Collaboration for Amphibians Breeds Innovation in Saanich!

Amphibian project collage KO 2017A group of passionate community members wait patiently for the go ahead to begin their nocturnal work. Night after night, they wait in the comfort of their homes for just the right conditions, looking for a sign to give them the green light and take to the streets. Then it happens. One drop, then two. Rain begins to fill the empty puddles that left dry and cracked under the long summer heat. Droplets bead across the windows under the glow of the living room lamp. Tonight is the night. Finally, the conditions are right for the fall migration to begin and patient volunteers spring into action. They dawn their waterproof jackets and safety vests, grabbing data sheets, flashlights and field guides as they run out the door. They take extra caution, as they walk out into the dark streets on these wet, slippery nights. And why do they do it? For the frogs of course!

Within British Columbia, federal and provincial agencies list over 60 percent of frog and toad species as being species of concern. The concern being the loss of these species in their natural habitat if sufficient preventative measures are not enacted. The most significant threats to these amphibious creatures include the loss, degradation and fragmentation of their habitat. Most amphibians need to travel between wetland and forest habitats to breed and overwinter, often waiting for wet nights to make their spring and fall migration. As residential and commercial development increases throughout the region, more trees are removed, important wetland habitats drained, and busy streets make travelling across habitats more and more challenging.

Habitat Acquisition Trust (HAT) is a local registered charity whose mission is to conserve nature on south Vancouver Island and the southern Gulf Islands. In order to better understand these threats to our local amphibian populations, more than 200 volunteer hours have been dedicated to counting frogs and salamanders (dead or alive) along roads across the Capital Regional District (CRD) since 2014. Habitat Acquisition Trust has been leading this project as a part of a larger effort to protect amphibians across BC. It is not glamorous work, but with the help of Biologists, Kristiina Ovaska and Christian Engelstoft, they are doing important work that can make a positive difference for our local frogs and salamanders. In just 2 years (2015, 2016), 2,330 amphibians were found on roads across the CRD. This includes seven different species (3 frogs and 4 salamanders), over 75% of which were found dead sadly.

HAT has been collecting this data in hopes that it will drive government action that will mitigate the threat and reduce the numbers of dead amphibians on our roads. Collected data was then mapped to identify hotspots throughout the area where mortality was the greatest. Rough-skinned Newts, in addition to Pacific Tree frogs, are having a particularly rough time on the roads along a short section of Prospect Lake Road bordering a wetland. Thanks to the dedication of HAT volunteer and engaged community member, John Potter, the data has been put in the hands of decision makers and is now being put into on-the-ground action in Saanich.

HAT has partnered with the District of Saanich on a collaborative pilot project this summer that could make a powerful difference for native frog populations, and engage the community in wildlife stewardship efforts. The hardworking staff in the Public Works Division of Saanich’s Engineering Department, led by Street Operations Manager William Doyle have taken the first step in the region by implementing an underground culvert allowing for safe amphibian travel on Prospect Lake Rd. Fencing aimed at funneling amphibians away from the road has been installed and will be monitored for success in the coming fall.

While this is an encouraging leap towards amphibian protection, there is still much to learn on effectively directing amphibians to culverts or tunnels to provide safe underpasses for travelling frogs. Moving forward, HAT will continue to work with local municipalities to find the best solutions to reduce amphibian road mortality and monitor the effectiveness of these underpasses.

HAT also aims to work with local landowners to help restore and protect important wetland and forest habitat through HAT's Stewardship and Land Protection Programs. To help our native amphibians, the public can also report sites where there are concentrations of amphibian roadkill or dead amphibians. If you have a pond or forest on your property, join HAT’s stewardship program to learn how you can support amphibian-friendly habitat and be a part of the solution!

Funding for this project was provided by the District of Saanich, as well as a significant donation from a private donor to HAT, and a grant from Environment Canada's Habitat Stewardship Program. HAT volunteers have contributed over 200 volunteer hours of amphibian counting, and significant contributions of time and expertise from Biologists Kristiina Ovaska and Christian Engelstoft helped in the design and development of the Prospect Lake culvert and fencing project.

To contact HAT and become a volunteer, member, or learn more reach out to:
250-995-2428 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Photos: (Main) Habitat Acquisition Trust Volunteers and staff put finishing touches on fences in August to guide amphibians to safe passage beneath Prospect Lake Road. (Top) The first amphibian underpass placed along Prospect Lake Road through this partnership. (Second) Amphibian road survey volunteers tracking hot spots of mortality for frogs and salamanders. (Third) A Pacific Chorus Frog (Pseudacris regilla) on the road. One of the seven different amphibians found during HAT’s road-kill surveys.

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Social Enterprise Coffee Roastery Perks up Non-profit Community

18809225 1852303578418896 6882539629887619072 n1Smoke & Mirrors Coffee Co., Victoria’s newest small-batch coffee roastery, is delivering funds to local non-profits where they need it most while taking a scientific approach to coffee roasting. Launched in June 2017, the team of two scientists, Dr. Euan Thomson and Hannah Charnock, reinvest their profits into four community building organizations.

Thomson and Charnock launched the social enterprise Smoke & Mirrors Coffee Co. to support non-profits with unrestricted cash donations. As a social enterprise, Smoke & Mirrors Coffee Co. aims to maximize social impact by applying commercial strategies to benefit the community.

Smoke & Mirrors is supporting four not-for-profit partners: Habitat Acquisition Trust (HAT), which engages the Victoria region in conservation efforts that protect and support habitats and wildlife; Restorative Justice Victoria (RJV), a key partner for local police, facilitating community focused alternative solutions to crime; UVic Women in Science, a community engagement hub for women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields in Victoria; and The Latitude Project, which brings critical infrastructure to remote communities in Central America. The organizations, inlcuding HAT, received their first cash donation in July, and Phillips Brewing & Malting Co. stepped up to match this donation. Smoke & Mirrors plans to collaborate with a different local business for each round of donations to amplify the impact of their contributions.

“As a society, we are learning the hard way that our consumption choices have environmental and social consequences. Through innovation and a boldly caring approach, Smoke and Mirrors is offering coffee drinkers a simple way to positively impact our natural environment,” says Alanah Nasadyk, HAT Community and Development Coordinator.

18445034 647571005437871 3708956920137121792 nRJV Executive Director Dr. Jessica Rourke offers this perspective:

“With restorative justice, our communities are experiencing the social benefits of moving away from a punitive approach and focusing on victim needs, addressing root causes of crime, and reinforcing social fabric. The efforts of Smoke and Mirrors will help us focus on victims of crime and build community resilience.”

Smoke & Mirrors coffee is available online at www.smokeandmirrors.coffee or from the community partners listed above. Come by the HAT office at 825 Broughton, Mon - Fri 9:30 - 4:30 to pick up some coffee! Please give us a call at 250-995-2428 to confirm availability. Free delivery by bicycle is available in Victoria, Esquimalt and Oak Bay. To learn more in person, look for the Smoke & Mirrors booth at Movie Under the Maltworks at Phillips Brewing & Malting Co. on August 26 and at Picot Night Market in Fernwood Square on August 31st.

Smoke & Mirrors Address: 2010 Government St., Victoria, BC, V8S 1P3

Tel: 204-541-0173 (Hannah), 778-677-0585 (Euan)

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

More info on supporting HAT with your purchases.

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Volunteer Spotlight: Miranda Cant

Miranda Cant Volunteer 2017This August we are sending off volunteer Miranda Cant with a huge thank you for lending her time and energy to sharing conservation with our community.

While it's always sad to see one of the HAT volunteer team head out, we know Miranda will bring her enthusiasm and knowledge about nature with her wherever it takes her. 

Miranda holds a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science at Royal Roads University. Her love of being outside and interacting with people and the environment makes her a natural fit for the HAT volunteer team. According to Miranda, "HAT has provided me something to look forward to on the weekends and allowed me to get out in the community, and I am forever thankfull!"

Miranda came to us this year and dove right in to HAT's outreach program, attending events to pass on the message of habitat stewardship. Miranda also joined the annual bat count!

Miranda says, "I first found out about HAT when I was volunteering with the Nature Conservancy at the Matson Conservation Area. I got inspired by the similar work they did, like the Nature Conservancy but at a regional level. I am inspired to volunteer with organizations such as HAT as it allows me to meet like minded individuals in the community. I love meeting new people who are just as passionate about the environment as I am!"

She adds, "My favourite experience volunteering with HAT is a tie between the In Bloom Festival at the Cowichan Garry Oak Preserve and bat counting. It was absolutely beautiful at the preserve and I felt honoured to be able to visit the property and educate people about HAT." When it comes to bat counting Miranda shares, "I have learned a lot more about bats and seeing them fly and the different places they live is just so cool."

When it comes to broadening horizons, Miranda explains that volunteering with HAT has helped a lot, "I have learned many things since I’ve started volunteering with HAT! I learned about the Blue grey Taildropper slug and how in Canada its only been recorded on Vancouver Island! How cool is that. I learned about the White Nose Syndrome affecting bats in Eastern Canada, as well as how common it is to have bats in residential areas."

"HAT has given me the opportunity to learn more about Vancouver Island and spread that knowledge to my class mates." - Miranda Cant

Thank you Miranda, we are so grateful to you for sharing your kindness and enthusiasm with the community!

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Conservation Connection Forum 2017: Early Bird Discount Tickets on sale now!

Conservation Connection Plain Logo

October 12th, Thurs

The Conservation Connection forum encourages people representing First Nations, land trusts, wildlife conservation experts, environmental groups, and those caring for nature across South Vancouver Island, the Gulf Islands, and beyond to come together bi-annually for a conference hosted by Habitat Acquisition Trust. With renowned speakers, a beautiful space to gather and collaborate, active nature walks, as well as a benefit auction night this is the event of the season. This local conference is surely not to be missed.

Earn an early bird discount for purchasing tickets before Sept 15th! Last chance to purchase tickets is October 1st, don't miss the deadline.

Businesses and Sponsorship

For those that wish to advertise their business with this event and act on their desire to support a green local economy, contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.or 250-995-2428 to negotiate a sponsorship. Monetary sponsorships and donations of goods or services for the silent auction benefit will allow our charity to fund ongoing programs for children in nature, species of concern, and habitat protection. Contact us by September 2017 for maximum exposure!

I want to attend

Space is limited, reserve your spot today for this expected sell-out event. Call 250-995-2428 and This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to be the first to secure tickets. Tickets available online here.

The Speaker Line-up

Coming soon... sign up for The Fern Newsletter to receive regular Habitat Acquisition Trust updates.

A teaser from the last Conservation Connection Forum here.

 

This event is funded by:

Logo vancity.svgvictoria foundation logo

To become a sponsor contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..c 250-995-2428

 

Click below for more details

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Pete Lewis Board Biography

Lewis Photo for HAT WebsitePete Lewis
Treasurer

Retired, Provincial Director of Aquatic Information and Professional Geoscientist (Geomorphologist)

Pete worked in the Canadian Arctic for 16 years as a federal scientist and manager before moving to BC in 1981 where he was involved in many aspects of provincial natural resource information programs.  He has also been active in Scouting outdoor programs for many years and previously served on the HAT Board from 2004 to 2009.  Pete sees HAT’s open, collaborative approach as an important contribution to connecting local residents, including youth, to the outdoors and the natural environment.

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13 Jan 2018
12:00PM - 02:00PM
Volunteer Appreciation Day!

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