Parking near a tree near French Creek Marina that housed an eagle’s nest is no longer allowed. — Submitted photo

Solutions sought for French Creek tree that housed eagle’s nest

‘It’s really important that we don’t put the nest in some other eagle’s territory’

The owner of a property near the French Creek Marina where an eagle’s nest tree is located is seeking solutions to help preserve wildlife.

French Creek House Ltd director Quinn Griesdale indicated they are looking at the best option to mitigate any impact on future bald eagles that use the tree for nesting.

The tree has been designated as a wildlife tree — saved for nesting under the Wildlife Protection Act, Section 34, by the Province of B.C. It’s located on 1025 Lee Rd., a property being primed by the owners for large-scale development that will feature a five-story buildings for residential and commercial purposes.

The Ministry of Forest, Lands and Natural Resources granted French Creek House approved a permit application submitted last December to cut the tree, based on an arborist’s assessment that deemed the tree to be in a decaying state and requiring removal. There is also a report submitted to the ministry that indicated the nest in the tree was inactive. But there were adult bald eagles that nested on the tree, was monitored by the Save Estuary Land Society.

The ministry suspended the permit but according to Griesdale, they will have to cut down the tree because it is badly decayed and can be a liability.

“The problem for us is the tree is not located in the middle of a forest where nobody goes,” Griesdale said. “This is a tree at the edge of the property where people walk on a regular basis. There’s a road there that’s not ours, it belongs to EPCOR. We can’t control the road and we can’t control the people in the pub house. We can’t control the environments to protect the people in case the tree falls down.”

In order to protect the eagles’ environment, Griesdale said the ministry advised them to approach the Hancock Foundation, a noted authority on eagles that have successfully relocated eagles nests. He was advised to look for a local eagle expert that knows the territory of the eagles.

READ MORE: Group aims to preserve French Creek tree

“It’s really important that we don’t put the nest in some other eagle’s territory,” Griesdale said.

To protect the public for now, Griesdale said parking under or near the tree will no longer be permitted and there will be a fence installed around the area where the tree could land should it fall.

The Save Estuary Land Society, which has been fighting the permit to cut the tree down, wanted an independent arborist to assess the state of the tree.

A local resident, Steve Vogel who lives near the eagle’s nest tree, does not agree with the ministry’s permit application process and wants to see it amended.

“Basically what they do is rely on the developer to supply the assessment of the tree,” said Vogel. “There is no independent assessment on the part of the ministry. That is absolutely the flawed part of the process.”

The society sought copies of the reports and documents regarding the permit from Ministry of Forest, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, and the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change the through freedom of information requests and was successful in their application.

But Denise Foster of the Save Estuary Land Society said it will take a month or so before they can receive the reports and other documents.

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