–Muir Creek Preservation Society
Concerned citizens in the Sooke region are sounding the alarm about TimberWest’s imminent plan to log a forested area not far from the mouth of Muir Creek. Located along and to the west of Anderson Road, the area is a known spawning estuary for three runs of salmon and two species of trout. The area straddles the border between Otter Point and Shirley on the southwest coast of Vancouver Island.
Muir Creek is home to one of the last stands of near old-growth forest in the Sooke region. For millennia it has been both a sanctuary and place of rich abundance for the Coast Salish. Over the last decade the area has been short-listed for protection by both the province (during the Gordon Campbell era) and by the Capital Regional District, however funding shortfalls and other parks priorities have superseded any such designation to date.
Late last week TimberWest constructed a new access road from Anderson Road toward the ridge and the embankment of the lower Muir Canyon. This area receives frequent heavy rainfall and is known to have loose soil comprised of significant pockets of glacial till. Logging in an area such as this could easily lead to erosion of the steep embankment. Precise details of the logging operations are kept confidential but ribbons signifying that cutting is imminent are readily observed along Anderson road and through the forest adjacent to the Muir Creek spawning grounds. Any landslides or loose till deposited in the creek could be disastrous for freshly laid salmon spawn.
Just days ago, individuals affiliated with such groups as the Juan de Fuca Community Land Trust, the Juan de Fuca Community Trails Society and the Juan de Fuca Forest Watch learned that logging could begin as early as this week. They’ve taken quick action by sharing their urgent concerns with BC Premier John Horgan, the MLA for Langford- Juan de Fuca, and JDF Regional Director Mike Hicks. Neighbours have been told that logging could commence as early as Monday December 19th
The T’Souke first nation and the Sooke Community value this site as a place of great scenic beauty and rich biodiversity. Spawning salmon, noted species at risk, 60 million year old fossilized wood, 25 million year old Cenozoic fossils, and giant trees are all within a short hike of parking spots off the West Coast Road and Anderson Rd. Since the days of Sooke’s first pioneers, the Muir Creek watershed has been logged by a succession of companies and yet giant trees still remain. Most of these trees now lace the steep embankments and gentle valley bottom of the lower reaches of Muir Creek.
The campaign to save Muir Creek began in earnest in 2005. Led by Anderson Road resident Alanda Carver, the Muir Creek Protection Society worked hard to publicize the issue prior to passing the torch in 2015 to the JDF Community Land Trust. The latter worked in partnership with the JDF Community Trails Society to lobby the CRD’s Regional Parks Committee to purchase the parcels that encompass the Muir estuary. These efforts were put on hold recently in deference to the T’Sou-ke Nation’s interest in acquiring some of their traditional territory in the Muir Creek area.
“Although the Muir watershed has been extensively logged, pockets of old growth remain and the rest will recover,” explains Sid Jorna, president of the JDF Community Trails Society. “If protected, it will once again be a splendid forest with a long-term tourism potential that will benefit our own and future generations.”
TimberWest, which bills itself as Western Canada’s largest private timberland company, was purchased in 2011 by two of Canada’s largest pension funds — the BC Investment Management Corporation and the federal Public Sector Pension Investment Board.
- JDF Community Land Trust
- JDF Community Trails Society
- JdF Forest Watch Facebook group
- Muir Creek Preservation Society
- T’Sou-ke Nation
- CRD Parks and Trails Land Acquisition Fund
- Island Tides article on the removal of 28,000 hectares of land from TFL #25 by BC’s Forests Ministry on January 31, 2007