What are the Island Rangers?
A hockey franchise? A baseball club? A paramilitary organization self-tasked to guard the metaphorical wall around Vancouver Island.
Nope. None of the above.
The Island Rangers is a growing group of volunteers that Mosaic Forest Management has deputized to be its eyes and ears on the lands they manage.
That’s a big job because Vancouver-based Mosaic oversees lots of forest lands on Vancouver Island–325,000 hectares for TimberWest and another 254,000 hectares for Island Timberlands.
These are arguably some of the world’s most productive tree-growing land, a timber empire more than eight times the size of New York City. And it’s valuable.
That’s why Mosaic took a creative approach to patroling its assets.
Enter the Island Rangers, a group that calls itself a “member-funded society.” The group formed in 2020 as a collaboration between Mosaic and outdoor enthusiasts, “who together saw an opportunity for safe and responsible access Mosaic‘s private forest lands.”
Here’s the deal. The Rangers get access to get into normally off-limits gated logging roads on Mosaic-managed lands for recreational pursuits. In exchange, they observe and report “any activities that may be deemed detrimental Mosaic‘s land and assets.”
But not just anyone can get this shiny belt buckle and the keys to the kingdom.
To become an Island Ranger, you need to fill out an application that describes, among other things, why you want to become an Island Ranger.
There are currently 425 Island Rangers. Their motto is simple: Observe, Record, Report.
But critics are concerned about who will watch these watchers.
Are the Island Rangers just guys that enjoy outdoor recreation doing some volunteer work to get access to gated lands?
Or, like other company-sponsored volunteer security forces, are they wannabe cops that will abuse their authority?
Only time will tell.