West Boundary Community Forest buys Wilgress land for outdoor education

From BC Local News:

Students in the Boundary will soon have a new field trip option, relatively close to home. The West Boundary Community Forest recently acquired a 60-acre parcel of land south of Wilgress Lake that forest manager Dan Macmaster is hoping will become a hub for early education into forestry.

“It’s supposed to be an area where we can get different groups in to learn about forestry and forest management,” Macmaster said last Tuesday at a community forest meeting in Midway. The forester said that he sees the space as a location “to learn about everything from the simple ecology – the small kids learning about collecting bugs and whatnot – to some of the older kids who want to get involved in being a forester or being a logger, or being a silviculturist as well,” he said.

The school bus-accessible site, which was purchased for $220,000 by the Village of Midway and the City of Greenwood – both stakeholders in the community forest – will not be part of the community forest’s logging area, but rather serve to illustrate the state of the forest under different conditions. “It’s a research forest,” Macmaster said, noting that the property boasts an uneven age forest, a riparian zone and a portion of fresh water ecosystem. “Our objectives in it are truly educational outreach objectives.”

Macmaster, a former teacher, has already undertaken some outreach with students in School District 51. Earlier this fall, learners from Greenwood Elementary were toured through a fire mitigation project at the north end of Greenwood, and the students will be visiting the Vaagen Fibre mill in Midway next month to learn about where the trees and blowdown from the site go next.

The aim, the forest manager said, is to try and engage students more with forestry before they’ve chosen career paths.

“We need to start somewhere,” Macmaster said. “If we don’t put our foot forward and try to have that social outreach, that educational connection, then we are our forestry industry will have no communication with everybody else.”

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IMAGE: West Boundary Community Forest Manager Dan Macmaster