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Permission to build Avatar Grove boardwalk requested by the Ancient Forest Alliance from the BC Ministry of Forests

Ancient Forest Alliance Media Release, May 8, 2012

Permission to build Avatar Grove boardwalk requested by the Ancient Forest Alliance from the BC Ministry of Forests
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Lower Avatar Grove
Photo by TJ Watt

For Immediate Release

May 8, 2012

Permission to build Avatar Grove boardwalk requested by the Ancient Forest Alliance from the BC Ministry of Forests

Port Renfrew, BC - Yesterday the Ancient Forest Alliance submitted a request to BC’s Ministry of Forests to build an official trail and boardwalk in the famed “Avatar Grove,” a monumental stand of old-growth redcedars and Douglas firs that was recently protected near the town of Port Renfrew on Vancouver Island. The proposal has the backing of the local Chamber of Commerce of Port Renfrew, who have sent in a letter of support for the project to the Ministry.

“A boardwalk is vital to increase visitor safety and to protect the Avatar Grove’s ecology by minimizing impacts to the understory vegetation and tree roots,” stated TJ Watt, the Ancient Forest Alliance campaigner who found the Avatar Grove over 2 years ago. “The Avatar Grove is a heavily visited old-growth forest and has quickly become like BC’s second Cathedral Grove. Already large numbers of tourists have been visiting the Grove this spring. We need to get this boardwalk done before the summer rush begins in July and August.”

A heavily used and well-worn “unofficial” trail already exists as a result of thousands of tourists who have hiked the Avatar Grove over the past two years. The Ancient Forest Alliance is requesting permission to build a boardwalk and steps in limited sections (ie. wet areas, steep areas, and at the base of the most popular trees) and erect some signs telling visitors to stay on the official trail and to pack out all litter to minimize damage to the area’s ecology. The estimated combined distance of the trail and boardwalk in the Upper and Lower Avatar Groves is estimated to be approximately 1 kilometer.

“An Avatar Grove boardwalk will help to bring more tourists into Port Renfrew, whose economy is diversifying and increasingly relying on ‘big tree tourism’ as an important revenue stream for local businesses,” stated Rose Betsworth, President of the Port Renfrew Chamber of Commerce. “Visitor access and safety will increase significantly with a boardwalk and steps in the most difficult sections, such as the steep entry points into the Upper and Lower Avatar Grove from the road.”

The boardwalk will be engineered by qualified experts to match the safety standards of other heavily used ancient forest boardwalks on Crown lands, such as the Meares Island Big Trees Trail where tens of thousands of tourists hike each year and the boardwalk along the Wildside Trail on Flores Island which was partly funded by the Ministry of Forests.

The Avatar Grove was protected by the BC government in a 59 hectare Old-Growth Management Area in February after an extended 2 year campaign spearheaded by the Ancient Forest Alliance and the Port Renfrew Chamber of Commerce. Under the Forest and Range Practices Act, it is illegal to build trails on Crown lands without permission from the Forest Service.

See PHOTOS of the Avatar Grove at: www.ancientforestalliance.org/photos.php?gID=6

See an earlier Youtube clip at: www.youtube.com/watch?v=l_uPkAWsvVw


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