The challenge of forest protection

Watchers of Langley Forests wants to preserve environmentally sensitive lands.

Editor: Watchers of Langley Forests (WOLF) is a public interest and advocacy group that coalesced around the proposed sale of Glen Valley forested properties, commonly known as McLellan Park.

WOLF was initially challenged by the mayor and council to raise the funds necessary to purchase the former Aldergrove School site when the westerly properties were taken off the market this summer.

As of Oct. 1, WOLF was apprised of Township of Langley’s position regarding our earlier proposal to facilitate the purchase of the easterly forested lands, adjacent to Gray Pit.

WOLF is pleased to have the opportunity to work along with council and staff in order to ensure that these rare and environmentally sensitive lands are protected for future generations to appreciate, while continuing the protection these forests provide as diverse wildlife habitat and benefits to the local aquifer.

As outlined in a variety of submissions to council, these properties contain both mixed and coniferous forests estimated to be approximately 100 to 240 years old or more, and which contain rich wildlife habitat and watercourses.

They were identified as extremely environmentally sensitive in the Westwater Research Report commissioned by the Township of Langley in 1993. This report clearly recommends management guidelines to restrict residential development requiring septic disposal systems in order to protect groundwater quality and to support groundwater recharge.

This report further advised that the existing forest vegetation be maintained and protected. The subsequent O’Connor engineering report commissioned by the Township in 2005 addressed issues such as the property’s environmental value, groundwater protection, protection of fishery habitat and the watershed, sensitive wildlife species, as well as other site specific environmental values.

And finally, Professor David Jordan expressed his views on the subject in his role as an assistant professor of geography and environmental studies at Trinity Western University by stating: “In my professional opinion, the land sales properties are of regional ecological significance because of the complex forest structure, mixture of tree species and significant biodiversity all contained in a spatially compact area.”

WOLF was encouraged by early and growing local and regional support to address this challenge by seeking economic partnerships in support of protecting and conserving these rare forested properties in their existing natural state, with low impact trails for continued habitat protection and enhancing education and enjoyment opportunities as a  “nature park in perpetuity.”

We have every confidence that partnering arrangements can be achieved, although the current deadline to conclude the sale is extremely short.

WOLF is continuing to engage the community regarding this initiative as well as meeting with an expanding base of interested parties including private individuals and groups, First Nations, government and other agencies in order to pursue all available avenues to finance the purchase of these properties.

WOLF has taken on this exciting challenge and looks forward to using the information gained as a blueprint and model for other successful co-ventures involving community advocacy groups in support of environmental conservation in Langley Township.

Kirk Robertson,