Smarter Is Better In The Woods - West Wind Hardwood



Cowichan, derived from the Coast Salish word ‘Khowutzun’ meaning ‘land warmed by the sun’, is an area rich in First Nations history. The Cowichan Valley has been home to First Nations people from the earliest times. Cowichan is the collective name for a number of villages on eastern Vancouver Island. Today, the Cowichan Tribes make up the largest band in British Columbia and members of the band still own and reside on much of the land surrounding Duncan and along the Cowichan River. If outdoor recreation is what you’re after, the Cowichan Lake and River area on southern Vancouver Island is the place to go. Well-known for its outdoor recreation:  swimming, canoeing, white-water kayaking, tubing, camping, fishing or hiking, or just want to take it easy in the sun You’re bound to find something to do in this “recreation corridor” southwest of Duncan.

A spectacular park protects significant stretches of the Cowichan River, which is designated as both a BC Heritage River and a Canadian Heritage River and is internationally renowned for its wild salmon and steelhead fishery.

The park is adjacent to an abandoned rail right-of-way, which provides recreation opportunities for cyclists, hikers and horseback riders. A 20 km long Footpath runs along the river; as well the Trans-Canada Trail officially renamed The Great Trail in 2016 offers approx. 200 km of a multi-use recreational trail network from Victoria to Nanaimo. It crosses a number of restored trestles providing the opportunity to imagine back to a time when log-laden train cars would thunder along these tracks high above the Cowichan River.

The last 3-years we’ve hosted our annual West Wind Hardwood Corporate Campout along this river.  This year our reservation at Stoltz Pool Group Campsite – Skutz** Falls was unexpectedly revoked a month before our arrival on the weekend of May 24-26.  Due to significant erosion, BC Parks is relocating the parking area and revitalizing the Group Site.  Serious winds in December and unexpectedly heavy snowfall in February delayed the work.  Although seriously disappointed, it turned out to be a blessing.  We seemed doomed to rain!  And we wouldn’t have been disappointed.

** Skutz is from the Indian word “Skwetz” meaning falls.

Burma Star Memorial Cairn, a replica of the Kohima Monument in Myanmar (Burma) is located at the day-use area of Stoltz Pool. The cairn was erected by the Burma Star Association to commemorate and tell the story of Major Hoey and the Allied Second World War campaign in East Asia. And was a surprise to discover the name of Flight Sargeant HT Marsden inscribed here.  This is our friend’s friend — Craig is also General Mgr (Alberta/BC), Canwell Building Materials.  At the time of discovery, we’d not known his dad flew over Burma during WWII.

Further along, Cowichan Lake offers a variety of camping experiences; one provincial park and many Timberwest Private Forest Land Recreation Sites.  From here you can continue along working logging roads to Nitinaht Lake or Port Renfrew.  Formerly a Forest Recreation campground, the Nitinaht Lake Campground is now managed by the Ditidaht First Nations.

Or head for the coast along the Pacific Marine Circle Loop and over the hump of Vancouver Island to the beachfront camp sites managed by the Pacheedaht First Nations.  There are a variety of recreation sites; managed by the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations – Fairy Lake and Lizard Lake.

Delve into the mystic world of the Tall Trees. Visit Avatar Grove; Check out this YouTube Video of Avatar – Lower Grove.

The Ancient Forest Alliance (AFA) was founded in January 2010 and is dedicated to protecting British Columbia’s old growth forests in areas where they are scarce, and ensuring sustainable forestry jobs in that province.  Avatar Grove was identified by AFA in 2009.  This magnificent forest, within the traditional territory of the Pacheedaht First Nation, is located near Port Renfrew and was declared off limits to logging through a new Old-Growth Management Area in February 2012. This was the result of a 2-year campaign spearheaded by the AFA, involving a broad-based movement of thousands of people from all walks of life, as well as the Port Renfrew Chamber of Commerce and the small business community. Ultimately they want to see a new, legislated park or conservancy, and the larger plan is to ensure that the BC government protects all of BC’s endangered old-growth forests and ensures a sustainable, value-added second-growth forest industry instead.

Do what you can to support groups like this.  We do!

Lonely Doug

Lonely Doug Saved by Surveyor Dennis Cronin in 2011 by the simple act of attaching a GREEN tape with the words “LEAVE TREE

A shift in attitudes toward logging began in the late ’80s. Two of the most successful anti-logging campaigns in Canadian history were waged over these forests. Protestors chained themselves to the base of giant Sitka spruces and camped out in the treetops in the Carmanah Valley, just north of Port Renfrew. In 1990, the province paid the largest timber company in the region, MacMillan Bloedel, $83.75 million for lost tree-farm licences and established Carmanah Walbran, Provincial Park.

Forest management is a complex science that professionals pursue with diligence.  Clearly, outdoor recreations and timber harvesting can both be successfully met within a sustainably-managed working forest.  A healthy mix of recreation and industry makes for the best kind of forestry where all the values of the land base are fully realized.

A small number of prescribed forest fires are set by authorized forest managers.

Wild land fires present a challenge for forest management because they have the potential to be at once harmful and beneficial; as in these photos/video.  Western Forest Products waited for an optimum weather forecast – an estimated of up to 50mm was predicted and arrived on time.

The infrastructure of a working forest opens up the land to the public; especially once it’s outlived its first economic use…logging.  The defunct road network unlocks corridors to the backcountry; accessibility to recreational activities.  The woolly wilds become approachable.  Ecotourism blossoms and flourishes.

Must we choose between forestry and recreation?
Does it have to be ALL work vs. ALL play?

As taken from BC Ministry of Forests –
Recreation Manual – Chapter 1:  The Recreation Program – Written August 1991

British Columbia is renowned for its outdoor recreation opportunities. Its unparalleled scenic landscapes, vast tracts of wilderness, rugged mountains and extensive freshwater and marine waterways are known world-wide.

British Columbia is richly endowed in a wide variety of flora and fauna, and is envied for its sport-fishing, wildlife viewing and hunting opportunities.

There is more variety of climate and landform in British Columbia than in any other Canadian province. This diversity of landforms, topography and climate gives rise to its extraordinary mosaic of biogeoclimatic zones, which range from temperate rainforests to true northern desert, and from tundra to boreal forests and subalpine wildflower meadows richly carpeting the mountainsides.

To these spectacular biophysical features are added the unique cultural and heritage values of its native peoples and early settlers. In short, British Columbia contains world-class recreation resources.

These Provincial Forest lands are multiple-use public forest and rangelands which are managed by the Ministry of Forests for a mosaic of uses under the guiding philosophy of integrated resource management.

The Ministry of Forests recreation program (in concert with a number of other recreation programs) is responsible for recreation management on these Provincial Forest lands (and other provincial Crown lands outside of parks and settlements).

Recreation management textbooks define recreation as “any mental or physical revitalization,” and as “the voluntary pursuit of leisure time.” Outdoor recreation is a recreation that takes place out of doors, and forest recreation takes place in a forest or wildland setting. The MoF recreation program is designed to protect the natural wildland recreation values of the province, including visual aesthetics and wilderness, and to enhance public enjoyment through the management of road and trail access, and recreation facilities.

Forests Provide For All

Article and all photos © copyright West Wind Hardwood

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