Retired forester Roy Strang says learning opportunities for students abound in Sunnyside Acres Urban Forest.

Retired forester Roy Strang says learning opportunities for students abound in Sunnyside Acres Urban Forest.

Sunnyside Acres’ ‘outdoor laboratory’ overlooked

When it comes to learning about natural history in South Surrey, Roy Strang can think of few better places to do so than in Sunnyside Acres.

When it comes to learning about natural history on the Semiahmoo Peninsula, Roy Strang can think of few better places to do so than in Sunnyside Acres.

But the retired forester – who was among champions behind the City of Surrey’s 1988 dedication of the 130-hectare heritage South Surrey forest – says few students are benefiting from the “outdoor laboratory,” despite repeated offers by its Sunnyside Acres Heritage Society caretakers to local schools of free, guided tours.

“I’m increasingly frustrated,” Strang said.

“They haven’t even acknowledged our letters and none of the local schools will take advantage of this outdoor laboratory.”

Strang, a former environment columnist for Peace Arch News, said tour offers have been extended for the past three years as part of efforts to mark National Forest Week, held in September. Qualified people are available to lead the tours, and would explain the area’s heritage, along with how the forest has continued to recover, he said.

“They’re passing up the opportunity to explore something which is Surrey’s heritage,” Strang said.

“It’s there, available at no cost except their time.”

Doug Strachan, spokesman for the Surrey School District, told PAN he wasn’t aware of the specific offer, but said such opportunities are distributed to educators through the district’s business-development department.

It’s up to teachers to decide if they want to take advantage of it.

“It really is dependent on the schools, and the teachers ultimately decide,” Strachan said.

SAHS member Dee Walmsley said last week that when she initially inquired about offering the tours, she was directed to a fee scale for dispensing information to Surrey schools. Based on the information from Strachan, she plans to reach out to the business development department, and is awaiting further instruction from the SAHS board.

Strachan, meanwhile, said he plans to bring the opportunity to the attention of at least one principal.

Others teachers, administrators or groups interested in booking tours can reach Strang at roymstrang@gmail.com