Although extensively logged, centuries old trees remain, if you know where to look
Thursday, June 10, 2021
We're a little late coming to your inbox this morning. You can blame technical difficulties for that—or just use it as a reminder that nobody's perfect. If the newsletter can sleep in once in a while, so can you. Now, read on to see what we had hoped to send you bright and early this morning. — Grace Kennedy, reporter
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Last year, around this time, my wife and I were trying to decide whether to send our youngest kid to kindergarten in the fall. Our little guy had been very slow to start talking and while he had been making recent progress and was trying so hard, it was still hard to understand him. A year later, his speech is good but also, he has become an avid reader and not just of your standard Hops On Pops. He’s reading everything. Cereal boxes. Road signs. Instruction booklets. So many instruction booklets. It’s easy to worry about things as a parent. But sometimes, in parenting as with fretting about when you’re getting your second vaccine shot, the best you can do is just to wait.
—Tyler Olsen, Managing Editor, Fraser Valley Current
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Provincial parks contain much of the most-accessible primary forest in the Fraser Valley. 📸  Michal Urbanek/Shutterstock
Where the old growth is

Old-growth forests are disappearing. Whether it’s through logging or development, the forests that have been a staple in our ecosystems are getting smaller and smaller. But, they’re not all gone, even in the heavily logged Fraser Valley.

A map assembled by the Prince George-based advocacy group Conservation North combines provincial, federal, and industry data to show the location of BC’s remaining primary forests and the extent of logging in once heavily-forested regions. The term “primary forests” is often synonymous with “old-growth forests,” although the trees in such stands can be of any age so long as they have been undisturbed by human activity. Such forests form the backbone of vibrant woodland ecosystems.

(Conservation North’s map, it should be noted, is not 100% accurate. For example, it shows the land for Matsqui Institution as a low-productivity primary forest, even though there are very few trees left on the property. That is because the map only shows industrially disturbed lands if they fit certain criteria—which means some publicly owned properties may be classified as forest when they’re not.)

In the Fraser Valley, there may be more primary forests left than you might expect. These are some of the ones residents can visit, and take in the beauty of undisturbed nature.

Sumas Mountain
Sumas Mountain is a significant landmark in the Abbotsford area and also home to the city’s largest section of primary forest. Sumas Mountain Regional Park is largely responsible for that, although the area surrounding the park has been impacted by logging and parts of the forest are less than 15 years old. However, some parts (see page 5 here) can be more than 200 years old, and the Chadsey Lake hike gives visitors an opportunity to explore the forest.

Harrison Lake
This one may be a surprise. Most of the forest along Harrison Lake’s shores has been significantly impacted by logging and other activity, but some of the shoreline, particularly along the Harrison River, is still considered primary forest. Sasquatch Provincial Park, located to the east of Harrison Lake, is where you are more likely to find undisturbed trees. The park includes both Deer and Hicks Lake, and the forest extends down to the East Sector Lands in Harrison Hot Springs.

Chilliwack and the Skagit Valley
The largest contiguous sections of primary forest in the Fraser Valley are in the east. Cultus Lake is surrounded by these forests and includes the famous Seven Sisters Trail, which leads to a grove of old-growth Douglas fir trees. Chilliwack Lake is also part of the primary forest; the nearby hike up to Lindeman Lake starts in impacted forests, but ends surrounded by undisturbed trees. Head further east into the mountains, and technically out of the Fraser Valley, primary forests really take hold. Skagit Valley Provincial Park is almost entirely untouched forest, and has a number of trails through its parkland.

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If you can’t get enough big trees, there are more ways to find them. The Big Tree Registry has a list of the province’s largest trees—and a number are found here in the Fraser Valley. A number of Black Cottonwood trees can be found in Chilliwack, as well as on Indigenous land near Deroche. Bigleaf maple and paper birch trees can also be found in Chilliwack, and a significant subalpine larch can be found on Mount Frosty in Manning Park. (Visit the larch tree in fall to see its needles turn gold.)

— By Grace Kennedy

The Floor is Yours: What’s your favourite Fraser Valley forest? (Our editor is partial to Downes Bowl in Abbotsford and the Community Forest in Chilliwack)
The mountainsides of the Chilliwack River Valley has some of the valley’s largest connected chunks of primary forest • MAP: Conservation North
Need to Know
⚖ A trial should be held in Barry Neufeld’s defamation lawsuit against a critic, a judge has ruled [BC Court of Appeal]

🚓 A police watchdog cleared the Mission RCMP of wrongdoing connected to the disappearance of Brandon Sakebow, who disappeared after leaving the detachment and whose body was later found nearby [Mission Record]

👉 More than $360,000 has been raised to support a BC Hydro worker from Abbotsford who was seriously injured last week [GoFundMe/IBEW]

🗳  A Langley woman says she was put up for adoption by her mother to spare her from attending a residential school [Canadian Press]

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Grade 6 students in Chilliwack have been hailed for their work cleaning up a local waterway • 📷 Ducks Unlimited Canada
The Agenda
Nicole Choi’s Grade 6 class at Mount Slesse Middle School have been recognized for their efforts to clean up the Hope River Slough. The students went in pairs to the waterway, and together collected 30 lbs of garbage during their 2-hour clean up. “A lot of the garbage we found was recent, it wasn’t damp,” one of the students said in a release. “That tells us that people are still polluting the slough every day.” Many students have since written letters asking the city to fund the restoration of the slough, or have signed up to volunteer with Friends of the Slough. For their efforts, the conservation group Ducks Unlimited Canada have named the class Wetland Heroes.

The District of Mission has given the thumbs up for the Mission Arts Council to start work on an arts and culture centre on Hurd Street. But they still need funding for the new facility, which would be located on a property formerly used by the Mission Lawn Bowling Club. The endorsement by Mission council will allow the group to seek grant money and funding partners. The Mission Lawn Bowling Club will soon move to the Boswyk Seniors Activity Centre on Grand Street.
COVID latest
The potential for a full re-opening of the province may depend on whether BC can win the race to get enough people fully vaccinated before the more-contagious Delta variant starts to spread. The variant, previously known as B.1.167, has spread quickly in some jurisdictions, including Manitoba. A study in the UK suggested a second dose provides 60% more protection than a single vaccination. Fortunately, second doses are now being widely distributed in BC. Meanwhile, local case numbers are positive, although as of last week Abbotsford had the highest new case rates in the Lower Mainland.
Fraser Health
  • New cases: 75 / 90 average (down 36% from last week)
  • No active outbreaks at hospitals / 2 active outbreaks in long-term care
  • School exposures: Abbotsford: 7 / Chilliwack: 2 / Langley: 2 / Mission: 3 / Fraser Cascade: 0
  • No new workplace closures
  • New cases: 148 /  168 average (down 34% from last week)
  • 195 hospitalizations (down 21% from last week)
  • 3 new deaths / 1,725 total
Around Town
♻  Creative Reuse: The Art of Upcycling” is on display at the Langley Centennial Museum until July 11. To see the artwork, book your visit to the museum online.

The Ann Davis Transition Society is hoping to get youth ready for work with its Summer Training and Recreation (STAR) program this summer. Teens aged 13 to 17 should call the society at 604-792-2760 for more information.

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