When crews began cutting down part of the Bose Forest early this month to make way for new residential development on the heritage farm site, not all the neighbours were happy to see them go.
In August, nearly 50 people turned out to protest the removal of more than 200 trees at the historic farm.
And more than 500 people signed a petition asking Surrey City Hall to reverse its decision to allow the development to proceed, according to the Save the Bose Forest Facebook group.
Opponents were concerned that the development would destroy hundreds of trees, displace local wildlife and add more pressure on schools and traffic congestion.
The trees came down the first week of September.
“It’s such a sad sound – and sight,” Michelle Boyer wrote on the Save the Bose Forest page. “Totally heartbreaking.”
“All that life destroyed. So sad,” added Christine Turner.
Cloverdale resident Jason Koning, 32, surveyed the deforestation a week later, after hosting a Block Watch barbecue where guests expressed shock at the amount of trees that had been cut down.
He called the situation “inevitable” and added opponents did their best to fight for the preservation of the trees, but laments that more trees couldn’t be saved.
So he decided to take a closer look.
At about 7 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 14, he walked his dog Nakia through the area, which is a few blocks from his home.
“I was hoping to snap a picture of a bird in the area to get people’s attention,” he said.
To his surprise, in the distance, he saw a heron sitting on a pile of wood debris, looking “completely sad and in shock as well,” he recalls.
He pulled out his cell phone and drew closer, hoping to take a photograph of the bird.
He was amazed that he and Nakia, an American pit bull, were able to get so close without it flying away.
It didn’t budge while he snapped dozens of shots, even as the pair got as close as 12 feet.
“Sad to see,” he says. “But a great photo for people to ponder about how many animals and birds have lost their home.”
The Pacific Blue Heron, he notes, is an endangered species.
He hopes the photo will help convince people to stop “some people from bulldozing with disregard.”
While he did head out that morning hoping to take a picture of a bird, he didn’t expect it to actually happen.
“God placed that bird there,” he says. “Believe it or not, I prayed for the moment to happen, and the next day it happened. It was amazing.”
A couple of days later, he says, he watched as a heron flew over the playground at the elementary school.
Until the trees came down, he’d never seen herons in the area before, adding to his concern, only rabbits, woodpeckers and eagles. “It’s just a shame.”
New park will protect habitat
A portion of the Bose forest is being turned into a six-hectare (15 acre) park, preserving significant trees and habitat for birds and wildlife, according to Ted Uhrich, manager of parks planning for the City of Surrey.
There are two residential developments pending on the farm. Its heritage buildings are being preserved, and part of the lands from both proposals are being dedicated as parkland, Uhrich added.
“That’s good news for the birds and all the other animals,” he said. The site has been identified as important in the city’s biodiversity conservation strategy.
In 2014, planning and park design will begin, a process that will include community consultation.
While the primary focus of the new park is habitat and tree protection, amenities could include walking trails and viewpoints.
While an arborist report was done as part of the development approval process at city hall, the forest hasn’t had an environmental assessment, Uhrich said. But that’s something that will be done for the park.
“It’s a really important resource for the city,” he said. “People who drive across 64 Avenue see that area and associate it with the Bose Farm.”
It’s an important heritage asset, he added.
“It’s part of what makes Surrey beautiful. It’s sort of a gateway for Cloverdale.”