Just when it seemed the mystery of the massive spruce photographed on a truck this week on Vancouver Island had been solved, Western Forest Products released a statement contradicting the B.C. government’s assertion it had initially transported the tree.
“Western has completed a review of the specific circumstances of the big tree pictured and shared on social media,” spokesperson Babita Khunkhun said in an emailed statement.
“The tree was not harvested from Western-managed tenures,” it said. “The tree was not harvested by Western.... Western did not transport the tree.”
The Forests Ministry had said that the tree came from northern Vancouver Island and that Western Forest Products had transported it last August, a month before regulations intended to protect very large trees came into effect.
A spokesperson for the ministry was unavailable Friday evening.
“We are providing a detailed report of our findings to the ministry to assist with their investigation,” Khunkhun said. “Western remains deeply committed to protecting big trees and has a comprehensive policy and operational procedures in place to actively identify and protect big trees on our tenures.”
There are five Tree Farm Licences with various licence holders covering parts of the public land on northern Vancouver Island. The tree could also have come from private land.
The log came to public attention this week after Nanaimo resident Lorna Beecroft photographed it Monday on a truck trailer and posted it on Facebook.
Beecroft’s post was widely shared, and many people weighed in on it on social media, some condemning the provincial NDP government and connecting their criticism to the ongoing dispute over old-growth logging in the Fairy Creek area near Port Renfrew on Vancouver Island.
As of Wednesday, RCMP officers had arrested at least 127 people while enforcing an injunction against blocking logging and road building in TFL 46 where Teal-Jones Group is the licence holder.
The log went to Acoustic Woods Ltd. in Port Alberni, a family-owned sawmill that makes guitar soundboards and other instrument parts for makers around the world.
Ed Dicks of Acoustic Woods told Chek News the log will be used to make about 3,000 guitar soundboards. The company sells more than 400,000 soundboards — the top of the guitar body — a year.
“We don’t even like those logs,” Dicks said. “They’re too big for us to handle. But when we buy the logs, we don’t necessarily get to see and choose what we’re buying.”