About 23 years ago, a group of people from around town were instrumental in forming the Creston Valley Forest Corporation (Creston Community Forest) to manage our watershed and forest locally. The history is something of local legend. It began operation in March 1998, first logging in 1999. The five shareholders were originally the Town of Creston, the Regional District of Central Kootenay, Erickson Community Association, Wildsight, and the Lower Kootenay Band.
Since that time, our forest has come to mean a lot to the 16,000 people of the Creston Valley. The individuals who care for our forest harvest its trees in a more sustainable way, which adds to the economy and ecological value of our district. Daniel, at the Creston Community Forest office, explained to me there are areas of old growth forest under their care. They are also in the process of identifying all of these precious sites. Very importantly, the Community Forest also performs mitigation for wildfires around our town by clearing much undergrowth and deadfalls close to inhabited areas. The Creston Community Forest also adds much more value to the land by developing and maintaining hiking trails through our local mountains. We are a very active community and fully appreciate and take advantage of these outdoor areas. The forest is overseen by 10 board members who ensure the operations benefit our community.
Nature and well managed forests are essential in reducing atmospheric carbon and greenhouse gases.
Our forest is not the only one. There are more than 50 community forests in our province. Would it not be a wonderful thing if there were many more of these community-led forests in our province and throughout this land we call Canada/Turtle Island? After all, our prime minister has promised 30 by 30, with 30 per cent of our lands and waters to be protected by 2030. This may go a long way to meeting that goal. Who cares more about the forests than the people who live and play in them?
Caroline Collier, Creston Climate Action Society