Park areas closed for preservation

Restoration work an ongoing project in Uplands Park

Chris Hyde-Lay

Chris Hyde-Lay

Closed areas support the ongoing effort to restore and maintain native species and a critical ecosystem in Uplands Park.

It’s a special Garry Oak ecosystem with deep soil as opposed to the rocky remaining Garry Oak ecosystems dotting Victoria, said Wylie Thomas, the contractor with Oak Bay who oversees the work.

“It’s also home to 21 red and blue-listed plants,” said Thomas. “There used to be 26 here, so five are gone. It’s a pretty special place.”

It’s the best left on the Island, he believes.

That may be in part due to the ongoing work by Oak Bay, through the municipality and volunteers such as Friends of Uplands Park.

Oak Bay received $35,000 in funding this year through the federal Habitat Stewardship Program for Species at Risk, said Chris Hyde-Lay, manager of parks services. It’s primarily targeted to the preservation of rare and endangered plants.

It helps that there are 16 federally listed plants in the park, Thomas said.

“We’ve got a lot of invasive plants here and broom is a big one because it loves the same habitat as the rare plants,” Thomas said.

Regular ongoing work includes pulling in-bloom broom each year.

“A big part is going back and reclearing areas because of the seed bank,” said Hyde-Lay.

One of the cordoned-off areas was the focus of tree appreciation day last November when volunteers and other community members came out and planted Garry Oaks and camas bulbs.

The plan is to reopen trails later this spring, when the land is drier, with markers in place to guide walkers away from areas that need a reprieve from two- and four- legged animals.

Native plants added – some provided by Saanich Native Plants and others donated by Fort Rodd Hill – include yarrow, California brome, common camas, long-stoloned sedge, field chickweed, California oatgrass, blue wildrye, wild strawberry, Western rush, junegrass, barestem desert-parsley, spring gold, many-flowered wood-rush, graceful cinquefoil, Western buttercup, Pacific sanicle, fool’s onion, Garry oak, black hawthorn and Hooker’s onion.