By Andrew Mitchell
For the fourth consecutive year, WhistlerÕs Arbor Day will focus its attention on reclaiming the north gravel pit that lies along the trail from the bottom of Lorimer Road to Alta Lake Road.
Starting at 9 a.m. Saturday, volunteers will be asked to complete what itÕs hoped will be the final stage in reclaiming the area as forest by infill planting between the successful trees from previous years. Some trees planted in earlier years did not survive, for a variety of reasons.
The area was first planted in 2002 using biosolids from the wastewater treatment plant and other woody debris collected by the municipality to build soil in the area. The first trees were hit hard by drought and by hungry voles, forcing replanting in 2003 and 2004. Plastic cones were used to protect the trees until they were large enough to withstand the voles.
ÒThat did work reasonably well,Ó said RMOW arborist Paul Beswetherick. ÒIt worked really well in the lower flat areas that were shaded, but it was less successful in areas that saw a lot of sun. I think it got too hot inside the cones and that probably cooked a few of the plants.Ó
About 1,000 trees will be planted on Saturday, mostly Douglas fir trees which have shown themselves to be the most resilient to dry conditions and heat. With enough volunteers and crews from the RMOW, it should take about two hours to put the trees into the soil.
This year the planting will be followed by presentations by two tree experts that are of special interest to Whistler residents.
At 11 a.m. forest ecologist Bob Brett will conduct a field demonstration of thinning to meet ecological, forest health and fire prevention objectives. ÒThe fire issue is particularly topical for Whistler as we move into warmer seasons,Ó said Beswetherick. ÒI think it is important for people to know how fires spread and when a forest or trees are at risk.Ó
At 11:30, certified arborist Paul Duncan will give a hazard tree field talk, teaching people how to measure the health of their trees by way of a quick visual inspection.
ÒHe will be talking about hazard trees in the area, and what homeowners should look out for, if a tree is dying, or if a tree is alive but is about to fall over,Ó said Beswetherick. ÒHis work has been recognized for quite a while and has been put to use in recent years.Ó
There will also be a special Arbor Day tent at Nesters Market from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. with displays on tree pruning, gardening tips and give-aways. Arborists will be on hand to provide planting advice.
For the afternoon, once again Whistler Outdoor Experience Co. at Edgewater has donated their facilities for a post-planting courtesy barbecue, with free access to canoes and other boats, starting at 1 p.m.
The Rotary Club of Whistler is also getting into the act, and will continue to plant alongside the River of Golden Dreams for a third year, restoring natural trees and bushes to the area.