Emerald Forest again the focus of Whistler Arbour Day 

Emerald Estates, local stream projects also planned

The work to rehabilitate the north gravel pit in the Emerald Forest parklands will continue on Whistler’s 12 th annual Arbour Day, which is May 10.

Last year, volunteers and municipal workers planted indigenous trees and shrubs around the top section of the old north gravel pit, and down as far as the path that connects the bottom of Lorimer Road to Alta Lake Road.

The site was prepared by municipal crews, who used machines to reshape and re-contour the land, and spread a mixture of biosolids from the wastewater treatment plant, wood chips, and organic landscape waste around the site to create a new soil base.

The work stopped at the road because of a proposal to run a new waterline through the park and the gravel pit, a project that has been put on hold indefinitely. With nothing to bar work, volunteers will plant the lower section of the gravel pit, and fill in holes in the upper section.

Paul Beswetherick, the head arbourist for the RMOW, estimates that it will take somewhere between 60 and 100 volunteers the morning to get the job done. "There’s still a fair amount of work to be done, and it would make life easier to have everyone involved," he said.

The RMOW has been active in restoring and rehabilitating the Emerald Forest since it obtained title to the land in 1999 as a result of a three-way real estate deal between Intrawest, the municipality, and the Decigon group. They commissioned a management plan, and with the help of groups like the Whistler Fisheries Stewardship Group, the Whistler Off Road Cycling Association, and the Association of Whistler Area Residents for the Environment, have started the process of returning the area to its natural state. Waterways have been replanted, bike trails have been marked and maintained, and now the municipality is working to replant both gravel pits as well as the path that connects them.

Volunteers will pick up the work where it left off last year, planting pine trees, birches and alders, as well shrubs and grasses over the remainder of the gravel pit.

"It’s a BYOT project," explains Beswetherick, which means that locals should bring their own tools; shovels, picks, rakes, gardening gloves – any gardening tools they have.

The work gets underway at about 9 a.m. and continues until around noon. Participants can park along Alta Lake Road near the gate, and from there it’s a short walk in. The area can also be accessed from the bottom of Lorimer, and it’s a short hike or bike ride to the north gravel pit.

Other Arbour Day projects in the works include stream side planting along Blackcomb and Horstman creeks with the Whistler Fisheries Stewardship Group, and a landscaping project in the Emerald Estates subdivision.

The Emerald Estates project will include planting the new berms along the highway near Emerald Park, which were dug up for the Emerald Sewer project.

"We’d like to get the residents involved with greening up the area a bit, to kick off the greening of the area. Over the next couple of months crews will be doing landscape rehab in the area to fix it up, which will keep the dust down, and generally improve the appearance of the area," Beswetherick said.

Other activities include an Arbour Day tent at Nesters Market, featuring displays on tree pruning, gardening tips, and free giveaways – new trees. Arbourists will be on hand to provide planting advice.

After all the work wraps up, there will be a free post-planting barbecue on the shores of Green Lake, courtesy of the Whistler Outdoor Experience Co. at Edgewater, which once again donated their facilities to this event. There will be free access to canoes and other paddle boats during the afternoon, with events getting underway at 1 p.m.

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