The arborist’s equivalent of big game trophy hunting is taking place in Kanaka Creek Regional Park and Metro Vancouver wants to stop it before any more butchery takes place.
“We couldn’t catch the people in the act so now we’re trying to educate everybody,” said Doug Petersen, park operations supervisor.
The goal is to inform people that they’re in a public park, where tree cutting or plant removal isn’t allowed.
Petersen said earlier in the summer, in the park north of Dewdney Trunk Road near 272nd Street, someone started cutting and removing the gnarly, deformed roots of hemlock and cedar, likely for artistic or craft purposes.
The trees are usually growing on older, nurse logs and, as a result, the roots are visible, but also twisted and deformed.
The problem is, when the roots are cut away, the tree dies, becoming unstable and a safety hazard to people walking in the park.
Metro Vancouver parks staff responded to the vandalism by pouring staff into the area, shifting hours so employees worked later in the hopes of catching the culprits.
It wouldn’t have been difficult to catch people because cutting away roots requires chainsaws, which nearby residents can hear during the night.
The increased attention scared off the thieves for a while in mid summer, but now they’re back, hacking and chopping and cutting at roots and killing about 25 trees.
“We put a stop to it temporarily, but now it’s started up,” said Petersen.
Security guards were also hired and there are increased patrols in the park. Neighbours and people visiting the park are asked to be vigilant of suspicious activity such as unusual chainsaw noise.
Ridge Meadows RCMP are also involved.
“This is not a ‘victimless’ crime. The victims are all citizens of our community who appreciate, respect, and work hard to preserve these natural assets,” said Supt. Dave Fleugel.
Metro Vancouver parks is also taking an educational approach. They’re hoping that by posting signs telling people they’re in a park and that cutting plants isn’t allowed, (neither is it allowed on Crown land, without a permit) that they’ll appeal to their common sense.
Petersen said the vandals want the fresh roots because they’re not cracked or dried out as found in deadfall.
“This is fresh and green.”
The wood can be used in chairs, bed frames or door knobs or for artistic purposes or for speciality landscaping.
Something in the market has changed, making such a produce desirable and worth the trouble.
“The product goes for a pretty dollar.”