about the Caren Range
The oldest closed-canopy forest in Canada and perhaps in the world is located on the Sunshine Coast along the ridge of the Caren Range. The old growth forest found there is a unique landscape of tall, ancient trees separated by moss-covered stumps that have been decaying for hundreds of years. Yellow cedars share this landscape with Mountain Hemlocks and Silver Firs. Mushrooms, berries and slime molds also flourish in this landscape. Clear streams, lakes and bogs not only provide a rich ecosystem for many fish species but also attracts elk, bear, ravens, eagles, salamanders and the threatened Marbled Murrelet.
The old growth forest of the Caren Range stood undamaged, even by forest fires, for thousands of years. However, in early 1970's logging began on its slopes. From the mid 1980's through 1991 clear-cut logging took place on a massive scale and expansive areas of forest were reduced to heaps of debris. Hundreds of ancient Yellow Cyprus were felled and left shattered in the clearcuts.
In 1991, two massive wash-outs occurred at the Lions Park Wild Salmon Hatchery. As concern about the effects of the clearcuts mounted, a group of local citizens launched a campaign to save the remaining stands of old growth. Paul and Mavis Jones, John Field, June Malaka, Billy and Iris Griffith, John Dafoe, Denise and Roger Laggase, Sylvia and Bruce Woodsworth, Jay Hamburger, Edith Iglauer and many others formed "The Friends of Caren". The group hosted an art show and led hikes into the forest to show the public what was at stake. Between 1992 and 1998 over 3000 people visited the Caren Range.
Volunteers also spent several years searching for endangered species in the area hoping their presence on the range might convince the provincial government to protect the remaining forest. Marbled Murrelets had been sighted in the area, but in order to make a case to save the forest, an active nest would have to be found. However, as no one had ever found an active Marbled Murrelet nest in Canada before, this proved a formidable challenge. Finally after 3 years of searching, researchers Paul Jones, John Field, Volker Bahn and Jordan Field found the first active Murrelet nest in Canada. They later found 2 more in the area. This was enough to designate 3000 hectares of the Range as Spipiyus Provincial Park, 800 hectares of which are ancient forest.
Today, the fragile Caren Range faces a new threat. In January 2005, the newly formed company Pan Pacific Aggregates staked out the mineral rights of the entire Sechelt Peninsula. Included in that stake is the Caren Range. Pan Pacific aggregates is proposing a large scale open pit mine in the heart of the Caren Range. The main quarry where low grade limestone is to be extracted is less than one kilometer south of Spipiyus Provincial Park.
Unwilling to sit back and watch the ancient forests, wetlands and pristine lakes in the area be destroyed by the presence of an open pit mine, the Sunshine Coast community has taken action to protect once more, the Caren Range.