Valens Brook Nature Reserve
In 2012 Dr. Kal Holsti and Marilyn Wan donated 4 hectares of their land to the Islands Trust Fund (ITF), creating the new Valens Brook Nature Reserve. Recently ITF has asked DCA to take on management of this new reserve, as DCA does for the three other Nature Reserves on Denman Island.
DCA has replied that it is willing to do this and, as well, is interested in holding a conservation covenant on the land.
This first property donated along Valens Brook, together with a few sections already reverted to Crown begins what will hopefully be a linear corridor of creekside protection – the Valens Brook Greenway! This property has large mature second-growth Douglas-firs over 80 years of age and wonderful groves of huge 100 plus year old redcedars. The property spans Denman’s second-largest salmon-spawning creek and offers protection for the creek itself, as well as all the various wildlife, invertebrates, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals that use this creek-system.
A Management Plan for the Nature Reserve will be prepared by ITF and it will be made available for public discussion on Denman before it is adopted.
Little brown bat Myotis lucifugus at the Old School being examined during early research activities there. Formerly our most common bat now proposed for the Endangered species list due to the infectious disease white nose.
Note In order to be able to handle bats, researchers are vaccinated for rabies, just in case!
Bats at the Old School
Well the Old School definitely needed a new roof. In checking to see if we could really figure out how the bats were getting into the attic, DCA folks found that there were actually gaping holes in the edges of the roof where shakes and ship lap were missing! The problem was how to fix the roof and retain the large maternal bat colony in the attic. The colony was formerly estimated at about 1000 Mum’s each birthing and raising an offspring from May through July.
Well, roofing seems to be a flexibly-timed project based on workers and weather, and adaptations for bats aren’t in normal roofer procedures. The new roof was finally finished and is very secure and attractive. But unfortunately the bats returned to find their summer home a construction site and not quite the same as they had left it last fall. A range of intended access-plans for the bats seemed fated for difficulties. But in the end, through the work of volunteers, various safety improvements to the attic were made and some new bat-entrances were installed.
Surveys this past week showed that at least some bats are occupying the attic. But only about 50 bats, a small fraction of former colony numbers were seen. The May meeting of the DCA Board was visited by a straying bat, which eventually flew out via the opened door after the lights were turned out.
The low numbers using the attic this season are likely due to the changes in the School’s roof, although bat populations are facing an overall crisis in North America. A disease called white-nose has been adding to other problems for bats such as general loss of habitat. Further modifications will be made, after the summer breeding season, to improve the bat-access to the attic for future years. In addition, the DCA hopes to install a monitoring camera in the attic so that the bats can be readily observed by Old School visitors.
Contributors to this Newsletter:
Jenny Balke, DD Fuchs, Jackie Hipwell, John Millen.
Checkerspot GardeningDenman Island’s endangered Taylor’s checkerspot butterflies have been treated to substantial support this past season. The BC Parks reserve area has been cleared and boundary marking proceeds. Peter Karstens captive breeding program was successful and DCA recently completed a grant project to support the wild populations of Taylor's checkerspot butterflies on Denman's private lands. The project was funded by the Habitat Stewardship Program, and involved two overall initiatives. The first was to compile a stewardship guide for managing these butterflies on Denman, based on what is known about their ecology as well as what other researchers have done. US researchers in Washington and Oregon have been managing their small wild Taylor's checkerspot populations for about 10 years. They were very generous and helpful in sharing their ideas and techniques for habitat enhancement with the DCA. The second part of the project was taking these ideas from the stewardship guide out into Denman's checkerspot habitat. Selected for preliminary checkerspot enhancement were a private landowner site that has continued to have active checkerspots since 2007, and two sites on DCA lands, in Central Park and Settlement Lands. Stewardship plans were designed for these sites and enhancement activities to create more quality habitat were begun. Butterflies like open space, so one enhancement activity involved removing and high-limbing trees around open wet areas that checkerspots like. Another activity was planting high quality food and nectar plants, appreciated by these butterflies. Many of these plants are those of Garry oak meadows. Also important was removing invasive species that hinder the checkerspots' normal behaviour or impair the growth of their food and nectar plants. In one site, this involved covering reed canarygrass with tarps or cardboard and chips. These coverings will be removed in two seasons and then the areas with be replanted with butterfly-favourable species. Fortunately this butterfly flight season of May and early June, has been great weather. The butterflies have been breeding and laying eggs in the wild in apparently slightly greater numbers than has been seen in the last three years. Hopefully they appreciated our initial attempts to create more quality habitat and we can continue with these projects in the future. photo by Jenny Balke
Visit us at the Saturday MarketThroughout the summer DCA will have a table set up on long weekends at the Saturday Market. This is a great time to purchase or renew your membership and to chat with a few DCA board members. We have Conservancy photos and maps on display as well as a good selection of DCA Tee shirts and other items for sale. Hope we see you there!
An Endowment Fund for DCAOn March 19 a committee of DCA members and Board members met to explore the option of an endowment fund for DCA. This resulted in a lively discussion about the financial vision of the Conservancy and the long term costs of managing our lands and covenants. As a result a motion was brought forward to the Board and the following was passed at the April 21 Board meeting: - that the funds presently invested with the Vancouver Foundation (approximately $126,000) be formally recognized by the Board as an "endowment" or restricted fund for the long term support of the Denman Conservancy Association.
Walks and TalksThroughout the summer Andrew Fyson will be offering impromptu walks through Conservancy lands. If you are interested in a guided tour of Central Park, connect with Andrew any long weekend at the DCA table at the Saturday market. We are hoping to have a mushroom walk and talk in the fall. If you can suggest a nature walk or talk that interests you or better yet one that you might be interested in leading, please contact DD Fuchs at 335-1413 or any other Board member.
DCA’s new Covenant CoordinatorJackie Hipwell is our new Covenant Coordinator, taking over from Patti Willis who is working with Jackie in the short term to ensure a smooth transition. The Covenant Coordinator provides coordination of activities related to current and future DCA conservation covenants, with a goal of ensuring that both the Covenant Holder (DCA) and the Owner meet obligations of the covenants. Jackie will be working in close consultation and cooperation with the Land Manager, Andrew Fyson. Both work under the direction of the DCA Lands Committee.
At the AGM
The 2014 AGM was called for February 24 which turned out to be the worst day of the winter’s biggest snow storm. The postponed meeting was held a week later at the Old School. As well as the regular business of reports and elections the Special Resolution amending the membership section of the by-laws was passed.
Directors and Officers for 2014:
- Jenny Balke - Co-Chair
- Doug Bell
- Annie Corddry
- DD Fuchs
- Jackie Hipwell
- John Millen
- Ron Shepherd - Treasurer
- Patti Willis - Co-Chair
- Susan-Marie Yoshihara – Secretary