Further to the issue of the development of the forested land off of 28th Avenue in Aldergrove, we the towns people must try to save “The Forest.”
In the Aldergrove community plan a portion of the proposed development is designated educational-recreational land. It is also identified as a landscape containing a number of significant features and processes of environmental significance.
The Township of Langley is asking to amend the community plan by eliminating the education-recreational zone and then developing into that forested area, essentially cutting out its core. Although they say there will be a path and the area will be 40 per cent treed, this does not negate the fact that many trees will be removed and replaced with much smaller specimens. “The Forest” contains a complete eco-system as it has the swamp, the tributary, the pond and a river. To take out a portion from the centre to have a subdivision surrounded by trees does not make a forest.
Last weekend a group of WOLF (Watchers of Langley Forests) took a tour of the forest along with David Jordan, Assistant Professor of Geography and Environmental Studies at Trinity Western University and an expert in dendrochronology (science of aging trees). "The Forest" is mixed forest, including riparian, and is of a type that is threatened due to limited geographical occurrence and current development pressure. At the site are a number of excellent examples of mature bigleaf maple, red alder, Douglas fir, western hemlock, and western red cedar. Professor Jordan took the time to analyze three specimens, and he estimated that one Douglas fir was approximately 130 years old, one western red cedar was approximately 90 years old and one red alder was approximately 73 years old. Just three trees, compared to the report by Triton which indicated that the most mature trees were between 40 and 50 years old and considered “low value trees.”
A forest within Aldergrove, a natural space within walking distance that is not a sports field - think of what a resource this is for our children. Currently there are two teacher-led environmental clubs totaling over 120 children from Aldergrove; one at Parkside Elementary and one at Shortreed Elementary. Both schools are within walking distance of “The Forest”. This is a resource which offers first hand experience to children and meets the prescribed learning outcome of many grades but most notably the grade four curriculum of habitat and conservation. It is home to birds including owls and herons, wildlife including deer and squirrels, the rough skinned newt, Salish sucker and the Nooksack dace. For high school students this also opens up opportunities in biology, geography and art.
Currently efforts are being made by LEPS and BCES to enhance and restore Bertrand Creek as both an environmental feature and a recreational corridor. Both are working hard to maintain Bertrand Creek, cutting back the invasive species of blackberry and planting other native species of trees to hold and restore the bank naturally along with a foot path for Aldergrove to enjoy. What the Township has proposed is three metre wide asphalt walkways along Bertrand Creek, certainly not natural, and to get from one side of the forest to another, it cuts through a cul de sac of 20 houses. In addition, the Township has strict setbacks for tributaries and are suggesting to modify these by 10 metres.
This proposed development addresses environmental concerns by proposing the bare minimum required by law. We feel compelled to ask: Does the township really have Aldergrove’s best interests at heart? Will council honour the community plan and will council recognize that Aldergrove has a natural forest, a jewel in amongst our urban landscape?
Keep "The Forest" for Aldergrove – develop the property north of the tributary and leave the forested area alone. And while we’re at it, let’s keep the pond too. We need to be heard – speak up! - contact the Township and voice your opinion. We need to save the forest in its entirety.
Angela Wonitowy and Jessica Horst, Aldergrove