When the District was awarded Tree Farm Licence 26 in 1958, the main objectives were to provide employment and a steady supply of logs for the local mills. Early forestry managers, politicians, and the Tree Farm supporters deserve significant credit for their foresight and commitment to establish the first community-run forest operation in Canada. In the 60 years of operation, the Mission Community Forest, also known as the Tree Farm or TFL26 has provided multiple benefits for the community.
Some of the benefits of our community forest include local control of the forest lands, forest fire protection, stable employment, management of wildlife habitat, water, biodiversity, and the visual landscape; protection of the rich Indigenous heritage and archaeological values; development and enhancement of recreation and tourism opportunities such as popular trail networks and the Stave West Forest and Recreation Area; outdoor education and interpretation programs; intensive reforestation, and the benefits of the revenue generated from our sustainably managed forests.
The Tree Farm operation is a self-funding department of the municipality and has never been dependent on tax payer subsidies. Our community forest has contributed over $12 million dollars to various infrastructure, assets, programs and projects such as: the Mission public library, upgrades to the Leisure centre and ice areas, upgrades and new construction of Fire Halls, fire trucks and equipment, funding for the Cedar Valley Connector, and the recent contribution of $1 million dollars towards the affordable seniors housing and community centre.
Log donations can also been seen throughout the community at the Fraser River Heritage Park – welcome gate, bell tower and picnic shelter, and the totem pole at the Visitors Centre, and the Welcome to Mission entrance structures. Mission logs were used in the creation of a team podium at the Vancouver 2010 Olympics – a shadow box of this can be viewed at the Leisure centre.
The Tree Farm is an important community asset that deserves respect, protection, and enhancement for current and future generations. We are working on a book to commemorate the 60 years of the Tree Farm and to share the stories of the history, pioneers and loggers, and the Indigenous values and perspectives. The book is scheduled to be released in June, 2019 when Mission hosts the BC Community Forest Association Conference.