Brtish Columbia: Beautiful Ancient forest Island on Englishman River is right now being destroyed

This is my favorite writing by Richard Boyce, in part, because I too camped among rare ancient towering firs on Dec. 31, 1999 – Jan 1st, 2000… And I too ultimately looked back on that time and realized all those giant ancient firs that shared so much comfort and company with me on Y2k, they were slaughtered for all the wrong reasons… And the presence of the giant trees now lost along that McKenzie River in the Willametter National Forest, in the tracts traded under the Guistina Land Exchange… They will be remembered by me for as long as I can remember! –Editor, Forest Policy Research

With the impending doom of YK2 I spent New Years Eve on a personal wilderness retreat. I camped out on a beautiful island in the middle of Englishman River where massive Douglas fir and Cedar trees tower over a diversity of undergrowth that has the distinct characteristics of an old growth forest. Thick moss grows everywhere and bright tuffs of lichens hang from branches, tree trunks, and shale along the river’s banks.

Get full text; support writer, producer of the words: http://www.islandboundmedia.ca

This lush forest grows on an island of fertile sediment that has been deposited by the river over many centuries. This tiny jewel of forest is nestled in a deep ravine carved out by the river, somehow the trees escaped logging of the past. To get there I followed the provincial park trail upstream from the upper waterfalls, walked through a tree farm logged by MacMillan-Bloedel in 1986, and crawled carefully over a fallen log to reach this tiny island paradise. Approaching the spot I knew would be the best for my tent I heard a noise. Clawing, followed by silence. Looking up into the forest ahead I saw a black bear about ten meters up a cedar tree. It was looking over its shoulders at me and looked very cute but didn’t move. I backed away slowly and found another route to the tiny beach where I set up my camp.

I didn’t sleep very much with the thought of the bear but at that moment I thought we were both in one of the safest spots in the world. The next morning I returned to the cedar tree with my camera and noticed that it appeared to have a cultural modification where the bark had been stripped off one side, perhaps to be used for weaving by First Nations people many years ago. The tree had healed itself, with the bark curling over the scar, but then fire had burned the dry exposed wood. This may have been caused by First Peoples attempting to fell the tree to use for a totem, canoe, or building. The bottom of the tree was burned out leaving a fairly large cavity. I approached cautiously. A slight movement alerted me to a large nose, which was sniffing me out from inside a pile of leaves. The bear rose ever so slowly and looked at me. I took a photo when it was standing at full height, and then backed away slowly. The bear lowered itself back into the den and I returned home. Today that very same island forest is being logged by Brookfield Asset Management Inc., which owns Island Timberlands.

The massive trees are being killed with chainsaws that first limb all the branches, then top the crown off the tree, and finally cut down these veteran trees so that a helicopter can pull the giant logs into the air and dumps them on the side of a logging road. This logging operation is pure desperation by the multinational corporation which is cutting down any remaining trees that can be sold on the collapsing world market. This brazen logging adjacent to a provincial park may be used to set a terrible precedent that logging in the middle of a river is okay. The Englishman River has been rated as an endangered river yet it provides drinking water to thousands of residents in the Oceanside area as well as spawning grounds for salmon that are on the brink of extinction. The banks of Englishman River, from this tiny island forest upstream to the dammed reservoir at Arrowsmith Lake, are dotted with old growth trees that were left behind during logging operations of the past. Today, both the provincial and federal governments allow private corporations to destroy fragile watersheds. Ministries of Environment, Forestry, and Fisheries all refuse to protect public water from private interests. What is desperately needed in British Columbia, and across Canada, is legislation that protects watersheds regardless of private ownership of lands. The upcoming provincial elections on May 12, along with the referendum on proportional representation, can make a difference. Until then you need to ask questions about our watersheds or nothing will change. To make your voice heard locally contact Island Timberlands or your local MLA. To find out more check out: By Richard Boyce http://www.islandboundmedia.ca

Get full text; support writer, producer of the words: http://www.islandboundmedia.ca

Comments (5)

Deane RimermanFebruary 13th, 2009 at 1:59 pm

From: Richard Boyce

Fellow drinkers of water,

This morning I stood on top of Little Mountain where I had a good view of the entire area. I saw helicopters flying logs along Craig Creek which flows into Englishman River just upstream from Top Bridge. This helicopter is working for Island TImberlands and because there was no wind today they flew from first light until dark this evening when I could still hear them from my home.

Hiking up to the Island in the middle of Englishman River just above the upper falls in the Provincial Park a group of us were devastated by the cutting of the trees. Massive Douglas Fir and Cedar had been reduced to standing poles waiting to be felled and flown away by helicopter. The tops of these trees were laying on the forest floor, some of this discarded waste being over 2 feet across. Many trees had been felled to rot because of WCB regulations, but most of these trees had been important habitat trees. The Cedar tree I photographed with a bear living inside its den was marketed and all the trees around it had been prepared for felling.

A friend climbed up the steep banks of the river, cliffs really that form a canyon, to discover a small clear-cut that had been felled recently along with a number of trees that had been topped. On our hike out using the Hammerfest Mountain BIking trails we stopped to speak with the Park ranger inside his compound. He explained that fallers had been there most of the day and that Island TImberlands is logging right to the boundary of the park beside the maintenance station.

Island TImberlands is systematically targetting pockets of old growth trees all along the Englishman River watershed.

Something that YOU can do immediately is contact:

Private Managed Forest Land Council
Executive Director:
Stuart Macpherson
Cell: 250-415-1739
Telephone: 250-386-5737
Fax: 250-721-3392

If convinced, he could issue a ‘stop work order’ until the area is properly surveyed.

Then there’s the person who should be working hard on behalf of BC citizens to protect our watersheds and environment but seems to say very little:

Honourable Barry Penner

Minister of Environment and Minister responsible for Water Stewardship and Sustainable Communities


Phone: 250 387-1187
Fax: 250 387-1356
PO Box 9047
Victoria BC
V8W 9E2

Writing letters to the editors of all newspapers and phoning talk shows, radio, TV, and letting them know you are interested in this issue DOES HELP!

Ask them if they are following this watershed issue that is so important for our drinking water across the province.

I wish I could report more enjoyable and heartwarming news but this is the reality of Englishman River today.

in solidarity,


p.s. It never hurts to CC messages to you local MLA or contact them directly. AFTER ALL BC IS HAVING AN ELECTION MAY 12, 2009 THIS SHOULD BE AN ELECTION ISSUE, LET’S MAKE IT ONE!!!

MLA: Hon. Ron CantelonNanaimo-Parksville
Minister of Agriculture and Lands

Nanaimo Constituency:
501 – 5800 Turner Rd.
Nanaimo, BC
V9T 6J4

Phone: 250 729-7041

Fax: 250 729-7069

Toll Free: 1 800 663-7867

Parksville Constituency:
120B Middleton Avenue Parksville, BC
V9P 1C9

Phone: 250 951-6018

Fax: 250 951-6020

Toll Free: 1 800 663-7867

Parliment Office:
Room 028
Parliament Buildings
Victoria, BC
V8V 1X4

Phone: 250 387-1023

Fax: 250 387-1522

MLA: Scott Fraser



Port Alberni Constituency:
101 – 4152 Redford St
Port Alberni, BC
V9Y 3R5

Phone: 250 720-4515

Fax: 250 720-4511

Toll free: 1 866 870-4190

Qualicum Beach Constituency:
104 – 193 Second Ave W. Qualicum Beach, BC
V9K 2N5

Phone: 250 752-8629

Fax: 250 752-8479

Toll Free: 1 866 870-4190

Room 201
Parliament Buildings
Victoria, BC
V8V 1X4

Phone: 250 387-3655

Fax: 250 387-4680

Mike TFebruary 15th, 2009 at 11:28 pm

How do we stop this now? Where do we go to keep these people out until the forestry ministry stops the work?

peacefromtreesFebruary 21st, 2009 at 11:58 am

Video by Richard Boyce, 15 & 18 February 2009


Island Timberlands is targeting tiny patches of old growth forest along the banks
of one of the most endangered rivers in British Columbia. Millions of dollars have
been spent, by both federal and provincial governments, to rehabilitate the banks
of the Englishman River over recent years. Meanwhile Island Timberlands is logging
in the middle of the river.

Only 1% of the Coastal Douglas fir ecosystem is left today and this is the most
endangered Biogeoclimatic Zone in Canada. The 1 hectare island in the middle of the
Englishman River is just 200 metres upstream from the Provincial Park boundary.

On the island I noticed tracks and scat from Blue listed Roosevelt Elk, and a host
of other species at risk have been identified along the riparian zone of the Englishman
River. A few winters ago I photographed a Bear inside a den it had dug out of the
base of a large cedar tree, it was this den tree that I took refuge behind when the
helicopter was directly over my head. All the trees around it had been logged because
Island Timberlands felled many wildlife habitat trees to make way for the helicopter
extraction of the largest and healthiest old growth trees on the island.

Since 2005 profits from Island Timberlands have been stored off-shore in Bermuda
by Brookfield Asset Management in order to minimize taxes paid in Canada, therefore
bypassing the public coffers of BC taxpayers. At the same time the BC Government
employees pension funds were used to purchase 25% of Island Timberlands through
the BC Investment Corporation.

Certification for sales to European buyers must be questioned when it allow logging
in the riparian zone of an endangered river watershed. Do the buyers in Europe know
the reality of Island Timberlands logging practices?

The day after my tour for Councilor Chris Berger he brought forward an Emergency
Resolution which was adopted unanimously by the City of Parksville stating: that the
City of Parksville strongly objects to this ongoing logging activity and urges the
Provincial Government to take immediate action to halt all logging in proximity to the
Englishman River: and, Be it further resolved that we request the Provincial Government
take all necessary steps to prevent this type of harmful logging activity from occurring in
the future.

A similar resolution will be brought to the council of BC Municipalities so let your local
government know how important it is to protect watersheds, drinking water supplies,
and forest in these corridors. What is desperately needed in British Columbia, and
across Canada, is legislation that protects watersheds regardless of private ownership
of lands.

peacefromtrees’s last blog post..473 – North American Tree News

andrewJuly 21st, 2009 at 8:33 am

This looks like a beautiful place.. what a pitty it’s being destroyed.. and all for what?? a bit of paper?

Seems kinda pointless.

DanielMarch 24th, 2010 at 3:59 pm

Dear God, What have we let this world come to. we allow environmental disasters to happen all over Canada and chalk it up to money and economy and job security WTF people.

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