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CRD Parks Public Input Process Presents Golden Opportunity to Protect Canada’s Most Magnificent Old-Growth Forests

Avatar Grove, World’s Largest Douglas Fir (Red Creek Fir), Canada’s Largest Spruce (San Juan Spruce), CRD’s Largest Redcedar (Refugee Tree), Muir Creek, all within the CRD’s Boundaries

Media Release, May 18, 2010

CRD Parks Public Input Process Presents Golden Opportunity to Protect Canada’s Most Magnificent Old-Growth Forests
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The San Juan Spruce (left) and Red Creek Fir (right) are just two of the places that the CRD needs to look at when deciding on where to place future regional parks.
Photos by TJ Watt

A first rate opportunity towards ending the war in the woods on southern Vancouver Island is currently being presented through the Capital Regional District Parks public input process. The public input process involves a series of Community Engagement Sessions held in a variety of CRD communities between May 6 through 19 and online written feedback until an unspecified date (see The public input will be used by the CRD Parks Committee to determine the strategic direction of the regional parks and trails in the area on southern Vancouver Island.

“This is a golden opportunity to save the grandest trees and some of the most magnificent ancient temperate rainforests in Canada, including the Avatar Grove, Red Creek Fir, San Juan Spruce, Refugee Tree, and Muir Creek,” stated TJ Watt, Ancient Forest Alliance co-founder who spoke at the Langford community engagement session last night. “Protection of these record-sized trees and incredible forests will provide first rate benefits to the citizens of BC, the tourism industry, wildlife, and the climate”.

Within the CRD’s boundaries lie some of the world’s most magnificent trees and old-growth forests that should be first-rate candidates for potential new Regional Parks, including:

- The Red Creek Fir, the world’s largest Douglas fir, located on public (Crown) land with surrounding spectacular old-growth redcedar forests on Crown lands and private lands owned by TimberWest about 15 kilometers east of Port Renfrew.
- The Avatar Grove, one of the most accessible and magnificent monumental stands of old-growth redcedars and Douglas firs, including “Canada’s gnarliest tree”, on public lands about 10 kilometers north of Port Renfrew, currently under threat from Teal-Jones.
- The San Juan Spruce, Canada’s largest Sitka spruce tree and second largest spruce in the world, on public lands about 15 kilometers east of Port Renfrew.
- The Refugee Tree, the largest redcedar in the CRD, growing on public lands just south of Sombrio Beach.
- Muir Creek, a watershed on TimberWest and Western Forest Product’s private land west of Sooke with an exceptional stand of ancient Douglas firs, Sitka spruce and redcedars.

In addition, extremely rare and endangered sensitive ecosystems like Garry oak meadows and old-growth and second-growth forests within the Coastal Douglas Fir zone (generally remaining in the Highlands and Metchosin areas within the CRD) should also be first rate priorities for protection.

The Capital Regional District has a parks acquisition fund consisting of a $10 levy per average household per year, increasing to $20 per average household by 2014, for purchasing private forest lands for new regional parks. Recently the CRD agreed to pay 65% of an $18.8 million deal to buy 2300 hectares of forest lands from Western Forest Products stretching from the Sooke Potholes to Jordan River.

To protect ancient forests on private lands such as Muir Creek and the forests adjacent to the Red Creek Fir, these lands would have to be purchased from willing sellers by the CRD and partnering land trusts and levels of government (eg. province, federal government).

To create regional parks on Crown lands managed by the province, the CRD and the BC government will have to negotiate the transfer of management authority from the province to the regional district in areas such as the Avatar Grove, Refugee Tree, and San Juan Spruce on Crown lands.

“We applaud the CRD for moving to protect the second-growth forests of Jordan River and the Sooke Potholes. At the same time, just about the greatest conservation priority from an ecological perspective is to save the last fragments of old-growth forests that remain in the CRD, as well as the most sensitive ecosystems like Garry oak meadows and lands within the Coastal Douglas Fir zone. We hope the CRD will actively pursue the protection of our most magnificent old-growth forests by purchasing private lands and working with the province to protect Crown lands as regional parks,” states Ken Wu, Ancient Forest Alliance co-founder.

“As Islanders we should be very proud to have these ecological gems within the boundaries of the CRD and jump on this amazing opportunity to celebrate them with the creation of new regional parks, guaranteeing their continued enjoyment well into the future," states Watt.

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