The Spirit of Anutz carving on a culturally modified cedar was cut down and stolen in August from Anutz Lake. (Michael Henwood photo)

Carved culturally modified tree stolen from Lake Anutz

The Spirit of Anutz was felled sometime in late August

A unique carving in the Nimpkish Valley has been cut down, to the dismay of regular visitors. The Spirit of Anutz, at Anutz Lake, was a face carved into a western red cedar. Sometime at the end of August the tree was cut down and the section of trunk with the carving was removed from the area.

It was a culturally modified tree — the space the face had been carved into was bare from cedar bark stripping, something the local First Nations have done for thousands of years. The bark would be woven into baskets, clothing, mats or regalia. A tree can only be harvested for its bark once; more than that and the tree would die.

Culturally modified trees are protected against harvesting, and as First Nations engage in legal proceedings regarding their traditional territories, culturally modified trees can be used as evidence of occupation.

Michael Henwood, a Port McNeill logger and karat caving enthusiast who visits the area often observed that whoever cut the cedar down was not an experienced tree faller. The aftermath looked irregular and dangerous, the grapple yarder operator said, noting in a comment on his Facebook page that the person who did this nearly killed themselves in the process. His posts about the vandalism have been shared thousands of times with several hundred comments expressing disgust, sadness, confusion and anger at the incident.

“You need to read all the peoples’ comments directed to you; and I hope your family is proud of you. All we can say is; Shame on you….. Reveal Yourself…..,” Henwood wrote in a post.

Anutz Lake is like the dot under the exclamation point of Nimpkish Lake, just west of Highway 19 between Port McNeill and Woss. The area is popular for hiking and water sports.

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What was left behind shows the work of an inexperienced tree faller (Michael Henwood photo)

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