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BC Government Protects about half of Echo Lake’s Old-Growth Forests

Earth’s largest night roosting site for bald eagles east of Vancouver needs additional protection

Ancient Forest Alliance Media Release, February 23, 2013

BC Government Protects about half of Echo Lake’s Old-Growth Forests
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Echo Lake ancient forest
Photo by TJ Watt

For Immediate Release

February 23, 2013

BC Government Protects about half of Echo Lake’s Old-Growth Forests

Earth’s largest night roosting site for bald eagles east of Vancouver needs additional protection

The BC government has protected about half or more of old-growth forests around Echo Lake, an extremely rare, lowland old-growth forest between Mission and Agassiz in the Fraser Valley east of Vancouver. The Ministry of Forests made the announcement last week, where about 55 hectares of old-growth forests have been included in an Old-Growth Management Area (OGMA) on Crown lands primarily on the south side of Echo Lake. About 40 hectares or so of old-growth and mature forests remain outside of the OGMA on the north and west side of the lake within a Woodlot Licence where the ancient trees can be logged.

See the Ministry of Forests, Lands, and Natural Resource Operations’ media release at: http://www2.news.gov.bc.ca/news_releases_2009-2013/2013FOR0014-000251.htm

See spectacular images of Echo Lake Ancient Forests at: http://www.ancientforestalliance.org/photos.php?gID=20

See a Youtube Clip at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HPstV14oZ6s&feature=youtu.be

Echo Lake is the largest night-roosting site for bald eagles on Earth, where as many as 700 bald eagles roost in the ancient Douglas fir and cedar trees around the lake at night during the fall salmon runs. Along the nearby Chehalis and Harrison Rivers, as many as 10,000 bald eagles come to eat the spawning salmon on some years, making the area home to the largest bald eagle/ raptor concentration on Earth. The BC government also announced that they are looking at the possibility of establishing a Wildlife Management Area in the Chehalis-Harrison Rivers region for the eagles, which the Ancient Forest Alliance supports.

The area is in the traditional, unceded territory of the Sts’ailes First Nations band (formerly the Chehalis Indian Band – see www.stsailes.com ), who run the Sasquatch EcoLodge and whose members run eagle watching tours nearby.

“We’re pleased about the designation of the south side of the Echo Lake as an Old-Growth Management Area that prohibits logging. However, most of the north and some of the west side of Echo Lake, with enormous old-growth cedars and Douglas firs that are as rare as Sasquatch these days, remain unprotected and must be included in the OGMA,” stated Ken Wu, Ancient Forest Alliance campaign director.

“The BC government needs to work with the local Woodlot Licensee, First Nations, the adjacent private land owners like myself, and conservationists to ensure the area’s legal protection. This could entail shifting the Woodlot Licence boundaries into a second-growth forest with an equivalent timber value and then expanding the Old-Growth Management Area to encompass all of the forests around Echo Lake,” stated Stephen Ben-Oliel, a private landowner on the eastern shore of Echo Lake.

The Ancient Forest Alliance is also calling for a larger provincial plan to protect the remaining endangered old-growth forests across BC while ensuring sustainable second-growth forestry jobs. Some of the key policies the organization is calling for include:

  • A Provincial Old-Growth Plan that would inventory the old-growth forests and protect them in regions where they are scarce (eg’s. Vancouver Island, Lower Mainland, southern Interior, etc.)
  • Ensuring the sustainable logging of second-growth forests, which now constitute the vast majority of forested lands in southern British Columbia.
  • Ending the export of raw logs to foreign mills in order to ensure a guaranteed log supply for BC mills and value-added manufacturers.
  • Supporting the retooling of old-growth mills and the development of value-added processing facilities to handle second-growth logs.

In the Lower Mainland, about 80% or more of the original, productive old-growth forests have already been logged, including well over 90% of the valley bottom ancient forests where the largest trees grow and most biodiversity is found.

“How many jurisdictions on Earth still have trees that grow as wide as living rooms and as tall as downtown skyscrapers? What we have here is something exceptional on the planet, our ancient forests make British Columbia truly special – while we still have them,” stated TJ Watt, Ancient Forest Alliance campaigner. “More than ever we need the BC Liberal government and NDP opposition to have the wisdom to move ahead with a plan that protects our endangered old-growth forests, ensures the sustainable logging of second-growth forests, and ends the export of raw logs to foreign mills”.


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