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Protecting Copeland Forest is a key priority

If you get lost you can always sleep here

For a couple of years now the Conservancy has been organizing a project to ensure that the Copeland Forest remains a healthy  ecosystem that can support the other species who rely on it for survival, as well as the human need for Nature.  Richard Louv, author of “Last Child in the Woods”, calls this  Vitamin “N”.

Copeland is well-loved for its combination of tranquility, the steep undulating upland of mature forests, and its lack of rules in a world full of fear and liability. It’s tough to find a good outdoor adventure that close to home in our part of the world.  Spend a couple of hours in Copeland, however, and you definitely feel like you’ve been away.

Over the two years I have been wandering around in Copeland, I’ve discovered a couple of elaborate lean-tos and the remains of some camp fires.  I’ve never seen a sign telling me which way back to the parking lot, and I’ve never been warned that something up ahead might be dangerous and that I should exercise caution or continue at my own risk. Just a pull-in for the car (there are 22 entrances), a small sign saying that I’m about to enter Copeland Forest, and a path in front of me.   This might concern some people, but I find it pleasantly refreshing.  I begin to breathe deeper, and what I smell coming back at me is the essence of life.  Here comes an opportunity to forget about the humans and all our problems for a while and hang out with the other species.

That “other species” part is what got the Conservancy interested in Copeland.  A rare forest supports rare species, and this forest has quite a collection.  Ranging from nationally-endangered  to locally-rare, the Copeland has living & breathing aquatics, birds, plants, turtles, snakes, and butterflies who could be just years away from museum status depending on how we handle things.   Copeland is their habitat, otherwise known as “home.”

Fortunately, it turns out that most of the people who use Copeland Forest feel much like we do.  Over the past two years I’ve met with individual user-groups, we’ve had an open house, and a day-long Open Forum attended by 150 people.  We conducted a survey, and emails trickle in.  The common theme is always the same: first and foremost, please protect this forest.

The Conservancy is trying to create the conditions necessary for that to happen.  A remarkable group of 18 people have emerged to take leadership on protecting the forest and providing management advice to the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR). For the time being they’re called The Copeland Forest Stewardship Committee.  Together they have written a report that was presented to the MNR last June.

Trips to the Copeland for your Vitamin “N” are a great idea, but planning for this forest’s health and longevity is just as important. On Tuesday December 3rd from 6:30 to 9 pm you are invited to join the Copeland Stewardship Committee at Horseshoe Resort’s Alpine Room.  The Committee will be presenting key recommendations for the future management of the forest.  You can read and download the full report from the Couchiching Conservancy’s website before the meeting.  We will all be there to greet you along with the baked goods, fruit, coffee, and tea.

Written by Dorthea Hangaard, Project Manager.