A Week in Review!

The Fantastic Week of September 2nd - September 9, 2019 

Written by: Ashlea Veldhoen 

HAT is excited to start sharing the first in our new weekly series of Blog posts. We'd like to start sharing what we do on a weekly basis with our lovely supporters, members and friends (and even strangers, too!) to show you how we're making a positive difference in our communities! 

Ashlea Attends the Stewardship Roundtable in Vancouver, BC. - August 24, 2018

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On August 24, Ashlea attended a Stewardship Roundtable held by the Stewardship Centre for British Columbia at the Vancouver Convention Centre. The Roundtable was part of the larger International Ornithological Congress 2018 (#iocongress2018) held at the same location from August 19th - August 26th. This event was held during Vancouver's first-ever International Bird Festival, during which several bird & bird-conservation related events were held, from talks, to walks and even bird-themed yoga, Vancouver became the hub for all things birdie.

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Ashlea - being HAT's resident bird-nerd - was thrilled to be a part of the Stewardship Roundtable, which this year also focused on bird conservation. Ashlea attended a special presentation with a focus on Cats & Birds Living in Harmony - presented by Amy Morris of the BC SPCA, Tanya Luszcz of Environment and Climate Change Canada, Ted Cheskey of Nature Canada, and Bob Sallinger of the Audubon Society of Portland. The organizations all expressed the importance of reducing the number of outdoor cats and encouraged people to come together to improve safety for both cats and birds so that they may live in harmony. Improve safety for cats, you say? Yes, it's true. This talk focused in on the benefits of keeping cats indoors. For instance, did you know that on average cats that roam unsupervised only live to be 2 or 3 years old? Wildlife predation, vehicle collisions, fights with other cats and wild animals and disease are all dangers to an outdoor cat. If you want to learn more, please see Nature Canada's Cats and Birds website, the Feral Cat Coalition of Oregon and the BC SPCA for more information! It's about protecting birds AND cats, so if you love your pretty kitty, have a look at some of the inspiring work being done to protect cats as well as their feathered friends! In an interview with Shaw TV, the Stewardship Centre for British Columbia's Executive Director shared information on how you can protect birds and our feline friends

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Ashlea also attended a talk on the Co-benefits of Agricultural Land as Bird Habitat, and another on Wildlife Management Areas/Important Bird Areas and Shorelines. Where she participated in conversations on how to encourage farmers and landowners to adopt best management practices to improve and share their land for local birds, pollinators and other wildlife! We hope to use the detailed information from the Roundtable to help in our Habitat Stewardship and Habitat Management programs in the future! 

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In the last talk, two wonderful women - Midori Nicholson of  Kwakwaka’wakw, B.C., and Purnima Barman led a talk entitled "Birds of a Feather: The Reciprocal Benefits of Protecting Biodiversity", which explored human-avian relationships and how bird conservation can have long-term benefits for humans! Ashlea was touched by the strength and resolve these two women shared and hopes to channel their compassion and lessons-learned into HAT's programs to help improve our stewardship initiatives in the CRD and beyond. 

20180824 205021 webPhoto: Midori Nicholson and Purnima Barman were rewarded with a standing ovation after their inspirational talks.

Bat Exploration Walk with the CRD - August 29, 2018 

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🦇August's Bat Exploration Walk at Elk Beaver Lake Park - filter beds with Capital Regional District hosts Rachel and Kristen was a phenomenal success. A whopping 67 bat-lovers participated, which is about 10X the amount of support we had last year.

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We can't thank everyone enough for coming on the walk to share their love of bats with HAT and the CRD! We hope the interest in bats continues to increase as we work to protect these adorable flying mammals! For more information about how you can help protect bats, visit the B.C. Community Bat Program or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 🦇


Paige attends the Saanich Fair - September 3rd 2018


This past weekend HAT partnered with the Island Pollinator Initiative at the Saanich Fair to educate fair visitors on healthy habitat for bees, birds and butterflies. Three happy volunteers from the IPI posed for a photo with the a beautiful "Backyard Bees of North America" poster. A visitor named Bryson, aged 8, was thrilled to learn that some birds can be pollinators too, exclaiming "I didn't know hummingbirds were pollinators - that's amazing!". There are so many ways you can help pollinators - for more information on how you can help, visit the Island Pollinator Initiative, donate to HAT's Habitat Stewardship Program and check out our Pollinator Guide! Photo: Island Pollinator Initiative Volunteers at our shared booth at the Saanich Fair this weekend! 

Saying Goodbye to our Summer Interns - September 4, 2018

The end of summer marks the end of our internships at HAT, when we are forced to say a bittersweet goodbye to our dedicated Interns, without whom much of our work would not be possible. Liam and Jordana have been stellar additions to the team and worked tirelessly throughout the summer on our projects. Liam helped with events, habitat restoration, stewardship and monitoring and Jordana was integral to the success of our covenant (habitat) monitoring efforts throughout the CRD. Liam - our Habitat Stewardship Intern for this year - will be moving on to study at the University of Victoria in Geography after completing the Environmental Tech. program at Camosun. Jordana - our Land Protection Intern - also recently completed Camosun's Environmental Tech program, will be exploring new career opportunities and hopes to return to HAT next summer!  

We wish them both the best of luck in their careers and hope to see them again soon. If you happen to run across Liam or Jordana, be sure to thank them for all the work they have done to conserve habitat on the Island with us! 

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Saying Goodbye to our Bat Coordinator, Ali Jones, and welcoming a new Bat Coordinator, Alex Mitchell! - September 5, 2018 

AliJones photo HATOur lovely Bat Coordinator, Ali Jones has recently accepted a contract with the Nature Conservancy of Canada and will be passing her HAT Bat-related duties to one of our Bat Count organizers, Alex Mitchell. _She was an amazing Bat Coordinator and was always on the ball when it came to taking bat calls! We are sad to see Ali go, but are glad she is taking the chance to further pursue her career with such a wonderful organization! We are excited to welcome Alex to the team! (And also, she'll be working just upstairs so we can see her at any time!). 


That' it for this week's review at HAT, but there are still so many new things on the horizon that we look forward to sharing with you, so stay tuned for more!



Restoration on Trial Islands

By: Monica Short, Species at Risk Restoration Intern

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

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As a summer student, in addition to removing invasive species, I had the opportunity to learn from Matt about the biology of different native and invasive species on the island. He took the other summer student, Alex, and I around the island to learn about different ecosystems. He also showed us areas of the island that used to be entirely covered in Scotch Broom or Ivy that are now native meadows thanks to the work put into this project by his dedicated team of students and volunteers each year. I have been working with Habitat Acquisition Trust and Matt Fairbarns on the Trial Islands Restoration Project for the last 5 weeks of this summer. This project has been ongoing for many years and it has been incredible to see the progress that has happened even in these few weeks alone. This summer we have primarily been working on removing English Ivy, which is a tedious but quite satisfying task. We spent time on both Lesser and Greater Trial Islands and it was wonderful to see the progress we made on both. We managed to clear out large areas of ivy, which will hopefully soon be recolonized by native species and species at risk. We also collected native plants seeds  on the island to use in helping recolonize these bare areas. I am very excited to see how this transition will unfold from year to year.

I feel privileged to work with Matt’s team, which is chock-full of hard working and genuinely wonderful people. Thanks to this project, I was able to connect with so many other “nature nerds” and I feel great knowing that I am contributing to the restoration of a beautiful native ecosystem.

Monica Short,

Species at Risk Restoration Intern

Photo: Trial Island View Gomes (2015)


Remembering Moralea

Moralea Milne

Moralea Milne.

Passionate, fiercely determined, and undoubtedly kind, Moralea holds a special place in the hearts of all of us at HAT. Her dedication to the conservation of nature and to her family were in the forefront of her every move. She inspired us to continue learning, challenging ourselves, and to embody her unwavering sense of fairness – to do what is right, even if the road is long. 

Self-described as “a volunteer speaking and acting for the environment,” the last 18 years Moralea has whole-heartedly embraced volunteerism to be her full time responsibility. 

“I believe in the power of the volunteer to achieve remarkable goals and objectives. Volunteer commitment will make people feel good about themselves and will strengthen their relationship with their community. I make the case that volunteers can have a powerful voice in producing change as their motives are not driven by financial need and they can operate outside of conflict of (financial) interest scenarios. The last nine years that I have devoted to volunteering, mostly in the environmental field, have been rewarding beyond words.” – Moralea, 2008

As an avid naturalist with a keen eye for Lepidoptera, she inspired many with her wonderful photos and stories of butterflies and moths. She shared her enthusiasm for the natural environment by co-founding the Metchosin Foundation, hosting over 100 Talk and Walks as a major component of Metchosin Biodiversity, and coordinating BioBlitzes aplenty too. Her dedication to making Metchosin the best community it could be was demonstrated even further with over 10 years on council, advocating fervently for the voiceless natural environment. 

"The intrinsic right of our native species to flourish has become of paramount importance to me. Restoration of on ecosystem to its original integrity and self sustainability has a lot of parallels to raising our children to be productive, caring and self-sustaining adults." - Moralea

Moralea and her late husband John Webb committed to establishing a conservation covenant on her property, Camas Hill, in partnership with HAT and TLC.  Moralea explained that she wanted “to ensure the long term protection of the rare and threatened ecosystems and species that call Camas Hill home. In particular the federally recognised species at risk, the sharp-tailed snakes (Contia tenuis), that reside here.” The covenant was successfully completed in August of 2007.

So it is with great sadness and heavy hearts that all of us here at Habitat Acquisition Trust must say goodbye to our dear friend Moralea Milne. We send our love and healing to her family, friends, and community. We are truly grateful for the knowledge and dedication of spirit she shared with us. She will be deeply missed. 


Quotes from Moralea's wonderful blog: camashill.blogspot.com 



 Photo of HAT staff with Moralea on Camas Hill, May 2018.



Restoring Natural Habitat on the Trial Islands

Restoring Natural Habitat on the Trial Islands

By: Liam Guy

Sunshine, Water, and…Ivy? An unlikely combination to be sure, but one that can be found in abundance on the Trial Islands. Located off of the south-eastern tip of Vancouver Island, this small island group was the site of an invasive woody plant removal [M1]effort spearheaded by biologist Matt Fairbarns. A rare-plant expert and experienced biologist, Matt has been the lead on invasive removal efforts on the Trial Islands (Greater and Lesser) for more than a decade and has been a major driving force behind the conservation of the rare native species found there. I received an offer to join Matt and his crew for the day - unsure as to what I was getting myself into, I was pleasantly surprised by the work, the site, and the camaraderie exhibited by Matt and his crew.

One thing that immediately struck me about the Trial Islands was their beauty , both in terms of the sights, sounds and abundance of unique plants. The Trial Islands are home to 20 rare vascular plant species, 11 of which are extremely rare in BC, making it both an island in the literal and ecological sense. One personal highlight was getting a look at the rare Golden Paintbrush. [AV2]Plenty[M3] of animals could be found on site as well; Harlequin Ducks and Harbour[M4] Seals (among many others) all made an appearance at one point or another. Blue skies, a slight breeze, and the gentle, rhythmic swash of the waves upon the shoreline give the island a distinct feeling of peace and quiet; it is strange to think that this small pocket of nature is located so close to Vancouver Island.

Our efforts were focused on a rocky, densely vegetated thicket located within the southern ecological reserve. Greater Trial island, while hosting an Ecological Reserve[M5], is also host to a CFAX owned radio antenna array and a Lighthouse property. The Ecological Reserve is made up of a “northern” and “southern” section, with the CFAX property wedged in between these zones. A thick cover of native roses, snowberry, and other native species made our work difficult and, at times, painful, but also provided distinct feelings of satisfaction when a particularly difficult or long vine was pulled from the site. Matt and his crew were an absolute delight to work with throughout the entire experience. Despite the challenging work, everyone got along, worked hard, and were able to keep conversation with one another. Who knew working neck-deep in rose bushes could be so fun? The resident lighthouse keeper, Meredith and her two dogs Seth and Sky were welcome additions to the cast as well, providing a canine break from our labours.

The Trial Islands are some of BC’s most ecologically valuable places, without a doubt, and definitely needs the time and effort currently bestowed upon them. The work we were there to perform, while not glamorous, created tangible results. In total, we removed about 10-12 cubic metres [M6]of English Ivy, clearing much of the biomass from our work site and setting the table for future crews to come and begin removal of the root mass. It has been a long road to travel but[M7] the finish line is now clearly within sight - I hope to be around to see it for myself!

A big thank you to Matt Fairbarns for his hospitality and willingness to take me on for the day, and to the crew for being so welcoming. We will keep the HAT community up-to-date with any new developments on the Trial Islands.

goldenpaintbrush 1 Nicole Kroeker 2017Trial Island Jordana Herron 2017 3Trial Island Jordana Herron 2017Trial Island Jordana Herron 2017 2

Photos from Left to Right: Golden Paintbrush Castilleja levisecta - Nicole Kroeker (2017); Trial Island Lighthouse - Jordana Herron (2017) ; Trial Island Coastline - Jordana Herron (2017); Volunteers at work - Jordana Herron (2017)


Rhonda Korol Board Biography

RK Photo for HATRhonda Korol; MSc

Co-operative Education Program Coordinator, University of Victoria

Rhonda has a BSc in Geography from University of Toronto and an MSc in Biology from University of Victoria.  She works as a Coordinator in Co-operative Education at UVic.  Rhonda has served as a member of the Advisory Planning Commission and a member of Municipal Council in Central Saanich. She enjoys exploring the unique natural areas of Vancouver Island from her kayak, bike, or hiking boots and gets great satisfaction from participating in broom bashes and ivy pulls.


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