We did it! Habitat Guardians Campaign a Success

SalmonberryblossomHarrisIt's the weekend! What better time to celebrate?

What are we celebrating you ask? The successful fundraising to permanently protect Calypso Woods and Fairview.

Thanks to HAT's Habitat Guardians we actually beat our original goal and mustered $10,500 for the Land Protection Program.

This means that these two new covenants in progress now have the needed funds to go forward! As well as funds for their future monitoring and stewardship. Though these covenants are slated for private land, much of the same wildlife that passes through and depends on parkland in East Sooke Park, Mt. Wells, the Sooke Hills, and Bilston Creek benefits from their establishment. Anyone who visits those incredible places can appreciate these buffers that enrich pre-existing protected green space.

Salmonberry blossom at Calypso Woods, thriving next to Bilston Creek.

Fairview2016 AN"It doesn't matter if you never see these places, I just like to know that it's been protected in perpetuity. Let the wildlife be wild." - Habitat Guardian Lea Goward

The Land Protection program, which allows for the establishment of conservation covenants and the monitoring and restoration of HAT protected lands is historically our most under-funded program. Even though the Habitat Guardians Campaign is complete, ongoing donations to Land Protection are always welcome and crucial to the work that we do.

Through the Land Protection Program HAT currently conserves over 1,900 hectares (4,500 acres) of natural landscapes in the Capital Regional District, including many public parks and sensitive ecosystems. These natural places provide habitat, reduce pollution, and provide important recreation areas used by over 40,000 people a year.

  The lands of Fairview reach right down to the shore of Beecher Bay. It's not hard to guess where the inspiration for its name came from.

Every year we monitor the properties protected by HAT thanks to supporters like you and work to restore those that need it.

A husband and wife habitat stewardship duo that protects their land through HAT beautifully summarized their conservation philosophy like so:

"Do we need to own this land? No. Do we love this land? Yes. Do we want to walk this land as its guardians? Yes."

Forever is a long time, and together we're making sure thriving ecosystems are a part of our region forever. Give to Land Protection today.


Read more: We did it! Habitat Guardians Campaign a Success

Learn How to Protect Western Painted Turtles

Have you spotted any turtles lately? Are Western painted Turtles regular visitors to your property? Just want to learn how to protect them in case you find one? 

We have created an infographic to help spread the word about our endangered little friends!

Please feel free to share this with your friends so we can help create a better understanding of how these turtles interact with their environment!





Read more: Learn How to Protect Western Painted Turtles

HAT's Wildlife Photo Contest

Share your best wildlife photos and participate in HAT's Wildlife Photo Contest! 

Habitat Acquistion Trust wants your help to find the perfect photos for HAT's 2016 Wildlife Cards, so let's get outside and show the world the wonders of nature on South Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands! Before the fun can begin, first we have to get a couple of ground rules out of the way. To participate LIKE our Facebook page and SHARE our Wildlife Photo Contest post. To enter, email HAT your high quality photo and post it to our Facebook page with a description including location, featured wildlife, and other juicy details. 

The categories are: 

Within the species at rish category preference will be towards photos of our focus species at-risk: Sharp-tailed Snake, Western Painted Turtles, Blue-grey Taildropper, Bats, Amphibians, and the Western Screech Owl

How to Win 

The pool of photos will be narrowed down to 25 through popular vote using the Facebook LIKE button, so get your friends involved! HAT staff will choose the Winning Photos from the top 25, so make sure to stay with the theme and give us your best shot! Bonus Points will be given for following HAT on Instagram, Twitter, or by joining our monthly e-newsletter. Winners will receive photo credit and exposure through the HAT community as well as their very own set of winning Wildlife Cards! 


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                                                                                            Past HAT Wildlife Cards


Read more: HAT's Wildlife Photo Contest

Welcome HAT Summer Interns

The Habitat Acquisition Trust is thrilled to welcome summer Interns Salia Wilson and Thomas Cinnamon to 0ur team. We hope you will enjoy meeting and working with these excellent students during their time with HAT.

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Salia Wilson, Conservation Intern 

While originally from the Island Salia has lived in 8 different cities across Canada. She returned to Victoria with a new appreciation for its mild climate and beautiful landscapes. Salia is in her final year at the University of Victoria,working towards her double major in Environmental Studies and Economics. As a co-operative student she is extremely excited to apply her education to tangible situations

With an interest in environmental law Salia is eager to gain further understanding of ecological agreements and hands-on conservation experience with HAT. Previously, she has participated in ivy pulling and bird survey initiatives. As the Conservation Intern, Salia looks forward to collaborating with the Greater Victoria environmental community while working on the Species at-risk, Good Neighbours,and Green Spots Programs.

IMG 1359 min min Thomas Cinnamon, Land Protection Intern

Thomas studies Geography and Environmental Studies at the University of Victoria and is heavily involved in the restoration club. As a result he has voluteered on a number of different restoration initiatives within the CRD and beyond. In 2015, Thomas first worked with HAT as a volunteer on Galiano Island helping to restore the Trincomali Nature Sanctuary.

 Over the summer Thomas will assist both Barb von Sacken and Wendy Tyrell in coordinating restoration events  and completing annual compliance monitoring. While this prairie boy only has three years of experience working in Coastal Douglas-fir environments, he is a quick learner with a wide spectrum of backcountry experience. In the fall Thomas will be returning to the University of Victoria to pursue his undergraduate.


Read more: Welcome HAT Summer Interns

Senanus Island: From Beneath the Ivy

Every year, Habitat Acquisition Trust partners with the Peninsula Streams Society and the Tsartlip First Nation to help restore one of the region's lesser known islands: Senanus. That this place is not well known is perhaps one of its advantages as an area set aside for nature. Though it is usually off limits to visitors, there is evidence of people stopping by.

The story of the island that is also little known may encourage a greater respect of the restricted use of this sacred space. Senanus actually means breast in the Coast Salish tongue. From a certain profile, the island bears a resemblance to the anatomy for which it is named. Seeing our likeness in the features of the landscape is perhaps a good way to subconsciously relate to and identify with our environment. One certainly feels a sense of peacefullness cradled on the bosom of the Earth, working on this land to remove the invasive plants and leave room for the native species to return.

Senanus Crew and View 2016

This year a group of about 15 volunteers and non-profit supporters were given permission to spend a day on this special island to carry on the work of weeding the island to improve it's ecological integrity. The island was once a yellow smudge on the horizon when the Scotch Broom was in bloom, but now what little broom is left is manageable and we are already working away at the English Ivy creeping up on trees, shrubs, and ground cover.

During a visit to the island volunteers are welcomed by the hoarse yet friendly cries of dozens of the blue-black Stellar's Jays that inhabit the island. Never still, always lively, the jays are a welcome sight. It was also a treat for us to see the Harvest Brodiaea in bloom.

As we pulled and snipped out the ivy, careful to get at the dastardly roots to thwart its return, we realized that the group was being watched. A family of raccoons (Procyon lotor) inhabits the island, and they appeared quite curious to see such large non-marine mammals in their presence. With its abundance of tree cavities for dens, lack of large predators, and bounty of succulent shellfish, Senanus seems like a paradise for these little bandits. Raccoons' adaptability to urban situations has earned them a bad reputation with some humans, and although it is thought they may have been introduced to some smaller, harder to get to Gulf Islands, they are a native species on Vancouver Island and the larger Gulf Islands. There's a fair chance that they are not introduced on Senanus, but simply swam over from the nearby shore. Raccoons are capable of swimming 5 km/h (3 mph) on average and can stay in the water for several hours. Despite a bad reputation, the racoon plays an important role in local ecosystems as a scavenger cleaning up what's left behind by other predators or dying animals. On Senanus Island and other locations, it is rumoured that raccoons help keep the profusely defecating, introduced non-migratory Canada Goose population at bay by opportunistically enjoying their eggs. Studies of predation on Canada Geese elsewhere have identified raccoons as predators of both eggs and goslings (Gosser et al. 1997)(Brown, 2007).

Senanus Raccoon 2016

Two other treasures we excavated from the ivy were the skeletons of both a racoon and two geese. As nature buffs, each of us delighted in figuring out what species the bones belonged to. At first, it is a bit of a surprise how large a goose's bones are, although the light and porous features of the bones help give them away as bird skeletons upon inspection.

bones senanus 2016

Overall, HAT and Peninsula Streams removed roughly a dozen stretchers of English Ivy, Himalayan Blackberry, Laurel Daphne, and Scotch Broom with 13 volunteers. A big thank you to everyone for their involvement, inlcuding Brian Smiley for transporting us to the island and both Sarah Verstegen and Barry Philbrook for transporting our tools. We are also so grateful to the Tsartlip Nation for being habitat stewards and allowing us to be involved with restoring Senanus. From a distance this island once appeared as a swath of yellow when the broom bloomed, but now volunteers can see the light at the end of the tunnel and the troublesome invasive plant is becoming more and more manageable. Senanus is a testament to what can be done towards effectively managing weedy species.

So, next time if you depart on a boating journey from Brentwood Bay you may see Senanus Island to the right, out of respect we ask that you enjoy it from the water and do not disturb this special part of Tsartlip territory. If you are intrigued about visiting the island, we welcome you to sign up for the next annual Senanus trip.

If you would like to join us in exploring the region while doing good for the local environment, you are always welcome join the HAT community. Our next restoration day will be June 11th at Havenwood Park in Colwood. Please contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.or 250-995-2428 for further details and to RSVP.


Read more: Senanus Island: From Beneath the Ivy

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