The Fight for B.C.'s Central Walbran Valley

The early 1990s was a pivotal time for the forest industry and for forest activism in British Columbia. Massive demonstrations and acts of civil disobedience resulted in hundreds of arrests in Clayoquot Sound in response to large-scale clear-cutting on the west coast of B.C. and Vancouver Island. International protests and market campaigns forced the government to strengthen forestry regulations and establish new parks and protected areas.

One of the most famous stand-offs occurred at a bridge crossing into the Central Walbran Valley, one of the most spectacular ancient temperate rainforests left on Vancouver Island, in Pacheedhat First Nation territory, an hour north of Port Renfrew on bumpy logging roads.

Activists launched blockades, tree-sits, hunger strikes and international demonstrations that forced the B.C. government to create the Carmanah-Walbran Provincial Park, which protected over 16,000 hectares in the Carmanah and Walbran Valleys. (This conflict was the subject of one of Velcrow Ripper’s early documentaries called “The Road Stops Here.”)

However, for whatever reason, the heart of the watershed — where several streams converge and the biggest and best trees grow — was left out of the park. This relatively small area (only 486 hectares, a little bigger than Vancouver’s Stanley Park) came to be known as “the bite” because if you look at the area on a map, it looks like someone took a bite out of the park.

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