Mount Moresby Adventure Camp hopes to expand its tenure so it can build a new dock while protecting nearby trails and rare ecosystems.
Two years ago, leaders of the Mosquito Lake youth camp were concerned that forest trails it had made for guided walks would be lost to logging.
At the time, the Haida Nation, Haida Gwaii School District, and hundreds of islanders spoke in favour of protecting the area.
Now, as the camp applies to grow its Crown land tenure, one of its supporters is A&A Trading, the logging company that manages a nearby timber licence for TimberWest.
So long as the tenure is granted, A&A Trading has offered to help the camp build a replacement dock on Mosquito Lake that would be available for campers and wider public use.
“There’s really been a 180-degree turn from the issues we had a couple years ago,” said Nick Reynolds, chair of the camp society.
“A lot of that was working directly with TimberWest, who is very supportive of the camp and the footprint of active use of the camp, as well as the direct support and leadership of the Council of the Haida Nation to find solutions.”
Reynolds said the camp has a few reasons to expand its tenure, which would grow from the 2.3 hectares around its longhouse-style buildings to a 53.5-hectare area bounded by the fish-bearing Pallant Creek, a waterfall walking trail, the main Moresby Island logging road and the foreshore of Mosquito Lake.
For one thing, the camp’s 10-year Crown land tenure was up for renewal, and organizers hope to secure it for another 10 years.
Reynolds said the area better represents what the camp actually uses as its outdoor classroom.
Southeast of the camp, Reynolds said the woods are mainly second-growth with a few old-growth trees here and there. The area was originally logged for airplane-grade Sitka spruce during the Second World War — happily for campers, Mosquito Lake is actually named for the de Havilland “Mosquito,” one of the few wood-construction bombers flown during the war, and not bloodsucking flies.
The new tenure would include a 200-metre buffer off the camp’s easternmost trail, which follows an old spur road from the Moresby mainline to one of the waterfalls on Pallant Creek. Although not all the fish get past its waterfalls and into the lake, Pallant Creek supports runs of coho, pink, and chum salmon, as well as steelhead, cutthroat and Dolly Varden char.
North of the camp and just south of the Mosquito Lake recreation site, the new tenure would also include a fairly wet area of old-growth spruce and cedar that is often dotted with yellow skunk cabbage.
“It’s actually a rare ecosystem type, and a lot of the area wouldn’t be accessible to timber harvesting,” said Reynolds, noting that members of the Moresby Island Advisory Planning suggested the area be protected.
Another rare ecosystem included in the new boundaries is a large plant exclosure, or deer-fence area, that was built over a decade ago on land that juts into the lake north of Pallant Creek.
Finally, the new tenure would include a small part of the Mosquito Lake foreshore so that the camp can go ahead and replace the old dock that was originally built by Haida Fisheries for a series of net pens.
“It’s been in kind of no-man’s land for over a decade,” said Reynolds, noting that the dock is popular with campers and the general public, but certainly in need of repair.
So long as the tenure is granted, Reynolds said Mount Moresby Adventure Camp will work with Haida Fisheries to make sure the dock work is done in mid-summer when it is least likely to harm any fish.
The camp’s tenure application is now under review by provincial officials, but it already has support from the CHN’s Heritage and Natural Resource Committee, the North Coast Regional District and TimberWest.
“We’re hoping that because that legwork was done ahead of time, that the application could go through a little bit faster,” Reynolds said.
“It seems like it’s a well-supported proposal.”