Letter: Council right to revisit EDPA policy

Bruce Pendergast was a wildlife habitat specialist in the BC Fish and Wildlife Branch for 28 years

I was a wildlife habitat specialist in the BC Fish and Wildlife Branch for 28 years, first as a Habitat Protection Biologist and then as Manager of the Habitat Inventory Section.

I am concerned that the EDPA initiative, although well meaning, is not based on sound ecological principles. I understand that most EDPA’s are assigned because of the presence of Garry oak trees.

There seems to be an assumption that Garry oak ecosystems will eventually re-establish under standing trees simply by leaving the site undisturbed.

This ignores the fact that the classic “Garry oak meadows,” reported by the first Europeans in the area as “lakes” of blue camas and other spring flowers surrounded by scattered oak trees, were a  product of a deliberate farming by the indigenous people.

These meadows were maintained by burning to reverse vegetative succession as well as digging and moving camas bulbs and competing plants.

Without this disturbance the meadows would have been overtaken by snowberry, Indian plum and Douglas fir trees.

EDPA designation apparently discourages any disturbance of existing soil and plants.  Considering the exotics now rampant in many of these areas, the result of “hands off” management will be unaesthetic tangles of broom, blackberry and ivy.

I have maintained one corner of my property containing 20 Oak trees for over 40 years.

When I purchased the property in 1974, about a quarter was managed and covered with exotics such as Tulip, Daffodil, Laburnum and other introduced species.

Non managed areas were choked with blackberry, broom, morning glory and ivy as well as native Indian plum.

I have been removing the introduced flowers and weeds since 1974, and the only native species to reestablish without my planting them are snowberry, and some grasses.

None of the typical Garry oak meadow species like camas, satin flowers  and spring gold have re-established on their own.

If I am prevented from continuing to maintain the area as I have, my efforts will be reversed and I will be back to an impenetrable thicket of Ivy and Blackberry.

In fact in the early ‘90s, I watched this start to happen when a medical issue prevented my “weeding” efforts for a few years.

I hope Saanich takes the effort to properly plan and manage sensitive areas to showcase the natural successional stages of vegetative communities on the peninsula.

Unfortunately the existing EDPA approach will not do this. I am pleased the Council has agreed to revisit the issue.

Bruce Pendergast,RPBio RetiredSaanich