Work on a campground on lands managed by the Medway Community Forest Cooperative (MCFC) is forging ahead.
Plans for a 12-site tenting campground near Stave Lake in Annapolis County were unveiled late last year, and Request for Proposals came out in March.
The campground is located near the Tobeatic Wilderness Area and across from Kejimkujik National Park.
“We are chipping away at it. It’s been a slow process,” admitted Jennika Hunsinger, Ecological Forestry Coordinator for the cooperative.
Hunsinger described MCFC as “trailblazers” in opening an eco-tourism business opportunity on Crown land, as a Crown land licensee.
“There are a lot of approvals to do so, but we are nearly there,” she said.
Staff members have begun walking the landscape and mapping trails and are starting to see how it can come to life.
“There’s just a few more steps to put the shovels into the ground,” Hunsinger noted, explaining that clean-up from Hurricane Dorian also has delayed the process somewhat.
The MCFC is a Crown land licencee that manages 15,000 hectares, encompassing land that was formerly owned by the Bowater Mersey company in Annapolis County near Annapolis Royal, Bear River, South Milford, Springfield, Caledonia and New Germany. MCFC’s head office is located in Caledonia.
Formed initially in 2013 as a three-year pilot project, the cooperative was the first community forest in Nova Scotia. Its mission is to support local communities through sustainable and ecologically-based forest management.
MCFC is hoping to have funding in place for the campground project and other hurdles cleared over the next few weeks or so. Work on the infrastructure, parking lots and trails would be done over the fall and winter with the aim of opening the campground to campers next summer.
“In a normal year, Kejimkujik is very busy, and this will be great to offer some additional accommodation for folks,” said Hunsinger.
The campground will give users the ability to enjoy the experience of back country camping and sites will be available along groomed trails. An accessible site for people in wheelchairs or who have strollers will be available close to the parking area, but far enough away for privacy.
Fifth annual market
Another project the organization has on the go is its fifth annual MCFC Forest Market, which will take place at the Annapolis Royal Market Square on August 22 .
“It’s a really exciting event where we bring the community together just around all things that stem from the forest,” said Hunsinger. “There will be a good diversity of vendors and you can expect to see things from really talented artists, crafters and producers.”
Hunsinger said there has been a lot of interest in the market this year by people wanting to come and check it out and vendors keen to be a part of it.
“The aim of the market is to support our local community and increase the awareness of non-timber forest products and value-added forest products,” explained Hunsinger.
The MCFC is funded by Nova Scotia’s Department of Lands and Foresty. However, Hunsinger says the organization is in negotiations to form a long-term agreement to build a platform for self-sufficiency.
“As the first community forest in Nova Scotia, there’s been a learning curve,” she admitted, while adding that the model of forest management has been successful on the west coast of Canada.
Within the licensed area, the land historically has been managed primarily for timber. The cooperative focuses a lot of its efforts on restorative forestry and bringing the forests back to their natural Acadian condition.
Kevin McBain, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, LighthouseNOW Progress Bulletin