Volunteers needed to restore forest parkland
An unmarked path leads Amanda Evans into the heart of an undeveloped View Royal park at the corner of Burnside Road and Watkiss Way.
In the shade of Garry oak and Douglas fir trees, the University of Victoria student points out clusters of native plants that have survived amid more hearty invasive species.
She knows her way around the 1.3 hectare park better than most, having spent her summer working with the Garry Oak ecosystems recovery team to inventory plants and develop a restoration plan for the site. Now she’s recruiting volunteers to help put the plan into action.
“There is so much diversity in this single piece of land. Hundreds of plants and animals live here,” Evans said. “If we don’t manage the site, the invasive plants just take over.”
As a requirement for UVic’s restoration of natural systems program, Evans must complete a year long restoration project, which she’ll be doing at the park. The first step is organizing a group a volunteers for work parties to remove the invasive plants.
“We’ll concentrate on areas where there are smaller infestations, where it’s easier to make an impact,” Evans said.
The Town of View Royal committed $3,000 to support the project, which will be used for supplies and advertising for the work parties.
GOERT conservationist Kathryn Martell, who will help Evans train the volunteers to properly remove the invasive plants, is used to working on a shoe-string budget when it comes to implementing restoration plans.
“What’s important is the volunteers who are committed to seeing this project through in the long term,” she said. “You take the invasive species out once, then you have to keep going back year after year to keep them out.”
Eventually, the park will have a defined trail with interpretive signs to let visitors know it’s a restoration site.
Native plants, salvaged from properties slated for development nearby, will be moved into the park area for protection.
“We want the park to be as healthy and diverse as possible,” Martell said. “It will be a place people can see the rare and endangered ecosystems native in this area.”
On her way out of the park, Evans dodges a blackberry bush to reach the road.
“It really doesn’t look like a park right now,” Evans observed. “I’m looking forward to coming back here in like 10 years and seeing how it’s changed.”
The first work party to help restore the park in Nov. 26. To volunteer, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call the town at 250-479-6800 and ask for the engineering clerk.