As part of a summer writing program hosted by Joan Gibson of Langley, three students were invited to study and report on the riparian and flood plain of Hi-Knoll Park located on the south Langley-Surrey boundary with the aim of each writing a letter to the editor.
That group includes Mikala McLoughlin, a Grade 10 student from White Rock; Angelica Kao, a Grade 10 student from Surrey Christian School; and Alston Chen, a Grade 12 student from Walnut Grove Secondary School.
Langley residents who use the Hi-Knoll Park trails north of the Nicomekl River will notice quite soon that things are not the same.
A new trail proposed to direct hikers away from McLellan Creek and the eagle’s nest could soon be put in place.
The City of Surrey parks department is planning on replacing the McLellan Creek culvert.
In addition, a new trail through the woods is being proposed,which will cut through a sensitive bird habitat within the old burn area through to the B.C. Hydro road.
Some residents are worried about further fragmentation of the small forest area that will occur.
It bothers me that with the proposed new trail, that up to 20 per cent of bird habitat could be jeopardized.
I spoke with John Gordon, of the Langley Field Naturalists. He says: “There are four species of owls that roost in the proposed trail space and the glade also includes old nurse trees that provide needed habitats for chickadees and woodpeckers.”
In addition, Gordon adds that as many as 130 bird species make their home in the forests and on the flood plains just off park trails.
I was also surprised to learn about forest bathing: a great way of being mindful in the forest.
For example, I went in to the proposed trail area and during 15 minutes of silence, I was surprised to hear over 10 different bird sounds.
Also, I noticed for the first time, that walking on the gravel trails was much louder than grass or cedar pathways. I have also learned that the noise from the gravel pushes the birds back from the trail due to their keen hearing.
Because the trails provide the connection between Langley residents and their nature park, known as Brydon Lagoon, I feel that adding more pathways chips away at the plant’s natural habitat.
I spoke with Anthea Farr, of Langley Field Naturalists and Nicomekl Nature Kids.
She says there are many species of trees such as weeping willows, European oak, and cascara; shrubs such as vine maple, salmonberry, and thimbleberry; and forbs like dock, dandelion, plantain, and common tansy, which play a key role in attracting birds to the environment.
In addition, Liana Ayach, an environmental technologist from the City of Surrey, explained the importance of all these plants to the health of the riparian and flood plain areas.
During this program, I have walked the trails of Hi-Knoll Park, Brydon Lagoon, and Anderson Creek and am beginning to understand how all these areas work together for the health of each other.
But I believe that their real caretakers are the residents of Langley who need to provide support for these sensitive eco-systems of the park.
How many Langley residents know that as part of the past, Brydon Lagoon was a sewage collection pond; Hi-Knoll Park was a farm pioneered by the Skelton family; and the Nicomekl River was little more than a meandering channel?
Today, Brydon Lagoon is a nature park, the Skelton farm an environmental landscape, and Nicomekl River the surrogate parent of a rich riparian system.
I found that closely observing these surroundings made me realize the importance and value they hold.
An interview with Troy Wilson, construction and maintenance chargehand with Langley City, explained the rather complicated relationships between all three areas of jurisdiction – Langley, Surrey and Metro-Vancouver and made me realize that to govern and protect these areas is a big job.
But they can’t do it alone.
Many years ago, Thoreau wrote that he was reading the book of nature, only to find that his ancestors had torn out so many pages.
For the future, it is up to Langley residents to speak up about the care and concerns of these challenged areas.
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