Island Timberlands has plans to log a portion of the historical Old Arrowsmith CPR Trail and this has some residents more than concerned.
Peter Rothermel, mountaineer and guide in the area, said he’s worried that the trail may end up looking like the “few trees” Timber West took out on the lower part of the trail about 10 years ago.
“The unknown aftermath was serious erosion to the trail and many volunteer hours to repair the resulting damage, to this date,” he stated in an email.
The trail begins across the highway from Cameron Lake and heads up Mount Arrowsmith. It is located primarily on private managed forest land owned by Island Timberlands and Timber West.
The trail was officially created by the CPR as an amenity for their guests staying at the Cameron Lake Chalet in 1911.
Earlier trips up the mountain were guided by First Nations people. The trail is likely the oldest intact footpath on Vancouver Island, Rothermel said.
Morgan Kennah, manager of sustainable timberlands and community affairs for Island Timberlands, said although there is no official start date, the company is looking at road construction plans that would start this fall. Work would continue for a few years creating roads off previously existing roads meant to provide access to future harvesting sites in the area. Island Timberlands property is located on top of the subalpine areas, Kennah explained, and a road would cross the CPR Trail at one point.
Although nothing is official, Kennah said one concept that has been presented to both local government and stakeholders is putting a temporary access for hikers over the trail while the company works on it, and once work is finished, those structures would be removed. There would be little evidence of the work to hikers once the company is finished, she said.
“If you were to stand at the crossing site, if you were to look to your left and right, you’d be able to see road through newly planted trees, but there won’t be road directly on the trail,” she said.
Avid hiker in the area Wesley Klassen uses the trail regularly and is outraged that yet another trail will be made “useless,” much like the lower Ralph Rosseau trail near Cathedral Grove was, he said. He has hiked from Cape Scott to the Juan de Fuca trail and this was one of the nicest trails he’d seen until it was logged.
“It was clear cut and hammered and nobody uses now, there’s no need to, and the same is going to happen with the CPR trail,” he said. “You’re not going to want to hike up to the alpine just to see that.”
Klassen said Island Timberlands is going to force the community to leave and head to Strathcona Provincial Park if they want to hike, as the company continues to “systematically destroy all accesses to the park.”
Annette Tanner with the local branch of the Wilderness Committee said the hydrology of this massif is such that all of its water runoff ends up either in the Little Qualicum or Englishman Rivers. The snowpacks are valuable in aiding water levels for summer and fall run salmon and trout, as well as water to aquifers, she said, not to mention the significance of the trail.
“It is shameful that an offshore-based logging company would consider destroying what has been ours historically for many families, communities and visitors to enjoy and experience for so many years,” she said in a press release.
Hike set for Saturday
The Wilderness Committee will be leading a hike on the CPR trail this Saturday, August 27.
Meet at the east side of Cameron Lake, on the highway by the entrance to the Arrowsmith Trail at 9 a.m. with comfortable walking shoes.
For more information contact Annette Tanner at 250-752-6585, cell: 250-240-7470.