Taking a break from my chair making journey, it was time for a walk in the woods. Last Sunday, I was led by my host to the Roberts Creek Headwaters Ancient Forest, a relatively small piece of land a short distance east of Roberts Creek, BC. A quick 15 minutes in the truck and we're there. In-between all the sections of clearcut forestry stands this ancient forest, virtually undisturbed by modern man. It's interesting to think about the fact that the majestic yellow cedars that populate this area, along with innumerable other species of flora and fauna, first came to live here after the last ice age. This means that humans have been living in and near this forest for its entire existence, spanning thousands of years.
These photos are a bit grainy due to the low light conditions, but I hope you can get a sense of the majesty of it all.
As I walk I can see the logger's markings in place, ready for the clearcutting to begin. Large scale industrial demand for wood is strong. For now, this ancient stand of yellow cedar, once skipped over, presumably because of its lower quality timber, is now poised for extinction. Local efforts are underway to prevent the clearcutting, but the outcome is yet to be determined. It seems that we may lose most if not all of our ancient forests and soon be without even a simple record of what we may soon be missing. Once a forest like this is clearcut, it can never return to what it once was. It will be forever altered.
In spite of all that, it's hard to overlook the optimism of this 3/4" tall seedling I spotted sprouting from the side of a fallen tree. Hopefully we can protect some of our ancient forests before the last is cut down.
The local group attempting to save these last bits of ancient forest, called Elphinstone Logging Focus, has produced a video about the Wilson Creek Forest, also nearby. They're doing a great job of educating the public about these scarce, undervalued ecosystems. Please check it out!
This visit was a powerful reminder for me of how important it is that I do my best work with each and every piece of wood that I use. Not only should I be using the wood carefully and with intention, but the completed work should be enduring and last for generations.
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Speaking of nature, I pulled into the parking lot behind the Inside Passage School and as I stepped out of my car I noticed this bear a mere 20 feet away from me. This was my fifth bear sighting in just 6 weeks.
I gingerly returned to the driver's seat to take this picture before the bear quietly strolled down the path around the building.
I'm happy to report that I made it safely into the school for another day of my chair making journey. Stay tuned, there's lots more to share.
Until next time, hej då, and happy shavings!
Craig Johnson is a fiscal year 2012 recipient of an Artist Initiative grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board. This activity is made possible in part by a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board, through an appropriation by the Minnesota State Legislature and by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.
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