Mount Benson

Photo – Kevin White


Mount Benson Acquisition Campaign

Mount Benson is a small mountain by West Coast standards; its summit is a modest 3,350 ft (approximately 1,000 meters) above sea level. But, for the residents of Nanaimo and the surrounding area, this mountain is important. It is situated just west of the City, and is an important backdrop and recreational destination.

Just as the timber was re-establishing itself, a forest fire razed the mountain in 1951. Long-time residents say that regrowth of the forest has only really happened in the past 20-25 years and some say there are patches that have never re-grown. In the summer of 2003, new logging began to appear near the summit on the front slope of the mountain, and community response was immediate and urgent. It suddenly became apparent to everyone that the natural green backdrop to the City of Nanaimo and surrounding area was about to disappear for another generation, or longer.

Concerns About New Logging

Loss of recreational uses due to inaccessibility during logging and change in future values after logging

Loss of aesthetic values, if the view of the mountain begins to change to a patchwork of bare and brown patches instead of a continuous backdrop of forest

Destruction of eco-tourism potential; hiking and biking in summer, x-country skiing and snow-shoeing in winter, and a gateway to back-country trekking

Loss of last pockets of old-growth timber, endangered plant and animal species and other significant habitats

Serious erosion and slow re-growth of the forest on steep north and north-east slopes; yet another threat to the shrinking Vancouver Island wildlife

Further negative impacts on the Millstone River watershed and the fish and water quality values in that river.

In response to public pressure, in 2003 the Nanaimo & Area Land Trust (NALT) began communications with the owners of the top property on the front face, seeking alternatives to logging. With the commitment and efforts of many working together, in 2008 the Mount Benson Regional Park was realized.

Photo – Paul Chapman

Mount Benson Regional Park – Protected Forever

The vision of finding a way to protect Mount Benson — Nanaimo’s beautiful green backdrop — was on NALT’s wish list from the very beginning, more than 20 years ago. In 2002, alarm bells started ringing, with an urgent call to the NALT office, saying “they are logging the top of Mount Benson! NALT needs to stop it!!”

Read more about the Conservation Covenant.

Hiking Mount Benson

Additional Resources

Notes on Hiking Mount Benson

A Hike Up Mount Benson, by Paul Chapman

A Winter Hike Up Mount Benson, by Paul Chapman

RDN website – Mount Benson Regional Park