destination for Alberni Valley residents and visitors.

A notice at the Stokes Falls trailhead states that the logging will affect second-growth trees, and that foresters, engineers and planners “designed the area taking into consideration safety, recreation, water quality, fish, wildlife, visual quality, biodiversity and other values.”

“Our best estimate is that the trail will reopen to the public in mid-to-late February,” wrote the forestry company. “We will clear the trail of debris once activities are completed.”

Mosaic manages the private forest lands of Island Timberlands and TimberWest, comprising almost 600,000 hectares across Vancouver Island, Haida Gwaii and the Sunshine Coast. On Vancouver Island, most of this property has been transferred through various forestry companies over the years, dating back to the Esquimalt & Nanaimo Railway land grants from over a century ago. These land transfers entailed selling about one quarter of Vancouver Island’s land area - including unceded First Nations’ territory – to the Canadian Pacific Railway Company. Over the last century this land was sold to various timber companies and private landowners.

Mosaic operates under the province’s Private Managed Forest Lands Act. Although it is privately owned land, Mosaic does make much of this forest available to the public. In 2022 the company opened a campground at Loon Lake with the Hupacasath First Nation. Named ʕaʔuk ʔaama k̓anis, which means ‘Lake Loon camp and rest area’, the site is close to the Alberni Summit, east of the areas currently being harvested.

“Mosaic supports recreational access opportunities that encourage safe and responsible use of the privately owned timberlands we manage,” stated company on its website.

As part of a territorial recognition, the First Nation has been informed of the harvesting areas near Stokes Falls, says the forestry company.

“Mosaic actively shares information about our forestry activities with the Hupacasath First Nation, and we have shared the plans about this area with the nation,” wrote the company.

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