History of Sechelt Heritage Forest

It all began in 1986 when the District of Sechelt expanded its official boundaries.  Sandy Hook, Tuwanek and the area in between were included as well as second growth forested land with important old growth areas containing some trees 500 to 1000 years old.

No one was sure which entity had jurisdiction over this land. Was it to be administrated by the District of Sechelt (DoS) or the Ministry of Forests (MoF) or the Sechelt Indian Band (SIB)?  Maybe all three.  The Official Community Plan (OCP) for the DoS in 1993 dubbed the area " Endowment Lands" with a suggestion that the land be protected from residential or industrial development for the time being.  It was hoped that in the future it would be integrated with various wildlife corridors also mentioned in the OCP, perhaps preserved for biodiversity and recreation.

Also in 1993 the DoS adopted the proposal from Sandy Hook Community Association [SHCA] to set aside 55 acres of land within the "Sechelt Endowment Lands" which were renamed the Sechelt Heritage Forest (SHF) This area had been a popular walking area since the 1960’s when surrounding lots were developed for housing. It was not suitable for logging because of the rocky and steep terrain as well as rampant disease among the hemlock trees.The next year International Forest Products (Interfor) proposed logging there but the permit was denied.

With the Sandy Hook Community Association fully committed, along with the relentless efforts of local activists and the support of the District of Sechelt, the MoF was finally persuaded to protect this bit of Crown Forest.

With a year (1992) of warm up,  the years (1993/94) of negotiations and another 4  years (to 1998) waiting for official documentation, the struggle took 7 years.

History of the Hidden Groves

In 2000 a local resident noticed tapes up for logging in what is now the Hidden Grove and the movement to save this local gem began. 

A Hidden Grove Park Steering Committee ( a committee of the Sandy Hook Community Association) was directed by the District of Sechelt to prepare a development concept plan for that area of District Lot 3006 known as Hidden Grove or Interfor Block 350. On November 6, 2002 the original work of the committee seemed basically completed with a presentation to the District of Sechelt council.

Nevertheless from 2002 and until 2008 the Committee worked to thwart logging interests in the area as they wanted to clear cut the Hidden Grove. When the Sunshine Coast Community Forest was formed and at their first AGM, the SCCF promised no logging for 2 years, later this was extended to 5 and then to as long as they had tenure from the Province. Then and only then was real work allowed to go ahead with the work parties putting in approved trails and starting other projects.  In 2011 the SCCF tenure was extended to 25 years so the Committee could relax.

In 2011 the overall commitment became a bit much for the Sandy Hook Community Association that had other obligations too. Also it was seen as advantageous to not only have a dedicated Society but one that could apply for Charitable status with the ability to issue tax receipts. March 8, 2011 the Sechelt Groves Society was formed using some seed money from the SHCA and including some SHCA board members on the new Society board.

Throughout 2011 and into the 2012 Society carried on with trail building and maintenance but also saw to the installation of the parking lot. It launched major dedicated fund raising for Phase 1 of a Accessibility Trail into the Ancient Grove. As funds came in work started in the August of 2011. The "Take It Easy - AYAT-TSUT" trail was officially opened on May 12, 2012.

During the same period the entrance kiosk was donated and the Trailbuilders completed it’s installation on September 19, 2012  

On July 12, 2012 work was started on the second Accessibility trail - Monty's Way - with the official opening on April 7, 2013.

By the spring of 2013 the Society had raised over $60,000 in funds and in kind donations as well as obtaining special support from the District of Sechelt and the Sunshine Coast Community Forest. The volunteer  Trailbuilders had put in literally thousands of hours of hard labour to get everything done. 

Since then the Society has taken on numerous smaller projects such as permanent trail intersection maps and interpretive signage on Monty’s Way . Plans for the near future include a second expansion of the parking lot and extensive landscaping with native plants.