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Avatar Grove must get saved

Avatar Grove is particularly valuable because it is the easiest to access monumental stand of ancient trees near Port Renfrew. Other old-growth stands are farther away along rough logging roads, on steep slopes.

Sooke News Mirror, April 12, 2011

Avatar Grove must get saved
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Giant Douglas-firs (left) and burly redcedars (right) are found growing in the endangered Avatar Grove.
Photo by TJ Watt

There’s a lot of nonsense and inaccuracies in Greg Klem’s confused letter (April 13)  about the Ancient Forest Alliance and Port Renfrew Chamber of Commerce’s cooperative efforts to protect the Avatar Grove.

Avatar Grove is particularly valuable because it is the easiest to access monumental stand of ancient trees near Port Renfrew. Other old-growth stands are farther away along rough logging roads, on steep slopes.

 The thousands of visitors who’ve been there know it’s filled with majestic red cedars and Douglas firs, along with smaller hemlocks. The largest trees in Avatar Grove are about 14 feet in diameter, wider than my living room. You can see photos at www.ancientforestalliance.org/galleries.php  

A recent Forest Practices Board report notes that just one per cent of the Gordon Valley landscape unit consists of protected monumental trees over 400 years old. In addition, only about one-fourth or 4,000 hectares of the Gordon River’s 17,000 hectares is still old-growth, of which only half or 2,000 hectares are protected in Old-Growth Management Areas (OGMA’s).

Most of the Avatar Grove’s biggest trees were marked with “Falling Boundary” and “Road Location” ribbons for logging when we started to popularize the area last year. Only 24 per cent of Avatar Grove is within an OGMA, according to Forests Ministry statements.

Similarly, TimberWest flagged their private lands for logging right next to the old-growth fringe around the Red Creek Fir last year, but backed off when we made noise. That was followed by BC Timber Sales logging about 500 metres away. The sign for the Red Creek Fir has never been replaced by the government after being destroyed.

Our old-growth forests have much greater value still alive for tourism, wildlife, and the climate. Let’s sustainably log second-growth and protect the last bits of old-growth like the Avatar Grove. 

We’re proud to work with the many forward-thinking local business owners including the Port Renfrew Chamber of Commerce who see a future in keeping the largest trees in Canada standing.


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