Two mountaineers fined, banned from Grouse Mountain for cutting down, limbing trees at regional park

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      Two persons have pleaded guilty for causing damage at the Grouse Mountain Regional Park.

      The offences include cutting down and limbing trees.

      The individuals were not named in a report, except that they are “known members of the local mountain climbing community”.

      After pleading guilty, one person was fined $5,000, and the other, $1,500.

      A court also ordered them banned from the Grouse Mountain Regional Park for 12 months.

      Mike Redpath, director of regional parks with Metro Vancouver, wrote a manager's report, which is included a mention of the tree cutting incident. His report is part of the agenda Wednesday (May 12) of the regional parks committee.

      Redpath recalled that park rangers in March 2020 charged the two individuals with six counts under the Metro Vancouver Regional District Regional Parks Regulation Bylaw No. 1177, 2012.

      The bylaw provides that “no person shall…cut, trim, dig up, excavate, deface, remove, damage, log or prune any natural park features, or engage in any other similar activity that is harmful or potentially harmful to natural park features”.

      A natural park feature “includes any tree, shrub, herb, flower, grass, turf, or other similar vegetation, and any soil, sand, silt, gravel, rock, mineral, wood, or other similar matter, and includes a waterbody”.

      Redpath related that the two individuals on April 21, 2021 pleaded guilty to one count each under the bylaw for “damaging between 10-15 trees and travelling off-trail”.

      Grouse Mountain Regional Park covers 75 hectares of mature forest and mountain streams on the North Shore.

      The popular Grouse Grind Trail is one of three trails in the park.

      The regional park also includes the BCMC Trail and part of the Baden-Powell Trail.

      The BCMC Trail is named by the British Columbia Mountaineering Club. It serves as a nearby alternative to the Grouse Grind Trail.

      In the report, Redpath recalled that Metro Vancouver staff working at the park noticed several cut and limbed trees in September 2019.

      “On October 5, 2019, Park Officers observed two individuals with an electric chainsaw cutting trees in the same rocky outcrop of Grouse Mountain Regional Park,” Redpath wrote.

      Staff intervened and identified the two individuals.

      “Further investigation determined that a total of 23 trees had been cut, 12 trees modified by limbing, 14 mountain climbing bolts had been drilled into rocks and significant ground disturbance was observed including the removal of mosses, lichens and small plants,” Redpath related.

      Metro Vancouver notified the RCMP, and officers attended the scene.

      An investigation followed over the following months.

      “This investigation determined the species of trees damaged which included Yellow Cedar, Mountain Hemlock, Shore Pine and Red Alder,” Redpath wrote.

      In addition, “The rocky outcrop provides unique habitat and has a high intrinsic vulnerability, high conservation value, and an ecosystem that is highly sensitive to disturbance, and supports ‘old-growth’ trees that are slow growing and slow to recover.”

      Redpath also related than an arborist determined that the oldest trees felled were “between 100 and 125 years old” and “located in a tree stand with other trees up to 250 years in age”.

      “The lichens that were removed will not recover for many years and represent a loss of habitat to invertebrates,” Redpath wrote.

      Moreover, “The actions of the two individuals degraded the sensitive ecosystem of the park, and reduced and diminished the habitat quality for a number of species at risk including 5 birds, 1 mammal, 4 butterflies and 1 plant species.”