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Broom Bashing

Did you know that May is officially Invasive Species Action month in BC? There is no better time to get outside and do what you can in your yard or in your community to help battle invasive species like Scotch Broom. 

Along with the beautiful wildflowers blooming this time of year, many of you have likely noticed the bright yellow pea-like flowers that cover the shrub we call Scotch Broom (Cytisus scoparius)Originally native to the Mediterranean, it was transported to Great Britain and Ireland by Roman soldiers along with its prickly companion Gorse (Ulex europaeus). In the UK it has since spread rapidly across the landscape and is known as Common Broom. It was first introduced to the west coast by a Scottish immigrant, who lived in Sooke oVancouver Island, and was later used for slope stabilization along roadsides and as an ornamental in gardens    

Scotch Broom is an invasive species, which means it was introduced here and thrives to such a degree that, if left unchecked, it will cover all the open space that it can, often crowding out other more delicate plants. You will see fields and hillsides covered in Broomoften a dense thicket that is basically impossible to walk through. There will likely be very low diversity of other plants as they are shaded out and weakened by competition for resources.  

 

Part of HAT’s Good Neighbours Program is helping landowners learn how to manage invasive species on their property. HAT staff and volunteers offer advice and expert referrals regarding removal, replacement and maintenance.  

 If you would like to remove broom and you are feeling overwhelmed or unsure where to start, here are some resources filled with advice, tips and tricks for Broom removal:  

Invasive Species Council of BC Scotch Broom Factsheet 

Garry Oak Ecosystems Recovery Team Scotch Broom Management 

If you are interested in learning more about the History of Scotch Broom on Southern Vancouver Island click the following link. It is definitely worth a read! 

Glistening Patches of Gold”: The Environmental History of Scotch Broom (Cytisus scoparius) on Southern Vancouver Island, 1848-1950 

There are many other plants popping up at the moment that could stand to be pulled or cut. If you have any questions about a plant in your property please send a picture to our email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and we would be happy to identify it for you and give you some tips. Another great plant identification resource is the app iNaturalist, with the added bonus of reporting your siting and contributing to an ever-growing database. 

Here is a link to the downloadable version of HAT’s Invasive Species Guide  

PDF Here 

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Camas: The Roots of Life, Story, & Memory in the Land

Known by a few names, Camas (quamash, or more specifically ḰȽO,EL [pron. Kwtla-el]) is a beautiful flowering member of the lily family that brightens many spots along what is now called southern Vancouver Island every spring. With beautiful purples and clear whites, the camas tells us that spring has arrived and that summer is on its way. For many of us who are settlers here, descended from a vast number of peoples who came to these unceded and unsurrendered Coast Salish territories, the camas that blooms beneath the Garry Oaks of the various parks is a lovely spring sight that transforms the pastures of several parks from the rolling, green of winter in a very specific way that is tied to living on these territories. We may or may not know it, though the numbers of these flowers indicate that camas was a major staple food for the L’kwungen and WSÁNEĆ peoples before colonization. There is much more that the camas is trying to tell us newcomers with their late-spring bloom.

Camas grows throughout the Willamette Valley in Oregon (Kramer 2000), as far north as places like Prince George, and has been found archaeologically as far east as Blackfoot territory where it was imported and cultivated (Johnston 1970). Camas was traded, it was a source of wealth to the people in whose territories it grew naturally, central to the diets of pre-colonization peoples in the area (Turner & Kuhnlein 1983). It was grown (and still grows) in such quantity in places like Ku-sing-ay-las (a name for the area that is known as Victoria now) that it shaped the way the Coast Salish connect and communicated with the lands (Suttles 2005), influenced how communities were established and where camps and villages were built. In many ways, camas was/is as culturally important as the salmon, though camas  didn’t move so rapidly or expansively on their own. A starch that travelled well, camas brought people together all over the western coast of Turtle Island (one way of referring to the still existing Indigenous “North America;” based on the Haudenosaunee oral history of Sky Woman, this term was taken up during the 1970’s as an anti-colonial term for the continent), connecting the Coast Salish peoples in ways not always assumed in our colonial society. It is quite possible that Cowichan camas was even traded for the volcanic glass tools (that originated in eastern Oregon), or the jade adze (that came from near Prince George) that were both found at the Ye’yumnuts Ancestral Site in the Cowichan valley (Commemorating Ye’yumnuts).

It’s no secret that the L’kwungen and WSÁNEĆ both used fire to work with the ecosystems that sustained and sustain them (Turner 1999). If you’ve never wondered about the Garry Oak meadows that dot the parks and rare fields around what has become greater Victoria, these are the remains of a managed ecosystem that stretches over most of L’kwungen and WSÁNEĆ territories (and, by all reports, Cowichan and Sci’anew territories as well). It also explains why maintaining the remaining Garry Oak ecosystems is such a challenge for conservation groups like HAT, as early colonial governments outlawed the use of fire. The contemporary “fear” of fire management (or swidden agriculture) among settler populations is an outcome of those racially motivated laws (Turner 1999, especially page 189). From Meeacan (Beacon Hill Park) to “Uplands Park,” the camas fields stretched between villages, providing enough sustenance for many more people than actually lived here, leading to trade with other nations all around the Pacific Northwest.

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HAT Challenges You!

HAT is launching its first ever artistic challenge! 

This challenge is open to all and encourages you to show your artistic side by creating art inspired by wildflower drawing contributed by talented local artist and HAT's friend, Joanne Thomson (www.joannethomson.com).

You are welcome to simply colour the pages in your own style or just use it as inspiration to let your brain go wild! 

ANY MEDIUM. ANY SIZE.

Example Mediums:

  • watercolour paints
  • pencil crayons
  • pastels
  • felt
  • clay
  • ink
  • dog drool
  • sticks
  • rocks
  • fabric
  • whatever you want!

HAT hopes to spread the artistic messages of relaxation, engagement and appreciation of the natural world. The wildflower this week is Camas/ḰȽO,EL (Camassia), and it is just starting to bloom in parks all over the region. 

Places to check out this beautiful flowers include Mt. Douglas/PKOLS, Mt. Tolmie, Beacon Hill Park and Uplands Park (just to name a few). Please go out and respectfully explore these areas, gain inspiration from these beautiful plants and of course adhere to social distancing guidelines. 

We would love to see what you come up with! So check out the inspiration drawing in the file below, and if you would like to, please share your art with HAT and we will be sure to post your beautiful creations on our Social Media (@HabitatAcqTrust). 

Download PDF HERE

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Camas Hill

The act of freeing delicate mosses and wildflowers from beneath the overbearing invasive species that shade and crowd out all surrounding life, is a wonderful act of repentance for the harm that settlers and their relatives committed and continue to commit on this landscape. The impact of colonization on Vancouver Island is one that can be seen on the physical landscape around us. Invasive species create vast swaths of land where biodiversity is reduced to almost nothing. In late Janurary HAT hosted a memorial pull on Camas Hil for Moralea Milne, a butterfly specialist, restoration guru and an advocate for reconciliation and partnerships with indigenous communities during her career as councillor. The event was attended by a small group of volunteers who knew Moralea and a few HAT staff.

 

Photo credit Paige Erickson-McGee

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Join the HAT Team this Summer 2020

We expect to have one position available: Conservation Technician.

We're looking for a hard-working, enthusiastic person to support our programs in conservation. See details below and apply by Tuesday April 14th at 5:00pm

This position is contingent on federal funding from Canada Summer Jobs. Anticipated confirmation by early May 2020.

PDF VERSION

Job Posting: Conservation Technician

Duration: 16 weeks, starting early May 2020

Wage: $15.00 per hour, 35 hours per week (full time)

Habitat Acquisition Trust (HAT) is a Victoria-based land trust working with our community to protect habitat within the Capital Regional District (CRD). Our mission is to conserve natural spaces on southern Vancouver Island and the southern Gulf Islands through land acquisition, legal protection of private land, restoration, education, and stewardship programs. We work closely with community groups, government, individual landowners, indigenous communities, and conservation organizations to coordinate effective habitat protection projects.

HAT is looking for a dynamic, self-motivated individual to assist our programs this summer. 

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