Letter: Response to “A forest needs to breath” in April 4 Sounder

Tuesday, April 25 2017

I. Shantikat requested comments regarding her criticism of 707 path clearing for emergency access for fire suppression vehicles.

Fire protection and suppression is an obligatory function carried out by the partnership of the RDN and the local fire department. Gabriola islanders chose to operate the 707 Park by agreeing to a park management policy implemented by the RDN. An integral part of this policy is to maintain access for fire suppression and monitoring of forest fire hazard conditions.

Shantikat’s criticism therefore takes aim at the techniques used by park management (RDN). Crude slashing of undergrowth of the smaller trails has been undertaken every year by volunteers and occasionally by park management. From an ecological point of view, merely slashing undergrowth and depositing the vegetation on the side of the pathway is creating more habitation for tiny animals and recycling organic material. This technique of forest management has been used since the inception of the park, as can be observed by the old piles of post logging operations, slowly decaying throughout the park.

I. Shantikat has a point about the perceived appearance; the debris does not look good underfoot even though the functionality works. To clear up will cost extra time and resources which will cost the taxpayers more tax money. Is our population of taxpayers ready to pay more?

The biggest danger for the juvenile forest of a 707 fire would be caused by discarded cigarettes, of which there is ample evidence. Perhaps efforts should be targeting cigarette use in the park.

The 707 forest was used by recreational users before it became a park and far fewer individuals used the resource at that time.

Maybe a better use would be a wildlife park and ban humans. 

~ Jeremy Baker