Dear Forest Friends,

As the year winds to a very cold close here on Vancouver Island, the Cumberland Community Forest Society (CCFS) is reflecting on a remarkable year of learning, celebration, and action to protect the Cumberland Forest. We are so grateful for the curiosity, hope and resilience of the Cumberland Forest community.

In February, we launched our new Cumberland Community Forest Teacher Resource for K-9 teachers and local pre-schools. This resource offers history, maps, learning activities and tools, leave-no-trace guidelines, and trail network information to support the low impact, shared use of the Cumberland Forest.

March brought an unexpected opportunity for action. The Cumberland Community Forest responded to harvesting plans in the Lower Perseverance Creek corridor and began our fifth major land acquisition. The 40-acre corridor directly connects the Cumberland Community Forest and Coal Creek Parks to protected areas at Comox Lake and forms a critical link in an extensive ecological corridor that connects Island Mountains to the Salish Sea. The Lower Perseverance Creek corridor also flanks the historic Wellington Railway and leads to the #4 Coal Mine heritage site. Perseverance Creek itself flows into the drinking water supply for the entire region.

We are currently raising the funds to complete this purchase in the spring of 2022 and securing the resources for the critical restoration work in front of us. 2021 year-end donations will be dedicated directly to the Lower Perseverance Corridor Project.

In April, the CCFS hosted the 1st Annual Earth Week Festival featuring guided walks, webinars, after-school programs, theatre, and an online trivia event that exceeded all expectations! It was so great to connect with our community and find creative ways to play together. We look forward to the 2nd annual version in 2022.

In May, the incredible folks at The Cumby produced a virtual event on a route designed within the Cumberland Community Forest Park to show runners the beautiful forest that they continue to raise funds to protect. The CCFS Science Pub rose again, and we held a fun-filled “Beaver Science, Stories, and Stewardship” by Zoom.

June turned our focus to Western Toads and planning for a first event coordinated effort to protect the Western Toad during their migration through the forests and trails surrounding Allen Lake. We learned so much that we look forward to integrating into the 2022 Western Toad Project.

In June we also received word that we had won the Comox Valley Regional Districts’ “Road to 2030 Comox Valley Climate Action Challenge” for the Lower Perseverance Corridor project that will protect a riparian and upland forest from harvesting and ensure the protection of a critical carbon sink.

Summer was filled with toads, fish, and bats! As the heat domes descended on the Valley, we saw changes in the environment and the impacts on the diverse creatures with whom we share the forest. Creek pools dried up, migration patterns changed, and we found ourselves in both action, and deep contemplation about climate change and the ways that our work can help to mitigate its impacts.

Hundreds of volunteers helped rescue over six thousand stranded Coho salmon and trout fry, monitored bat roosts, staffed information tents, and took part in biodiversity talks and walks. We were also fortunate to have the opportunity to host the Youth Ecological Restoration Program in August to map cedar and habitat trees in the Lower Perseverance Creek corridor for ongoing monitoring.

September brought relief from the heat as we organized our 2nd Annual Fungus Fest. This 3-day hybrid event included guided walks, facility tours, lectures (online and real world), kids workshops and an open-air Fungus Bazaar outside the Harmonic Arts facility. September also saw the return of the Mind Over Mountain Adventure Race and we had a wonderful time hosting the beer tent down in Village Park and raising funds for the CCFS. The Foggy Mountain Fall Fair sent us into the streets with our friends and Village life started to feel a little bit familiar.

October was busy with Fungus Fest leading into our AGM and then a “CCFS Science Pub Night of the Living Dead” featuring forensic entomology, zombie ants and weird science. The October finale was the Perseverance Trail Run and the “Perseverance Party in the Park”, held during a historic “bomb cyclone.” Despite the weather, over $30,000 was raised for current forest protection efforts. In November we hosted our annual Fall Trivia and headed out to local craft fairs to share the gift of a forest!

Over the past year we also worked with the Village of Cumberland to help develop a Cumberland Community Forest Park Interim Trail Management Plan which saw new trail designations in the park and new trail etiquette to support the shared use of the entire network.

Behind the scenes throughout the year, we have been working hard on the Lower Perseverance Corridor Project purchase negotiations, securing funding for Perseverance Streamkeepers activities, and developing a new community engagement project for 2022 to identify and address areas of high human impact within the Cumberland Community Forest.

We are also working on an exciting new initiative with the Village of Cumberland and Mosaic Forest Management called the Perseverance Watershed Initiative to collect data, build community knowledge, and explore nature-based climate solutions in the greater Perseverance Watershed. This work may lead to the identification of areas within the Perseverance sub basin for protection or purchase. Stay tuned for news about this exciting work in 2022.

The foundation of all this work is you, our friends, supporters, and donors. You are the shoulders on which we stand. Sustaining and one-time donors provide the leverage we need to secure funds from other sources. Thanks to you, our small but mighty community is making conservation history.

We are not done yet.

Please consider making a charitable year end donation or securities donation to the Cumberland Community Forest Society and help us to continue our land protection and stewardship work. You can find the donate links HERE. 

We look forward to 2022 with both optimism and a deep sense of responsibility. There is so much work to be done to protect the forests, waters, and interconnected systems that sustain us all.

The Cumberland Community Forest Society is honoured to engage in land and water protection in the unceded traditional territories of the K’ómoks, Eiksan and Pentlatch peoples.

All the best to you in ’22,

The Cumberland Community Forest Society