Community

Youth help city stay SHaRP and SNAPpy

Alexandra Singh of SHaRP pulls blackberry bushes from Kiyo Park. - Evan Seal / The Leader
Alexandra Singh of SHaRP pulls blackberry bushes from Kiyo Park.
— image credit: Evan Seal / The Leader

Clearing blackberries can be like wrestling a giant prickly octopus, but a group of students are spending the summer ridding numerous city parks of the invasive plant, and at the same time, picking up litter and installing bird boxes – all in an attempt to maintain Surrey's diverse natural habitats.

Members of SNAP (Surrey Natural Areas Partnership) and SHaRP (Salmon Habitat Restoration Project) recently combined forces for the day at Kiyo Park near 90 Avenue and 140 Street, clearing invasive plants, planting native species and educating the public about environmental stewardship.

"Any way we can work to help out the environment I think it's really great," said new SHaRP member Jagraj Chahal, 18, "It's actually a really fun program. There's lots of different things to do and you can really tell afterwards when you look back at our work that we've made a difference."

Both programs run throughout the summer, taking on a variety of environmental projects with the goal of cleaning and enhancing the natural environment.

"We employ post-secondary and high school students to do habitat restoration and environmental outreach in the parks along with education at big events like Canada Day and Fusion Fest," said SNAP Program Coordinator Steve McGlenn. "And we also do free drop-in programs for kids in the parks and promote the benefits all the parks provide."

The Green Timbers Heritage Society donates the money for student salaries, contributing about $190,000 a year.

For UBC Environmental Studies and economics student Nimisha Sharma, 22, being a SHaRP Agricultural Stewardship team leader has given her an opportunity to put her studies into practical use in the field.

"Normally we work with land owners who have salmon bearing streams on their properties to help them enhance and protect the riparian areas on their properties," she said, "I have the knowledge because of all the classes I've taken but we don't get much hands-on experience (in school) so I am able to get that from this, which is great."

For more information about the SNAP and SHaRP programs visit http://www.surrey.ca/culture-recreation/2013.aspx and http://www.surrey.ca/community/1997.aspx

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