Monitoring the Sooke Hills: Before the Fire

/Monitoring the Sooke Hills: Before the Fire

Sea to Sea Regional Park is a beautiful protected section of the Sooke Hills, owned by the Capital Regional District (CRD) and covenanted by both TLC and Habitat Acquisition Trust (HAT). Recently, the CRD created a fabulously marked trail network including trails for mountain bike use only, as well as multi-use trails for hikers and equestrians. With the views from atop Mt. Manual Quimper summit this park is a hikers dream. TLC staff and three volunteers took to the trails on June 25th to conduct monitoring activities. As it was a very hot day, 28°C in the shade, the group took the scenic route to the summit along the south western trails. This proved to be beneficial as they were able to experience many different ecotones, which are the transition zones where two different ecological communities meet and integrate. The group stopped at a Western hemlock –salal ecosystem which has characteristic plants such as sword fern, foam flower and Oregon-beaked moss vegetation. They completed ground inspection forms and created a new photo point for repeat photography of the area for upcoming years. The crew then continued up the mountain and noticed dramatic changes in the forest; with increasing elevation the vegetation changed from dominating Western red cedars to Douglas-firs. As they admired this change in vegetation a juvenile bear who was hanging out in the salal got spooked by the large and boisterous group and leaped into the air, totally clearing over the salal and fallen trees and ran away down the mountain. One of the volunteers yelled “dog!” Even though it wasn’t a dog it is good practice to talk to a bear so it knows you are human and then immediately leave the area – always remember you are in their backyard! For this little bear, it was a good sign it ran away from us as a habituated bear usually ends up being destroyed. TLC reminds our readers to be noisy when in bear country, and if you see a bear giving a few whoops and hollers will usually send them (and any momma bears!) on their way. After the bear encounter the hikers continued up the mountain and summited the rocky moss outcrop and enjoyed a well-deserved lunch. The view is almost 360°, a great reward for the hot trek up.

The crew came across many hikers on the trails; this is a very busy park in the summer. About a week after the visit, a wildfire broke out at the park consuming over a hectare of land. The fire department determined this fire was caused by humans. Please remember that smoking is not permitted in CRD Regional Parks but if you do choose to smoke at least put cigarette butts into a container and take them with you. TLC is ever thankful to the firefighting crews that contained the fire and we now welcome the chance to monitor revegetation of the area. The monitoring crew will be returning to the area once it is deemed safe to collect species data and set up repeat photography points, contributing to the scientific data on the area which helps inform the CRD’s understanding and management of this incredibly diverse and beautiful area. If you are interested in being a part of this research, please get in touch with Torrey at covenants@conservancy.bc.ca to find out how you can get involved!

You can help support the protection and monitoring of the Sooke Hills by donating to TLC’s Covenant Program.  In celebration of TLC’s 20th year of conservation, Board Chair Frances Sloan Sainas is matching gifts towards the program up to $20,000.  Donate online today!

By | 2017-11-19T20:51:09+00:00 July 27th, 2017|Covenants, Vancouver Island|0 Comments

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