Endangered Species at Stokes Pit/Campbell Heights
- Barn Owl (Tyto alba)
- Barn Swallow (Hirundo rstica)
- Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias)
- Green Heron (Butorides virescens)
- Pacific Water Shrew (Sorex bendirii)
- Painted Turtle (Chrysemys picta)
- Pileated Woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus)
- Red-legged Frog (Rana aurora)
- Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)
- Rufous Hummingbird (Selasphorus rufus)
- Swainson’s Thrush (Catharus ustulatus)
- Trowbridge’s Shrew (Sorex trobridgii)
- California-tea (Rupertia physodes)
- False Pimpernel (Lindernia dubia var. anagallidea)
- Large Canadian St. John’s-wort (Hypericum majus)
- Western Mannagrass (Glyceria occidentalis)
The following is taken from Donna Passmore’s petition to the Auditor General of Canada in 2005 and gives reasons as to why the area needs to be protected.
Stokes Pit, which is being developed into the Campbell Heights Business Park, is 1800 acres (728 ha) of mixed (deciduous and conifer) second growth forest on the Langley/Surrey border. It contains a large number of 80-year-old Douglas fir trees, which are heritage trees in the context of this city’s urban forest.
Stokes Pit is part of the Pacific Flyway (Boundary Bay) wildfowl migratory route and is part of an important multi-species wildlife corridor that connects to the Little Campbell River valley.
The area is home to 263 species of wildlife, including Coopers hawk, barn owl, eagle, peregrine falcon, Pacific great blue heron, green heron, fox, white-tailed deer, beaver, black bear, fresh water otter, coyote, and numerous species of frogs, snakes, and turtles.
Stokes Pit contains a number of fish-bearing streams and one man-made lake (Latimer Lake).
An independent environmental assessment commissioned by the City of Surrey in 1997 (Addendum “A”)*, identified Stokes Pit as having high environmental values. This report was suppressed by the city administration (see newspaper clippings enclosed as Addendums “B”* and “C”)* and was not given to members of Council in 2003 when they voted in favour of developing the area.
Stokes Pit contains a long-retired (late 1950s, early 1960s, we believe) gravel pit, from which the area’s name is derived. This pit has become naturalized, and is one of a rich mixture of habitats (wetlands, streams, mixed forest, meadow) in this unique area.
Stokes Pit also sits atop an aquifer that supports human and wildlife populations. (see Addendum “D”)*
Stokes Pit has longstanding community recreational value and is popular with hikers, mountain bikers, and a large local equestrian community with little negative impact on resident wildlife.
Despite the rich diversity of flora and fauna, the only wildlife management plan in place during development involved 1) hiring trappers to kill large populations of beaver and otter and 2) a loss/gain contract with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.
Development began in 2003 and nesting trees were felled throughout fall (2004) and spring (2005) wildfowl migration.
Contractors were hired to clear the land without knowledge of the ecological significance of the area. Large numbers of white-tailed deer were driven onto nearby roadways and killed by motorists. At least one colony of beaver (and potentially hundreds of other burrowing mammals) are believed to have been buried alive. One bulldozer operator advised FVCC member, Dorothy MacKenzie, that he had to continually stop and empty the bucket of his bulldozer because rabbit and squirrels were leaping into it as he plowed through their burrows/nests.
In response to public outcry, the City of Surrey held a public meeting on May 12, 2005, to propose creation of a “park” that will be approximately 1/20 the size of the current wilderness and will include man-made wetlands and narrow forest strips that are supposed to serve as wildlife habitat/corridor.
The Fraser Valley Conservation Coalition strongly questions the legitimacy of a loss/gain contract with the Department of Fisheries because:
- There is no other area in the City of Surrey that can be created to offer equal size and environmental value for fish habitat;
- We are concerned that storm water runoff from this extensive development will create negative impacts for fisheries and ground water well beyond the proposed development site (see Addendum “E”* and “F”* enclosed). As well, Latimer Creek flow monitoring information for several years.
- Part of the loss/gain contract involves the creation of man-made wetlands. On May 10th, [name withheld], advised the FVCC that the wildlife corridors and wetlands currently being proposed by the City of Surrey will exist for only 15 years, and then those areas will also be turned to industrial development. The loss of wetlands, streams, and other wildlife habitat will, therefore, be complete and permanent.
- Being surrounded by intensive industrial activity will destroy the habitat value for fish and other wildlife; will create an urban heat island that will alter the ecosystem, elevating temperatures, causing increased levels of NOx/VOCs (ground level ozone) that will drive away sensitive species like barn owls and song birds.
- The Fraser Valley Conservation Coalition believe that a component of the project not yet publicly discussed will be extensive widening of area roads to facilitate the large volume of industrial traffic that will result from development. These expanded roads will also have storm water run off, air quality and ground water pollution issues, and will further diminish the habitat value of the area.
As well, drainage of the area by the City of Surrey has already harmed water access and water quality for human and wildlife populations in the area. In one year, the city has destroyed the wetlands.
Without regard for human or wildlife populations, the City of Surrey has destroyed an estimated twenty-five (25%) percent of Stokes Pit. Several “for sale” and re-zoning application signs are posted in surrounding green spaces. We are concerned that the City of Surrey is escalating habitat destruction before the FVCC can mount a successful campaign to have an environmental impact assessment performed.
The City of Surrey held a brief public consultation process in 2003, but this process was flawed as it did not disclose to the community the real environmental sensitivity of this area. As well, we are advised that the Semiahmoo First Nation’s ancestral trail dissects Stokes Pit, yet we do not believe the Band Council or membership were included in the 2003 public consultation. (Contact: [name withheld]).
The Fraser Valley Conservation Coalition does not oppose development. Rather, we advocate for sustainable development that respects and protects such ecologically significant areas as Stokes Pit.
[Original signed by Donna Passmore]
PO Box 34009, 17790 Highway 10
Surrey, British Columbia V3S 8C4
Phone: (604) 574-9457 or (604) 631-6210