Larry Pynn hopes the discovery of some very large old-growth trees in a remote area in North Cowichan’s 5,000 hectare municipal forest reserve will give people an idea of what the previously logged local public forests could look like years from now if the right choices are made.
Pynn is a veteran environmental journalist and author from Maple Bay who founded sixmountains.ca, a website dedicated to providing information about logging in the MFR.
He said he was joined by Bruce Coates, from the Cowichan Valley Naturalists’ Society, on a recent foray into a secluded portion of the MFR along the Chemainus River and came across at least five very large trees that he has named the “Chemainus Giants”.
“They included four [western red] cedars and one Douglas fir, and I believe more like these are quite likely to be found with further exploration,” Pynn said.
“It was a jubilant high-five moment, to think that a few of these ‘ancestor’ trees, likely 250 years old, still existed in the forest reserve.”
Pynn said the largest of the trees included a cedar measuring about six metres in circumference at chest height, and a Douglas fir that is about 5.8 metres in circumference.
He said he believes that another tree close by could even be bigger, but it couldn’t be measured due to rushing waters and safety concerns.
“These trees were just seedlings when Capt. James Cook arrived in the area about 250 years ago,” Pynn said.
“The presence of these veterans should serve as a reminder of the past, but also as an inspiration for future protection of the forest reserve.”
North Cowichan is conducting a review of the MFR to determine its future.
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The public is being asked to consider four options for the management of the reserve which were developed with input received last year in round one of the public engagement process as part of the ongoing review of the MFR.
There are four options, ranging from continuing harvesting the MFR as in the past, to permanently stopping all logging, other than dealing with blow-downs and for safety reasons. There are also two middle options.
The deadline for people to fill out a survey detailing their preference for the future of the reserve is Jan. 31.
The survey can be found on the municipality’s website at https://www.connectnorthcowichan.ca/MFR.
Pynn said he was told soon after he moved to the area in 2018 that the old growth in the MFR had been logged out long ago, so he was delighted to find some ancient trees still here, and he believes there may be more.
“Biodiversiy in a forest suffers when old growth trees are taken out, so I’m encouraging people to consider what the MFR could look like in the future,’ he said.
“I hope finding these trees inspires people to picture the future of these forests from a conservation perspective. In the meantime, I’m going to keep looking for more of these trees in the reserve.”