Oak Bay Parks will close the central meadow of Uplands Park from visitors during the wet season to protect the endangered ecosystem. (Wylie Thomas Photo)

Sensitive meadow ecosystem in Oak Bay park closed for second winter

Closure works to protect Uplands Park’s central meadow

For the second straight winter season Oak Bay Parks is closing off the central meadow in Uplands Park.

No people, nor dogs, will be permitted within the meadow as foot traffic in wet season damages the park’s rare and sensitive ecosystem.

While it is the second straight season closing the meadow, it is part of a restoration process that’s been running for years.

READ MORE: Oak Bay closes parts of Uplands for preservation

Dogs and invasive plants are the two greatest threats to the ecosystem and thanks to volunteer efforts the invasive species are on the decline. Last year the Friends of Uplands Park held more than 169 events and contributed more than 1,600 hours of volunteer labour that removed invasive plants from the park. Oak Bay Parks Department has also made a considerable investment, as has the federal government’s Habitat Stewardship Program.

“Uplands Park is an ecological treasure of national significance,” said Wylie Thomas, advocate for the park’s restoration.

It boasts one the highest concentrations of endangered plant species in Canada, Thomas noted.

“The park is also home to a rare complex of Garry oak meadows and woodlands, maritime meadows and vernal pools, which once covered a much greater part of our region,” he said.

Garry oak ecosystems have shrunk by more than 95 per cent since settlers arrived on the West Coast. Uplands Park contains a sizeable piece of the only remaining Garry oak ecosytems.

READ MORE: Uplands Park champion wins provincial award

The park itself features native plants such as 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.

The Central Meadow has the greatest diversity of flowering plants and is home to 17 endangered species of plant, Thomas said.

The closure runs from November to mid-April “a time when the meadow is at its wettest, its soils most vulnerable to damage and its native plants most susceptible to trampling.”

The results have been successful, parks manager Chris Hyde-Lay said.

“A lot of native plants took advantage and came back this year,” he said.

The trial closure showed a significant reduction in damage to soil and native plants, allowing more meadow flowers to reach maturity and set seed.

“It is important to note the impact of dog runs on meadows,” Thomas said. “Running dogs churn up soil and destroy emerging native wildflowers, creating conditions that favour the establishment and spread of non-native invasive grasses which, over time, will replace the park’s Garry oak meadows.”

Oak Bay Parks also request park goers refrain from throwing balls for dogs anywhere in the park.

Thomas noted Beacon Hill and Finlayson Point as examples of how soon camas fields, which are thousands of years old, can turn into grass fields through overuse as an off-leash dog area.

Beacon Hill had a camas-filled field just 50 years ago. Restoration therefore relies not only on Uplands Park volunteers but on the care of visitors.

Thomas pointed to the work of former Victoria botanist Chris Brayshaw, who was a proponent of protecting meadows from human destruction beofre he died in 2015.

“We should not confuse the right of use with the right to cause damage,” Brayshaw said.

Anyone interested volunteering can email Friends of Uplands Park’s president Margaret Lidkea at mlidkea@shaw.ca or visit friendsofuplandspark.org.

Central meadow is one of several meadows being restored in the park.

– With files from Christine van Reeuwyk

reporter@oakbaynews.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Indigenous youth arrested during 15-hour occupation to hold press conference Wednesday morning

The speakers are expected to condemn police, RCMP actions towards Indigenous people

Southern resident orca L41 considered missing and feared dead

The orca was last spotted in Aug. 2019 when photographed in western Strait of Juan de Fuca

Sap thief taps Saanich park maple trees, faces hefty fine

One tree found with four taps in Mount Doug Park

VIDEO: Saanich family competes on first season of ‘Family Feud Canada’

Charania family will face off against the Torres family from Hamilton, Ont.

Oak Bay confirms first heritage conservation area

Heritage bylaw for The Prospect neighbourhood in final phase

B.C. reports first coronavirus in Vancouver region

First patient visited Wuhan, China, reported symptoms

POLL: Are you concerned about the coronavirus?

The coronavirus which has sparked concern around the globe has now arrived… Continue reading

Greater Victoria’s wanted list for the week of Jan. 28

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Off-duty Nanaimo Mountie takes down would-be ice cream thief

Suspect attempted to steal Dilly Bars from Dairy Queen location on Sunday

Nanaimo man hit with pole in dispute over off-leash dog

RCMP say no charges recommended at this time

Was there a tornado on Vancouver Island Monday?

Suspected phone app glitch gives eerie warning

Work has started on Malahat Skywalk, expected completion in 2021

$15-million project expected to open in spring, 2021

B.C. reports first coronavirus in Vancouver region

First patient visited Wuhan, China, reported symptoms

Sooke Minor Fastball to host coaching clinic

Clinic ideal for those planning to coach U6 to U18 teams

Most Read