Fire and Regeneration: A Second-Growth Forest
Around 1880 the low ridge between Mud Bay and Semiahmoo Bay was covered by mature woodland or old-growth forest. The Forest comprised mostly centuries-old hemlock, Western red cedar, and some Douglas-fir, with alder in low-lying wet draws. There would have been an irregular understorey of shrubs, ferns and ground vegetation with an abundance of birds and animals. Recently introduced species, like Himalayan blackberry, English holly and ivy, would have been absent from the Forest. Crossing the north-east corner of the Forest was the Semiahmoo Trail, which early settlers had used for transportation. Some decades ago, it was designated as an Heritage trail.
Towards the end of the 19th century and in the ealy 1900s the area was logged. A hundred years later residual cedar stumps are still visible with their characteristic notches into which the fallers inserted their springboards. Natural regeneration of alder and Douglas-fir must have followed logging. In the 1920’s fires burned through the area so that charred wood is widespread and many of the stumps are blackened. Some Douglas-fir survived the fire, thanks to their thick bark which serves as an insulator.
As the young forest grew back, there were no organized activities in the area, although locals probably hunted there and some are said to have drawn water from wells in the north-eastern portion. It is reliably reported that cougars were present as late as the 1940’s.