NDP Government in 1998 following that government’s Protected Areas Strategy initiative. Spipiyus is the local Sechelt Indian Band’s name for the Marbled Murrelet, which was found breeding in the ancient forests of the Caren Range above Pender Harbour on the Sunshine Coast. The new park has another significant attribute. It is documented as Canada’s oldestclosed-canopy temperate rain forest.
Spipiyus Park exists because of the dedicated work of the local group, Friends of Caren. This group found Canada’s first active nest of the threatened Marbled Murrelet, they spent countless hours in taking more than 3,500 visitors to see the proposed park area, and they carried out the necessary work to prove that these forests contained Canada’s oldest trees.
Here is an extraordinary new park where there is an opportunity of expanding the boundaries down to Sechelt Inlet and Pender Harbour’s lake district to allow its shore-to-summit ecosystem to flourish. Doubling its size to 6000 hectares, the original proposal, as a minimum would allow for this park to be sustainable. Most of the birds and animals found in the park are marine based and need forested corridors for unobstructed access in both directions. Mew Gulls, Barrows Goldeneyes and Marbled Murrelets nest close to the many lakes and in the ancient forests. River Otters, Black Bears, Cougar and Roosevelt Elk, to name just a few species, make their way to the uplands in summer and demand unimpeded access from the marine shores to the Caren Range summit. Bald Eagles, Ospreys and Belted Kingfishers can be seen regularly around the upland lakes. The forests themselves contain groves of the oldest living Yellow Cedars, Mountain and Western Hemlocks in the world.
At present the Forest Service road connecting the park to Highway 101 on the Sunshine Coast is under repair and access, except for the sturdiest vehicles, is very difficult. This is a mixed blessing until such time as a Plan is drawn up for the park between the Ministry of Water, Lands and Parks and Friends of Caren.In the new Plan there will be a need to focus on sustainability, connectivity and a shore-to-summit ecosystem. The Plan will also need to address some of the problems that confront the new park. These include the damage being done by Roosevelt Elk which have expanded their range into the park since some of the huge clear-cuts surrounding the ancient forests, and now included in the park, have begun to green up with new growth of sub-alpine species and their preferred food, fireweed. Elk appear also to be seeking the cooler summer temperatures of the Caren’s higher altitudes. Wind is causing some damage as it blows down trees, dries out the forest and makes the old-growth areas susceptible to fire. There appears to be a real need for a continuous presence of wardens in the park during summer months to ensure that its fragile nature is understood and respected by any and all park visitors.
so many attributes, Spipiyus Provincial Park deserves greater recognition
and an immediate start on the planning process with the chief advocates,
Friends of Caren, the group that brought it into being.
Obscurity is the name of the game at Ambrose Lake, for it is the heart of Ecological Reserve 28, created in 1971 to preserve a pristine example of an intact coastal bog lake ecosystem and surrounding forest.Unlike provincial parks, ecological reserves are not meant for public recreation; they are the domain of plants and animals that live there, and humans may enter only under permit for scientific research or education.
Unfortunately, all is not well at Ambrose Lake Ecological Reserve.This past summer, Interfor flagged the falling boundary for a 30-hectare cutblock right up against much of the reserve’s northern boundary.The cutblock lies mostly within the lake’s watershed and appears to target areas of pristine mature forest and patches of old growth adjacent to the reserve.The cutblock, if allowed to proceed, would strip forest cover from a complex system of small valleys that drain into the lake via a bog that extends to within 100 meters of the cutblock boundary.
This same area faced a similar threat from Doman Forest Products more than a decade ago.The Pender Harbour & District Wildlife Society (PHDWS), which sponsored the formation of Friends of Caren, argued then that logging could not be done without affecting the reserve, and proposed to the BC government in 1989 that crown lands in district lots 5399 and 5400 be added to the reserve.The government sought professional opinions from a hydrologist and a forest ecosystem specialist, and both recommended that the reserve be expanded to include the watershed.In 1991, the regional manager for Ministry of Forests Ken Ingram duly approved removal of the lots from the provincial forest, and we were repeatedly told by government representatives that it was only a matter of patience until the expansion was finalized.
So, what happened between 1991 and 2001 that enabled Interfor to get approval for this current cutblock from Greg Hemphill, the District Manager for Ministry of Forests?Good question, and one for which we still don’t have a satisfactory answer.The only opinion we’ve had is that it somehow “slipped through the cracks” during the Protected Areas Strategy process, i.e. the same flawed, closed-door process of industry-driven compromise that created half-sized Spipiyus Park on the Caren Range.
In early October, the Ambrose Lake Appeal was launched to raise funds for the campaign, with an immediate target of $10,000.The funds will be used to help pay for Maria’s contract and expenses (the SCCA and PHDWS have provided interim funding), and to pay for research and expert opinion about the effects of logging on ecological values both within the reserve and in the watershed.
What can you do?We need public support to help overturn the adverse decisions made so far and to prod government into following through on promises made a decade ago.Please write to the Minister responsible, Joyce Murray (address on following page), or to other members of government.Please also consider making a donation in support of the Ambrose Lake Appeal; address your cheque to the SCCA to receive a tax-creditable receipt.The SCCA’s address is Box 1969, Sechelt, BC V0N 3A0
Sample letter to the Minister:
The Honourable Joyce Murray
Minister of Water, Land and Air Protection
October 28, 2002
Dear Mrs. Murray:
In the late 90s a new Class A Park, Spipiyus Provincial Park, came into being on the Sunshine Coast just north of Vancouver. The new park was created on the upper reaches of the Caren Range, the mountain chain running along the backbone of the Sechelt Peninsula. Regrettably, the park did not extend down to the shores of Sechelt Inlet on the east and Pender Harbour in the west, as advocated by Friends of Caren the group that proposed the new park and worked so hard for its creation.
As Chair of this group I wish to let you know that we continue our campaign to have the park extended to make it truly sustainable and to allow its shore-to-summit ecosystem to flourish. As it is, with its present boundaries, we believe an influx of park users would destroy the valuable attributes we discovered in the new park. The park’s principal values are that its ancient forests are now documented as not only Canada’s but the world’s oldest closed canopy forests. And these forests and its many lakes are habitat for the threatened Marbled Murrelet and for a host of other marine species including the Barrows Goldeneye, the Mew Gull, the Bald Eagle, the Osprey and the River Otter.
I was recently in communication with you respecting your article in the Fall 2002 Issue of the BC Naturalist. The article was well received and again I thank you for your contribution. In the same issue there is my article Spipiyus Provincial Park on some of the problems of administering the Park. This is attached. I am pleased to enclose a copy of the Fall Issue of BC Naturalist that includes both articles.
This letter is to seek a meeting with you and your staff to discuss what needs to be done to extend and manage the new park so that its chief values are not harmed in any way in the future. Friends of Caren looks forward to a close association with your Ministry in creating a Management Plan for Spipiyus Provincial Park and the surrounding area originally proposed as a park and to be kept aware of any discussions you may be considering for its administration.
Please let us know when you will be free to meet with us.
Yours very truly
Paul H. Jones
Chair, Friends of Caren