(Left to right) Thomas Wright, Vice-President of the BC Branch of the Forestry Association presenting the tree farm certificate to William Matheson, Reeve of the Corporation of District of Mission in 1956.
Celebrating 60 years of the Mission Municipal Forest
What secrets lie in the forests surrounding Mission? Who does the harvesting and reforestation? How old are the forests and what kind of trees grow there? What are some of the unique plants and animals that call our local forests home? How can I get out and enjoy the forests around Mission? Watch for answers to these questions and more as we publish Forestry Fridays in honour of the 60th Anniversary of the Mission Municipal Forest.
The Mission Municipal Forest – 60 years and still growing
By Kelly Kitsch, Registered Forest Technologist
Did you know Mission was awarded the first community managed forest licence in all of Canada?
There is a unique history to how the District of Mission came to manage the local forests within our municipal boundaries. In the Great Depression of the 1930s, many private properties were relinquished to the city as a result of non-payment of taxes. Meanwhile, there were as many as 30 mills along the Fraser River from Hatzic to Maple Ridge, and the Council of the day recognized the importance of securing a long term timber supply to maintain jobs and support the local economy. Council and staff worked diligently to protect the acquired properties by lobbying the Province for changes to allow the lands (about 1,200 hectares or 3,000 acres) to be protected in a Forest Reserve.
Subsequent Councils continued to work to acquire local control over remaining untenured crown lands for the prosperity for the community. The concept of community forestry first developed in the province when Gordon Sloan, in the Royal Commission on the Forest Resources of British Columbia of 1945, recommended that municipalities manage local forests. This recommendation led to the establishment of the Mission Municipal Forest, in 1958 when the Province awarded Tree Farm Licence #26 to the District of Mission, commonly referred to as ‘the Tree Farm’ or ‘Mission Municipal Forest’.
It is recognized and important to note that these lands are the unceeded ancestral lands of the Kwantlen First Nation, Matsqui First Nation, Katzie First Nation, Leq’a:mel First Nation, Sto:lo First Nation and Tribal Council, Sumas First Nation, Peters Band, Musqueam Nation, Semiahmoo First Nation, Seabird Island band, Chawathil First Nation.
Today, the Municipal Forest is just over 10,500 hectares (26,000 acres), of which 12% is municipally owned and 88% crown land. It starts just north of Keystone Avenue and Richards Avenue, and stretches north to Steelhead, and along the western shores of Stave Lake. It is completely contained within the Municipal boundaries.
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