So blares the headlines in Sidney’s “Town Talk” January 2016.
Yesterday I was very fortunate to tour Shoal Harbour Sanctuary with the indefatigable Jacques Sirois, Chairman of our sister sanctuary in Victoria. I would like to take this opportunity to clarify that SHMBS surrenders its title of “one of the oldest marine sanctuaries” to VHMBS, who we now regard as the matriarch by eight years. So we sister sanctuaries of Esquimault Lagoon and Shoal Harbour bow to the Queen City. We are all united by the Bufflehead.
As we passed under the Resthaven Bridge, I pointed out the patch of Jaumea carnosa , the Fleshy Jaumea community that is registered with the BC Conservation Data Center, and as we paddled by Lillian Hoffar Park, I pointed out the ancient site of Wsi-i-kem ( Lillian Hoffar Park) with its rare plant community and middens. It is characterized by the tall Black Cottonwoods, that exudes the Balm of Gilead in spring, and provides bird song and habitat particular to this place. There is a reason that this place is called the “lesser place of clay” or Wsi-i-kem and why it is also known as the Balm of Gilead.
There are several plant species that are endemic to Shoal Harbour Sanctuary, particularly within the intertidal community. This is one of the most beleaguered and endangered ecosystems in Canada. With the continued loss of this habitat (Coastal Douglas Fir Ecosystem), that clearly falls within the legally-defined “natural boundary” of a national wildlife sanctuary, we are required by law to ensure its protection.
It is easy to bash an invasive species. Makes for sexy headlines. It is time that the Town of Sidney recognizes the enormous ecological, cultural and historic merits of this shared community asset with North Saanich. It needs to work with Environment Canada and the district of North Saanich in implementing a coherent management strategy that takes care of our legacy. We must work together to build on this national asset – the Three Sister Sanctuaries on the Southern Salish Sea Important Bird Area.
At bottom I include descriptions of those species and plant communities that are recorded within the natural boundary of Shoal Harbour Sanctuary. For security reasons the locations of the red-listed species are not divulged.
The Ecology and Geology of Shoal Harbour Sanctuary
BRITISH COLUMBIA CONSERVATION DATA CENTER
The Graceful Arrow-Grass ( Triglochin concinna). Element Occurrence Record 9760 COSEWIC List RED
Location : Tsehum Harbour, Sidney : Point on the southwest shore of Tsehum Harbour (Shoal Harbour) “Resthaven Hospital, flats near bridge.
1976 : Mud flats Jaumea carnosa also grows at the site : Salt marsh.
Habitat Keyword MARINE; UPPER INTERTIDAL
Jaumea carnosa ( Fleshy Jaumea). Element Occurrence Record (1776). COSEWIC List Blue.
Location : Sidney ( Last observation 1964-07-10) Salt marsh by sea
Habitat Keyword : MARINE; TIDAL FLAT
ELEMENT RECORD 1594
Alnus rubra / Carex obnupta [ Populus balsamifera ssp trichocarpa ] ( red alder / slough sedge [black cottonwood])
COSEWIC List RED
Location “Portion of McDonald Provincial Park, west of highway”
HABITAT Keyword PALUSTRINE; FORESTED WETLAND