Kids, Bikes, and Dirt

Neighbourhood kids of all ages have been enjoying Haro Woods – but have the woods enjoyed them?  Are they really enjoying nature?  Do they need to bike in the woods? 

The kids love to dig: I see them daily on their bikes, with shovels hanging out of their backpacks, kids from elementary and middle schools in the area.  They form large mounds of soil and dig great trenches around trees, sometimes several feet long – effectively re-landscaping the forest.  Then they jump, pushing dirt out from their bike tires.

What is wrong with this? Are they are finding a way to enjoy nature? 

But what about the old forest rule: “Take only memories – and leave only footprints.”  The damage done to the trees and plants by biking on trails is great.  The soil gets compacted, so oxygen cannot reach plant roots.  Native plants get torn out or are just trampled.  There must be education to teach children how to respect and understand delicate ecosystems.

I have been reconcile my love for the forest and my love for children, and have realized that there is no reason for them to contradict each other.  

All the children need is a pile of dirt for their bike jump landscaping and a few logs.  They do not need a forest for this – the forest is unfortunately the only place were there is dirt.  Look around: do you ever see an area with just earth?  In most areas, we have either concrete, or lawn.  These children need an area they can work and landscape into bike jumps.   We just need a field – any field would do –and a load of dirt, perhaps the dirt they are removing from Haro Woods for the attenuation tank.  

The issue of liability often comes up, but won’t a sign that says: “At your own risk" remove that issue?  If there is a field available, won’t someone provide it for the neighbourhood kids?

There would be many grateful kids if there were. 

– Katrina Madsen (Cadboro Bay Resident)

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