July 23, 2012 · 4:54 PM

Carol Olson and Rea Coates set up a table outside a forested property on 257A Street and 84 Avenue with petitions protesting its sale by the Township. The forest contains many mature conifer trees and is nicknamed “Hootie Hollow” by neighbours who say there are three different species of owls living there. / Miranda GATHERCOLE/Langley Times

Buoyed by the success of their campaign to save 21 acres of forest in Glen Valley, residents are adding signatures to a petition that calls on Langley Township to save an adjoining 25 acres from the chopping block.

On July 9, bowing to pressure from residents, council voted to withdraw the 21 acres from the sale process. The heavily forested land is situated on three parcels along 84 Avenue, between 252 and 254 Streets.

The other half of Township-owned forest, on the north side of 84 Avenue between 257A  and 260 Streets, remains for sale. The petition preamble describes the five five-acre lots as “rare, densely covered forest” that contains coniferous and deciduous trees that are approximately 100 years old.

“Council ordered this sale without inviting public input regarding these forest lands,” the petition notes.

“These lands belong to the residents of Langley. The Township of Langley has owned this site since the 1920s (which) has been used by the public for decades.”

The petitioners are demanding that the Township cancel or defer the sale of the forest “until reasonable time is provided for public input from the residents of Langley regarding this rare asset of old forested lands.”

The Township planned to use the $2 million it expected to reap from the sale to help finance the purchase of the former Aldergrove Elementary School site on which it plans to build a community centre, ice rink and pool.

To bolster their argument against the sale, residents point to the findings and recommendations of a 1993 report by Westwater Research Centre, paying particular attention to environmental aspects.

Westwater Research, based at the University of B.C., conducted an evaluation of environmentally sensitive areas in the Township. Among its observations is that East Creek, which runs through the Glen Valley forests, contains good salmon and trout spawning and rearing habitat.

Management guidelines urged protection for the “significant natural area.”

The forest, which lies on a gravel deposit, should be protected because it is rare for the area and should be maintained as forest to maintain wildlife habitat, the Westwater Research Centre stressed.

The researchers also noted that the area “is within the highly scenic Glen Valley agricultural zone,” and recommended that development be restricted to maintain the rural character of the area.

Any buildings “would be highly visible and alter the rural character of the area,” they warned.

Locals and the Westwater Research Centre refer to the land as McLellan Park which came into the Township’s hands in the 1930s as the result of a tax sale.