by Andru McCracken

Thanks to cessation of logging in the 1980s, a new generation is able to enjoy the Ancient Forest. / ANDRU MCCRACKEN

The Ancient Cedar Forest has stood for thousands of years without disturbance, but it has had more than one close call. 

When the ancient cedars were discovered by a university student doing research on lichen, the area was actually a class ‘A’ cut block, meaning its fate was sealed because the mill, TRC Cedar based in McBride, had poured resources into getting it ready for logging. Local pressure saved the area for its beauty and uniqueness, but what you might not know is that this wasn’t the first time the forest escaped doom.

One of the people at the celebration of the new provincial park was Valemount’s Brian Bobke who was a logger working for Hauer Brothers Mill in the early 1980s. They began logging in what is now the massive parking lot for the park. 

“There were three small business sales right in a row and we did a little bit of logging on each one,” said Bobke. “The regen [young forest] that you see at the beginning of this trail, that is as far as they got.”

Bobke said that the usual procedure was to just cut the giant cedars down and leave them on site, while harvesting the valuable timber.

He said what saved the forest that time is that the stand was so decadent, what they called a “pus patch.”

Bobke said it had little valuable wood and too much rot, so the logging was stopped.

“It’s just as well left,” he said. “Why take a little wee bit out and gut it?”

Bobke is glad they didn’t finish the cut block. He appreciated the beauty of the ancient cedars as he walked the trail around the park.