Since moving to Vancouver Island I’ve been volunteering with several habitat restoration organizations -View Royal Parks, Peninsula Streams Society and Capital Regional District Parks. It’s been great fun, and it has been good to get outdoors, mix with other human beings and achieve something tangible. I’ve bashed brambles (Himalayan Blackberry), pulled up lots of Scotch Broom, hauled out English Ivy from amongst the trees, tugged up Daphne and various other invasive plants. I’ve also learned a lot, and become familiar with some of the island’s parks.
So it seemed natural to volunteer to become a Park Steward with CRD Parks. Although the new intake of stewards was inducted a couple of months ago it has taken a while to go through the background checking process. But at last my innocence has been confirmed, and I could be unleashed on Francis /King and Thetis Lake Regional Parks. It was time for my first Park Patrol!
On Saturday 15th January I spent the misty, moisty morning wandering about 13km of trails in Francis/King Park. This is a densely forested park, with small areas of old-growth trees. It has a wheelchair-accessible trail, and some 15 other shortish paths winding amongst the trees. I followed the Centennial, High Ridge, Shooting Star, Grand Fir, Marsh and Panhandle trails, looking out for anything amiss, such as fallen or dangerous trees, garbage – basically anything that might impact the forest and/or its visitors.
I didn’t come across anything significant during my first patrol other than an area scattered with tissues, visual evidence of its use as a lavatory. This is infuriating, because there are two public toilets just five minutes walk away! The morning was useful in my getting to know some of the trails and the various habitats in the park. I also greeted quite a few visitors, and chatted briefly with some. It was a good feeling to be part of something valuable.
Francis/King is separated from Thetis Lake Park by a line of electricity pylons and its associated clearing. Here, Scotch Broom is well established, and on Saturday the power line was a torn-up mess, as BC Hydro has been using a thrasher to cut down some of the bushes. I have a feeling that the broom will simply quickly grow back .