Ancient Forest Alliance campaigner TJ Watt is seen next to a bigleaf maple tree. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/TJ Watt, Ancient Forest Alliance)

Conservationists want protection on ‘Canada’s most magnificent’ old-growth forest

The forest is in the San Juan River Valley near Port Renfrew on southern Vancouver Island

Conservationists in B.C. are pushing for protections on an area of old-growth forests they describe as “Canada’s most magnificent.”

The grove is located on Crown land in the San Juan River Valley near Port Renfrew on southern Vancouver Island in the unceded territory of the Pacheedaht First Nation band.

READ MORE: Ryan Reynolds to narrate movie about B.C.’s Great Bear Rainforest

The 13-hectare grove of immense old-growth Sitka spruce and big-leaf maples draped in hanging mosses and ferns was first located in October and explored again in late December, said Ken Wu, executive director of the Endangered Ecosystems Alliance.

“It is probably the most spectacular and beautiful old growth forest I’ve ever seen and I’ve explored a lot of old growth forests,” Wu said. ”(The trees) look shaggy because they’ve got all this hanging mosses and ferns on their branches. So they look like ancient prehistoric creatures.”

Most of the grove is unprotected, with a small portion — about four hectares — off-limits to loggers through the provincial government’s old-growth management area, he said.

Some of the trees in this grove are near-record sized, including a Sitka spruce with a diameter of 3.1 metres that would rank among the top 10 in the province, Wu said.

A massive maple that conservationists have nicknamed the “Woolly Giant” may have the longest horizontal branch of any tree in British Columbia, measuring 23.1 metres, he said.

“It’s covered in thick mats of hanging mosses and ferns, resembling a prehistoric monster.”

Wu said conservationists are calling this area of old-growth forests, “The “Mossome” Grove,” which is short for mossy and awesome.

“It includes lots of the tall, straight Sitka spruce like Roman pillars and they’re very impressive giants along with ancient moss covered shaggy, big-leaf maples,” he said.

It’s hard to say how old these trees are, Wu said.

“These are great growing conditions,” he said. “The trees can be as young as 400 years old but I would estimate around the 800-year-old range for the big spruce.”

Ancient Forest Alliance and other conservation groups are asking the provincial government to save not just this newly found old-growth forest but others too, he said.

This forest can be saved from logging if the provincial government simply extends its existing old growth management area, which currently protects about two hectares of this grove, he said.

The B.C. Ministry of Forests said in a statement that the grove is contained in a woodlot operated by Pacheedaht Forestry Ltd., and there is no imminent logging planned.

“The Ancient Forest Alliance supplied the ministry with an updated map of the grove area yesterday, so ministry staff are currently reviewing the map to determine what protections exist in the area,” it said.

Under the Vancouver Island Land Use Plan, over 13 per cent of Vancouver Island will never be logged, including 520,000 hectares of old growth forests, the statement said.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Water quality makes swimming unsafe at three beaches near Salmon Arm

The Adams Lake Indian Band has issued a water qulity notice affecting beaches at three campgrounds.

Okanagan Air Cadet challenges cadet program on gendered policy

He wants the policy to be more gender inclusive

Okanagan-Shuswap Weather: Summer sun for Sunday

The forecast for the week ahead shows some rain but plenty of sun and warm tempertures.

In photos: Uptown Askew’s Family Day

The Uptown Askew’s Family Day event was filled with classic cars, face… Continue reading

Word on the street: Has the wet July weather put a damper on your summer any?

Due to the wetter-than-usual July weather, the Observer asked: Has the wet… Continue reading

July showers wash out half of the Okanagan’s cherry crop

Cherry growers say this is the worst season they’ve seen in decades

Donkeys await your hugs and scritches at anniversary event

Turtle Valley Donkey Refuge invites public to help celebrate 20 years of care.

A year later, ceremony commemorates victims of the Danforth shooting

It’s the one-year anniversary of when a man opened fire along the bustling street before shooting and killing himself

Second osprey chick dies, Okanagan web cam off

The second chick in an osprey nest featured on the Town of Osoyoos website has died

Japanese Canadians call on B.C. to go beyond mere apology for historic racism

The federal government apologized in 1988 for its racism against ‘enemy aliens’

Fire department helps with body recovery in Okanagan Lake

Penticton fire department assisted the RCMP with the recovery of a body Saturday

Police on scene at Penticton beach

RCMP were at a what is believed to be a crime scene near Skaha Beach Sunday

Community service ordered for Princeton man who stole from firefighters

A young man who stole food and money from the Princeton Volunteer… Continue reading

Most Read