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BC Hydro committed to re-vegetation amidst concerns over Lost Lake clear-cut

Electric utility provider will work with RMOW on re-planting project in 2015



BC Hydro has reiterated its commitment to re-vegetating Lost Lake Park after residents and conservationists expressed concern over work being done in the area to make way for transmission lines.

Whistler resident Danielle Kristmanson posted to Facebook, outraged that BC Hydro had "completely scalped the ground," removing underbrush and native vegetation and leaving an eyesore in its place.

"I get that (BC Hydro is) clearing under power lines for safety reasons, but it just feels really indiscriminate and that's what concerns me," she said in an interview. "It's a giant disaster."

BC Hydro was doing work last month to clear an eight-hectare area of Lost Lake Park for its right of way near the municipal Disc Golf Course.

Sea to Sky Invasive Species Council executive director Clare O'Brien explained how easy it is for invasive species to move into similar areas.

"If there are any invasive species in the surrounding areas, it will be very easy for them to move into that disturbed area," she said.

Former environmental consultant Leslie Anthony, who is currently writing a book on invasive species, also expressed concern that the clear cut was paving the way for the unwanted plants, and spoke to BC Hydro's questionable track record on the issue.

"All you need to do is pull off anywhere in Squamish and look down the BC Hydro right of ways, you'll see a sea of scotch broom, or in some areas like Britannia, it's wall-to-wall knotweed," he said.

"So many people are trying to be proactive here and get ahead of some of these invasive species problems being faced by other communities and... here we have (BC Hydro) come in and unrepentantly create a situation where it's getting worse."

BC Hydro spokesperson Simi Heer said inspections on the site revealed there was no invasive species present, and that monitoring will continue in the spring as vegetation returns.

"We continue to work with our partners (the Resort Municipality of Whistler and the Disc Golf Course) on a re-vegetation plan for the site, which includes replanting compatible native species where it makes sense," she added.

The utility company also worked with municipal staff to improve sight lines on the Disc Golf Course and contributed $157,000 towards the replacement of the nearby Fitzsimmons Bridge.

The scope of clearing work done last month was "significant," said Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden, because there had been "insufficient maintenance" done at the site in previous years.

"Hopefully this won't happen in the future whereby BC Hydro lets it go and then has to come in and be quite aggressive," she said, adding that the visual impact at the park is a concern, but that "hopefully we'll get some snow cover pretty quickly and then the re-planting in the spring should mitigate some of that."