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Old-Growth Clearcutting Fragments “Big Lonely Doug’s Mountain” as Calls for Protection Expand during National Forest Week and before UBCM Annual General Meeting

November 30, -0001

Old-Growth Clearcutting Fragments “Big Lonely Doug’s Mountain” as Calls for Protection Expand during National Forest Week and before UBCM Annual General Meeting
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Ancient Forest Alliance Photographer & Campaigner TJ Watt stands atop an 8ft wide old-growth redcedar stump in a recent clearcut by Teal-Jones on Edinburgh Mt near Port Renfrew.

 
For Immediate Release
Sept.22, 2016
 
Old-Growth Clearcutting Fragments “Big Lonely Doug’s Mountain” as Calls for Protection Expand during National Forest Week and before UBCM Annual General Meeting
 
New clearcuts and roads are fragmenting Edinburgh Mountain, one of the largest contiguous blocks of old-growth forest left on southern Vancouver Island, home to the spectacular Eden Grove ancient forest (aka “Christy Clark Grove”) and Big Lonely Doug, Canada’s 2nd largest Douglas-fir tree. In addition, the mountainside above Eden Grove and Big Lonely Doug are threatened with two new planned clearcuts. Conservationists are renewing their call for the provincial government to protect Vancouver Island's old-growth forests during National Forest Week (Sept.18 to 24) and before the Union of BC Municipalities AGM (Sept.26 to 30) next week. 
 
See PHOTOS at: http://bit.ly/2d06CsY
 
Port Renfrew – Conservationists with the Ancient Forest Alliance are greatly dismayed to have discovered on a recent hike that the BC government has allowed two old-growth clearcuts of 16 and 18 hectares, totaling 34 hectares (almost 40 football fields), to fragment the old-growth forests on Edinburgh Mountain near Port Renfrew recently. In addition, plans for four new old-growth clearcuts, one approved and three pending approval, and an expanded road network are also underway in the heart of Edinburgh Mountain’s old-growth forests. Two of these clearcuts are planned for the mountainside above Big Lonely Doug, Canada’s 2nd largest Douglas-fir tree (which has become sort of an “old-growth tree mascot” for environmental campaigns) and the spectacular and still intact Eden Grove.
 
Edinburgh Mountain is one of the largest contiguous tract of largely unprotected old-growth forest left on southern Vancouver Island, along with the nearby contentious Central Walbran Valley, and is home to Big Lonely Doug and to the Eden Grove (ie. the Lower Edinburgh Grove, also formerly nicknamed the “Christy Clark Grove” to put pressure on BC’s premier to protect the area). It is near Port Renfrew in Tree Farm Licence 46, held by logging licensee Teal-Jones, in the traditional territory of the Pacheedaht band. See a recent media release: www.ancientforestalliance.org/news-item.php?ID=1040
 
Ancient Forest Alliance photographer and campaigner TJ Watt came across the two recent clearcuts on Edinburgh Mountain earlier this month after hiking 8 kilometers up a steep logging road that has been closed off by gates that have been locked by the logging company for the past year. The logging sites were too far away and too high up in elevation for the environmental group to have used their remotely-piloted drone to survey the area (see our spectacular drone videos of Big Lonely Doug https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YGbiW_Q2lCU and the endangered Central Walbran Valley https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lyMPXHOjlK0)
 
“Edinburgh Mountain is one of the most significant and impressive tracts of ancient temperate rainforest left in BC – right in the heart of the region that has given Port Renfrew the title as the ‘Tall Trees Capital of Canada’. After cutting some magnificent ancient redcedars and Douglas-firs in the heart of Edinburgh Mountain recently, now they’re aiming to log the mountainside above Big Lonely Doug, Canada’s 2nd largest Douglas-fir tree, and the Eden Grove, one of the finest unprotected ancient forests on Earth,” stated TJ Watt, Ancient Forest Alliance photographer and campaigner. “It’s up to the BC government to stop this and protect not only Edinburgh Mountain, but all of the remaining ancient forests on Vancouver Island because so little remains.”
 
“It’s time that the BC government amend the outdated Vancouver Island Land Use Plan to protect the remaining old-growth forests, such as at Edinburgh Mountain. I’m hoping at the upcoming Union of BC Municipalities AGM next week that we’ll have a chance to consider the old-growth protection resolution that Metchosin introduced and that was supported by the Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities AGM last April. Our old-growth forests are a non-renewable resource given climate change and the short rotation age of forestry in this province, and the science indicates that we need to protect and restore old-growth forests on much of the coast,” stated Andy MacKinnon, forest ecologist and Metchosin Councillor.
 
Dozens of old-growth western redcedars - some of them 8 feet (2.5 meters) in diameter -, yellow cedar, western and mountain hemlocks, and very rare, old Douglas-firs (between 500 to 1000 years in age) have been logged in the two recent cutblocks by controversial, Surrey-based timber company, Teal Jones. The two clearcuts took place in a mid-elevation site in an endangered species conservation area, that is, within the designated buffer zone of a “Wildlife Habitat Area” for the endangered Northern Goshawk, a rare, old-growth associated bird of prey.
 
The logging operations on Edinburgh Mountain are still ongoing, as a new road is being pushed towards another approved cutblock about 12 hectares in extent that will take place in the headwaters of a beautiful creek above the Eden Grove and Big Lonely Doug, and another 10 hectare pending cutblock near this area - unless the government halts the logging plans due to public pressure.
 
About 1500 hectares of contiguous old-growth forests cover the slopes of Edinburgh Mountain, of which over half of which is open to logging, while a minority fraction is protected by various designations (Ungulate Winter Range for deer, Old-Growth Management Areas, and a Wildlife Habitat Area for Northern Goshawks with a no-logging core area and a buffer zone that allows logging).
 
This new incursion of old-growth logging into one of the most contentious ancient forests comes just before a push by conservationists and municipal councillors for an old-growth forest protection resolution at the upcoming AGM from September 26 to 30 of the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM), representing local governments across the province.
Last April, the Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities (AVICC), representing 53 local governments (city, town, and regional district councils), passed a resolution calling on the provincial government to protect Vancouver Island’s remaining old-growth forests. 
 
However, the Resolutions Committee of the UBCM is so far refusing to introduce the old-growth resolution for its members to vote on at their AGM, citing misleading stats from the BC government to downplay the importance of protecting old-growth forests on Vancouver Island (see a debunking of their stats and arguments at: https://www.ancientforestalliance.org/news-item.php?ID=1052)
 
Conservationists and councillors are pushing the UBCM to reconsider their reluctance to allow the AVICC resolution to go to a vote.
 
The UBCM Resolutions Committee has stated that “the protection of old-growth forest on provincial Crown land on Vancouver Island is a regional issue, therefore advocacy on the issue would best be pursued by the area association.”  In response to this, conservationists point out that Vancouver Island is one of the largest tourism draws in the province, generating vast amounts of revenues for the province from visitors around the world – many of whom come to visit its old-growth forests. As such, it is a provincially significant issue that the UBCM should vote on.
 
"Big Lonely Doug, Canada’s 2nd largest Douglas-fir tree, will become even lonelier if Teal Jones gets to log more of Edinburgh Mountain. They've already clearcut the forest directly around Big Lonely Doug and now they want to log most of Doug's mountainous homeland. Because of the ideal growing conditions, Canada’s temperate rainforests reach their most magnificent proportions in the region that includes Edinburgh Mountain – that is, the Gordon River Valley, as well as the adjacent San Juan, Walbran, and Carmanah Valleys. They’re Canada’s version of the American redwoods. Given this fact – and that virtually all of the unprotected ancient forests have either been clearcut or fragmented by logging on southern Vancouver Island – it should be a no-brainer that one of largest, contiguous tracts of old-growth forests should be immediately protected", stated Ken Wu, Ancient Forest Alliance executive director.
 
More Background Info
 
Port Renfrew, formerly a logging town, has been transformed in recent years into a big tree tourism destination as hundreds of thousands of tourists have come from around the world to visit some of Canada’s largest trees in the nearby Avatar Grove, Big Lonely Doug (Canada’s 2nd largest Douglas-fir tree), the Red Creek Fir (the world’s largest Douglas-fir tree), San Juan Spruce (until recently Canada’s largest Sitka spruce tree – its top broke off in a recent storm unfortunately), the Harris Creek spruce (one of the largest Sitka spruce trees in Canada), and the endangered Central Walbran Valley.
 
Recently, the province’s premier business lobby, the BC Chamber of Commerce, passed a resolution calling on the BC government to expand protection for the province’s old-growth forests – see: www.ancientforestalliance.org/news-item.php?ID=1010
 
 Similarly, the Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities (AVICC) representing 53 municipal, town, and regional district councils, passed a resolution recently calling on the province to amend the outdated Vancouver Island Land Use Plan of 1994 to protect the remaining old-growth forests. Conservationists are hoping that the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM), representing local governments across BC, will introduce the resolution at their AGM from Sept.26 to 30 this year, which they are refusing to do at this time.  
 
Big Lonely Doug and Eden Grove are just a few kilometers from the now-protected Avatar Grove and the world-famous West Coast Trail of Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. Eden Grove is one of Canada’s most magnificent old-growth temperate rainforests, consisting of giant western redcedar, Douglas-fir, and hemlock trees. Species at risk include Northern Goshawks and Marbled Murrelets in the forest, while Coho Salmon and Steelhead spawn in the adjacent Gordon River. It is part of the Edinburgh Mountain Ancient Forest (roughly 1500 hectares of contiguous old-growth forest) located on public (Crown) land in Tree Farm Licence 46 near Port Renfrew in Pacheedaht territory.
 
The Ancient Forest Alliance is calling on the BC government to protect the Edinburgh Mountain’s ancient forests from logging through an expanded Old-Growth Management Area, and the Eden Grove through a proposed new "legal tool" to protect BC’s biggest trees and grandest groves, which the Ministry of Forests, Lands, and Natural Resource Operations is currently developing. 
 
The organization is also calling on the BC government to implement a comprehensive science-based plan to protect all of BC’s remaining endangered old-growth forests, and to also ensure a sustainable, value-added second-growth forest industry.
 
Old-growth forests are vital to sustain endangered species, climate stability, tourism, clean water, wild salmon, and the cultures of many First Nations. On BC’s southern coast, satellite photos show that at least 75% of the original, productive old-growth forests have been logged, including well over 90% of the valley bottoms where the largest trees grow. See maps and stats on the remaining old-growth forests on BC’s southern coast at:  www.ancientforestalliance.org/old-growth-maps.php
 
In order to placate public fears about the loss of BC’s endangered old-growth forests, the BC government’s PR-spin typically over-inflates the amount of remaining old-growth forests by including hundreds of thousands of hectares of marginal, low productivity forests growing in bogs and at high elevations with smaller, stunted trees, lumped in with the productive old-growth forests, where the large trees grow (and where most logging takes place). "It’s like including your Monopoly money with your real money and then claiming to be a millionaire, so why curtail spending?" stated the Ancient Forest Alliance’s Ken Wu. 
 
See a rebuttal to the BC government’s misleading statistics on the state of BC’s old-growth forests at: https://www.ancientforestalliance.org/news-item.php?ID=1052


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