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History of a Douglas Fir Forest

The South Chilcotin Mountains and this Douglas fir forest in particular are teeming with history. This brings a unique story to every piece of wood

Woodlot 366 is the epitome of a healthy forest. Made up of a huge variety of tree, shrub and grass species, Woodlot 366 is spread out over 600 hectares. It is south slope hilly terrain on the south side of Eldorado Mountain. This is a red sandy mountain in the South Chilcotin Mountains of British Columbia.

History of a Douglas fir forest

Douglas fir forest

This area is predominantly a dry belt Douglas fir forest of uneven age, ranging from seedling to over 600 years old trees. But the area has supporting trees including Ponderosa pine, spruce, lodge pole pine, aspen and birch. This area is a migration corridor for wildlife, including grizzly and black bears, mule deer and moose.

Forest fires every 100 years generate healthy succession cycles. These keep the underbrush down and open up the forest for better growth and wildlife habitat.

Miners, Douglas fir forests and bush mills

Since the 1850s, miners have harvested the area. Then pioneers arrived looking for wood to use in building as the area developed. They set up bush mills on the edge of a good forested area and the logs were skidded in by horses. Having close skids and a slight decline towards the landing were advantageous to the operation.

Around 1960, logging trucks began hauling logs long distances to larger mills in larger towns. These large mills secured large timber rights areas, out-competing the bush mills that faded away.

Woodlot licences were then created for 400 – 600 hectare areas. This resurrected some of the small scale forestry operations around 1990. But bush mills were not allowed on woodlots or on the private land that adjoined the woodlots. This meant bush mill operation was still largely restricted.

20 years passed before woodlot owners received an exemption allowing the private property part of the woodlot to be separated from the public land portion. Now a woodlot owner could set up a small bush mill on private land again.

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