Al Bernie stands with the Stanley Tree to illustrate the size of the massive Douglas Fir. /SUBMITTED

By Al Birnie, Fraser Headwaters  Alliance

Two local Interior Douglas Fir have made it onto the “ten biggest trees of their species” list on the B.C. Big Tree Registry.

Fernie author Terry Nelson, speaking at McBride Library recently on a tour to promote his new book Big Trees of the Inland Temperate Forests of B.C., took time to hike with me to view and measure two giants we have along local trails.

The first is the Stanley Tree (named for discoverers Glen and Elsie Stanley), situated just across the Dore River from their home; and the second is Gigi’s Giant (named for the late Virginia Karr of Crescent Spur) located at the 4.2 km point on the Lower Goat River Trail.

Both trees have a chest-height diameter of 1.82 meters, placing them at #8 for the species on the B.C. Big Tree Registry maintained by the U.B.C. Faculty of Forestry.

Terry, an avid big tree enthusiast, was very excited to view these two local gems. 

He says two years ago, they would have been #3 on the list after a 1.87 metre fir near Fernie; but there have been a slew of registrations in the past two years in that size range, including the current champion, also near Fernie, which comes in at 2.06 meters. 

“But the two near McBride are certainly awesome trees!”

Terry is one of the Registry’s certified assessors who measures and approves a tree before it makes the list. If the diameters are the same, then height, and thirdly crown radius, determine ranking. The Stanley Tree at 48.4 meters in height gets the nod over Gigi’s Giant at 43.4 meters.

Local climbing and hiking legend Glen Stanley said he was “tickled pink” to hear of the designation. He said for 45 years he and Elsie gazed across the river at the spindly tops of two trees that rose significantly higher than their surrounding neighbours. “In 2010 we finally got around to crossing the river and hiking through the woods to get a look at the pair; then we improved an established animal trail down to them from the Johnson Pit FS Road.”

Since then the big tree (and the near neighbour in the 1.50 meter range) have been an attraction visited only by a select few (despite a Valley Sentinel article in 2011 on the discovery). The trees are only steps from the Dore River, via a 15-minute hike from about 1.5 km on Johnson Pit Road (although the trail has one quite steep section). I am happy to direct or escort anyone down to see them!