MOS­SOME GROVE: ‘one of the most beau­ti­ful’ forests on Earth

Times Colonist - - Front Page - PHO­TOS BY TJ WATT jw­[email protected]­colonist.com STORY BY JEFF BELL, TIMES COLONIST STAFF

An­cient For­est Al­liance cam­paigner Rachel Ablack stands by a huge Sitka spruce among the sword ferns in the Mos­some Grove (short for “Mossy and Awe­some”) near Port Ren­frew. The old-growth for­est in the San Juan River Val­ley is de­scribed as one of the most beau­ti­ful forests on Earth.

Asix-hectare par­cel of old-growth for­est in the San Juan River Val­ley, near Port Ren­frew, has been dubbed Mos­some Grove (a com­bi­na­tion of “mossy” and “awe­some”) by the con­ser­va­tion­ists who re­cently came across it. It in­cludes huge old-growth Sitka spruce and big-leaf maples adorned with hang­ing moss and ferns.

At present, most of the grove is un­pro­tected. It is on Crown land.

Ken Wu, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the En­dan­gered Ecosys­tems Al­liance, said the site is special.

“I think any­body who sees the pho­tos and, at some point, gets a chance to visit the area will rec­og­nize it as one of the most beau­ti­ful and pho­to­genic forests on Earth, lit­er­ally. It would be hard for Hol­ly­wood to top this one.”

Wu said he mar­vels at the rare com­bi­na­tion of “tall, straight, solid Sitka spruce” and an­cient, mossy maples re­sem­bling “pre­his­toric, shaggy mon­sters.”

“They’re like the epit­ome of all the great­est qual­i­ties of an­cient forests com­bined in one grove.”

TJ Watt of the An­cient For­est Al­liance said the grove should be “the new poster child for B.C.’s en­dan­gered an­cient forests.”

For now, those who found the grove are not say­ing ex­actly where it us, Wu said.

“At this point in time, we’re not go­ing to dis­close the lo­ca­tion be­cause there’s no trails there and it’s a fairly sen­si­tive site,” he said. “First things first, we’ve got to get the area pro­tected and the old growth pro­tected.”

In­cluded in the grove are the ninth-widest Sitka spruce and ninth-widest big-leaf maple in B.C., Wu said.

“The spruce is over 10 feet wide, the maple is al­most eight feet wide.”

He said sec­ond-growth for­est dom­i­nates much of the B.C. land­scape, so it’s im­por­tant to pro­tect the ma­jor old growth that is left.

Wu said the provin­cial gov­ern­ment is work­ing to es­tab­lish a new old-growth man­age­ment pol­icy.

“We don’t know what that con­sists of yet.”

PHOTO BY TJ WATT

Above: An­cient For­est Al­liance cam­paigner and pho­tog­ra­pher TJ Watt by the ninth-widest Sitka spruce in B.C., in the Mos­some Grove near Port Ren­frew.

Left: An­cient For­est Al­liance cam­paigner An­drea In­ness among a se­ries of gi­ant Sitka spruce snags and big-leaf maples in the Mos­some Grove.

An­drea In­ness by a huge “conk” mush­room cov­ered in moss in the Mos­some Grove.

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