The Sooke Hill Covenant rests upon T’Souke and Scia’new First Nation Traditional Territories.
In the early 1860s, Sooke Hills experienced its first taste of natural resource extraction, with the gold rush creating the boom and bust Leechtown. Thankfully, the pickin’s were slim, the town quickly emptied and the natural area was little disturbed. Since then forest management and road building has limited the spread of old growth forest.
Today the Hills are protected as part of the Sea to Sea-Regional Park, creating a greenspace corridor between the Saanich Inlet and the Juan de Fuca Strait, in addition to providing a vital link to Sooke Mountain Provincial Park, Sooke Hills Wilderness Park, and Ayum Creek (HAT Covenant). In 2004, Habitat Acquisition Trust and The Land Conservancy worked together with the Capital Region District to place a covenant on 1379 hectares of the 4000 hectare park to ensure the protection of its ecosystems well into the future.
The park hosts 30 km of designated hiking trails, which winds through 3rd growth forest, coastal Douglas fir, and rocky arbutus, habitat perfect for the at-risk sharp tailed snake. The area also hosts a biological hotspot of diversity for mosses, liverworts, and lichens. Two mountains (Mount Manuel Quimper and Mount Empress) and three lakes (Sheilds, Grass, and Crabapple Lake) reside within HAT's conservation covenanted parcels providing the perfect opportunity for some wilderness recreation, to appreciate the importance of protected ecosystems. CRD is currently working on an additional 13 km of wilderness trail, allowing residents to meander through unexplored terrain.
Much of the park has been shown to be highly sensitive to wildlife disturbance as well as having a high potential for wildlife species at risk, so please stay on designated trails, pack out what you pack in, and have fun!
Share your photos with us and we'll add them to our explore map!
Species to Look for:
- Hairy manzita
- Mushrooms – milkcap, russula, suillus, sulfur tuft and deer mushrooms
- Oregon beaked moss
- Rusty hook moss
- Black cottonwood
- Henderson's checker mallow
- Labrador tea
- Western bog-laurel
- Devils club
- Dogwood fawn lily
- Deltoid basalm root - Red-listed
- Phantom orchid - Red-listed
- Coopers hawk
- Winter wren
- Red squirrel
- Pileated woodpecker
- Marbled Murrelet - Red-listed
- Red-legged frog
- Pacific Chorus frog - Blue-listed
- Roughskin Newt
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!
- 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