Rare snail found on Willoughby development site

The Township could preserve a place for the snails by expanding a planned “pocket park” in the development into a “natural park.”

The Oregon Forestsnail has been discovered on a development site in Willoughby. It is considered an endangered species.

The Oregon Forestsnail has been discovered on a development site in Willoughby. It is considered an endangered species.

An endangered snail lives on the site of a proposed Langley residential development, Township council was told Monday.

The claim about the proposed 40-unit project near 211 Street and 77A Avenue in Yorkson was made by Celeste Paley, an arborist who said she discovered the Oregon Forestsnails while visiting a friend in the area.

Speaking at a Township council public hearing on the proposed development on Monday night, Paley said since she first began to track the snails in the Yorkson area in 2004, “the populations were very much thriving,” but the numbers have declined substantially due to housing construction.

Paley said council should delay approval of the development until a species-at-risk assessment can be carried out.

The Township could preserve a place for the snails by expanding a planned “pocket park” in the development into a “natural park” for the remaining Forestsnail population, Paley suggested.

At the same public hearing, a representative of the company planning to build the housing project said no survey of possibly endangered species was carried out on the site because none was required by the Township.

The proposal by Yorkson Alliance Development Ltd. would build 20 single family lots, nine row houses and 11 townhouses.

The Forestsnail is considered an endangered species in Canada, where the Canadian Species at Risk Act includes it on a list of creatures in danger of becoming extinct.

A federal government website entry notes the Forestsnail is found in the western part of Oregon and Washington states, and the extreme southwestern area of British Columbia, mostly in the “Mission/Abbotsford/Chilliwack area” with some sightings in the Langley area.

A Trinity Western University study has been tracking 18 of the mollusks  in the University’s Ecosystem Study Area for the last three years.

Zoologist Hugh Griffith has written an interesting account of finding Forestsnails in Langley on E-Fauna B.C., an electronic atlas about B.C,. wildlife. It can be found at http://ibis.geog.ubc.ca/biodiversity/efauna/NatureNotesOregonForestsnail.html.

A link to the federal government’s species at risk entry on the Oregon Forestsnail can be found at: http://www.sararegistry.gc.ca/species/speciesDetails_e.cfm?sid=745.