Forest preservation group gets extra 30 days

The Watchers of Langley Forests (WOLF) have been given a 30-day extension by Langley Township council to come up with $3 million.

Originally given a Nov. 17 deadline, WOLF members now have until Dec. 17 to amass the necessary funds to buy taxpayer-owned land in Glen Valley.

WOLF is comprised of Township residents who oppose the Township’s plan to sell what they consider are ecologically significant forests and wetlands. Before WOLF was formed, residents persuaded council not to sell 21 acres of Township-owned forest in Glen Valley on 84 Avenue, between 252 and 254 Streets.

If the group can come up with $3 million, it will own the 25-acre forest located near 84 Avenue and 260 Street.

The Township had planned to use the proceeds of the sale to buy the Aldergrove Elementary School site on which it plans to build a new community centre, swimming pool and ice rink.

Meanwhile, a report by environmental consultant Phil Henderson and naturalist Glenn Ryder supports WOLF’s contention that the forest has important ecological characteristics and values, said WOLF member Kirk Robertson.

“We remain committed to its preservation,” Robertson said of the forest.

Henderson and Ryder conducted a survey on Sept. 20 of the five forested lots which the Township wants to sell. Robertson stressed that no one in the WOLF organization knew of their survey, and the two were not compensated.

WOLF members are declining to speak about the efforts to raise $3 million, nor how much has already been raised.

Henderson and Ryder noted that as in a previous independent report, the five parcels, which total 25 acres, “represent one of the few remaining mature forests in the lowlands of north Langley.

They wrote: “The forests of the escarpment to the south of these lowland forests have persisted due to their unsuitability for development. Those forests together with the remaining lowland forests form a network of diverse natural features, albeit interrupted by unsuitable and hostile habitats, that support many native plants and animals.

“This collective of natural features is the last refuge for animals and plants that occupy and define the ecological communities once common in the area.”

They observed that a black cottonwood, with a diameter at chest height of 1.75 metres, is one of the largest in the Township.

Ryder and Henderson said that neither had seen a species of moss and of liverwort, both typical of humid forests of the lowlands, in Langley.

“These organisms and the communities that comprise the remnant natural features are important biological legacies that will eventually be lost from Langley and the Lower Mainland unless relatively large natural areas are retained,” they wrote.

The stated: “Simply retaining the lands does not guarantee the survival and persistence of important ecological features. Public access affects the ecological values of natural spaces, usually adversely, and must be considered carefully.”

If WOLF can secure the funds, it must show it is an incorporated society under the Society Act, and “protect and conserve” the land for a park, trail, education, and recreational purposes in perpetuity.

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