The Red Creek fir is the largest Douglas fir in the world at 74 m (242 feet) tall with a diameter of 4.2 meters (13.8 feet) and it grows in a massive tree plantation of juvenile trees near Port Renfrew on the southeast coast of Vancouver Island. These trees grow extremely thick bark, allowing mature trees to survive wildfires when other species are destroyed, the surviving giants are then left growing in open spaces where their cones can spread and seedlings are able to dominate the area with ample sunlight.
These trees require dry well drained soil and are found primarily on the south-east coast of Vancouver Island where the rainfall is far less than on the Pacific coast and the climate is considered ‘Mediterranean.’ Isolated trees are found across the entire island typically growing in dryer south-facing slopes.
The wood was crafted into many tools, pitchy heartwood made excellent torches, and pitch was used for sealing canoes and water vessels, as well as medicinal salve for wounds and skin irritations. Wood, bark, and boughs were used as fuel for pit cooking. Douglas-fir boughs were frequently used as floor covering in long-houses and lodges.
Initially the most sought-after tree in British Columbia for its strong straight wood that was presumed to be an unlimited resource. Today this tree is grown in expansive monoculture tree farms on 40-year harvest rotations for export. In 2018 less than 0.5% of old-growth Coastal Douglas fir remains on Vancouver Island where they are still targeted by logging.