Volunteer Spotlight: Miranda Cant

Miranda Cant Volunteer 2017This August we are sending off volunteer Miranda Cant with a huge thank you for lending her time and energy to sharing conservation with our community.

While it's always sad to see one of the HAT volunteer team head out, we know Miranda will bring her enthusiasm and knowledge about nature with her wherever it takes her. 

Miranda holds a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science at Royal Roads University. Her love of being outside and interacting with people and the environment makes her a natural fit for the HAT volunteer team. According to Miranda, "HAT has provided me something to look forward to on the weekends and allowed me to get out in the community, and I am forever thankfull!"

Miranda came to us this year and dove right in to HAT's outreach program, attending events to pass on the message of habitat stewardship. Miranda also joined the annual bat count!

Miranda says, "I first found out about HAT when I was volunteering with the Nature Conservancy at the Matson Conservation Area. I got inspired by the similar work they did, like the Nature Conservancy but at a regional level. I am inspired to volunteer with organizations such as HAT as it allows me to meet like minded individuals in the community. I love meeting new people who are just as passionate about the environment as I am!"

She adds, "My favourite experience volunteering with HAT is a tie between the In Bloom Festival at the Cowichan Garry Oak Preserve and bat counting. It was absolutely beautiful at the preserve and I felt honoured to be able to visit the property and educate people about HAT." When it comes to bat counting Miranda shares, "I have learned a lot more about bats and seeing them fly and the different places they live is just so cool."

When it comes to broadening horizons, Miranda explains that volunteering with HAT has helped a lot, "I have learned many things since I’ve started volunteering with HAT! I learned about the Blue grey Taildropper slug and how in Canada its only been recorded on Vancouver Island! How cool is that. I learned about the White Nose Syndrome affecting bats in Eastern Canada, as well as how common it is to have bats in residential areas."

"HAT has given me the opportunity to learn more about Vancouver Island and spread that knowledge to my class mates." - Miranda Cant

Thank you Miranda, we are so grateful to you for sharing your kindness and enthusiasm with the community!


Read more: Volunteer Spotlight: Miranda Cant

Conservation Connection Forum 2017: Early Bird Discount Tickets on sale now!

Conservation Connection Plain Logo

October 12th, Thurs

The Conservation Connection forum encourages people representing First Nations, land trusts, wildlife conservation experts, environmental groups, and those caring for nature across South Vancouver Island, the Gulf Islands, and beyond to come together bi-annually for a conference hosted by Habitat Acquisition Trust. With renowned speakers, a beautiful space to gather and collaborate, active nature walks, as well as a benefit auction night this is the event of the season. This local conference is surely not to be missed.

Earn an early bird discount for purchasing tickets before Sept 15th! Last chance to purchase tickets is October 1st, don't miss the deadline.

Businesses and Sponsorship

For those that wish to advertise their business with this event and act on their desire to support a green local economy, contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.or 250-995-2428 to negotiate a sponsorship. Monetary sponsorships and donations of goods or services for the silent auction benefit will allow our charity to fund ongoing programs for children in nature, species of concern, and habitat protection. Contact us by September 2017 for maximum exposure!

I want to attend

Space is limited, reserve your spot today for this expected sell-out event. Call 250-995-2428 and This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to be the first to secure tickets. Tickets available online here.

The Speaker Line-up

Coming soon... sign up for The Fern Newsletter to receive regular Habitat Acquisition Trust updates.

A teaser from the last Conservation Connection Forum here.


This event is funded by:

Logo vancity.svgvictoria foundation logo

To become a sponsor contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..c 250-995-2428


Click below for more details


Read more: Conservation Connection Forum 2017: Early Bird Discount Tickets on sale now!

Pete Lewis Board Biography

Lewis Photo for HAT WebsitePete Lewis

Retired, Provincial Director of Aquatic Information and Professional Geoscientist (Geomorphologist)

Pete worked in the Canadian Arctic for 16 years as a federal scientist and manager before moving to BC in 1981 where he was involved in many aspects of provincial natural resource information programs.  He has also been active in Scouting outdoor programs for many years and previously served on the HAT Board from 2004 to 2009.  Pete sees HAT’s open, collaborative approach as an important contribution to connecting local residents, including youth, to the outdoors and the natural environment.


Read more: Pete Lewis Board Biography

Ruby Creek Riparian Restoration Workshop

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Habitat Acquisition Trust is hosting an invasive species removal event and Riparian Restoration Workshop on Ruby Creek in Metchosin with Dave Polster of Polster Environmental Services.

We would like to invite you to join us for this unique educational opportunity and come out to get your hands dirty and have fun while broadening your knowledge base on habitat restoration, riparian corridors and bioengineering with expert Dave Polster!

The 2-day workshop includes a full day in a classroom setting and a full day in the field putting your new skills to work. In addition, there is an invasive species removal day prior to the workshop in partnership with the Greater Victoria Green Team and CRD Parks, in which volunteers will be clearing invasives from Ruby Creek to prepare for the field portion of the workshop. Participants who attend the optional invasive removal day receive a 50% discount on the cost of the Restoration Workshop.


Event: Invasive Species Removal on Ruby Creek in Metchosin - Optional FREE event

Date: September 28, 2017

Time: 10am-3pm

Hosted by: Habitat Acquisition Trust in partnership with

CRD Parks & the Greater Victoria Green Team

No Cost: A volunteer community event*

Lunch: Included at no cost

Event: 2-Day Riparian Restoration Workshop with Dave Polster R.P.Bio

(Polster Environmental Services) on Ruby Creek

Dates: September 29th & 30th

Time: 9am-3:30pm

Hosted by: Habitat Acquisition Trust

Cost: $100 for both days*

*Note: Those attending the Sept. 28th volunteer invasive plant removal day receive a %50 discount for the workshop.

Lunch: Bring your own lunch, or add $7/day for a HAT provided 'bag' lunch.


You can register for the 28th and/or the Workshop (29-30th) online at: http://rubycreekrestoration.bpt.me

Space is limited for the 2-day workshop to 30 participants, so register soon to reserve your spot!

If you would like more details, or are interested in RSVP'ing for just the Sept.28th Ruby Creek Invasive Plant Pull Event

contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 250-995-2428.

Who Should Attend?

Anyone wanting to learn more about restoration options including bioengineering with an emphasis on riparian restoration techniques and other innovative options involved in the restoration and reclamation of damaged ecosystems using a combination of structural materials, vegetative cuttings and other specialized methods.

What's included in the cost of the workshop?

2 full days of hands-on, educational trainingcourse manual coffee/tea and morning snackstools & gloves


Ruby Creek is a small watercourse that empties into Witty's Lagoon. The area of Ruby Creek that workshop participants are restoring runs through private land, is adjacent to Witty's Lagoon and protected in perpetuity through a conservation covenant with Habitat Acquisition Trust and the CRD. HAT and community volunteers have been restoring this land and riparian corridor for over 10 years. We will also be continuing to clear laurel-leaved daphne on adjacent CRD Parklands to enhance the habitat for the Provincially at-risk Blue-grey Taildropper Slug, found near Ruby Creek in 2016.


Dave Polster is a plant ecologist with over 35 years of experience in vegetation studies, reclamation and invasive species management. He has developed a wide variety of reclamation techniques for the re-establishment of riparian and aquatic habitats using soil bioengineering and other innovative techniques. To find out more about Dave, check out his website at: http://polsterenvironmental.com/


This two day course will focus on restoration techniques including soil bioengineering and options involved in restoration and reclamation of damaged ecosystems using a combination of structural materials, vegetative cuttings and other specialized methods with an emphasis on riparian restoration. Soil bioengineering is an applied science that uses live plant materials to perform an engineering function such as slope stabilization, soil erosion control, or seepage control.

Topics to be covered include:

Factors involved in successful restorationSuccessional reclamationSoil bioengineering techniquesRegional differences in climate, soils, hydrology, plant types, and growing seasonsMaintenance and monitoring


This workshop is a part of this year's Metchosin Good Neighbours Project. The goal of this HAT project is to engage with the Metchosin community to find solutions to significant local conservation issues and to promote community appreciation of healthy natural habitats. We are doing this on HAT covenanted lands and with private landowners in Metchosin. We are grateful to have the opportunity to host this workshop and invasive plant removal event through our generous funders of HAT's Good Neighbours Program

The Sitka Foundation

BC Gaming

Metchosin Foundation

District of Metchosin




Read more: Ruby Creek Riparian Restoration Workshop

Invasive Red-Eared Slider Turtles: A greater threat than first suspected

WPT group on log KO photoA row of turtles basks on a log in the lake, the sun warms their bodies like contented sunbathers. It’s a delightful, idyllic scene – or is it?

Take a closer look at those turtles. Do they have a vivid red-orange underbelly? Or is the belly yellow and the cheeks with a blushing red to brown streak?

If you’ve spotted a turtle that appears painted red to orange on its belly, you’re lucky to be looking at Vancouver Island’s only remaining native species of freshwater turtle, a member of the endangered coastal population of Western Painted Turtles (Chrysemys picta bellii). A welcome sight and an animal that needs all the help it can get to keep its remaining wetland habitat livable.

If you’ve spotted a turtle with a yellow belly, “red ears”, or a bold yellow Z-stripe on the side of its face, you are looking at an abandoned pet. Red-eared Sliders (Trachemys scripta elegans) and Yellowbelly Sliders (Trachemys scripta scripta) can live to 50 years old, and grow to over 30 cm (12 inches) long. Pet owners that find themselves unwilling to honour a life-long commitment to their turtles look to the great outdoors - Instead of responsibly finding their pet a new home or surrendering pets to an animal shelter. Yes, many turtles – at least 6 species – have been abandoned in our lakes and ponds. Unfortunately, the wild is not the place for domestically raised, non-native species. Of all the species released here in BC, only one – the Red-eared Slider – is released in sufficient number to allow males an females to find each other.

Other turtles released in BC include the Common Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentine), a Map Turtle (Graptemys sp.), Reeve’s Turtle (Chinemys reevsi), European Pond Terrapin (Emys orbicularis), and one species of softshell turtle (Apalone sp.). These five are disctinctive and cannot be mistaken for our native Painted Turtle.

Red eared slider nestingIf an abandoned pet Slider survives the ordeal of going from a cozy, all-inclusive home to fending for itself outdoors, it now poses a serious risk to coexisting with Western Painted Turtles. We have found that Sliders frequently have respiratory disease when rescued from the wild, and this could be spread to native Painted Turtles.

WPT log ken groatDisease is not the only problem, introduced Sliders compete with native turtles for basking habitat, food, and nesting sites. Not only that, but Sliders increase pressure on other species as they gobble up plants, crustaceans, aquatic insects, snails, amphibians, and their eggs. As bigger turtles, Sliders can easily dominate basking logs. Basking spots are not only a nice place to catch some sun, they are essential to maintaining healthy metabolic rate and digestive function in Painted Turtles. Suitable habitat for Painted Turtles is essential, yet in the Victoria region over 80% of pre-colonial wetlands have already been lost, and water quality has declined in the remaining waterbodies with alteration of flow, as well as modern use of industrial chemicals, fertilizers, and pesticides. Now Painted Turtles have to cope with abandoned pets on top of habitat loss and degradation.

Red-eared Sliders are among the top 100 worst invaders recognized by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). But at least these non-native Sliders can’t hatch babies in British Columbia’s cool northern climate… right? While this was once thought to be true, it turns out our worst fears about the invaders are confirmed. BC’s first record of successfully hatched Slider nestlings in the wild came in 2015, during Coastal Painted Turtle Project nest monitoring in Delta. Before this, we had only found Slider nests with partially developed embryos, and nearly successful but dead hatchlings. The survival of Slider hatchlings in 2015 is concerning for a number of reasons. With projected climate warming, the nesting success of Sliders may only increase. Not only that but, Slider’s lower age of maturity could provide a reproductive edge in overtaking our endangered Painted Turtles locally.

bb wptSo what’s to be done about this rival for precious habitat? Aimee Mitchell and researchers at the Coastal Painted Turtle Project recommend recording non-native turtle and nest observations, removing non-native turtles before successful breeding, monitoring the area following removal, and public education on non-native turtles.

Habitat Acquisition Trust welcomes your observations of turtles and turtle nests on South Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands. Please send your observations, with clear photographs whenever possible, to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Thank you to Gavin Hanke of the Royal BC Museum and Aimee Mitchell of the Coastal Painted Turtle Partnership for information included in this article.

Habitat Acquisition Trust’s Western Painted Turtle program for habitat restoration, enhancement, and education on South Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands is funded by Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Habitat Stewardship Program and people like you. Please support local turtle stewardship with a gift at hat.bc.ca/donate.

Photo of Western Painted Turtles on a log by Kristiina Ovaska.



Read more: Invasive Red-Eared Slider Turtles: A greater threat than first suspected

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