Mt. Doug Hiking

According to the Mt. Douglas Charter, “The lands known as Mount Douglas Park are hereby reserved in perpetuity for the protection and preservation of the natural environment for the inspiration, use and enjoyment of the public.”

The Friends of Mt. Doug Park Society have expressed concern in their recent newsletter that trees that have been felled are not being assessed as they may once have been– to maintain wildlife trees–trees left to the forces of nature to decompose and contribute to the natural ecology of the forest.

“While the concept of danger tree assessment and removal for public or worker safety has been with us all along, either many trees have suddenly changed character or there is a change in policy interpretation or assessment.”

Saanich Parks maintains they are doing what is best for the safety of visitors to the park; they have not, to date, addressed their obligation to the above charter. Cutting down so many trees for the protection of volunteers seems a thin rational blowing through those empty spaces. It almost looks like someone has decided to groom the landscape. When is a forest too dense?

It would be interesting to know how many trees have actually fallen on a volunteer or hiker since the society’s stewardship began.

Friends of Mt. Doug have been studying the officially- recognized tree assessor’s course manual for identifying and assessing dangerous trees within parks as set out by the Wild Life Tree Committee of BC.

Hopefully, those who speak for Saanich Parks and Friends of Mt. Doug Society can reevaluate the current tree removal policy in Mt. Doug, as well as other parks in the municipality. Local government officials and technicians would do well to respect this society’s unquestionable dedication to the park. After all, they are still around while many previous officials and staffers have moved on.

Just as important is the fact that the skunk cabbage is in bloom. 

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Mt. Doug Hiking

I was told of some recent tree cutting in Mt. Doug and went to check it out for myself.

Despite the news, I was still expecting the openness of the winter forest to have been made dense by all of the spring leaves. My mind had already created the picture of spring in the forest.

At the Shelbourne entrance to Mt. Doug, on the Whittaker trail heading south, trees were lying on the ground. Trunks had been captured for roadside edging. Everywhere I turned, trees lay on the forest floor, their stumps validating the years they’d survived, and others, a red stain marking their fate, awaiting the saw.

I’m stunned. We need to ask questions.