The provincial government showed some love to Chilliwack-area woodlands this Valentine's Day with an announcement that more parcels of old-growth forest have been set aside for protection.
According to a Feb. 14 press release, 1,479 hectares in the Fraser Valley South Landscape Unit, which includes Chilliwack and parts of Electoral Areas D and E, have now been designated as old-growth management areas or OGMAs.
Designed to preserve biodiversity, OGMAs include both old-growth and previously logged areas where foresters hope to establish or "recruit" pockets of old growth.
Around Chilliwack, 50 puzzle-piece-shaped OGMAs are now strung from the Eastern Hillsides along the mountains to the east of Hwy. 1, including the northern and northwestern slopes of Mt. Cheam.
Five management areas have also been established just west of Cultus Lake and four have been set up north and west of the Columbia Valley.
The proposed areas went through a two-month public consultation process in the fall, and the now-protected parcels have been added to land set asidein the Chilliwack River Valley already put aside as OGMAs in June.
Altogether there are now about 55,000 old growth management areas in B.C., covering an area of approximately 3.9 million hectares.
Excluded from development and commercial timber harvesting, they are designed to provide plant and animal habitats, and sometimes also recreational opportunities.
"This just furthers the objective of managing for the ecologically significant stands of old growth in the Chilliwack Forest District and providing that ongoing biodiversity element in a clearer way," Chilliwack Forest District manager Allan Johnsrude told the Times.
Although the province has maintained targets for old-growth protection for some time, they were base on percentages of the land base and not pinned down geographically.
"You could have it all lumped in one corner of the Landscape Unit and you could say, 'Well, we're still meeting the target' but it wasn't distributed very well," Johnsrude said. "This clearly defines it on the landscape and moves us forward."
- Visit www.for.gov.bc.ca/dck.