“It’s an amazing property, in the springtime there’s a large natural floral display that attracts a beautiful diversity of butterflies, it gives me a lot of joy to know that it is protected” - Moralea Milne, Landowner
Just as a diversification of professions allows for innovative progress in technology, science, and many other disciplines, maintaining the natural biodiversity of wildlife is necessary to guarantee each organism fulfills their task, and as a result a properly functioning ecosystem is retained. In the case of the Sharp-tailed Snake (sharpies), a key species at-risk in Canada, one of its central purposes is a very specialized task of controlling terrestrial mollusk populations. Specialist species often have the hardest time adapting to urbanized or introduced environments, and with a lack of awareness landowners can find themselves with substantial costs due to decreased ecosystem services, because of the absence of specified species, which creates an ongoing domino effect of negative consequences.
Camas Hill Covenant
Situated in perfect sharpie habitat in Metchosin, with a south facing slope of associated Garry Oak ecosystem species, is the Camas Hill covenanted land. As a landowner connected with the ecosystem that resides on her property, Moralea Milne is acutely aware of the significance of the present habitat. As a knowledgeable steward of the land she “recognizes it as a special, uncommon ecosystem with rare wildlife species. The fact that it still retains the full complement of original species and is situated close to other large natural areas makes its protection even more important since it connects the wildlife to a large range of habitat”.
Protecting pieces of land that are connected to larger natural areas is vital in maintaining species populations, since it ensures accessibility to changing habitat based on season, which is necessary to wildlife survival and reproduction. Little is known about Sharp-tailed Snakes in our region so covenant landowners like Moralea have been central in learning more about this endangered critter.
Not only does Camas Hill provide vital habitat to sharpies, it is home to many rare butterfly species such as Common Branded Skipper, and Moss’ Elfin, and its native spring wildflowers offer a pollination hotspot. Olive-sided Flycatchers and swallows are also frequent visitors which prefer open areas, with snags or dead trees as habitat. Both have experienced population decreases in the last decade and are bird species that are at risk of becoming threatened in the absence of conservation action.
What You Can Do
Covenants – if you have a natural property with sensitive ecosystems or rare species of ecological value the best thing you can do is to take the first step and come by the office to chat with our Covenants and Acquisitions Coordinator Barb or give her a call at 250-995-2428.
Conservation covenants aren’t suitable for every property but don’t worry there is still lots you can do!
Become a Habitat Steward – we wish we could come visit everyone’s property, but in the meantime if your property isn’t in our focus area you can still become a habitat steward! Here’s a list of things you can do:
- Use of efficient irrigation and naturescaping with native plants -Gardening with Native Plants
- Eliminate use of pesticides and synthetic fertilizers
- Remove invasive plants like broom and daphne - Grow Me Instead
- Keep oil and other toxics out of storm drains – wash your car on your lawn! Photo by TJ Watt
- Maintain soil by mulching leaves
- Plant and protect buffers along water edges - Riparian Areas & Watersheds
- Provide habitat by keeping fallen and dead trees, unless they are a safety hazard - Urban Forests
To support these programs and land conservation make a gift to nature today: hat.bc.ca/donate