afternoon Ladies and Gentlemen:
are standing beside the first forest in British Columbia to have
been raised from the ashes almost entirely by the hand of man.
This new Sayward Forest was planted, nurtured, and is growing
to maturity as a result of human effort.
at these stands of healthy, vigorous trees today, it is difficult
to imagine the scene of total devastation left after fire consumed
more than 30,000 hectares [75,000 acres] of this forest fifty
first had been a major contributor to the local economy for many
years before the fire. Logging had started in 1889 with ox teams
skidding logs out to Elk Bay. The ox teams eventually gave way
to railway logging which was in turn replaced by truck logging
in 1954. The gentle landscape in the Sayward area, along with
stands of prime timber, favoured relatively easy logging but also
created ideal conditions for the rapid spread of rest fires. Logging
practices of the time, which allowed slash to be left on the ground,
provided abundant fuel. Chances of a fire staring in dry weather
were always high near logging operations because of sparks from
steam engines and other equipment.
it was on July 5, 1938 when sparks from a yarding engine operating
just north of Campbell River started a fire in some felled trees.
The fire spread rapidly and within a short time it was apparent
that a major conflagration was under way. One newspaper account
of the time described it as a series of small infernos where old
snags burnt like candle on the devil's birthday cake. Unemployed
men from as far away as Vancouver were hired as firefighters at
25 cents an hour.
Canadian navy destroyers, the Fraser and the St. Laurent , were
ordered to stand by in Duncan bay in case it became necessary
to evacuate people from the area. It took 1,500 men one month
to control the fire, which was finally put out by rain. Fortunately,
no lives were lost, but timber and property loss amounted to more
than $780,000. Today's financial equivalent of the loss would
be in the tens of millions of dollars.
course, with our vastly improved fire fighting techniques today,
a fire like that would never to allowed to get away. Out fleet
of air tankers, highly trained initial attack crews and rapid
deployment ability would allow us to keep an outbreak from spreading
anywhere near the scale of the 1938 fire. But it is not the fire
itself we are celebrating today.
are celebrating a triumph of reforestation. We are celebrating
our proven ability to restore a forest so devastated that people
once thought it would never recover.
to the time of the Sayward fire, reforestation in British Columbia
and everywhere else in North America was accomplished mainly through
natural regeneration. However, it was realized that without a
massive artificial reforestation program, the Sayward would never
again be a productive forest. The idea of planting seedlings over
an area almost as big as Quadra Island was overwhelming in 1938.
in 1939 work started on what was then the largest planting project
in B.C. In one month, 763,550 seedlings were planted in an area
of more than 400 hectares. Not only did this first planting effort
mark the start of the reforestation of the Sayward Forest, it
also launched British Columbia 's reforestation program. Today
that program includes planting 200 million seedlings in the province
annually, as well as numerous other silviculture activities. Work
on restoration of the Sayward continued to gain momentum as the
the Second World War groups of Conscientious Objectors – those
who refused to join the armed forces on principle or religious
grounds – worked as planting crews. They achieved an all-time
high of 3,380 hectares planted in 1943. By the late 1950s it was
clear that restoration of the Sayward would eventually be successful.
By 1954 the entire backlog of unstocked areas had been eliminated.
the years since 1939 more than 60.5 million seedlings – most bare-root
Douglas Fir – had been planted. However, in the 1970s it appeared
that growth was almost too successful. Every season the trees
grew slower, produced fewer needles and few branches. The problem
was overpopulation – too many trees competing for nutrients, water
and sunlight. The solution was a multi-million dollar juvenile
spacing and fertilization program, the first operation programs
of their type in British Columbia. The result was that the trees
grew bigger at a faster rate.
the last few years the trees of Sayward have reached the size
where commercial thinning has been undertaken to allow more growing
space. Trees harvested in thinning are being utilized by sawmills
through the ministry's Small Forest Enterprise Program.
again, the Sayward Forest is producing lumber. In a few more years,
it will become a source of prime timber for our vital forest products
industry. Future harvesting will be followed up by silviculture
treatments in order to ensure another new Sayward Forest.
Sayward Forest today stands as a living showcase for the benefits
of silviculture. It also stands as a monument to the hard work
and dedication of many individuals without whose efforts none
of this would have been possible.
forest not only holds the promise of economic benefits and community
support, but it also offers recreation opportunities to thousands.
Lakes and waterways within the Sayward are well stocked with trout
for the enjoyment of the anglers. The forest provides a habitat
for blacktail deer, Roosevelt elk, black bear, upland game birds,
waterfowl and many smaller creatures. For those who simply like
the idea of being outdoors, the Sayward offers an invitation for
untrammeled enjoyment of nature.
Sayward Forest is a source of pride for British Columbians everywhere.
I am happy to share that pride with you. Thank you. [ASP,