Danny Frechette stands atop Snape’s Hill. | File photoScott Hayes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Local Snape’s Hill historian Danny Frechette had happy news for Tuesday’s council meeting.

His Happy Little Trees Project is coming strong into fall 2023 after a dismal result from a tree planting effort conducted last year.

In 2022, Parks Canada staff planted approximately 60 trees after years of arboreal devastation, all thanks to the pine beetle.

That first batch of plugs, however, had a near total failure rate due to a series of significant heat waves and for being thirsty.

“These ones, of course, were not watered,” Frechette reported. “They were just allowed to survive organically, and of course it was very high probably 97 per cent failure rate.”

Frechette then proposed to the Parks crew that they introduce larger, more robust trees and that they also give them a little extra drink of water every now and then. 

With that, Parks Canada’s team later carefully transplanted Douglas fir trees from Lake Annette. Trans Mountain also donated a 2,000-gallon, commercial-grade water tank and installed it on site for the watering.

The community leader conducted an audit last week and came back with good news from the hill.

“We have roughly a 93 per cent success rate. We have trees ranging in size of 18 inches up to four-plus feet. They are all very robust. They seem to have acclimatized to the shock,” Frechette said.

“These trees are not the only thing that are benefiting from this. We have a very, very robust understorey. All of the ground covers – roses, Labrador teas, many types of grasses – are doing very, very well. It’s delightful. It’s in full regalia. All of the lesser storey trees and whatnot are really coming along.”

The local historian’s dream for the 3.7-acre greenspace on the west side of the townsite is to create a self-sustaining place of contemplation and historical interpretation for the place originally known as Fitzhugh.

The hill is now bordered by residences and apartment buildings and has even been speculated as a site for winter sledding.

Frechette has other ideas, ones that speak to the history of the area. He wants to make it a place for Jasperites young and old to commune with nature and with themselves, too.

For this, he needs the community to come together in support of it. Parks Canada will have to lend its support as well, especially after some artifacts were discovered during the 2022 dig. Municipal council lent its support for Frechette’s passionate efforts going forward.

Frechette, for his part, was thankful and already has his eyes on a placid, sylvan refuge for all to enjoy.

“It’s easy to see that down the road, this is going to be a marvelous grove,” he said.

“We have a future to look forward to that’s going to be extraordinary. This space, of course, is something that is unique to this community.”

By Scott Hayes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Oct 05, 2023 at 12:00

This item reprinted with permission from    The Fitzhugh    Jasper, Alberta
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