Letter: Development threatening Aldergrove forest

Dear Editor,

A portion of the proposed development of the forested land off of 28th Avenue in Aldergrove is designated educational recreational land in the Aldergrove Community Plan.

It is also identified as a landscape containing a number of significant features and processes of environmental significance.

Langley Township 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.

They say there will be a path and the area will be 40 per cent treed. But many trees will be removed and replaced with much smaller ones.

The forest contains a complete eco-system, as it has a swamp, a tributary, a pond, and a river. To take out a portion from the centre to have a subdivision surrounded by trees, does not make a forest.

A Watchers of Langley Forests (WOLF) group took a tour of the forest with David Jordan, an assistant professor of geography and environmental studies at Trinity Western University and an expert in dendrochronology (science of aging trees).

The forest is threatened by development pressure.

There are excellent examples of mature bigleaf maple, red alder, Douglas fir, western hemlock, and western red cedar.

Professor Jordan estimated that one Douglas fir was approximately 130 years old. A red cedar was about 90, and one red alder was 73 years old.

The Triton report 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 that 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 – a resource that offers first-hand experience to children and meets the prescribed learning outcome of many grades, but most notably the Grade 4 curriculum of habitat and conservation.

The forest is home to owls and herons, deer and squirrels, the rough-skinned newt, the Salish sucker, and the Nooksack dace.

For high school students, it 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. They are cutting back invasive species of blackberry and planting native species of trees to hold and restore the bank naturally, and adding a foot path for Aldergrove to enjoy.

The Township has proposed 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.

The Township is also suggesting modifying its strict setbacks for tributaries by 10 metres.

The development addresses environmental concerns by proposing the bare minimum required by law.

Does the Township really have Aldergrove’s best interests at heart?

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 save the forest in its entirety.

Angela Wonitowy and Jessica Horst, Aldergrove

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