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Scott BennettAs published by the Brooklin Town Crier - July 9, 2010

by Scott Bennett

A few weeks ago I had the privilege of sitting down and talking with John Hulley, a Brooklin resident and Environmental Leader. Recently, John received the Evylin Stroud Lifetime Achievement award by the Durham Environmental Advisory Committee for the environmental protection work John has done within our community.

John HulleyJohn has lived in Brooklin for over 20 years, and during that time, he has made some great contributions to the environment. One significant project that John spearheaded was the creation of the Brooklin Lions Wilderness Trail. John worked with the town to use the land behind the Luther Vipond Arena, adjacent to Lynde Creek, to establish the trail. The purpose was to provide a walking area that highlights the natural environment. It`s paved, so it is accessible by wheelchair. Many local businesses and community groups contributed to the project.

The project was not just about paving a trail and building some benches, there was a lot of work that went into planning and designing. John had scientists and students perform a botanical survey, steam analysis, and a study of the mammals (some of the reports are available at the Whitby library). He told me he "hired a teacher for the summer to build a trail guide for schools". This 12 page guide is available on the Lion's Trail website ( There were even some large building projects such as the hibernaculum – a large pit filled with logs and boulders to make a home (I'll leave you in suspense to discover who lives there). I encourage you to go exploring on the trail. It's a great experience for both kids and adults.

Another example of John's environmental leadership within our community was 15 years ago when Queen Street was being paved and sidewalks were poured. During this time John saw a need for a tree on the boulevard in front of his house. He called the town to ask for permission and was surprised to find out that they would plant a tree for him. John talked with his neighbours on the street to see who else would like a tree planted. When the town provided a list of trees to select from, not many of them were native to the area. So in support of biodiversity, John helped the town choose more native tree species for their selection list.

John explained to me the benefits of biodiversity in plants. It means there is a large variety of living things – ensuring that if one plant is not doing well, that others will survive to support the living things that rely on plants (e.g., insects, animals, microorganisms, etc.). John explained that the Irish Potato Famine in the 1800's was caused, in part, by the lack of biodiversity. The potatoes were all of the same variety, so when they were devastated by a disease known as potato blight, the farmers didn't have another variety of potato that would withstand the disease and sustain the population of Ireland. This is a good example of why biodiversity is important and why John advocated having native trees planted within our community.

Congratulations John for being recognized as an environmental leader. Thank you for all that you have done!

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