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Ancient Forest Alliance and Port Renfrew Chamber of Commerce cooperate to Protect Old-Growth Forests and Avatar Grove through new Chamber Info Centre

Ancient Forest Media Release, July 14, 2011

Ancient Forest Alliance and Port Renfrew Chamber of Commerce cooperate to Protect Old-Growth Forests and Avatar Grove through new Chamber Info Centre
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Flagging tape marked "Falling Boundary" in the unprotected Avatar Grove.
Photo by TJ Watt

Port Renfrew, BC – The Ancient Forest Alliance (AFA) is supporting the Port Renfrew Chamber of Commerce during the launch of a new visitor information centre that will help bolster tourism in the region as well as funnel thousands of visitors into the town’s surrounding ancient forests.

The info centre will play host to a media press conference today, Thursday, July 14 at 12:00 noon, followed by a tour of the nearby unprotected Avatar Grove. Port Renfrew Chamber President Rosie Betsworth and Ancient Forest Alliance campaigner and photographer TJ Watt will discuss their cooperative efforts to promote and protect the Avatar Grove and other nearby old-growth forests.

Since the locating of Avatar Grove on Crown lands near Port Renfrew by Watt in late 2009 and shortly afterwards its demarcation with survey tape for logging, “Avatar Grove Fever” has hit Port Renfrew, drawing in thousands of new visitors from far and wide who have come to the see the Grove’s gigantic, burl-covered redcedar trees and rare old-growth Douglas-firs. The Grove has also attracted national and international media including Al-Jazeera TV last March.

In the coming weeks the AFA will continue to pump up the number of visitors to Port Renfrew by telling thousands of its supporters to visit the new info centre and to spend their dollars in town to ensure that the financial benefits of old-growth forest recreation and their eventual protection are reflected in the local economy.

“This is a new, revolutionary approach to conservation for an environmental group to forge a cooperative relationship with a Chamber of Commerce and the small business community to protect the environment and bolster the local economy at the same time,” stated TJ Watt, Ancient Forest Alliance campaigner.

“Port Renfrew’s economy will greatly benefit from the promotion and protection of the Avatar Grove and local old-growth forests. We are positioned to attract tourists from across Canada, the US, Europe and elsewhere who will come to see some of the largest, most magnificent trees in the world here. Our new info center will be a central hub to direct tourists where to go once they arrive,” stated Rosie Betsworth, Chamber of Commerce president. “Our cooperation with the Ancient Forest Alliance has already resulted in thousands of new visitors to our town over the past year.”

In March of 2011 the AFA helped raise over $5,000 for the Port Renfrew Chamber to help cover staffing costs at the new centre. The fundraiser, held at the Sooke Harbour House, drew a crowd of mostly business owners from the Sooke and Port Renfrew region who recognize the economic and environmental benefits of promoting and protecting BC’s world renowned ancient forests.

Port Renfrew has bragging rights as the “big trees capital of Canada”. The world’s largest Douglas-fir tree, the Red Creek Fir, Canada’s largest Sitka spruce, the San Juan Spruce, and the giant, gnarly trees of the Avatar Grove all grow right on its door step. Just a couple of hours drive north grows Canada’s largest tree, the Cheewhat Giant. A “Tall Trees Tour” map of the Port Renfrew area which features photos, driving directions and background information is now available to hand out to tourists.

The Ancient Forest Alliance is calling on the BC government to protect BC’s endangered old-growth forests, ensure sustainable second-growth forestry, ban raw log exports, and assist in the retooling and development of second-growth mills and value-added facilities.

According to satellite photos, about 90% of the original, productive old-growth forests on Vancouver Island have been logged south of Barkley Sound, including about 96% of the valley bottoms where the largest trees grow. Only about 6% of the Island’s original, productive old-growth forests are protected in parks.

See “before” and “after” old-growth forest maps at: http://www.ancientforestalliance.org/old-growth-maps.php  

See the Ancient Forest Alliance’s Youtube Clips of Port Renfrew’s (Canada’s) largest trees at:

- World’s Largest Douglas Fir – the Red Creek Fir: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XfBWLVj-Xjg  

- Canada’s Largest Spruce – the San Juan Spruce: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lql9_hWuFLA&NR=1  

- Canada’s Gnarliest Tree – Save the Avatar Grove: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l_uPkAWsvVw  

See spectacular photogalleries of the Avatar Grove and Canada’s largest trees at:

http://www.ancientforestalliance.org/galleries.php  
 


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