7/11/2012

Metchosin Holdouts - Old Growth Survivors

Ancient Douglas-fir in Metchosin close to Taylor and Rocky Point Rds,
seen from Kangaroo Rd looking south west
Bilston Creek Farm was established in 1853, and was the first colonial settlement of Metchosin. Up until then the Coastal Douglas-fir ecosystem had existed relatively unchanged since the end of the last ice age 10,000 years ago. Groves of giant fir were interspersed with Garry oak meadows. Arbutus grew on rocky outcrops and along the ocean.

After the arrival of Europeans, much of the original forest in the area was altered. But patches of old forest remain, and while much of it is on private property, parks in the area also provide a refuge.

Metchosin is not pro-development like neighbouring municipalities, so other than the agricultural areas, most of the land is covered in forest. For the patient tree hunter, individual giant first growth trees can still be found.

One such tree is the seemingly out-of-place, over-sized Douglas-fir that can be seen on private land just off Rocky Point Road near the intersection with Taylor Road. This lonely senior citizen of the forest continues to hold on after living for hundreds of years, and experiencing the death of most of its kin. Now it stands alone among the young whipper-snappers of trees half its size.

This big, old Douglas-fir has size and character - truly an impressive specimen
This wrinkled grandparent tree has swayed through countless gales blowing off the close-by ocean, and no doubt these strong winds have imposed many an indignity on the tree's lofty branches. Now, with deeply wrinkled bark and a dying leader up top, this graying holdout perches us on its rooty knees and regales us with stories of the mighty ancient forest that it was part of until recently.

We would be wise to listen to these elders, and learn the lessons they have to share with us. Otherwise, will the children of the future know that there were once magnificent trees such as this?

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