12/16/2010

Giant Sooke River Snag

Giant Douglas-fir snag in Sooke represents an ancient forest that no longer exists
This is one of my favourite local big trees, a Douglas-fir snag of epic proportions. It is kind of a shame that it is only the bottom 12 metres, as this must have been a massive specimen before it was snapped off in a wind storm some time in the past.

Still, it remains impressive even with the little that is left. There are not many trees, snags or still living, of this size left in the town of Sooke. And as development rapidly changes the face of this formerly rural town, more big trees are coming down.

Sooke does not have a tree protection bylaw like some of its neighbours in the Western Communities. Esquimalt's tree protection bylaw for example, recognizes that "it is in the public interest to provide for the protection and preservation of trees, the regulation of their cutting and removal, and their replacement". That is some kind of forward thinking for a variety of reasons. Big tree tourism is one of them, and one that this blog promotes.

Big tree tourists may be amazed to find that the mossy, furrowed, fire-scared bark of the Douglas-fir above is almost a foot thick at the base. Small fires over the hundreds of years this old timer lived would not have threatened its asbestos-like covering. Its canopy would have been far, far above the flames beyond reach. Imagine the entire Sooke area covered in these monumental fire-resistant giants.

Development in Sooke and south Vancouver Island, combined with intensive industrial logging have decimated the ancient forest. While it is almost extinct, it is nice to know that there are still some ancient holdouts scattered throughout the area waiting to be found. The tree above, residing in an area where development is closing in on all sides, is one of them.

Visit This Tree
I am not sure how far along the Sooke River the official Sunriver Nature Trail extends. Following the trail you will not see any signage indicating you have left the park, so I figure it is alright. However, as far as I know the trail may extend into private property. Either way please hike respectfully. Stay on the designated trail, don't leave anything behind, and try to leave the area in better shape than you found it. Enjoy the trees.


View Sooke River Douglas-fir Snag in a larger map

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