We forget that we owe our existence to the presence of Trees.
What happens August 18, 2016 at 1:00 p.m., indeed?
Wouldn’t you love to walk in this urban regional forest, the Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area, with your grandchildren amid truly magnificent trees, and breathtaking forest scenes? The Stewards of the Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area recently gathered together to promote the environmental health of the St. Barbe Forest with the clean up on July 9, 2016. This year 8,300 kilograms (18,300 pounds) of trash were removed, including at both clean ups appliances, chesterfields, construction materials with nails, fencing, doors, windows, shingles, and tires were removed. Last year, May 2015, 3,300 kilograms (7275 Pounds) of trash came out of the east side alone!
So now, when you arrive at the afforestation area, you do not have to put your “trash blinders” on. There are truly delightful 44 year old trees, with an understorey coming in of native plant growth. There are American and Siberian Elm, Manitoba Maple, Green Ash, Black Balsamic Poplar, Willow, Colorado Blue Spruce, Scotch Pine and Caragana, chosen for their drought resistant capabilities, and for the soil type at the afforestation area. There is not too much evidence of the Manitoba Maple, and the Green Ash is a very small stand today. The Scotch Pine and Colorado Blue Spruce have delightfully made groves of small saplings. The far west side predominates with Poplar, as it was believed that this area would be more prone to flooding. The east side is mainly Elm mixed with Spruce. Caragana, implemented as a wind break and to act as a moisture collector in the winter is seen throughout the east and west sides. The rows in the afforestation area are fourteen feet apart and weave in and out to give the afforested area a more natural look rather than rows in lines at right angles to each other. The trees were selected randomly, and set into the soil four to five feet apart. In every 2-1/2 mile long section, there were fire guards left of 50-60 feet which were not afforested. Presently, native Trembling Aspen Bluffs are starting to make their home here creating a wonderful complement with the afforested trees.
Two organisers came together in 2016 with different backgrounds, but the outcome or goals for the Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area overlap. Jeff Hehn is seeking to introduce the city to “green exercise”, a way to get the population more actively involved with the environment. There is a wish to also engage residents in a more active winter lifestyle, and Jeff proposed a winter active lifestyles plan. Julia Adamson is seeking to restore the environment, protect the woodlands and West Swale wetlands, and the wildlife habitat corridor. Both Julia and Jeff, in consultation with neighbourhood community associations of the city, neighbouring residents of the Rural Municipality of Corman Park 344, environmental organisations, recreational groups, city and MVA staff, came up with some goals and ideas which have amalgamated together from a wealth of ideas and concerned people.
First and foremost came the unanimous decision that a forest was not a place to have trash and garbage. About 70 volunteers arrived one Saturday in July combining several organisations and individuals. Volunteers poured in from across Saskatoon, and from across the continent, from as far away as Utah and Pennsylvania, from coast to coast in Canada, volunteers came from Victoria, British Columbia; Halifax, Nova Scotia; Quebec; Toronto Ontario; and Winnipeg, Manitoba. This response was fantastic to shift the 8,300 kilograms (18,300 pounds) of freezers, full pails of tar, 85 tires, two car engines, roofs and roofs of shingles, children’s games, clothing, shoes, doors and windows.
Though the volunteers were absolutely fantastic, and would gladly help out again, there is no need for garbage to be filling up an urban regional park. The enormous amounts of money that could be saved by closing off the afforestation to motorized vehicles would be massive by just recovering the clean up costs alone. So what measures need to be undertaken to keep the trash out of the forest?
The majority of the trash was piled up alongside the wider pathways, those wide enough that a vehicle could drive upon. So a very quick and easy solution would be to place vehicle access barriers with large rocks, bollards, gates or fencing to restrict access into the afforestation area. So three representatives for the Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area spoke before the Standing Policy committee on Planning and Development on Monday, July 18th. It was with glad and happy hearts, that recommendations for three different options for vehicle restrictions were discussed at this very meeting to block access to the Richard St. Barbe Baker afforestation area. The committee voted that Plan C should be approved, and now this option will go before City Council on August 18, 2016 at 1:00 p.m. for a vote from council.
Will this day see a step towards preserving and conserving the West Swale wetlands? Will August 18, 2016 see a vote towards protecting the afforestation area, which had been preserved in perpetuity in 1972? Will City Council vote to keep trash out of the afforestation area and in the landfill where it belongs? Will the trash finally be out of the forest following the vote taken on Thursday August 18, 2016? Without vehicles allowed to trespass, the afforestation area will not be littered with trash, and there will be no need for massive clean ups to be arranged for the Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation area, as it will come into its own as an urban regional park to be enjoyed by responsible citizens of Saskatoon. Mark your calendars for the outcome of this vote, and the impact it will have on the Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area!
“We forget that we owe our existence to the presence of Trees. As far as forest cover goes, we have never been in such a vulnerable position as we are today. The only answer is to plant more Trees – to Plant Trees for Our Lives.” ~Richard St. Barbe Baker
For more information:
Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area is located in Saskatoon, SK, CA north of Cedar Villa Road, within city limits, in the furthest south west area of the city.
Wikimapia Map: type in Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area
Google Maps South West Off Leash area location pin at parking lot
Web page: https://stbarbebaker.wordpress.com
Where is the Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area? with map
Facebook group page : Users of the St Barbe Baker Afforestation Area
Facebook: South West OLRA
Contact the MVA The MVA has begun a Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area trust fund. If you wish to support the afforestation area with your donation, write a cheque to the “Meewasin Valley Authority Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area trust fund (MVA RSBBAA trust fund)” .