Premier Christy Clark announced the creation of B.C.’s newest Class A provincial park in the northern region of the province, which makes up part of the only known inland temperate rainforest in the world.
The Ancient Forest/Chun T’oh Whudujut (pronounced Chun Toe Wood-yu-jud) Park will be established approximately 120 kilometres east of Prince George, near the community of Dome Creek.
“This area, known as the Ancient Forest, is home to some of the largest old-growth cedar trees in our province. Park status will give this magnificent site the protection it deserves,” said Premier Clark. “Thank you to the Lheidli T’enneh First Nation, Caledonia Ramblers Hiking Society, our local MLAs and the dedicated volunteers who worked tirelessly to make this happen.”
Amendments to the Protected Areas of British Columbia Act, to be introduced on Wednesday, March 16, propose to establish the Ancient Forest as an 11,190-hectare Class A provincial park.
“The proposed establishment of this park – home to some of the largest old-growth cedar trees in the province – reflects the uniqueness of B.C.`s world-renowned park system,” said Environment Minister Mary Polak. “This spectacular setting will now be preserved and protected for future generations to enjoy.”
The park designation ensures this unique habitat will be excluded from timber harvesting and other commercial activity, which helps preserve plant ecosystems, wildlife habitat and cultural values.
“Dedicated volunteers and community members have worked for years to protect this special habitat,” said Shirley Bond, MLA for Prince George-Valemount. “Several of the trees in this historical natural wonder are more than 1,000 years old, with trunks measuring up to 16 metres around. This unique ecosystem will now be protected, and can continue to be enjoyed by visitors from throughout B.C. and around the world for years to come.”
This important legislative step ensures these landmark trees will remain intact for another millennium.
“The community has long supported efforts to preserve the Ancient Forest” said Mike Morris, MLA for Prince George-Mackenzie. “The public input the community provided was invaluable as we moved forward with our commitment to preserve this one-of-a-kind area.”
The Ancient Forest is part of the Interior Cedar Hemlock forest, the only known inland temperate rainforest in the world. It provides habitat for a diverse range of species.
The proposed park is the culmination of hard work and commitment between the Province, Lheidli T’enneh First Nation and the Caledonia Ramblers Hiking Society, which signed an agreement in July 2015 to protect and preserve these towering ancient cedar stands.
The Caledonia Ramblers Hiking Society has built, and maintains, three kilometres of walking trails in the Ancient Forest, as part of an agreement with the B.C. Recreation Sites and Trails program. This includes a 500-metre wheelchair-accessible boardwalk.
In 2015, more than 20,000 visitors used these trails, set amongst the towering trees.
“We have worked hard to ensure the beauty of these ancient cedar stands can be experienced by everyone,” said Caledonia president Nowell Senior. “Our volunteers love knowing that their hard work has helped thousands of people access this unique site.”
Once legislation is passed, and the Ancient Forest is a provincial park, the Province of British Columbia will work with the federal government to consider this area for a UNESCO World Heritage Site nomination in recognition of the outstanding values of these ancient cedar stands.
Throughout British Columbia, there are more than 25 million hectares of old-growth forests, of which approximately 4.5 million hectares are fully protected – this represents an area larger than Vancouver Island.
Thirty-seven per cent of B.C.’s land base is under some type of conservation designation – ranging from wildlife habitat areas and old growth management areas to parks and protected areas.
B.C.'s protected areas system provides for the preservation and maintenance of important natural, cultural and recreational sites. The protected area system includes ecological reserves, provincial parks, conservancies, recreation areas, and protected areas designated under the Environment and Land Use Act.
MEDIA PLEASE NOTE :
For high-resolution images of the Ancient Forest, please visit: http://prince-george-media.com/?c=344&k=4523ee38df
For high-resolution video of the Ancient Forest, please visit: http://bit.ly/1Mj6PTd
Find out more about B.C.’s parks and protected areas system: www.bcparks.ca