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Largest Douglas fir in the world at risk say environmentalists

By Judith Lavoie, Times Colonist, February 25, 2010

Largest Douglas fir in the world at risk say environmentalists
Ken Wu beside the Red Creek Fir. Growing in the San Juan Valley near Port Renfrew BC, it is the worlds largest known Douglas Fir measuring - Height: 73.8m (242'). Circumference: 12.55m (41' 2")
Photograph submitted by TJ Watt

Note: In the following article the Forests Ministry representative states that there are no immediate plans to log near the Red Creek Fir - despite the fact that there is an entire logging cutblock laid out adjacent to the Red Creek Fir demarcated by flagging tape labelled "Falling Boundary" (see photos) and a "BC Timber Sales" sign at the top of the hill. We will be inquiring with them for more specifics regarding their statement and the nature of the situation. Note also that my quote should read that visitors would walk "by" a clearcut (ie. in very close proximity to), rather than "through" a clearcut. Also note that Forest Service Recreation Sites offer no legislated protection - they regularly disappear on the whims of the Forest Ministry - and clearly this one isn't even big enough to prevent a falling boundary just one trees length away from the Red Creek Fir. - Ken Wu and TJ Watt, Ancient Forest Alliance

At almost 74 metres tall, the largest Douglas fir in the world towers over the surrounding forest in the Red Creek area east of Port Renfrew.

But new logging tape marks an area about 50 metres away from the giant tree, and environmentalists fear the tourist attraction will shortly be surrounded by a clearcut, making it susceptible to blowdown.

"The San Juan Valley is like a giant wind tunnel and this increases its exposure," said Ken Wu of the Ancient Forest Alliance, an Island-based environmental group.

"This is the biggest Douglas fir on earth and it should be a first-class tourist attraction, but people will be walking through a clearcut to get to it. It is totally myopic."

In Port Renfrew, tourists often ask how to find the Red Creek fir, said Chamber of Commerce president John Cash.

Chamber members, who want to see big trees preserved as tourist draws, recently put up directional signs to the fir so tourists would not get lost on logging roads.

The Ancient Forest Alliance has erected its own sign beside the 1,000-year-old tree, giving its dimensions. The sign replaces one erected by the province decades ago, which was rusted, lying on the ground and surrounded by broken glass.

Wu said it appears the area comes under B.C. Timber Sales designation, meaning the province plans out cutblocks for small businesses.

But Forests Ministry spokeswoman Vivian Thomas said BCTS has no immediate plans to harvest in the Red Creek fir area.

"In fact they helped improve the road access so people could go view the tree," she said.

"Also, the tree itself is part of a public recreation site, so the immediate area is protected from logging."

The Ancient Forest Alliance is supporting a proposal by Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca MP Keith Martin to extend Pacific Rim National Park down the west coast of Vancouver Island, with an expanded park to include the Red Creek fir.

Photos by TJ Watt showing Falling Boundary tape - Click for Larger versions

Falling Boundary flagging tape Old-Growth trees marked for logging Ken Wu showing logging tape near Red Creek Fir

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