Article Submitted by Margaret Lidkea
Friends of Uplands Park is a volunteer group that provides opportunities for restoration, education and inspiration in Uplands Park and other natural areas of Oak Bay.
Uplands Park in Oak Bay BC, is 75 acres with excellent examples of Garry Oak and Associated Ecosystems including deep soil meadows and woodlands, rocky outcrop, vernal pools and maritime meadows. The Garry Oak Ecosystem is one of the most endangered in Canada and the most diverse. The park also has many rare plants listed federally and provincially.
In 2019 along with Uplands Residential area, it was declared a National Historic Site.
THE BEGINNING OF RESTORATION in UPLANDS PARK
In 1992, local Girl Guides of Canada led by Margaret Lidkea, were granted permission by Oak Bay Parks, to remove invasive Scotch broom in Uplands Park and Anderson Hill. This annual event had girls, families and other community members removing broom in many of the meadows of Uplands Park, including Cattle Point. In 2006, the many volunteers and rare plants in the Park allowed Oak Bay Parks to apply for and receive a federal Habitat Stewardship Program (HSP) grant. Grants were obtained for several subsequent years. This allowed for the first Invasive Plant Management plan done on contract.
Friends of Uplands Park
was formed in 2010 to expand the efforts in the park. The volunteer hours grew, further Management Plans were developed by Wylie Thomas, along with annual contracts for a project crews funded by the increased HSP grants.
Scotch broom was targeted, and then English ivy, Daphne laureola, Himalayan blackberry, Carpet burweed and other invasive plants.
Volunteers continue to remove invasive plants regularly on Sundays from 1 to 3 pm, and also on other days.
Monthly Bird Walks are led by expert Geoffrey Newell.
Educational programs are offered to the public and to school classes. Partnerships with other organizations allow for expert public programming. School programs are very popular and include restoration and non-restoration programs. Each year at the end of April or beginning of May, Camas and other wildflowers have been celebrated for inspiring so many people, with a big Camas Day Celebration.
No Ivy League
Volunteers have removed English ivy on the outside of the Cattle Point entrance road to protect the rare plants.
On the inside of the entrance road, elementary students have removed ivy from under a grove of scrub oaks, revealing Fawn lilies that bloomed the first spring after the ivy was removed.
Since 2015, Oak Bay Parks has been removing invasive trees. Meadows are healthier with more sunshine, flowers and animals. This provided an opportunity for restoration by volunteers and students.
Willows School Restoration Area One large area had been plowed in the mid 1800’s to create part of Upland Farm that grew vegetables for the soldiers at Fort Victoria, and grains for the cattle that arrived at Cattle Point. Farming ceased before the middle of the 1900’s, leaving the area open for invasive weeds.The one remaining Garry oak tree, about 250 years old... a Grandparent, was revealed surrounded with invasive weeds.
Students of local Ecole Willows Elementary School have been removing the ivy under and around the Grandparent Garry Oak since 2016, and planting native species, including 4 grandchildren Garry oaks. The area is very large and other adult volunteers have spent many hours weeding the meadow.
The insects and birds are ecstatic about all the food now available from the wildflowers
Trafalgar Park in South Oak Bay, is a Garry Oak rocky outcrop, and very dry in the summer. The park extends from King George Terrace parking area down to the beach. It was covered with enormous invasive Gorse, Scotch broom and Himalayan blackberry. Walking in the park was almost impossible.
Students from Ecole Margaret Jenkins Elementary School started working with Friends of Uplands Park, in 2016, to remove these weeds with loppers, saws and soil knives. Now the area is much healthier for plants and animals, and easy for people to walk through. Classes have removed much of the invasive blackberry at the top of the park so the view can now be enjoyed from the parking area.
Anderson Hill on Island Road in South Oak Bay is also a Garry Oak rocky outcrop with an incredible view of the ocean south to the USA Olympic Mountains. Girl Guides also started here in 1993 removing Scotch broom. The neighbours were delighted to see all the blooming wildflowers the first spring after the broom was removed. Christina Johnson-Dean has been the leader for restoration for many years and meets regularly on Saturdays from 10 to 12 to remove invasive plants.
Monterey Middle School students have been working with Christina and Margaret for several years to restore the habitat of “Blueberry Hill” to a healthier one and to connect the students with their NatureHood.
Friends of Uplands Park is now a Society and is helping other groups of volunteers in all the natural areas in Oak Bay. Check our social media for information and upcoming events: friendsofuplandspark.org or on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
To become a member and receive emails about our events, please contact Margaret at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Weeding with Covid Safety Protocol while still chatting, learning, laughing and helping restore an ecosystem in their NatureHood.