UPDATE: It is official. It’s been confirmed by the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations that a Douglas Fir tree standing alone in a clearcut near Port Renfrew is the second largest tree in the country. ‘Big Lonely Doug’ has been measured and found to be 230 feet high, with a circumference of 39 feet.
An ancient giant that has been discovered in a logging clearcut area on southern Vancouver Island could be the second largest Douglas fir tree in Canada.
The tree that was named “Big Lonely Doug” was found standing alone among dozens of giant stumps in a 20-hectare clearcut area that was logged two years ago near Port Renfrew.
Preliminary measurements of the tree found it stands 69 meters (226 feet) tall, nearly twice the size of the B.C. Legislature building (130 feet).
It also measures 12 meters (39 feet) in circumference and four meters (13 feet) in diameter.
Official measurements will be made next month by the Ministry of Forests.
PHOTO GALLERY: Big Lonely Doug towers over the clearcut area near Port Renfrew
The Big Lonely Doug grows in the Gordon River Valley on southern Vancouver Island, known as the “Tall Trees Capital” of Canada.
It comes in second behind the world’s largest Douglas fir, the Red Creek Fir, located just 20 kilometers to the east of Big Lonely Doug in the San Juan River Valley.
It has been measured to be 13.28 meters (44 feet) in circumference or 4.3 meters (14 feet) in diameter, and 73.8 meters (242 feet) tall.
“It is pretty incredible that Port Renfrew is becoming known as the big trees capital of Canada,” says TJ Watt with the Ancient Forest Alliance, an organization that works to protect endangered, old-growth trees in B.C.
It is estimated Big Lonely Doug is around a thousand years old.
Watt says Big Lonely Doug’s longevity could be explained by the fact it is growing in a prime spot at the valley bottom alongside the river.
But its largest branch was torn off in a storm just a few weeks ago.
“Whereas before, it would have been sheltered in the woods,” says Watt.
Activists with the Ancient Forest Alliance say provincial government should do more to protect the province’s biggest trees.
“There is an urgency to protect these areas because old-growth logging continues right near Port Renfrew,” says Watt.
The organization has been calling for provincial legislation to protect big trees and monumental groves.
“This tree could receive some special recognition, but ideally we would be finding them and protecting them before they are left alone in a clearcut,” says Watt.
The Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations told Global News the tree will not be cut down.
It says there are more than 25 million hectares of old-growth forests in B.C. and about 4.5-million hectares are fully protected.
“Old-growth forests are protected from logging in parks, protected areas and old-growth management areas. The intent of these areas is to conserve biodiversity and species associated with old-growth forests,” said the ministry in a statement.
As to the 2011 promise by the province to develop a new “legal tool” to protect the province’s biggest old-growth trees and grandest groves, the ministry says it is a complicated issue, but it is continuing to look at different options and has been having continued discussions with the Ancient Forest Alliance about it.