New School, New Students, New Garden



November 21st was a fantastic day at the new KELSET Elementary School. The day was crisp and windy, but the rain held off as we got to work with our shovels and rakes.

As a part of HAT's Green Spots education program, 6 classes from Kindergarten to grade 5 planted the naturescape garden with over 200 native shrubs and trees. The students planned the garden, deciding where the plants would go and which features will be included in the space.

Thank you to all the students and staff at KELSET for all of their hard work, and to the parent volunteers who came out to lend a hand. JB and Earl Claxton Jr. from the TSAWOUT First Nations Community were there as well, and Dave Friend of Friendly organics. There were special appearances at the end of the day from Holly Arntzen and Kevin Wright, as well as HAT's own Garry Oakley! Shaw Daily came to cover the event, so keep your eyes open for the segment on TV.

The garden will be used as an outdoor classroom by the staff at KELSET, where students can learn about the local ecosystem and the history of the land around them. This is just the first part of the natural school ground that is planned for the new school.



Creek flows backwards on BC Rivers Day

RiverSong is an annual event on BC Rivers Day at Cuthbert Holmes Park where the community sings the salmon home to their creek of birth. The District of Saanich, Gorge Waterway Initiative, Friends of Cuthbert Holmes Park, and community elders hosted residents in the forest with a tea tent and conversation on how to protect their ancient spawning grounds. Thanks to a flooding tide, the water in Colquitz Creek flowed upstream as residents toured along its banks with HAT's Todd Carnahan. Many learned about habitat conservation and human impacts as the Colquitz Creek watershed continues to develop. Below, residents watch a Belted Kingfisher dive for minnows.riversong_tour_colquitz_view.jpg


Tiny Snakes in Shrinking Habitats

This little critter would sit neatly on a loonie, but he'd rather hide under a rock pile or rotten log in some woodland.  More unicorns have been spotted in our region than Sharp-tailed Snakes because most haven't even heard of Sharpies.  Despite their probable objections, HAT is trying to increase the little serpent's profile so that it can persist for another few thousand years in our region.   This snake and 117 other Species at Risk in the same habitats (Garry oak ecosystems) are facing the greatest threat since the ice age - explosive urban development.  For three years HAT and biologist Christian Engelstoft have been locating previously unknown Sharpie populations from Metchosin to Galiano Island with the help of landowners with suitable habitats.  We want to know where the snakes live so that as development occurs, their needs are taken into consideration.  We're only now learning about their habitat requirements and what it will take to maintain this biological hotspot called Southern Vancouver Island.  For more information on this project including a comparison of Sharpies to garter snakes, click here.



Tiny Snakes in Shrinking Habitats

An adult Sharpie would sit neatly on a loonie, but he'd prefer to hide in a rock pile or rotten log. Of course few people ever see one since they avoid sunlight. If you did see one, you might mistake it for a worm.   The Sharp-tailed Snake is Endangered, and it's only found in this part of Canada.

For three years HAT and biologist Christian Engelstoft have been meeting with landowners with suitable habitats for this rare snake: south-facing open woodlands with rocky slopes and downed wood.  We're focusing our efforts in the Highlands, Methchosin, and Galiano Island to discover previously unknown populations and to determine the extent of known populations.

Isolated by geography and their lack of wings, Sharpies are very vulnerable to habitat loss as a result of the explosive expansion of urban development in our region.  This darling mini-serpent isn't the only one hoping to keep their home - 117 Species at Risk need the same oak and arbutus woodland habitats to survive.  They've lived here for thousands of years, but we're only beginning to learn about their needs, and what it will take to maintain the rich biodiversity of our region.

Find out the difference between Sharpies and garter snakes here. Let us know if you see one, and take a photo!



Headwaters to Deepwaters II Conference Nov 7-9

SeaChange Marine Conservation Society, Saanich Inlet Protection Society and Peninsula Streams Society invite you

to join us at Headwaters to Deepwaters II: a conference bringing together scientists, governments, stewardship groups and communities to address the urgent need to inform ourselves about the present health of the entire Saanich Inlet and what we can do to improve it.

Conference Events

Friday November 7th (day): Science Symposium—Indicators of Ecosystem Health

Friday November 7th (evening): Saanich Inlet—A Celebrations Art Show & Reception

Saturday November 8th Saanich Inlet—Community Stewardship Fair

Sunday November 9th: Saanich Inlet—Stewardship & Restoration (field trips)

For more information and to register see:

For groups interested in participating in the Community Stewardship Fair, Saturday November 8th, please contact Judith Cullington This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 250-391-8772.



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