Letter of resignation from Jill Robinson, Executive Director

Note from the Board of Directors: 


Dear HAT members and supporters,

The Habitat Acquisition Trust (HAT) Board of Directors would like to inform you that Jill Robinson will be leaving her position as Executive Director of HAT in July 2018. We thank Jill for her enormous contributions to HAT during the last three and a half years.

Jill has demonstrated her passion for conservation, strong leadership, and an exceptional talent for building collaborative relationships with staff, board members, volunteers and many others from the larger community. Jill’s diligence, positive energy and commitment to organizational excellence leave HAT an even stronger organization than it was when she arrived. Although we are sad to see her go, we wish Jill all the best as she pursues exciting new opportunities.

Moving forward, the Board of Directors will now start the process for hiring a new Executive Director. We look forward to receiving applications for this important role and to finding another talented individual to help shape HAT’s future. With strong support from the board, and with Jill’s assistance, we anticipate a smooth transition into the role for the next Executive Director as HAT continues to advance conservation objectives on south Vancouver Island.


HAT Board of Directors

Note from Jill:

For the last three and a half years at Habitat Acquisition Trust, I have felt incredibly fortunate to be a part of an organization that I care so deeply for. I am passionate about HAT’s mission to conserve nature on south Vancouver Island and the southern Gulf Islands and I am proud of what our group has accomplished. While I have loved my time at HAT and know I will miss it dearly, I have decided to resign from my position to pursue my career as a Biologist.

I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to work with such a passionate, knowledgeable and hardworking team of staff, board members, volunteers, contractors, and supporters – everyone that has helped support HAT in becoming a leader for conservation. I have truly appreciated your kindness, support and commitment to land protection and have loved being a part of a collaborative, strategic approach to conserving our important natural areas. Together, we’ve all worked hard to build upon HAT’s strong foundation and I feel confident moving forward that HAT will continue to thrive and make a positive impact on local conservation. I wish all the best to HAT in the future and look forward to continuing my involvement with this great organization for years to come.


Jill Robinson

 Apply today!

To apply for this great opportunity to join the HAT team, click here. Applications due June 5. 


Calling All Habitat Guardians! Protect Mountain Road Forest

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To Learn More About the Mountain Road Forest Campaign and What You Can Do To Help Visit:



2018 Campaign

Between March 1st and July 31 2018, we received support from 16 incredible people, who combined raised a total of $18,770 for this year's Habitat Guardians campaign to protect habitat in the Highlands. Yes, that is almost double our goal amount of $10,000! These funds will help cover the costs of forming a new covenant on private land in the Highlands to create a permanent natural link between Gowlland Tod and Goldstream Provincial parks. Once the covenant is formed, any remaining funds will support the ongoing stewardship of protected lands on south Vancouver Island and the southern Gulf Islands. The donors are recognized as Habitat Guardians and will be recognized with a personalized certificate acknowledging their contribution to HAT's Land Protection program. This campaign has been a phenomenal success that would not have been possible without the generous support of people like you!


Original Article

By: Ashlea Veldhoen (March, 2018)

What if you could play an important role in protecting natural areas for our native wildlife? Well, it is possible – with your help. Habitat Acquisition Trust is now seeking to rally support from community members to raise $10,000 for its local Land Protection Program by July 31, 2018. This year’s Habitat Guardians Campaign will ensure the permanent protection of ecologically significant lands adjacent to the Gowlland Tod and Goldstream Provincial Parks, and support the ongoing stewardship of protected lands on south Vancouver Island.

The area in need of protecting features a second-growth Douglas-fir forest, inundated by rocky outcrops – suitable habitat for both the endangered Western Screech-Owl and Sharp-tailed snake. Protecting this property with a conservation covenant would also mean forging a permanent corridor for wildlife travelling between Gowlland Tod and Thetis Lake Parks.

Protecting habitat for future generations is so important in this rapidly developing landscape, and it requires a community of passionate Habitat Guardians to protect it. HAT encourages readers to heed the call of the wild and keep these special places alive with nature forever by starting a conversation about land protection, and being a guardian for wildlife habitat with a donation to HAT. Without the funds for legal protection and stewardship, these sensitive lands may end up clear-cut, subdivided, or paved-over and lost. That’s where the donations of Habitat Guardians makes a huge difference.

8 and a half inches by 11 ad for Rural Observer 2018 land Protection2
Become a Habitat Guardian and you will:
  • Receive customizable recognition at events hosted on that property for one year
  • Allow as many as 35 community members or employees to engage with nature in a meaningful way
  • Enable data collection and field surveys on these properties to better understand and plan for their restoration needs
  • Provide for HAT's land protection team to conduct yearly monitoring to identify and respond to any threats to these natural landscapes 

Our goal is to develop long-term sponsorships. Currently we are looking for a sponsorship of $1000 from each Habitat Guardian to start, and we hope that with your help we can raise or goal of $10,000 for this year's campaign by July 31st!

Your donation is customizable with the option to direct funds to a property near your neighbourhood and witness the positive impact of your sponsorship first-hand! 




2017 Campaign

We did it! In 2017 our Habitat Guardians successfully helped us $10,000 for the Land Protection fund to the finalization of legal protection for coastline habitat at Calypso Woods Douglas-fir Forest. Thanks to local support from the community, funders and collaborators, Habitat Acquisition Trust (HAT), in partnership with the Community Cowichan Land Trust has registered this conservation covenant, legally protecting Calypso Woods and its important habitat forever. 

Nitya Harris Calypso Woods Christmas 2017

Aptly named for its large population of rare and beautiful Calypso Orchids, Calypso Woods is a uniquely picturesque natural area nestled in the Bilston Creek watershed, bordering between Langford and Metchosin. It features a tributary creek –  named Nitya Creek by the landowner – which drains into Bilston Creek and empties into Witty’s Lagoon in Metchosin to support a Cutthroat Trout population.



What's your plan for Make a Will week?

Small Camas Stacks 2017

The province of British Columbia has declared April 8-14, 2018 as Make a Will week to highlight the importance of having a will, and encouraging the public to write their will or bring an existing will up to date.

Perhaps it is a good time to consider updating or creating your will to ensure that the people, charities and organizations you cherish most receive the benefit of their legacy.

To celebrate Make a Will Week, we are reposting a wonderful article written by Alanah Nasadyk in 2017 about the Stacks, a lovely family who has included HAT in their will. 


Taking deep calming breaths, close your eyes and imagine your favourite natural area… Now imagine protecting that place, and all of the features that make it special… What if we told you that people in your community are preserving their important places like yours? What if we told you that you could to?

Mike and Anne Stack own a beautiful property with a natural area in Saanich that was originally owned by Anne’s Father. Growing up on the land, watching as the surrounding farmer’s fields and rural space transformed into an urban space, Anne and Mike decided to do something about the fate of their forest. To do this, the Stacks have willed their property to the Habitat Acquisition Trust, so that a conservation covenant can be placed for the protection of its natural features. A truly thoughtful gift to leave to our community.

Before Anne’s family owned the land, it is recorded in the Saanich Archives as a fox farm built in 1901, called Rock Mount Fox Farm, and owned by the Elder family. Today their corner lot stands out with its display of greenery, including Garry oaks and Oso Berry bushes, with Fawn lilies and Camas below, growing among the exposed and mossy rock. One particular rock stands out among the rest and Mike tells us, “I always think of this as an amazing piece of rock, it’s been there since the ice age.” A glacial erratic! The Garry Oak Corner, as we call the Stacks' natural habitat, is a piece of the important urban forest. Ann explains, “The whole area was very rural, but as time went on, you know, other people’s traditions came, so this seems like a wonderful piece of property today.

As Anne’s family neighbourhood was subdivided and developed around them, Mike tells of an encounter, “a couple of years ago a real-estate chap walked up to me and said, ‘I can make you a rich man,’ and I replied that I am a rich man. He had no idea what I was talking about. Being responsible for this is so much richer than tiny bits of paper money.

Mike and Anne Stack 2017 smallPreserving neighbourhood community and spreading kindness is important to Mike and Anne, it’s plain to see as Anne tells us, When they subdivided around us, our neighbours were blocked a little bit, so we let them come through our yard. I think it keeps a sense of community, and that’s why we decided once we passed that it would be nice to have this path and this natural part protected”.

I always thought the woods were magical, even as a child making forts. But I know once we’re gone we’ll have no control of what happens, but this covenant at least gives us some ability to preserve it. Places like these in the urban areas are getting smaller you know, there are only small pockets of nature left, it’s worth preserving.

In their day-to-day life, the Stacks are wonderful stewards of their land for nature too. When one of their trees died, they asked arborists to top it and leave the rest as a wildlife tree with a native plant garden around the base. Anne has been planting native species like Red Flowering currants to enhance their natural area too. This spring, Anne even signed up for a native plant class at the Horitculture Centre of the Pacific saying, “we thought we could learn more about the native plants for this space.

The Stack’s naturescape has also been a help to nature as the host site of environmental studies. In the late 1970’s, when their trees had a Gall Wasp infestation, the city took notice and entomologist Bob Duncan and his colleagues came from the Pacific Forestry Centre to study the wasps. “It sounded like the oak trees were being rained upon with the sound of all of them chewing.” The Cooper’s Hawks that make the area home were also banded for a study done by Andy Stewart of the Ministry of Environment. While visiting with the Stacks this Spring, a hawk flew by and alighted on a high oak branch bringing excitement and awe to each of us present.

Stack 2017 small native plant garden

Stack 2017 small Red Flowering Currant Ribes sanguineum

The forested area of the Stack’s property is adjacent to Saanich land. In the past, Strawberry Vale School students, the Garry Oak Ecosystems Recovery Team, and the municipality teamed up to remove English Ivy there. With growing interest in and understanding of the value of urban forest in the community Ann We hope this article has inspired youhopes that this partnership can be rekindled to fight back the returning English Ivy.

It’s a nice feeling for us, that this is a continuing project that will go on long after we are gone.” Mike tells us. “Right now, we’re just happy that if anything happens to us that it’s set and HAT would protect the land. Some of the most peaceful, calm moments of my life have been to walk through all of this at dawn.” Anne shares.

Mike is pleased to see the direction that people in the Habitat Acquisition Trust community are going, “It’s amazing, I started teaching in the very early 70’s, and during the 80’s it was most disheartening. Everyone wanted to be rich, everyone wanted to be a player in the dot com era. I’ve been looking at new letters from HAT and seeing that young people are more interested in going green now than anyone! Certainly it’s the educational aspect of HAT, getting young people involved which really hits me.

Before we parted from a lovely visit with Mike and Anne, Anne told us, “HAT has a good perspective of what they are able to accomplish which allows them to accomplish more than when organizations try to do everything.

If Habitat Acquisition Trust can inspire and educate the future generations of Habitat Stewards, while helping people protect their precious natural areas for the benefit of our entire community, then we are all thrilled with everything we are accomplishing for you. We thank you, and both Anne and Mike, for the opportunity to protect nature together.

Thank you for reading. We hope this article has inspired you to consider creating a legacy for nature in your will, like Mike and Anne. If so, we would be happy to sit down and chat at your convenience. Habitat Acquisition Trust can be reached at 250-995-2428 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. You can access online information about planning the positive impact you will leave for the Earth here. There are many ways to look after yourself, your family, and nature with a thoughtful gift. Speaking to your lawyer or financial advisor soon to create a plan can give you peace of mind.


Read more: What's your plan for Make a Will week?

Volunteer Spotlight: Catriona Dempsey

This month the HAT office team would like to shine the volunteer spotlight on:

Catriona Dempsey



for taking the time to help us with our Western Screech-Owl Monitoring Project! Catriona has been a driving force in our Western Screech-Owl monitoring project this year, leading night monitoring surveys, and both co-ordinating and the installion of Audio Recording Units and nest boxes in the Highlands, Sooke and Metchosin and Greater Victoria Area.   Thank you Catriona for volunteering your time as a Western Screech-Owl action hero for local conservation, we are amazed by your generosity, organization, and determination.

Paige Erickson-McGee, shares her gratitude for Catriona, “Catriona Dempsey has been a valuable addition to the Western Screech-Owl Team Leaders. After training under HAT’s owl biologist Tania Tripp at Madrone Environmental,Catriona has contributed over 75 volunteer hours of nest box installation and monitoring, owl surveying, habitat assessments, and analyzing audio recording data. She keeps the owl project running, and her enthusiasm for wildlife conservation is inspirational. We wish her all the best studying human-wildlife interactions with grizzly bears in Banff National Park this summer!"

Catriona shares a little bit of her Habitat Acquisition Trust volunteering experience with you:

When Catriona first got introduced to HAT she says, "I first started working with HAT last spring. I was fortunate to be hired for a co-op work term with a Duncan-based consulting company (Madrone Environmental Services) monitoring Western Screech-Owls under the supervision of an extremely knowledgeable and dedicated owl biologist, Tania Tripp, who has been working with HAT extensively on the owl monitoring program. Over the course of the term we helped HAT to put up nest boxes and conducted night time owl surveys. I was also responsible for installing Audio Recording Units on properties to record owl calls every night. It was very exciting to be a part of the first year that HAT has monitored using these devices and I have learned so much! After my work term ended I missed being a part of the owl monitoring project very much. So, this spring I decided to return to owl work with HAT and contribute as much as I could while finishing off the last semester of my degree. I am always looking for ways to blend my science background with my love of working with people and HAT is an excellent fit."

Recalling her experience volunteering with HAT Catriona tells us that "[her] favourite moment so far has been finding a female Western Screech-Owl using a nest box put up by HAT. We were checking all the boxes on a property with our specialized camera attached to a pole. I completely didn’t expect to see an owl in the box. By that point I had checked dozens of boxes and I was very much expecting to see the inside of an empty box on the screen. When a female owl appeared on the screen I was shocked. It was an indescribably amazing feeling to see an owl looking back at me and the surprise made the moment even better. I am happy that it looks like that owl and her mate are back in the area this spring and will likely be nesting in a box again. Giving even one owl a place to nest has made the entire project so very worthwhile. "


If she could share something to others about being part of the HAT community Catriona would want other to know: "As a student, volunteering has given me hands-on experience that I could never gain in a classroom. But, more importantly, it gives me renewed passion for conservation and reminds me why I am studying in the field that I have chosen. There are so many people working with HAT (landowners, volunteers, and HAT staff) who are passionate about conservation and extremely generous with their time and I find working with them all so inspiring. It is also very rewarding to be helping with a project that directly benefits a threatened species. I have grown to love Western Screech-Owls and I want to see them thrive here in Victoria. "

Executive Director, Jill Robinson shares her gratitude as well giving, "A huge thanks to Catriona for her amazing contribution to HAT’s owl project. We are so thankful for her time, energy and expertise, making a powerful impact on the conservation of Western Screech Owls and local landowner stewardship."

Thank you Catriona for sharing your insights as well as volunteering to support local conservation with us at HAT, it's always a joy to work together.


Office Closed on Monday March 26, 2018

Please note that the HAT Office will be closed on Monday March 26, 2018. If you require assistance, please leave us a message at (250) 995-2428 or an e-mail at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. We will return your message upon our return to the office on Tuesday. 

Thank you and have a lovely weekend! 


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