Wednesday, May 03, 2006


There is a jewel hidden at the base of Mt. Arrowsmith. A place so secluded that most people do not know that it exists. Since the last ice age the flow of water known as the Cameron River has cut a deep canyon through the stone ridge many know as ‘the Hump.’ The Cameron Canyon reaches a depth of 250 meters and runs for 6 kilometers between the Cameron logging road mainline and the Alberni Highway at the base of the hump.

Last week-end I left behind the massive clear-cut and single species tree farm that makes up the Cameron Valley, with the exception of the old-growth trees of Cathedral Grove, and hiked down into the Cameron Canyon. I should say I clambered, scaled, and climbed between the sheer rock faces by skirting along the moss covered rock-slides which had fallen off the sides of Mt. Arrowsmith.

I started my descent into the Canyon down the east face. The forest showed signs of a forest fire approximately 200 years ago which had opened the forest canopy to allow the growth of many tall, slender western red cedar and western hemlock trees. Moss and lichens covered almost every surface in this dense forest. Colours blended into one another, yellow green over the rocks, gray and green hanging from the trees, with spatters of red or orange created by lichens in bloom. Despite the rugged location this dense forest is so lush that any open spaces are covered with ferns, Salal, and Salmon berry.

Between the dense growth of younger trees, most over 150 years old, I came upon the occasional massive old-growth Douglas Fir. Remnant survivors of the fire, the thick bark of these trees had protected these fir trees for six to eight hundred years.

Then I saw the first freshly cut stump. I lost count of the rings at six hundred and forty because the growth was so slight towards the outer edge that I could not distinguish between the years. I later counted thirty stumps and twenty more old growth trees marked for logging by Island Timberlands on the east side of this steep canyon.

The next day I hiked/climbed down the west face of the Cameron Canyon, where the ‘hump’ falls off into the deep ravine. Steep cliffs are topped by a series of clear-cuts and tree farms ranging in age from 50 years to this winter when Island Timberlands cut down the last of the big trees. I skirted an almost vertical drop down to the Cameron River where I found a very narrow floodplain with rick soil and massive Cedar Trees.

Both sides of the river are lined with some of the finest specimens of Western Red Cedar that I have seen in my entire life. They are about two meters in diameter, straight with no spiral, clear with few limbs until the top which reach heights of sixty to eighty meters. The forest floor is covered in moss, lichen, ferns, salmon berry, and devil’s club. Most of the big trees, some growing directly out of the river’s bank, are ribboned and spray-painted for logging by Island Timberlands.

Single stem heli-logging involves a faller climbing the tree while cutting off any branches and then the top of the tree with a chainsaw. He then climbs down and cuts the tree from both directions with no wedge cut until there is only a very narrow piece of wood holding the tree. Then he runs for cover as a helicopter grabs the top of the tree with a claw, snaps off the tree trunk, and flies away with the log.

Is it any wonder that more fallers are killed every year than any other occupation in BC? This type of logging allows access into the places that have never before been logged and trees are being cut down in the most fragile and sensitive locations. This is not sustainable. After all, how long does it take to grow an eight hundred year old tree? The Cameron Canyon needs to be protected not logged.

For details contact: Jim Sears, Island Timberlands 468-6810

Let the Federal Department of Oceans and Fisheries know that this type of logging on river banks is not acceptable by writing to Minister Loyola Hearn at

No comments: