Camas Day in Oak Bay celebrates nature space volunteers

Volunteers in the Camas - Volunteer Appreciation Party is April 29 near Cattle Point

Camas Day takes on an air of thanks this year in Oak Bay.

Friends of Uplands park hosts Volunteers in the Camas this year to celebrate those working to maintain and restore natural habitats in the south Island.

“There are volunteers all over south Vancouver Island that goes into parks and help restore ecosystems and remove invasive species as well as maintaining trails,” said Margaret Lidkea, chair of Friends of Uplands Park. “All of this is essential for preserving our natural areas.”

She’s working with Amanda Evans and the Greater Victoria Green Team to organize an event that will feature information from groups like Parks Canada, Nature Conservancy of BC, HAT, Bowker Creek Initiative CRD, Oak Bay Heritage, Community Association of Oak Bay and volunteers of Brighton walkway.

“Unfortunately people have an impact on these natural areas. It is important to be on top of that and figure out ways and means of coping with that extra impact. That provides more opportunities for volunteers to come in. The volunteers like it because they also learn a lot about the nature ecosystems,” Lidkea said. “No municipality has all the money to do that so this provides an opportunity to get out in their community and do community volunteering which I think is essential to people feeling connected to their community.”

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Uplands Park is a prime example of the endangered Garry Oak Ecosystems and is the centre of the Oak Bay Naturehood. It also includes a rocky marine foreshore at Cattle Point.

“It is a living museum. We have 25 rare plants, probably more than any urban park in all of Canada,” Lidkea said.

There’s also the cultural element, she said, noting 300 years ago a city of 10,000 would have used that area “as a Superstore”.

“This ecosystem is the remnant of the Garry oak ecosystem that was used by the First Nations,” Lidkea said.

On April 29, anyone can become a volunteer, by learning and then sharing the knowledge of, for example, why not traipse through the vernal pools and why to stick to trails when possible.

Barbara Julian, author of the Suburban Wild column, will host an orca whale display and Oak Bay-based The Bald Eagles will perform.

“The band have played on and off at Camas Day for several years. We get to blast a different kind of music than we normally play, into the Juan de Fuca Strait,” said member Ron Carter. “It’s a change of gears for us, it’s outside and that adds its challenges, but we’ve been out there with probably 200 to 300 people passing by. It’s fun, everyone’s looking forward to it.”

The event includes food, activities, prizes and nature walks focusing on wildflowers and birding, through Uplands Park.

Volunteers in the Camas – Volunteer Appreciation Party at Uplands Park runs April 29 from noon to 3 p.m. near Cattle Point.

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