New pathway for ancient forest
Times Colonist - Amy Smart, August 10, 2017
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Left to Right: Ancient Forest Alliance (AFA) Boardwalk Coodinator TJ Watt, Port Renfrew Chamber of Commerce
Photo by TJ Watt
Volunteers have put the finishing touches on one of the region’s newest big-tree destinations.
The boardwalk and trail at Avatar Grove, an old-growth forest 20 minutes from Port Renfrew, is complete after four years of work.
“If you were to arrive at Avatar Grove, you’ll find a one-kilometre trail with hundreds of metres of high-quality boardwalk that takes you through one of the most spectacular ancient forests in the country,” said TJ Watt, Avatar Grove boardwalk co-ordinator with the Ancient Forest Alliance.
The boardwalk protects the tree roots and vegetation from excessive trampling and provides safe public access to the forest, he said. “It allows people to spend more time looking at the trees and less time looking at their feet.”
Avatar Grove, also known as T’l’oqwxwat, received provincial protection in 2012 after a campaign led by the Ancient Forest Alliance and the Port Renfrew Chamber of Commerce. Port Renfrew has branded itself the Tall Tree Capital of Canada, as part of its economic shift toward tourism and away from logging.
The area includes Big Lonely Doug, an old-growth tree believed to be the second-largest Douglas fir in Canada and stands in the middle of a clearcut. On the road toward Port Renfrew is another old-growth forest that the Ancient Forest Alliance is tentatively calling Jurassic Park, another area it hopes will be protected.
Ken Wu, executive director of the Ancient Forest Alliance, said about 300 tourists visit Avatar Grove on a summer weekend afternoon. “Avatar Grove has shown that saving ancient forests benefits the local economy — businesses and jobs. And it’s changed the whole narrative from the previous way of thinking, which was that saving ancient forests would undermine rural economies,” Wu said.
The project was supported by the Pacheedaht First Nation, the Port Renfrew Chamber of Commerce and a team of volunteers at the Ancient Forest Alliance.
Strong winds that knocked down several trees in October 2016 delayed the boardwalk completion.
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