Cathedral Grove, on British Columbia's Vancouver Island, gets its name from the vaulting tapestry of 800-year-old Douglas fir trees that arch hundreds of feet from the forest floor into the sky. Because it's one of the few remaining areas that people can go to see real old growth forest, it has become, alas, a tourist attraction. So few old growth forests remain in the world that this tiny bastion of Old Cascadia must accommodate increasing numbers of curious onlookers every year. People are hungry for the touch of virgin forest, even if they don't realize the damage that may come from just driving there in an SUV.
While the Grove itself is part of a provincial park, much of the forest there is "owned" by Weyerhauser. Bit by bit, Weyerhauser has been gnawing away at the wilderness, parcelling it into tiny squares of disconnected trees rather than the vibrant, living forest it was born to be. But the people of Vancouver Island have been fighting them every step of the way. For several years, forest defenders have been waging a guerilla war against the chainsaws.
Even with the raw damage inflicted by the tree growing company, the forest is a sight to behold. Described by some as "mystical" and "holy," it whispers to the heart, telling stories of the way the world here must have been once, before the saws came. Its captivating spell has brought both those who would save it, and those who do not realize the damage their presence will cause. The high price of timber has also brought those who cannot see the forest for the trees.
More than a million tourists flocked to the region last year, and concerns have arisen about their comfort and safety. In order to better accommodate those who want to experience a real forest but don't want to be inconvenienced by real wilderness, the Canadian Liberal government has decided to allow a huge swath to be cut through the forest. The purpose? They want to erect a huge, 150-car, 20-bus/RV "pay-to-park" lot. It is expected to bring in lots of tourist dollars. The parking lot will be erected in the middle of an ecologically sensitive area, including the ancient winter home of the grove's Roosevelt elk population.
Forest defenders have again arisen to the challenge, and are already in the canopy. Several tree-sits have been erected in the proposed logging site, with as many trees as possible roped intricately together to prevent them from being cut. The trees cannot be cut until the ropes are removed, and the web of ropes cannot be seen from the ground. The defenders are asking for support and solidarity. They report that they are in need of good, strong, climbing rope -- preferably in 300 ft rolls. They are also in need of people willing to get into the trees and engage in direct action forest defense. Not enough attention has been focused on the damage being inflicted in BC by American logging companies, so many people are unaware of the need for their participation in this struggle. The Vancouver activists are asking that people interested in spending a week or more in the "plush and opulent" (complete with hot showers 150 feet up!) platforms to come up asap. Your assistance would be greatly appreciated.
To get there, go up I-5 all the way to Canada, take the ferry over to Vancouver Island, and head up to Cathedral Grove. Greyhound goes up there, as do any number of people willing to pick up hitch-hikers. Anyone on the Island can probably direct you from there. The defenders ask that you arrive a few days early, so you can be safely trained before getting up into the trees.
For more, please see Victoria IMC.