The large stand of trees just south of Highway 10 in Cloverdale may not look like much to the casual observer – except that it tends to stand out amongst the surrounding fields.
But a recent grant received by City of Surrey from CN Rail aims to make the location – called Mound Farm Park – a desirable one for walkers and nature-lovers alike.
Last week at a field adjacent the mound – which is usually blocked by a closed gate, accessed via a dirt road that connects to 168 Street – officials from the city, CN Rail and Tree Canada, as well as tree-planting volunteers from local organization Shah Satnam Ji, officially announced the project.
CN Rail, through its CN EcoConnexions program, gave the city $20,500, which will be used to plant shrubs and other foliage along an approximately 1,000-m stretch of farmland parallel to the train tracks.
Long-term development plans for the land include a trail system that extends alongside the new trees and into Mound Farm itself, where some trails already exist.
Once the newly planted trees are grown, they will “establish a visual buffer between the trail and the rail line,” City of Surrey parks manager Owen Croy said Friday when announcing the grant.
The project is one of 25 similar ones across Canada funded by CN Rail.
“We’re very pleased to provide financial assistance to make (this park) happen,” CN Rail executive vice-president of corporate services Sean Finn told the gathering.
“When you plant a tree, it’s not about today, it’s about tomorrow, and we really feel (future) generations of Surrey will benefit from these trees.”
Croy said the new foliage will provide habitat for various songbirds and other small animals, as well as act as hunting grounds for larger birds, such as owls, eagles and falcons, which already populate Mound Farm.
“What we want to do is establish a complete community of plants,” he said.
No timeline was given for completion of the project. Croy told Peace Arch News a master plan for the park was developed about a decade ago, and the city has been “chipping away at it, bit by bit.”
It was designated as protected agricultural land at about the same time a master plan was created, Croy added, and the new perimeter-trail system will not take away much, if any, of the agricultural area; the surrounding fields – all city owned – are actively farmed. The land also includes two heritage homes – Smith House and Snow House – on the mound itself.
Mound Farm Park itself is a drumlin – a glacial landform, which Croy called “a geological anomaly.”
“Sometimes, (Mound Farm) has taken a back seat to other important things people want – like soccer fields and playgrounds, but this place is protected forever and it’s not going away – the land is the real feature here, and it’s a beautiful thing,” he said.
Currently, the area is not open to the public, but Croy said that would obviously change once the new trails are in place. Angle parking and possibly a picnic area would also be added to accommodate visitors.