Henschel painting of the river

Tsitika River tranquility

The Tsitika River has been a study in controversy.

The Tsitika River has been a study in controversy.

As in all river valleys, the huge stands of timber in the valley bottoms have been highly prized by a number of logging companies because they are the most accessible and often grow to monstrous proportions in the rich soil near the rivers.

In the case of the Tsitika, the upper reaches of the river in Canadian forest products territory, were closest to existing logging roads, which were then extended down the valley as logging went forward.

Logging in the lower reaches was delayed until access roads could be completed.

Normally, logging would have continued as planned for the timber harvesters except for the fact the Tsitika emptied into Robson Bight, which over the preceding few years had been discovered to be a place of importance to the resident orca population of the Johnstone Strait.

The relationship between humans and orcas had changed very quickly due to new research by the end of the seventies and has continued to the present day as public awareness keeps growing and growing.

However, in the mid- seventies, MacBlo had plans not only to log the lower reaches of the river, but also to build a log-sort and booming ground in the estuary!

These were also the times when the environmental movement, strong and growing, was able to bring about the creation of an ecological reserve in both the lower Tsitika Valley and Robson Bight.

This painting was done about a kilometre up-river from the mouth of the Tsitika.

There are restrictions to traveling in this reserve, but I was able to accompany a fisheries officer who was checking the pools along this stretch of river.

What a pleasure it was to hike up this pristine valley and try to capture the feeling of true wilderness of a river that had more than just a thin buffer of trees on each side of it.

The surrounding forest had a carpet of moss a foot deep which was moist even in the heat of August when I did this painting.

The tranquil pools and the salmon in the bight were eagerly waiting for the fall rains to bring a renewal of energy and life to this lush valley.

 

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