A large area of old-growth forest east of Mission has now been included in the OGMA.

A large area of old-growth forest east of Mission has now been included in the OGMA.

Eagle habitat included in Old-Growth Management Area

An area covering 55 hectares east of Mission around Echo Lake now falls into a protected area

Fifty-five hectares of Crown land east of Mission was recently included in the province’s Old-Growth Management Area (OGMA), which heartened the Ancient Forest Alliance (AFA), a organization that had been pressuring government to keep the eagle habitat untouched.

“We’re pleased about the designation of the south side of the Echo Lake as an Old-Growth Management Area that prohibits logging. However, most of the north and some of the west side of Echo Lake, with enormous old-growth cedars and Douglas firs that are as rare as Sasquatch these days, remain unprotected and must be included in the OGMA,” stated Ken Wu, AFA campaign director in a press release.

Echo Lake is the largest night-roosting site for bald eagles on Earth, says the organization, where as many as 700 roost in the trees around the lake at night during the fall salmon runs. Along the nearby Chehalis and Harrison Rivers, as many as 10,000 bald eagles come to eat the spawning salmon on some years, making the area home to the largest bald eagle/ raptor concentration on the planet.

The B.C. government also announced that they are looking at the possibility of establishing a Wildlife Management Area in the Chehalis-Harrison Rivers region for the eagles, which the AFA supports.

“The B.C. government needs to work with the local Woodlot Licensee, First Nations, the adjacent private land owners like myself, and conservationists to ensure the area’s legal protection. This could entail shifting the Woodlot Licence boundaries into a second-growth forest with an equivalent timber value and then expanding the OGMA to encompass all of the forests around Echo Lake,” stated Stephen Ben-Oliel, a private landowner on the eastern shore of Echo Lake.

The AFA is also calling for a larger provincial plan to protect the remaining endangered old-growth forests across B.C. while ensuring sustainable second-growth forestry jobs.