The Williams Lake Field Naturalists are in the process of mounting a formal protest against the mowing this week of the grass along the causeway leading to the Scout Island Nature Centre.
In a notice that was sent to the naturalist’s executive president Fred McMechan said he was at Scout Island Wednesday and noticed a city crew member mowing the west border of the causeway to about one metre wide.
He said he asked the worker to stop mowing until he could talk to city officials.
McMechan said he spoke with Gary Muraca, Director of Municipal Services, Mayor Walt Cobb and Councillor Ivan Bonnell, Chair of Public Works.
“On Thursday Coun. Bonnell indicated that mowing would be stopped but on Friday morning Mayor Cobb directed that the mowing on the east side be completed,” McMechan said.
Mayor Cobb called the Tribune/Weekend Advisor Friday afternoon to explain his decision to ask for the causeway to be mowed.
He said that while he was at Scout Island earlier this week testing out the new machine that will remove goose droppings from the public beach, he noticed that the causeway had become overgrown and unsightly.
He subsequently sent an email to the council members and received a majority consensus to ask city crews to mow the causeway while they were already out mowing boulevards around the city in preparation for welcoming guests to the city for Stampede and the summer tourist season.
Mowing the sides of the causeway also needed to be done in preparation for city crews who will be working next week to repair potholes that have developed along the roadway, Cobb said.
He added that people often park along the causeway and having a clear view beside the roadway is important for the safety of children who may be playing by the roadside and not be easily seen.
Cobb noted that the causeway, boat launch, public beach and picnic areas are the city’s responsibility.
He said he had also been advised that the area had been checked for bird nests before the mowing was started.
Support for stopping the mowing gained momentum on Facebook Friday.
Meanwhile, the naturalists are writing letters and making plans to be at the city council meeting Tuesday to make their case for not mowing the causeway.
As one of the naturalists protesting the mowing, Chris Coates said in her letter: “The grasses and adjacent wetlands and waterways are part of the natural environment that wildlife depends on, whether as shelter for birds, deer and their young, crossing turtles, or a myriad other uses.”
She said Scout Island is known as a nature preserve, and nature is not clipped and tidy like a suburban park.
“It is true that the public use and appreciate the city maintained beach and boat launch, but I would suggest the greatest use by far of Scout Island is of people coming to enjoy its natural environment,” Coates said. “Scout Island is perhaps Williams Lake’s greatest tourist attraction, and I am sure most visitors would be opposed to the mowing of the causeway.
“They expect to see, and appreciate, long grass! It’s natural, like a nature preserve should be. There is already a large formal clipped lawn area in Scout Island, with plenty of room for people to use as a suburban park.
“Please do not take away any more natural habitat from the wildlife, or the people who come to see it. Please do not mow the Scout Island causeway.”