The Friends of the Haro Woods have been active lately trying to bring attention to the damage that on going construction of illegal bike jumps have caused to the forest and suggesting possible ways of restoring that damage. The forest monitors who work in liaison with the CBRA and Saanichdo systematic walks throughout the park and report on vandalism and trail and jump construction.
Recently, monitors Katrina Madsen and David Minty met with CRD staff members Kevin Simpson and the attenuation tank project coordinator Tom Burton to discuss the Great Horned Owl nesting habitat, to ensure that tank construction would not adversely effect the fledgling offspring that have been seen on the CRD and Saanich property throughout the summer, and currently, as well.
We were told that the trees would be cut down in the early spring time before the birds are nesting. We also discussed the protection of some large firs and a yew tree. The CRD is open to removal of native plants from the tank area for restoration work which we hope Saanich Parks and Recreation will utilize soon.
On the eastern Saanich portion of park there is a large Maple tree, currently the habitat of the Great Horned owl family and affectionately named Grandma Maple by the UVIC pre-school children who take nature walks and play in Haro Woods. Many of these preschoolers and other school children from nearby elementary schools and daycares visit the forest for nature education. Unfortunately, Grandma Maple has already had its root system disturbed by the many jumps and swalesthat surround it and the tree falls within the area SaanichParks and Recreation is proposing for a BMX type bike course in their Haro Woods Park Management Plan. This plan will be voted on by the new mayor and council.
Parks and Recreation have actually been bringing in non-sterile fill to fix the borrow pits that were used for the jumps—but most of this fill has now been used to build bigger jumps. Missing or destroyed ‘Area Under Restoration’ signs occur on a regular basis. Beer cans and trash are also still found.
On a positive note, jumps that were created on UVIC property were quickly flattened by UVIC soon after they were informed of the damage. Saanich Parks and Recreation has also put a split rail fence near the UVIC property line where bike damage has occurred—blocking the hill from bike access, but still leaving roots exposed for a lower bike track. It has been reported that concerned residents have taken it upon themselves to try to remove some jumps on Saanich property near the Finnerty side of the Woods. Also on a positive note, Licorice Ferns are popping up and Oregon Grape has got shiny new leaves with the increase in rain and there is a small trickle of water in Finnerty Creek.
Some members of The Friends of Haro Woods have been actively trying to protect this forest for almost thirty years. Haro Woods is a unique urban forest that should be protected and restored from the ongoing damage that bike jump building has caused. We should educate our youth on how to treat our natural areas with respect and reverence so that the forest will be here for future generations to enjoy.
Perhaps a nature intuitive centre and enhanced walking trails with park benches—similar to the Goward House Park trails—is the way to go, but certainly not a BMX biking facility.