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MP Keith Martin wants to expand Pacific Rim park

Sooke News Mirror, July 14, 2010

MP Keith Martin wants to expand Pacific Rim park
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Liberal MP Keith Martin stands beside "Canada's Gnarliest Tree" in the logging-threatend Avatar Grove near Port Renfrew. Dr. Martin hopes to see Island old-growth forests such as this preserved with an expansion of the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve.
Photo by TJ Watt

The Ancient Forest Alliance (AFA) is supporting Member of Parliament (Esquimalt- Juan de Fuca) Keith Martin’s proposal to extend Pacific Rim National Park Reserve’s boundaries to protect adjacent endangered forests, including the grandest stands of old-growth trees in Canada.

Recently Martin joined Ancient Forest Alliance activists TJ Watt and Brendan Harry on a guided tour through the spectacular Avatar Grove and a nearby clearcut filled with giant stumps near the national park reserve.

Last fall, Martin proposed to expand Pacific Rim National Park Reserve to protect threatened forest lands along the southwest coast of Vancouver Island, in part to protect former Western Forest Products lands by Jordan River and the Juan de Fuca Trail that were threatened by development due to their removal from Tree Farm License 25. While the Capital Regional District has recently purchased the lands by Jordan River and the Sooke Potholes, other forested areas with high conservation and recreation values remain threatened in the region, particularly old-growth forests on Crown lands near Port Renfrew and Crown and private lands adjacent to the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail Provincial Park. Martin has expressed an interest in including such areas in his proposal, which he intends to introduce as a private members bill in the House of Commons at a future legislative session.

“These trees are some of the oldest living creatures on our planet. Cutting them down provides a short term benefit and a much larger long term loss. Ethno-tourism and eco-tours would provide for long term jobs and economic security in this area that has suffered from chronically high unemployment. We are in a race against time to save these forest giants. I am asking the provincial and federal governments to work with the forestry companies to stop this destruction of our old growth forests in the Gordon River Valley, Upper Walbran and surrounding areas,” said Dr. Martin.

Located on unprotected Crown Lands less than a 15 minute drive from Port Renfrew, Avatar Grove is home to dozens of some of the South Island’s largest redcedars and Douglas firs, including several trees with trunks reaching over 12 feet in diameter.


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