Photo Gallery: Rural tree-planting camps of the 1970s


Nahanni Arntzen was born in a teepee, located on a sandbar 11 miles up the Kingcome River on the west coast of British Columbia. Delivered into the hands of her father, Daniel James, she wasn’t aware that her formative years were going to be unique. But her parents were hippies, living the rustic life in tree-planting camps between 1977 and 1987.

After she grew up, a search for own roots—her earliest childhood photographs—led Nahanni headlong into a family legacy that she’s now sharing with the world via a Kickstarter project titled “Nahanni Reforestation.”

Tree planting got its start in the 1960s after large-scale logging practices in British Columbia were leaving vast swaths of sterile earth in their wake. The forests were unable to regenerate on their own, so logger wives were relegated to the duty of replanting seedlings in forest areas that would otherwise remain barren. But their efforts weren’t enough.

Soon, forestry companies began realizing the value of timberland and began offering contracts to young hippies—who happily set up small communal campsites in the most rural of settings, bringing with them only their most essential supplies.

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“Nahanni Reforestation” is a collection of never-before-seen photographs that documents the reforestation efforts of Daniel James, his family, and crew. The images are soulful, salty, and as feel-good as they come. Taken over a decade, they showcase a bygone era, and capture with ease the author’s visceral memories: “My time spent in camps were warm, fuzzy memories of dogs, riding in the back of trucks, sleeping in tree boxes, stealing mouthfuls of icing while the cooks weren’t looking, late night fires, and early morning rain,” Nahanni recalls.

Here, Nahanni shares with GrindTV some favorite snapshots that will be featured in her book—we have no doubt they will resonate with generations young and old. Support the creation of this project through the “Nahani Reforestation” Kickstarter page, and follow her at @nahannireforestation, where she posts new images daily.

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