The Roberts Creek Headwaters Ancient Forest
On July 11 2013, Ross Muirhead, Bill Legg and Hans Penner of Elphinstone Logging Focus, an environmental group based in Roberts Creek on the Sunshine Coast, took Helen and I up to up to a small patch of forest presently included in a BC Timber Sales Block (BCTS) Cutblock DK045. They had identified this area with concern for it’s preservation because of a number of factors, not the least of which is an unusual density of Pacific Western Yew (Taxus brevifolia) which are growing in close association with Old Growth Yellow Cedar, (Cupressus nootkatensis)
Be sure to click on the images below to be able to appreciate the full impact of them.
Ross Muirhead writes: “We call the forest ‘The Roberts Creek Headwaters Ancient Forest”. This Yellow-Cedar forest contains up to 350 Pacific Yew trees. We had a group of 5 volunteers conduct a tree survey of the Yews today, flagging and numbering each Yew. The area is a small BC Timber Sales block of about 3 football fields in size. I’ve spoken to the Forest Planner in charge and he has sent a message to an Ecologist within the Ministry of Environment to see if they think this forest warrants becoming an Ecological Reserve. “
Over a rough logging road with several waterboard trenches, a few miles above Robert’s Creek on the flank of Elphinstone Mountain, we navigated to the start of the trail into the forest. Immediately they pointed out that the sign they had erected at the trail-head had been destroyed since they were last there.
On entering the forest, the immediate impression was of a shaded spongy moss covered area. The predominant trees rising from the forest floor were giant Old-growth Yellow Cedars. What makes the area unique was that around the base of most of the cedars, a fringe of two to four Pacific Western Yews rose up as if from a cup at the base of the cedars. In the photo Hans touches two yews from the base of one of the cedars.
Early on the trail, the special atmosphere of the woods was noticeable by the wild flowers. A patch of Columbia Lilies, Lilium columbianum emerged close to the path.
Other orchid species were also abundant:
Many Queen’s Cup were scattered with other plants on the forest floor.
Several one to two metre shrubs grew scattered throughout the area with the high bush blueberry being predominant.
PLANTS OF THE WET STREAM SIDE AREA:
FUNGUS , SLIME MOLDS AND LICHENS:
Fungus were represented by several species:
FERNS AND CLUB MOSSES:
On the trail back to the roadway, I paused briefly to take a few samples of mosses and liverworts from a two square meter the area around the stream bed. I brought these samples back to Metchosin where Kem Luther identified them as the following:
Rhizomnium glabrescens: Fan moss, the one with the large leaves .
Kindbergia oregana: Oregon beaked moss with feather-like fronds.
Dicranum fuscescens: Broom moss, a frond mixed in with the Kindbergia
Dichodontium pellucidum : Wet rock moss, a small moss with straight, dark green stems/leaves.
Plagiochila porelloides: Cedar-shake liverwort, a large liverwort.
Cephalozia sp. The two-horned pincerwort: A small liverwort mixed in with the sphagnum.
Sphagnum spp. Sphagnum moss (possibly pacificum) Covers much of the area near the stream bed