Douglas Firs – Killers in the Making Near You

December 22, 2018

I was going to wait until after Christmas to write this, but, just got tired of telling a shortened version of it to others.

Over the past while I’ve been telling people on the island that most of them have never taken a good look into the future when it comes to our local “natural” world.

We are surrounded by these things called trees. Believe it or not, trees grow over time. They start small but can get very big and tall. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.

The tree du jour is the Douglas fir (“DF”). A DF can grow up to about 250 feet. For people who like storeys, that’s 25 storeys high.

The vast majority of DF’s on the island are about 60 – 80 years old. Why so young you ask? Well, the last major logging (other than the Texada cuts) were…wait for it…about 60 – 80 years ago.

At that time tree replanting was virtually unheard of. DF’s and other species repopulated as they felt like it, where they felt like it.

Now, if after the last great logging events, nature had been left to its own devises, we would have had a forest fire by now, primarily because lightning causes about 60% of forest fires in B.C..

The forest fire(s) that never happened (or were artificially suppressed) would have taken out the smaller DF’s along with high oil content trees like cedars. Up in a large puff of CO2 filled smoke.

The DF’s that would have survived (due to their bark, not their height) would continue on in their upward direction.

Those DF’s which grew in wet areas, where…wait for it again…water was plentiful, didn’t need to sink their roots in deep. That was not a good plan for survival on the West Coast, as we have just witnessed, because, as well as fires, trees have to withstand winds.

As trees grow taller, physics begin to work against those with shallow roots. Their canopy gets larger by the year, just like unfurling a larger and larger sail. When the mast (trunk) or rigging (roots) can’t take the wind we find just how puny BC Hydro powerlines and poles (and the odd automobile) are in comparison.

The point of this story is simple. People in wooden houses shouldn’t grow large trees around them. Large trees are for parks. Large trees block ocean views and sunlight, crush cars, demolish houses, kill people and occasionally pets. If large trees were people, they would be arrested for constantly threatening bodily harm and damage to property.

Yes, on a calm day they are pretty to look at. They can also heat your home cheaper than electricity, and, provide better coverage for your fingers than a leaf for your daily constitutional.

But, the idiotic idea of protecting Douglas Firs on Salt Spring, other than in a park is….oh…I guess I already said what it is.

The next thing you know, people will want to ban woodstoves…oh wait, they’ve already begun that protest too. Yes, by all means, lets ban the only logical, readily available, renewable, alternative fuel to electricity, that has been used since the dawn of humankind (as JT would say), to keep us warm in the winter, when the electricity is out, by freeing up stored solar energy.

We are all lucky not to be in sub-freezing weather at the moment. So, the next time you throw another log on the fire, don’t forget, that while Nature, in the form of wood, can keep us housed, wiped and warm, unless you cut down trees around your house there is a chance they will eventually have an unconscious, and unintended, tendency to crush you in the winter or burn you to death in the summer.

So, let’s all give a shout out for BC Hydro crews, Neighbourhood Forest Management Plans and the implementation of Fire Smart practices for all…and of course, lets hear if for the very recent plummeting of cord wood pricing…$250 a cord of DF ought to be about right…and it appears we have a few years of soon to be seasoned material on the ground, with more on the way as the trees which survived…wait for it…keep growing, testing the limits of Nature.

By all means (Twitter, Instagram, etc.) share this if you like. A little common sense used to go a long ways…lets see if that is still true.

Merry Christmas everyone!


PS – Don’t believe me? –

200′ Douglas Fir Kills Two

Douglas Fir Kills Lady

PPS – Rotten Maples are as dangerous.







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