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Province has no plans to cut old-growth stand in Walbran, near Port Alberni.

A stand of massive old-growth red cedars in the Upper Walbran Valley has escaped the axe, and the province is now looking for ways to protect unusually big trees.

Times Colonist - Judith Lavoie, November 30, 2012

Province has no plans to cut old-growth stand in Walbran, near Port Alberni.
Click for larger image

Flagging tape marked "Falling Boundary" was discovered over summer in the Upper Castle Grove.
Photo by TJ Watt

Times Colonist online article.

A stand of massive old-growth red cedars in the Upper Walbran Valley has escaped the axe, and the province is now looking for ways to protect unusually big trees.

Environmental groups were preparing for another round of the war-in-the-woods after logging tape was found this summer near Castle Grove and the "Castle Giant." The western red cedar has a five-metre diameter and is listed in the B.C. big tree registry as one of the widest in Canada.

But Teal Jones Group of Surrey, which holds the cutting licence, will not be logging that area, a Forests Ministry spokesman said in an emailed response to questions Thursday.

Teal Jones has not applied for a cutting permit in that location and "advised that they were not interested in harvesting in that area," says spokesman Brennan Clarke.

Teal Jones could not be reached Thursday.

The province is also looking at options for protecting big trees and will be consulting with stakeholders, Clarke said. "Those discussions will also examine ways of providing legal protection for big trees that have not yet been located."

The recommendations are expected in the spring, he said.

Ken Wu of the Ancient Forest Alliance, which launched a campaign to save the grove, said he is relieved Teal Jones is not planning to cut.

"Now we need the B.C. Liberal government to follow up with some legal protection so we don't have to refight this again," he said.

It is good news that the government is looking at legal protection for B.C.'s largest trees and monumental groves, Wu said. "Most importantly, however, we need much more comprehensive ecosystem-level protection for B.C.'s endangered old-growth forests."

Carmanah Walbran Provincial Park was established in 1990. The lower half of the Walbran Valley and the Upper Carmanah Valley were added in 1995.

Environmentalists have continued to push for protection of the valley's remaining 7,500 hectares.

The Upper Walbran watershed, where Castle Grove is located, is considered a special management zone, Clarke said. "Management in that area is focused on sustaining and conserving the area's unique ecological areas."


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