Ken Wu examiners an old-growth Douglas fir marked for logging.

Avatar Grove closer to being protected

Proposal being drafted by Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources

  • Sep. 28, 2011 9:00 a.m.

Like the main character Jake Sully in 2009’s blockbuster movie Avatar, Ken Wu, founder of the Ancient Forest Alliance, feels drawn to protect a primeval wilderness. In Wu’s case, it’s Avatar Grove in Port Renfrew — which is now one step closer to protection.

The Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations has drafted a proposal for an amendment that would add 49 hectares in the Avatar Grove area as an old growth management area (OGMA), and an additional 10.4 hectares in nearby Axe Creek, making them both off-limits to logging.

“Certainly it’s an excellent step forward,” said Wu. “(But) we would like to see additional legislation for a provincial conservancy or park which would be more permanent protection.”

OGMAs fall under regulatory protection meaning it could potentially be modified or removed by the government without a vote. Parks and conservancies provide more permanent protection because they are created —and can only be eliminated —through a majority MLA vote, said Wu. Most parks also get designations on highway maps.

“It’s sort of like wearing a bear costume while you forage alongside grizzly bears. You’re never sure how long the protection’s going to last.”

The Ancient Forest Alliance has been pushing for government action since the organization formed in January 2010. Their goal is for B.C. to implement an old growth strategy that will inventory and protect all old growth forests and ensure sustainable second growth forestry. Prior to starting the AFA, Wu was the executive director of the Western Canada Wilderness Community in Victoria.

Wu said the town of Port Renfrew has been instrumental in helping turn Avatar Grove — named after the movie that coincidentally came out the same time the grove was discovered — into “an ancient forest campaign on steroids.” Everyday, it draws people locally and from all over the world to see the gigantic, gnarled trees.

Rosie Betsworth, president of the Port Renfrew Chamber of Commerce, confirmed that there has been a “big increase” in their tourism industry.

“I was up there about a month ago, there were probably 25 people or so (visiting),” said Betsworth. “It’s brought a lot of business to Port Renfrew.”

There is, however, one caveat to the proposal.

With the combined 59.4 hectares that would be added to OGMAs, 57.4 hectares of mixed old growth/second growth is also being taken out from higher-elevation “bits and pieces” within Tree Farm License 46 owned by the Teal-Jones Group, said Wu.

“We’re not in favour of any kind of land swap scenario,” he said.

“We’ve already lost 90 per cent of the ancient forest on the southern Island, none of that should get logged. The other 90 per cent is already second growth now, they can log that sustainably and leave the last of the old growth.”

The amendment is now open to public comment. Comments can be emailed to RenfrewOGMA@gov.bc.ca until Nov. 9.

Just Posted

Bob Heyes back behind Shamrocks bench for 2018 season

Art Webster, Mike Simpson, John Hamilton will also return

Driver escapes from crash in Sidney

Town truck and another vehicle collide, causing van to roll over

Victoria Women’s March draws hundreds

Pink pussy hats aplenty as demonstrators took to downtown streets

FISHING ADVENTURES: Winter fishing season in full swing

Upcoming fishing events include Local Pub’s Salmon Superbowl Derby and Victoria Boat Show

GALLERY: Storm causes damage along the waterfront in Greater Victoria

Municipal crews are cleaning up Monday following Sunday’s high wind and waves

Backyard of $2.2M Uplands property bulldozed for BMX jump track

34-year-old financial advisor fulfills childhood dream

Cougar window shops at Banff grocery store

An RCMP officer spots a cougar outside an Alberta grocery store

VIDEO: Massive waves destroy chunks of Ucluelet’s Wild Pacific Trail

Some viewpoints will be closed for the foreseeable future because you won’t even know they were there

Tofino and Ucluelet wowed by biggest waves in a decade

“Even in pictures you show the kids and that, unless you’re witnessing it live, it’s like no other.”

Police fear fewer fentanyl imports don’t signal the end of the overdose crisis

RCMP say it’s just as likely that criminal are getting more clever

UPDATE: Two people die in ATV accident south of Campbell River

Third person survived attempt to cross a creek

Coal dust escaping rail cars spurs B.C. petition

Local governments are on board with Shuswap resident’s request for better control of escaping particulate

Vikes women run to 6-0, win first rugby sevens tourney of season

UVic Vikes this week: Hoops teams host shoot for the cure

Lawyers slam ‘de facto expulsion’ of student guilty of sexual interference

Calgary student guilty of sexual assault of a minor allowed to finish semester

Most Read