Earlier this year, Rotary Park in Hope was a disaster waiting to happen. Dozens of fir trees had been found to have root rot, and were falling hazards on the popular trail.
The park is one of the closest to Coquihalla elementary, and one that teachers take their students out to regularly for nature walks, fresh air and exercise.
Something had to be done, and there are countless volunteers around Hope who were eager to help.
Volunteers from both the Cascade Lower Canyon Community Forest group and Communities in Bloom got together and had about 80 trees felled and dragged out. And then, they enlisted the littlest volunteer crew.
The Grade 1 classes were invited out on April 13, and each child was given a cedar sapling to plant. There were 36 kids on hand, and each took their tree with pride. They broke up into small groups, each one with an adult leader, and plotted out places to plant their trees.
They watched as adults worked the shovels for them, and gently placed their trees into holes behind logs, along the pathways, beside stumps, and among the trillium plants.
Many of them sat quietly regarding their work, and admiring their trees.
“I’m going to bring my mom and dad here every day to watch it grow,” a student named Oliver said.
Victor Smith from Communities in Bloom said the cedar trees won’t be susceptible to the same root rot that got to the fir trees. He also said that bringing the young students on board with the project will help teach them the importance of forest stewardship.
Their teachers have helped with that, too. Most of the kids could easily identify the trillium flowers that were shooting up from the forest floor. And they knew to leave them alone, because they will die if they pick them.
Smith and the others are hoping that in the future, the kids who planted the trees in the park will be able to come back as adults and once again appreciate their own hard work, and how they helped grow a forest.
“Do come back and watch them grow throughout your lifetime,” he told them.
And then, the kids were off for a nature walk with their teachers, along their familiar neighbourhood trail.
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