Ponderosa pines, Douglas fir and spruce line the long, winding driveway leading to the rustic home, eventually exposing a vast expanse of land, with towering giant red cedars, a stream teeming with salmon and a man-made lake stocked with trout.
This is the home of the late Tom Godwin, who said some years ago he was running out of room to plant trees on the property, a forested area with 10,000 trees he’d planted from his on-site nursery.
They include walnut, sugar maples, oak, Chinese chestnut, weeping cypress and countless other species.
This unspeakably beautiful property has been bequeathed to the City of Surrey as a biodiversity preserve, to be protected in perpetuity.
The city was expected to introduce the Godwin Farm Biodiversity Dedication Bylaw on Monday night, setting in motion the 10.6-hectare (26.19-acre) property into a nature preserve.
“The city, as a qualified recipient under the program, must ensure that the biodiversity and natural heritage values of the donated lands are conserved in perpetuity,” a corporate report to council Monday states.
The preservation of this property was a dream of Godwin’s long before he died.
When he moved there, he had the property rezoned agricultural to help preserve it.
He hinted in a 2004 interview that he would be putting further restrictions on it to protect the land.
The property at 9016 164 Street was given to the city last year, but the protection bylaw was just recommended on Monday.
“The donation represents a significant gift of property and is a notable example of owners of ecologically sensitive lands donating lands for lasting preservation,” the report to council says.
Godwin was one of Surrey’s most fervent environmental boosters, particularly when it came to tree preservation.
He quit as a member of the Environmental Advisory Commission in 2004, when the city was cutting down trees at a rate of 10,000 a year.
In his letter of resignation, he said the city was growing too fast, and the environment was paying for it deeply.
“We have all watched the vast areas of clear cutting of large old trees going on in our community, the rows on rows of box housing, inadequate storm water management and the total lack of any environmental input,” Godwin writes in the Oct. 16, 2014 letter to committee chair Dr. Roy Strang. “… what I have seen go on in Surrey just makes me want to cry. Having an advisory committee, even though impotent, somehow gives this mad rush of development legitimacy and I can’t be part of that.”
In 2013, Godwin died at the age of 75.