World's Largest Known Douglas Fir In Danger?

The Victoria Times Colonist reported troubling activity around the world's largest known Douglas fir, back in January. Close to the Red Creek Fir, east of Port Renfrew, were clear markings outlining a cut block. The RCF is a BC Big Tree Registry Champion.

The same article mentioned the increased logging that south west Vancouver Island has seen over the past few months, reigniting old battles over how our forest lands should be used.

After being largely abandoned by both logging companies carving out lucrative real estate divisions, and governments that promote the cutting of the depressingly tiny remains of the old growth, activity in the forest seems to be stepping up.

Red Creek Fir:

This time, though, it is without jobs in the forest or the mills.
The forestry sector in BC saw over 20 000 jobs and 60 mills disappear over the past decade. Now, thanks to whole log exports, trees are disappearing, too.

The Colonist reported again that the Red Creek Fir area was showing signs of logging preparation. The champion Douglas fir is not the only large, ancient tree in the surrounding forest. Nearby are some very large, old Western red cedars.

As I posted here, Champion Trees on BC's Big Tree Registry have no real protection beyond their familiarity to local people. A champion specimen could conceivably be cut down by a logging company without repercussion. That scenario is highly unlikely... I hope. There is a fear, though, that if they log the area around the Red Creek Fir the tree will be more susceptible to the wind.

Forest edges bordering clear cuts experience blow down. That fact puts the 1000 year old RCF at risk of toppling and becoming a 74 m/242 ft. nurse log. That is, of course, any wild tree's destiny, but humans have a way of dramatically hastening that process.

The tree farms that have replaced the old growth ecosystem will be allowed to live for less than 100 years before they are harvested. For a Douglas fir, this is about 1/10th of their natural lifetime. What about wildlife that requires trees older than 250 years old? The trees, unfortunately, are not the only things disappearing.

Sunriver development seen from park

I was recently hiking in the Sunriver Parks area of Sooke, and witnessed for myself a very graphic example of blow down as a result of removing the protection of surrounding forest. Development of this area began with removing all of the trees over a large area. A small strip was left beside the Sooke River. Here there are a few large, old trees struggling to survive. It is a mix of Douglas fir, Hemlock, Western red cedar, and the occasional Sitka spruce. With nothing but houses across the street these trees are very susceptible to wind storms.

Area of blow down in park

The storm of 2006 took out many trees here and everywhere along the coast. Before long many of the trees on the upper portion of this little park will be lost to storms. Already, many of the oldest trees have been topped, and the number of trees down increases each year.

Old Douglas fir in park

Could this be the fate of the Red Creek Fir, 1000 year old Champion?
Forests Ministry spokeswoman Vivian Thomas said there are no immediate plans to harvest in the Red Creek fir area. She also said that the "tree itself is part of a public recreation site and it and the surrounding area is protected from logging."

But Ken Wu points out that it is obvious that logging will be taking place here in the future, that falling boundaries are within a tree-length of the RCF, and that the Ministry dissolves public recreation sites all the time as part of its work in the forest.

The area should be protected as a park, perhaps as an extension of Pacific Rim National Park (as proposed by MP Keith Martin), and promoted to boost tourism in the area while sharing our global treasure - some of the biggest trees on the planet.

Trees like this, increasingly rare as they continue to fall to the chain saw, are worth much more standing than cut down. Let your elected representatives know you care about our trees and forests. Politicians need to get the message, and the sooner the better. Without us they will liquidate everything.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous30/7/11

    Modern mans goals are so short sighted as to consume,distroy(use up) every resource without reguard to the future generations to come.When we stop using wood to frame our homes and stop using our oldest trees,biggest fish,burning coal to acidify our water and soil then we can build up our forest and enviroment to help all species to thrive.When is a good time to start?Ask the Dodo bird.


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