Friday 22 July 2016

Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area Clean-Up

Just inside Saskatoon’s southwest boundary, near Cedar Villa Estates and Chappell Marsh Conservation Area, you come to the Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area. The City of Saskatoon planted the area with long rows of trees in 1972/73 and it is named in honour of Richard St. Barbe Baker, an early graduate of the University of Saskatchewan who dedicated his life to promoting trees.

For too many years, the area has been neglected, providing a welcome refuge for birds, deer, and hare but also serving as an impromptu garbage dump. But that has changed. Julia Adamson and Jeff Hehn, along with a hard-working group of volunteers, are cleaning up the site and doing their best to stop it being used as an illegal landfill.

In 2016, EcoFriendly Sask provided the Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area with a $500 EcoFriendly Action Grant to help support the July 9 clean-up of the site. The results were nothing short of astonishing.

Seventy volunteers turned out to help, some of them putting in a 13-hour day. Assistance was provided by many organizations, including Meewasin Valley Authority and the City of Saskatoon. The group removed 8300 kg of litter. They filled 350 bags and used donated trucks and tractors to collect the garbage that wasn’t baggable (shingles, appliances, chesterfields, fences, decks, water containers, pails of tar, etc.).

The group was horrified to realize that construction professionals and hotels were using the site as a dumping ground. Large quantities of condoms and douches demonstrated that the site was also being used for the sex trade. There were lots of needles as well. The group is eager to erect signage and barriers to prevent illegal use of the site and ensure that it is a safe and pleasant place for wildlife and nature lovers.

Representatives of community and recreational groups spoke at the Standing Policy Committee on Planning and Development on July 18 to urge the City to protect the area. The Committee’s recommendation to erect bollards to block the main vehicle access entry points will go before City Council on August 18. The Stewards of St. Barbe Forest hope that as many people as possible will attend the Council meeting to show their support.

Congratulations to all the individuals and groups who are working so hard to protect this lovely area. Well done!

Photo Credit: Julia Adamson (1 and 3), Robert White (2)

Revised July 23, 2016