Digging for plants in the forest at Parcel 23 allows me to connect with the diversity and richness of local flora. It is a peaceful time to reflect on a natural area.

Parcel 23 at UniverCity is due for development, and in order to retain the plant value of the second growth forest currently standing on Parcel 23, a Native Plant Rescue was organized.
The official day of the rescue was May 18th, 2011. The event has long come and gone. UNES members and myself continue to return to pick up interesting plants. Some to bring to Burnaby Wildlife Rescue, for personal gardens and as well to replant in natural areas around the community including plants due for the Elementary School Water Garden.

I have a balcony full of Twisted Stalk Lily, False Solomon’s Seal, Huckleberry, serviceberry (woops this wasn’t a good rescue), bunchberry (a groundcover dogwood), little firs and more.

We collect little plants that reflect the best of diversity and bring them to places that can continue the plant legacy.

Alan and Pablo and myself of the Stoney Creek Environment Committee picked up a good collection of plants during the event, to help replant along creeks and in place of invasives that have been removed, for Burnaby Mountain and Stoney Creek rehabilitation projects. Most of the plants were added to a restoration project at the South End of Stoney Creek Elementary School. Stoney Creek and their sponsors took part in a major project to remove Himilayan Blackberry. Blackberry can be a great problem when they overgrow the fishbearing streams. They can clog the waterway, not to mention making the work of the Streamkeepers very hard as access becomes near impossible in places.

Reviewing the plants is a way to connect to a continuous history of our area before.

The forest has an enigmatic and ghostly testimony to the early logging activity. The huge cedar stumps – four to five feet across – left behind by the early loggers. The notches about a metre above ground are how Fallers would set their springboards as they cut down the trees by hand saws in teams of two. What a testimony to a fierce group of men who cut their living on our mountain before the mid-40s.

There is such a tangible bitter sweetness to standing beside the stumps. Beautiful though as the second growth forest has grown up around lushly.

This early business was key to the formation of what is today the Burnaby Municipality.

“In 1899 a mill built several years previously on the shores of Burrard Inlet, but never used, was activated. Known as the North Pacific Lumber Co. (later Barnet Mill), this mill, at the peak of its operation, was the largest of its kind in the British Empire.” Mitch Grigori

Go down to the Barnett Marine Park on the North Side of Burnaby Mountain, there where “Echoes of the past remain in the shape of a few concrete towers and the skeleton of a scrap burner.” testimony of one of the most productive log mills of early Vancouver. It feels distant, a little awkward…can we say Allienating in its odd concrete shapes.

The log stumps have been partially reclaimed by the forest. On an adjoining lot, Parcel 20, a small cedar tree grows at the top of one stump…keeping its secrets.

Parcel 23 holds an impressive trail built by the mountain bikers. Huge log ramps no doubt provided quite a thrill for those who had the opportunity to use them.

What I find interesting is how these various activities blend in with the surrounding forest.
The huckleberry and twisted stalk lily grows on either side of the bike ramps, almost it seems granting the bikers temporary right of way.

Surely if this area was not to be developed the rotting ramp – resembling somewhat a pioneers makeshift log lean too – would have been taken over and returned to the forest.

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There are interesting pictures available of fires that claimed the mills in the Burnaby Heritage files.