Pete Lewis Board Biography

Lewis Photo for HAT WebsitePete Lewis

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.


Read more: Pete Lewis Board Biography

Ruby Creek Riparian Restoration Workshop

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Habitat Acquisition Trust is hosting an invasive species removal event and Riparian Restoration Workshop on Ruby Creek in Metchosin with Dave Polster of Polster Environmental Services.

We would like to invite you to join us for this unique educational opportunity and come out to get your hands dirty and have fun while broadening your knowledge base on habitat restoration, riparian corridors and bioengineering with expert Dave Polster!

The 2-day workshop includes a full day in a classroom setting and a full day in the field putting your new skills to work. In addition, there is an invasive species removal day prior to the workshop in partnership with the Greater Victoria Green Team and CRD Parks, in which volunteers will be clearing invasives from Ruby Creek to prepare for the field portion of the workshop. Participants who attend the optional invasive removal day receive a 50% discount on the cost of the Restoration Workshop.


Event: Invasive Species Removal on Ruby Creek in Metchosin - Optional FREE event

Date: September 28, 2017

Time: 10am-3pm

Hosted by: Habitat Acquisition Trust in partnership with

CRD Parks & the Greater Victoria Green Team

No Cost: A volunteer community event*

Lunch: Included at no cost

Event: 2-Day Riparian Restoration Workshop with Dave Polster R.P.Bio

(Polster Environmental Services) on Ruby Creek

Dates: September 29th & 30th

Time: 9am-3:30pm

Hosted by: Habitat Acquisition Trust

Cost: $100 for both days*

*Note: Those attending the Sept. 28th volunteer invasive plant removal day receive a %50 discount for the workshop.

Lunch: Bring your own lunch, or add $7/day for a HAT provided 'bag' lunch.


You can register for the 28th and/or the Workshop (29-30th) online at:

Space is limited for the 2-day workshop to 30 participants, so register soon to reserve your spot!

If you would like more details, or are interested in RSVP'ing for just the Sept.28th Ruby Creek Invasive Plant Pull Event

contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 250-995-2428.

Who Should Attend?

Anyone wanting to learn more about restoration options including bioengineering with an emphasis on riparian restoration techniques and other innovative options involved in the restoration and reclamation of damaged ecosystems using a combination of structural materials, vegetative cuttings and other specialized methods.

What's included in the cost of the workshop?

2 full days of hands-on, educational trainingcourse manual coffee/tea and morning snackstools & gloves


Ruby Creek is a small watercourse that empties into Witty's Lagoon. The area of Ruby Creek that workshop participants are restoring runs through private land, is adjacent to Witty's Lagoon and protected in perpetuity through a conservation covenant with Habitat Acquisition Trust and the CRD. HAT and community volunteers have been restoring this land and riparian corridor for over 10 years. We will also be continuing to clear laurel-leaved daphne on adjacent CRD Parklands to enhance the habitat for the Provincially at-risk Blue-grey Taildropper Slug, found near Ruby Creek in 2016.


Dave Polster is a plant ecologist with over 35 years of experience in vegetation studies, reclamation and invasive species management. He has developed a wide variety of reclamation techniques for the re-establishment of riparian and aquatic habitats using soil bioengineering and other innovative techniques. To find out more about Dave, check out his website at:


This two day course will focus on restoration techniques including soil bioengineering and options involved in restoration and reclamation of damaged ecosystems using a combination of structural materials, vegetative cuttings and other specialized methods with an emphasis on riparian restoration. Soil bioengineering is an applied science that uses live plant materials to perform an engineering function such as slope stabilization, soil erosion control, or seepage control.

Topics to be covered include:

Factors involved in successful restorationSuccessional reclamationSoil bioengineering techniquesRegional differences in climate, soils, hydrology, plant types, and growing seasonsMaintenance and monitoring


This workshop is a part of this year's Metchosin Good Neighbours Project. The goal of this HAT project is to engage with the Metchosin community to find solutions to significant local conservation issues and to promote community appreciation of healthy natural habitats. We are doing this on HAT covenanted lands and with private landowners in Metchosin. We are grateful to have the opportunity to host this workshop and invasive plant removal event through our generous funders of HAT's Good Neighbours Program

The Sitka Foundation

BC Gaming

Metchosin Foundation

District of Metchosin




Read more: Ruby Creek Riparian Restoration Workshop

Invasive Red-Eared Slider Turtles: A greater threat than first suspected

WPT group on log KO photoA row of turtles basks on a log in the lake, the sun warms their bodies like contented sunbathers. It’s a delightful, idyllic scene – or is it?

Take a closer look at those turtles. Do they have a vivid red-orange underbelly? Or is the belly yellow and the cheeks with a blushing red to brown streak?

If you’ve spotted a turtle that appears painted red to orange on its belly, you’re lucky to be looking at Vancouver Island’s only remaining native species of freshwater turtle, a member of the endangered coastal population of Western Painted Turtles (Chrysemys picta bellii). A welcome sight and an animal that needs all the help it can get to keep its remaining wetland habitat livable.

If you’ve spotted a turtle with a yellow belly, “red ears”, or a bold yellow Z-stripe on the side of its face, you are looking at an abandoned pet. Red-eared Sliders (Trachemys scripta elegans) and Yellowbelly Sliders (Trachemys scripta scripta) can live to 50 years old, and grow to over 30 cm (12 inches) long. Pet owners that find themselves unwilling to honour a life-long commitment to their turtles look to the great outdoors - Instead of responsibly finding their pet a new home or surrendering pets to an animal shelter. Yes, many turtles – at least 6 species – have been abandoned in our lakes and ponds. Unfortunately, the wild is not the place for domestically raised, non-native species. Of all the species released here in BC, only one – the Red-eared Slider – is released in sufficient number to allow males an females to find each other.

Other turtles released in BC include the Common Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentine), a Map Turtle (Graptemys sp.), Reeve’s Turtle (Chinemys reevsi), European Pond Terrapin (Emys orbicularis), and one species of softshell turtle (Apalone sp.). These five are disctinctive and cannot be mistaken for our native Painted Turtle.

Red eared slider nestingIf an abandoned pet Slider survives the ordeal of going from a cozy, all-inclusive home to fending for itself outdoors, it now poses a serious risk to coexisting with Western Painted Turtles. We have found that Sliders frequently have respiratory disease when rescued from the wild, and this could be spread to native Painted Turtles.

WPT log ken groatDisease is not the only problem, introduced Sliders compete with native turtles for basking habitat, food, and nesting sites. Not only that, but Sliders increase pressure on other species as they gobble up plants, crustaceans, aquatic insects, snails, amphibians, and their eggs. As bigger turtles, Sliders can easily dominate basking logs. Basking spots are not only a nice place to catch some sun, they are essential to maintaining healthy metabolic rate and digestive function in Painted Turtles. Suitable habitat for Painted Turtles is essential, yet in the Victoria region over 80% of pre-colonial wetlands have already been lost, and water quality has declined in the remaining waterbodies with alteration of flow, as well as modern use of industrial chemicals, fertilizers, and pesticides. Now Painted Turtles have to cope with abandoned pets on top of habitat loss and degradation.

Red-eared Sliders are among the top 100 worst invaders recognized by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). But at least these non-native Sliders can’t hatch babies in British Columbia’s cool northern climate… right? While this was once thought to be true, it turns out our worst fears about the invaders are confirmed. BC’s first record of successfully hatched Slider nestlings in the wild came in 2015, during Coastal Painted Turtle Project nest monitoring in Delta. Before this, we had only found Slider nests with partially developed embryos, and nearly successful but dead hatchlings. The survival of Slider hatchlings in 2015 is concerning for a number of reasons. With projected climate warming, the nesting success of Sliders may only increase. Not only that but, Slider’s lower age of maturity could provide a reproductive edge in overtaking our endangered Painted Turtles locally.

bb wptSo what’s to be done about this rival for precious habitat? Aimee Mitchell and researchers at the Coastal Painted Turtle Project recommend recording non-native turtle and nest observations, removing non-native turtles before successful breeding, monitoring the area following removal, and public education on non-native turtles.

Habitat Acquisition Trust welcomes your observations of turtles and turtle nests on South Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands. Please send your observations, with clear photographs whenever possible, to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Thank you to Gavin Hanke of the Royal BC Museum and Aimee Mitchell of the Coastal Painted Turtle Partnership for information included in this article.

Habitat Acquisition Trust’s Western Painted Turtle program for habitat restoration, enhancement, and education on South Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands is funded by Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Habitat Stewardship Program and people like you. Please support local turtle stewardship with a gift at

Photo of Western Painted Turtles on a log by Kristiina Ovaska.



Read more: Invasive Red-Eared Slider Turtles: A greater threat than first suspected

Fire at Mount Quimper Conservation Covenant

Mount Quimper Fire Jun 2017 from aboveAround 1:00 pm on Tuesday, July 4th, Sooke Firefighters, the Capital Regional District (CRD) and Ministry of Forestry were called to the scene of a forest fire on Mt. Manuel Quimper. Mt. Manuel Quimper is part of the Sooke Hills Conservation Covenants co-held by Habitat Acquisition Trust and The Land Conservancy. These lands are owned by the CRD. 

Thanks to fire suppression by Sooke Fire and Rescue, the fire never never reached a hectare in size. However, some of the trees were chain-sawed and pink fire-retardent covered the area. The fire was located around the Manzanita Trail, which is a Mountain Biking trail in the Mount Quimper area of the Sooke Hills Sea-to-Sea park. 

Mount Quimper Fire Jun 2017This incident is a clear reminder of how flammable the ecosystems of our area are at this time of year, and to practice extreme fire caution when out and about. The fire's proximity to the existing trail and lack of lightning in the area at the time suggests that this fire is human caused. Open fires are currently banned across British Columbia, at the time of writing, and the province remains in a state of emergency due to wildlfires. We would also like to remind park visitors that CRD by-law prohibits smoking in public parks. 

Mount Quimper Fire Jun 2017 2The fire at Mount Quimper impacted both a thickly forest area and aopen rock outrcop meadows, where the thick mossy layers will take a long time to recover. As a result of the fire, there are anumber of charred, dead trees left still standing. If visiting this area of the park, be aware of the possible danger presented by standing dead trees.

Thank you to everyone visiting this area responsibly and supporting your local land trust in the protection of your community's natural areas. 

More on the Sooke Hills Conservation Covenants here.


Read more: Fire at Mount Quimper Conservation Covenant

Volunteer Spotlight on Jemma Green

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This month we are recognizing volunteer Jemma Green! Jemma consistently puts her passion for nature into her volunteering with Habitat Acquisition Trust in so many wondrous ways and we want to celebrate that here.

We'd like to thank Jemma for being a Bat Team Leader and an Outreach Tabler with us, sharing her knowledge and interests with others in the community. Last year Jemma went above and beyond, surprising us by baking adorable bat cookies. Her husband sold these cookies at a bake sale and they gave the funds to HAT as a donation. What a nice treat for our bats and the Community Bat Program

Jemma shares a little bit about her volunteer experience with us, "I first got involved with HAT when I moved to Vancouver Island from Vancouver. I have always been passionate about volunteer work with wildlife and natural areas, but it was HAT's dedication to ecological restoration and wildlife research in their own back yard that set them apart for me."

"It is HAT's consistent vision of educating and engaging the public and private landowners to improve our collective relationship with the natural world that keeps me inspired as a volunteer."

bat cookies for bake sale by Jemma Green and her husband at MEC 2016"One of my favorite experiences volunteering with HAT came during my first summer as a bat counter, under starry summer skies. I saw first hand how bats and people can successfully co-exist in the same habitat (and even in the same structure!). This program is just one example of the many ways people can be stewards of their own little part of the world and what a difference that can make."

Habitat Acquisition Trust is able to operate in large part due to the incredible donations of time and energy hundreds of people like Jemma offer. Thank you to each and every one of the HAT volunteer team. 


Read more: Volunteer Spotlight on Jemma Green

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