An Update from Land Acquisition Coordinator Barb von Sacken

2016 in Review - from Habitat Acquisition Trust's Land Acquisition Coordinator

sea to sea P1050542 Torrey Archer 400x533 barbThank you to all of you for a wonderful first year as the Land Acquisition Coordinator with Habitat Acquisition Trust. It’s been a great privilege getting to meet so many caring and committed landowners and caretakers over the past year. 

Throughout the year, I appreciated the time many of you have taken to let me know what makes a place special to you, to walk the land with me and share stories of your connections to your land.

I’m looking forward to another year of learning more from you, the experts about your land, and as always I appreciate hearing from you about what is happening on your covenant from wildlife observations, to photos of the changing seasons, to changes you’ve observed in waterways and plant life. I look forward to our continued work together to protect special places in our region.

HAT's Compliance Monitoring

This spring and summer HAT staff and volunteers will again be monitoring the covenants in the Greater Victoria Area. Annual monitoring allows HAT to observe changes on the land and in conjunction with landowners, identify and respond to any changes or activities that may not be consistent with our conservation covenant terms. 

Species Highlight: Pollinators

Why do we care?

Pollinators make up a wide range of species far beyond the traditional honey bee that we tend to think of. In fact there are over 450 of species of native bees in BC! But pollinators also include butterflies, moths, beetles, birds and elsewhere in the world even bats. Pollinators are important to all of us as their work sustains ecosystems, pollinates wildflowers and also provides pollination for as much as 1/3 of the food we eat.

oceanspray admiral

Declines in some populations of pollinators are attributed to habitat loss, invasive species, and climate change.

You can help by creating habitat for pollinator’s by:
- Buying pollinator friendly plants. For more information visit:
- Providing basking spots for butterflies by placing a few flat stones in sunny, sheltered locations.
-Ensuring a clean, reliable water source that has shallow or sloping sides to provide drinking and bathing opportunities for pollinators.
Visit for more information on pollinators. Habitat Acquisition Trust's next Stewardship Series Guide will feature Pollinators, sign up as a member today for your free copy in the mail.

Plant Highlight

Ocean SprayHolodiscus discolor not only provides a showy display of cream colored cascading flowers in June—August but is also an important plant for pollinators including bees, butterflies and flies.

Keep and eye out for...

Bur Chervil - Anthriscus caucalis is native to Europe. This annual is from the carrot family and adapts well to shaded sites and poor, sandy soils as well as moist fields, ditches, disturbed sites and waste places.

bur chervil

You can help!

You can help by lending your efforts to control the population and spread of invasive Bur Chervil if it occurs on your land.
-Remove any plants you find as soon as possible, before seeds develop.
-Pull when soil is moist or cut to ground level after flowering but before seeds mature.
-Remove cut material containing flowering stems and seeds from your property.
-The CRD recommends placing invasive plants in clear plastic bags clearly marked ‘INVASIVE SPECIES’ so your service provider can identify them as garbage, not yard and garden material.
-Contact your local waste service provider for further information on collection and disposal options.
Visit ISCL for more information on invasive plants.


Read more: An Update from Land Acquisition Coordinator Barb von Sacken

Early Environmental Education: Filling a community need

Outdoor education programs and the schools that now offer them face waitlists, as more parents are looking for ways to ensure their children get a much-needed dose of learning in nature. There is a demand greater than our current school system’s ability to fill for learning in a natural setting. When South Park School launched its outdoor learning program, parents were camping overnight just to get a spot for their children on it. Local charity Habitat Acquisition Trust is working to fill this need for nature-based learning, through several partnerships and programs.

goldstream resizeTeaming up with the Goldstream Nature House through the Goldstream Chums program, Habitat Acquisition Trust supports learning about the salmon run for over 6,000 students and families annually. Keeping knowledge of the role salmon play in local natural heritage alive and well.

Through a program dubbed Green Spots, Habitat Acquisition Trust responds to requests from three local schools and hundreds of students a year to facilitate hands-on nature-based workshops. In fall of 2017, 71 elementary students at Marigold School picked up shovels to plant a pollinator garden, enhancing an existing endangered Garry Oak ecosystem on their very own school grounds. Now in spring, Camas and Chocolate Lilies are healthy and growing from the mulch playfully placed by young students.

At South Park Family School kids from kindergarten to elementary ages dug in to plant over 550 native seeds and plants. After preparing the ground themselves, students and families gathered to host a First Nations drumming and dance ceremony, by the end of the day dozens of children were smiling and smeared with the dirt of a job well done.

It was a fantastic whole-community learning event,described South Park Principal Sean McCartney.

Stelly’s Secondary: Supporting Community Involvement in the Curriculum

It started in 2016, when a high school student from Stelly’s Green Team club wrote an email to Habitat Acquisition Trust, reaching out for a chance to do nature-based volunteering in the community. From there, the students and land trust teamed up to learn about and restore a local park called Oak Haven in Central Saanich. Through a series of nature walks and days spent at the park learning to identify and remove invasive weeds, the students received an enriching experience that in turn benefited their community.

stelly students oak haven 2016 broom pullIn managing protected spaces, Habitat Acquisition Trust endeavours to connect these precious landscapes with people and groups in the community, to ensure their ongoing stewardship. When the Stelly’s Students approached us about wanting to get involved, I was so moved. Students want to make a difference in their community, we are here to connect them with those opportunities, wherever we can” – Alanah Nasadyk, Community and Development Coordinator

Coming up on April 28th, 50 Stelly’s Secondary Students from the Global Perspectives Program will return to Oak Haven Park to continue the project of removing invasive plants like Scotch Broom, Daphne Laureola, and Himalayan Blackberry. Expert rare plant specialist and biologist, Matt Fairbarns will lead the students on a botany talk, to deepen their understanding of the native plant world around them. With the park protecting a plant species of special concern, and a wide variety of wildlife students can take pride in keeping this important space from being damaged by invading plants.

The goal of our Global Perspectives program is to make a difference in the world. Our Grade 12s focus on making a difference in a developing country, but our Grade 11s focus on making a difference in our community. This could be increasing public awareness about issues, supporting social change, helping out with social projects (we volunteer at Our Place each week) or helping to improve the environment in Central Saanich. Through beach cleanups and work with HAT, we hope our students make this a better place to live.” – Chris McDonald, Stelly’s Global Perspectives Teacher

Habitat Acquisition Trust will be involved in several upcoming all-ages, family-friendly and nature-based events:

April 23rd Spring Fling Pollinator Festival, Matson Lands - 5 minute walk from West Bay Marina along West Song Walkway, with Hummingbird walk and talk including nest-spotting at 10:15 AM and a Bee Safari with Madame Beespeaker at 1 PM.

May 6th Ruby Creek Habitat Restoration and Blue Slug Search, Meet at Witty’s Lagoon Park Main Parking, 10 AM – 3 PM, for more information or to RSVP email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

July 11th, Marine Day, Witty’s Lagoon, intertidal exploration, a beach clean-up, and seaside plant walks from 10 AM – 1 PM

nserc crsng high bwThe Green Spots Program is funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada and the donations of community members. Habitat Acquisition Trust gratefully accepts the support of nature education online at For more information contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 250-995-2428.


Read more: Early Environmental Education: Filling a community need

Calypso Woods Update

Habitat Acquisition Trust conducted a site visit to Calypso Woods recently in preparation for a tree inventory. We are looking forward to celebrating the finalization of legal protection for these incredible lands thanks to the support of our Habitat Guardians and the incredible landowners. Here is some footage of the falls at Calypso Woods that connect with Bilston Creek through a tributary the landowners named Nitya Creek. With the spring rains, local waterfalls are just gushing with beauty.


Read more: Calypso Woods Update

Jester Cats? It's no joke for bird conservation

The stats on outdoor cats don't look good. The figures are almost unbelievable: an estimated 200 million birds are killed by outdoor cats each year in Canada alone. With many bird species like the Western Screech Owl and Bluebird facing dire threats to their survival, that is a significant number and a worthwhile conservation concern.

So what is to be done? The best solution for the birds, and the longevity of your feline friends, would be to keep them strictly indoors. Except when under constant supervision or on leash. Yes, cats on leashes are indeed a thing. 

This can be a tough sell for both longtime outdoor cats and owners alike. Another option? Affixing cat bibs or cat collar covers (like these charming Birdbesafe numbers) to your cat's collar.

birdbesafeBrightly coloured collar covers are scientifically proven to reduce birds caught by 87%, as birds' unique vision is alerted by the cat's compromised camouflage. Additionally, some collars have reflective material that makes a kitty less likely to be run over during nighttime forrays across roads. Plus, your cat will either look super fashionable or like a hilarious little jester.

A helpful Habitat Acquisition Trust supporter weighs in on his experience with cat bibs,


Read more: Jester Cats? It's no joke for bird conservation

Hooo's out there?

17211995 10158210108545004 4028403072784234047 oFollowing the completion of this year's Western Screech Owl listening surveys, and as we embark on checking posted nest boxes for newcomers, we'd like to share Holly's surveying story.

By: Habitat Acquisition Trust Volunteer, Holly McCullough

On a crisp day in early March, my partner, Gavin, and I along with our friends, Gail & Jake, set out to do a Western Screech Owl survey with HAT. We loaded up with gear and got our mission’s instructions from Paige in the Park and Ride on Helmcken Road. Armed with a megaphone and wearing our safety vests, we headed out to Highland road for our second attempt in two years to locate the Western Screech Owl on this particular route.


Read more: Hooo's out there?

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