Big Lonely Doug
September 23, 2016 8:51 PM Subscribe
On a sunny morning in the winter of 2011, Dennis Cronin parked his truck by the side of a dirt logging road, laced up his spike-soled cork boots, put on his red cargo vest and orange hard hat, and stepped into the trees. As he waded through the thigh-high undergrowth, something caught his attention: a Douglas fir, poking up through the forest’s canopy and with a trunk wider than his truck. It was one of the tallest trees he had ever come across in his four decades in the logging industry. Cronin reached into his vest pocket for a ribbon he rarely used, tore off a strip, and tied it to a thin root protruding from the base of the trunk. The tape wasn’t pink or orange but green, and along its length were the words “Leave Tree.”
"He didn’t know it then, but Cronin was standing under the second-largest Douglas fir in the country—later confirmed to be sixty-six metres tall, nearly four metres wide, and almost twelve metres in circumference. The tree’s deeply crevassed trunk was limbless until well above the forest canopy, and its grain looked straight, too: a wonderful specimen of timber. Encased within the foot-thick corky bark was enough wood to fill four logging trucks or to frame five 2,000-square-foot houses. As it could also be turned into higher-priced beams and posts for houses in Victoria and Vancouver, or shipped across the Pacific Ocean to Japan, this single tree would fetch tens of thousands of dollars.
"'It’s a legacy, ya know? Even though I’m a logger and I’ve taken out millions of trees,' he said. Like the fir, Cronin was the last of his kind. If the remaining old growth is eventually brought down, the generations of loggers who put axe and chainsaw to trunk will have no more trees to cut, and the shift to mechanized falling will be nearly complete. When that happens, Vancouver Island’s old-growth legacy will have been permanently cut away, and with it, any potential for communities like Port Renfrew to build new economies out of groves left intact and trees left vertical."
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