125-year-old Douglas Fir was cut down in Aldergrove. (Carleigh Johnston/Special to the Star)

125-year-old Douglas Fir was cut down in Aldergrove. (Carleigh Johnston/Special to the Star)

Aldergrove resident calls for protection of Sawmill Trail ecosystem

Starting May 6, residents can complete a survey on why trees and woodlands are important to them

Liz Pahlke, a concerned Aldergrove resident, remains unsettled by the removal of a longstanding tree near Parkside Centennial and is asking that more be done to protect the nature of the surrounding area.

She called the clear-cut behind Parkside School is a wasteland, silent and devoid of life.

A 125-year-old Douglas fir tree was cut down on Feb. 5, prompting a strong reaction from residents who felt it should have been protected.

“Our community lost an ecosystem with the razing of this land. It pains me to think of the demise of all the flora and fauna that had homes in this little urban forest,” Pahlke said. “The manicured, sterile lawns, the few selected tree species, and ubiquitous concrete will not foster the diverse species that resided in what was.”

But Pahlke said another ecosystem nearby is now under threat.

Sawmill Trail borders wetlands at 268th Street, home to many species, including ducks, geese, hawks, and amphibians, to name a few.

“The wetlands next to Sawmill Trail drain into the ALR lands abutting 268th Street and subsequently into Bertrand Creek,” Pahlke explained. “It is a natural area that requires preservation.”

She went on to point out that Sawmill Trail has a fringe of trees, both conifers and deciduous, which keep the wetland waters cool and are home to birds and insects.

READ MORE: Aldergrove residents voice their concerns on removal of long-standing trees

The land alongside Alder Drive, according to Pahlke, is slated for development.

“If we callously destroy the homes of flora and fauna that are dependent on wild areas without empathy for those lives lost, we are helping to orchestrate our demise,” she said. “All life is interconnected, and biodiversity is necessary for our survival.”

In 2019, Township Council identified tree canopy protection as one of the strategic priorities.

Since then, a Tree Protection Bylaw was adopted in July 2019 and a Tree Protection Advisory Committee has been struck in 2020 to review the bylaw and guide the preparation of the Community Forest Management Strategy.

The committee, co-chaired by Councillors Blair Whitmarsh and Petrina Arnason, assists Township staff in a conversational, “round-table” format to offer feedback, review materials, and report back to the community.

The strategy is providing an opportunity for Township residents to help establish a shared vision and priorities for protecting and enhancing our community forest over the coming decades.

“Our trees help make the Township of Langley a great place to be,” said Township of Langley Mayor Jack Froese. “The Community Forest Management Strategy is part of our continuing effort to strengthen our forests and leave an impactful legacy for generations to come.”

Starting May 6, residents will be able to complete an online survey on why trees and woodlands are important to them.

In addition, the community engagement process will provide opportunities to highlight and comment on important areas of forest in their communities.

To learn more about the Community Forest Management Strategy process, visit tol.ca/cfms.

“I want to see the proposed strategies strictly adhered to regarding this proposed development in the Sawmill Trail area,” Pahlke noted. “The trail’s preservation will also address the action of greenspace proximity to residential homes and the action of streamside protection.”

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