The Reforestation and Beautification of Burnsview's Forest

Burnsview's Environmental Studies Class

Burnsview Secondary
  • Grade 10
  • Grade 11
  • Grade 12
Photo Essay (3–10 images)

Community Coach(es): 

Deborah Jones

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 Over the past two years, the Burnsview Secondary Environmental Studies Course has been working hard on refurbishing and beautifying the forest and area around our school. Our continued goal with the Chalmers Park Forest Restoration Project is to restore the forest’s natural beauty through intensive clean-ups, by creating accessible trails, and by adding native plants and trees. In the future, we seek to install additional elements that one would normally find in a park, such as street lights, park benches, plazas, etc. As we stress the importance of local environmental conservation, our class aims to create a public-friendly outdoor space for students at Burnsview and the rest of the community. The restoration project consists of three phases: Phase I - the creation of the rain garden; Phase II - creating pathways through the forest, clearing brush, and planting tree and other native species; and Phase III - the addition of lights, park benches, as well as a plaza.

In spring of 2016, we successfully completed the planning and planting of the Chalmers Park Rain Garden - the first phase of our forest restoration project. We were worked in coordination with both Deborah Jones of the Cougar Creek Streamkeepers and the city of Delta. The rain garden, located behind our school, serves to collect and filter the water that runs downslope from the Chalmers Park forest during the rainy months. The water is then distributed underground to the Blake Creek that runs through the Burns Bog, one of the largest remaining wetlands in North America. The ecological impact of the rain garden has been overwhelming; in addition to the year-round benefits for the salmon population of Blake Creek, in the summer, a variety of native plants help attract bees and pollinators. Moreover, the creation of the rain garden began to generate interest within the community, which served as proof that we were, indeed, making an impact.

Later in 2016, we started working on different paths throughout the forest. We first covered the central trail in the forest with mulch to improve the condition of the path in the rainy season, later adding gravel on top to made it easier to walk across. Once that was completed, we removed blackberry bushes at the front of the central trail, and covered the area with mulch.

The planting aspect of the project was, in part, managed by Deborah Jones and included planting a number of trees and ferns along the pathways. We then put in 3 different culverts into the ground to help divert the water that collects in the forest after rainfall to a pre-existing ditch that flows directly to our rain garden. Finally, we began creating a nature path through the forest using mulch, which also helped soak up the water that collected. This was finished in June of 2017.

As the 2017-2018 school year began, we took the initiative to fix the trail leading out from the forest onto 77 avenue. The trail was connected with our forest and later extended to our school by adding mulch and gravel. While some students continued with the trail work, several class members started on the removal of morning glory ivy in the forest and invasive blackberry plants by the central trail.

Every single student that has participated in these various projects has done something to make an environmental impact. We would like to continue working on these projects as we strive towards making our community a better place. Words won't suffice for the countless classes of copiously pouring over planning and proposal drafts, nor the tonnes of gravel and mulch we've moved during the worst winters, nor the brutal hours of english ivy and blackberry bush removal, nor the panic of trying to plant yet another tree before the bell goes. Our small victories lie in the moments when people use our pathways, meet in our forest, or simply come to admire the rain garden - and for that we persevere.