'Amazing' long ago Douglas fir found in Whistler is 'in a different league'

‘Amazing’ long ago Douglas fir found in Whistler is ‘in a different league’

Sometimes the rarest treasures have been right under our noses all along. In the case of an impressive old tree recently found in Whistler, close to a thousand years old.

This summer, naturalist and Whistler Naturalists founder Bob Brett planted a sturdy Douglas fir near Loggers Lake, in the Cheakamus Community Forest (CCF), that was originally 750 years old. However, Brett said he only got about halfway in before he hit the rot.

“I still plan to go back and from another angle with a little decay, and hopefully get more rings,” he said. “I think it’s over 900 years old, or closer to 1,000.”

Although the tree had never been discovered by local Dan Raymond, Brett said the renowned road builder was so “intrigued” by the centuries-old Douglas fir that he decided it was worth a closer look—and with good reason.

“This tree … is in a different league,” Brett said. “The bark is unbelievable. This is a really impressive tree. It’s not that big. It is less than two meters wide.”

The area was designated for deforestation by CCF forests, but with a moratorium on old-growth logging effective in 2021 for an indefinite period, the tree is protected for now. “I appreciate what happened,” added Brett. “You can imagine what the forests of Whistler looked like before most of the trees were removed. It’s amazing to me that we still have the remains.”

Brett has been engaging with CCF partners to provide them with the latest information on the age of trees in the community forest.

“They welcome getting better age data on their map because the data is inaccurate in many places, especially underestimating the age,” he said. “That, hopefully, eventually, will go into their database and hopefully [stand will be] I deleted the books, but I don’t know.”

The Douglas fir near Loggers Lake is by far the oldest tree in Whistler. The oldest tree Brett has captured in his decades of research, a yellow cedar in the Callaghan Valley, is about 1,300 years old. Yellow cedars make up some of Whistler’s oldest trees, and Brett said he has “no doubt” there are other yellow cedars older than the local ones.

Before the latest find, Brett said the oldest Douglas found was 720 years old – one near Spruce Grove Park and another at the Ancient Cedar site.

“It’s exciting to find such an old tree in this part of the world,” he added.

In 2019, Whistler Naturalists published the results of an extensive project that saw the non-profit photograph and install hundreds of trees around the community that were listed and displayed on an interactive map. Part of the goal was to highlight Whistler’s oldest and oldest trees.

“The reason for all this and all the coring I’ve done is related to trying to preserve the old forest,” Brett said at the 2018 AGM giving the public a first look at the mapping project. “We hope it is written in a neutral way; it mentions the cutting down of trees, but tries to make a case for why you want to leave those trees standing.”

The Recreational Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) also tapped Brett to meet with the Habitat Enhancement Campaign, a planning framework being developed to “protect plant and animal diversity and improve Whistler’s resilience to climate change by protecting the ecosystem services provided by these ecosystems, while balancing ecosystems. social and economic needs,” wrote the RMOW communications officer, in an email. “This initiative is to identify, protect and restore important natural habitats, and will include the following goals and recommendations.”

This initiative is separate from RMOW’s Municipal Natural Assets Initiative, which aims to put a dollar amount on Whistler’s diverse ecosystems and natural assets.

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