An exceptional crop of Garry oak, Quercus garryana, acorns

 

2018 September 16 Garry oak acorn, Burgoyne Bay Provincial Park, Salt Spring Island

Garry oak, Quercus garryana, is the oak species native to Western North America with the largest distribution: from a small corner of south-western British Columbia to a small corner of northwestern Baja California. On the northern margins of West Coast Quercus, in drier areas around the Salish Sea, Garry oak, and associated meadows dominated by forbs and shrubs rather than grasslands, is more often associated with a fire-dependent ‘disclimax’ the total area of which has shrunk under fire suppression. Current and historic data suggests that Garry oak on its northern margins is highly variable, from year to year, in the extent of acorn production. After progressively warmer, drier and longer summers, more similar to those in the centre of this species’ distribution, this year saw exceptional levels of acorn production, at least on the Gulf Islands. Unfortunately, the tree that has produced this particular acorn is also stressed from sea level rise and saltwater intrusion.

KEXMIN field station: mission

mid-July seeding of KEXMIN (in green) Lomatium nudicaule

KEXMIN, Lomatium nudicaule, seeding (the stalks in green), mid-July in a historic patch along Dallas Road in Beacon Hill Park, Victoria , British Columbia

“We cannot carry out the kind of decolonization our Ancestors set in motion if we don’t create a generation of land-based, community-based intellectuals and cultural producers who are accountable to our nations and whose life work is concerned with the regeneration of these systems rather than meeting the overwhelming needs of the Western academic complex or attempting to ‘Indigenize the academy’ by bringing Indigenous Knowledge into the academy on the terms of the academy itself…The land must again become the pedagogy.” Leanne Betasamosake Simpson 2017[*]

“That the KEXMIN, Indian consumption plant, is a good medicine used to clean and open the way for the pure spirits to come near.”  Tsawout First Nation  

KEXMIN field station is a centre for research & learning spanning traditional indigenous knowledge and contemporary science for environmental planning, ecological design, public art and other forms of contemporary cultural production with a focus on the Salish Sea and its Gulf and San Juan Islands between the mainland of the North American West Coast and Vancouver Island.

[*] Leanne Betasamosake Simpson. 2017. As We Have Always Done: Indigenous Freedom through Radical Resistance. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. pages 159-60.

 

the Salish Sea & Puget Sound as an organism

introduction to the work of KEXMIN field station

We are currently developing and discussing a mission statement.

contact: kexminfieldstation@gmail.com

 

immature fruit of coastal manroot, Marah oregana: traditionally stewarded and used by some Salish communities

2018 June 8 immature Marah oregana fruit * photogragh by Gordon Brent Brochu-Ingram

One W̱SÁNEĆ community nearby still protects one remaining plant and the only viable population, on Salt Spring Island, is associated with a relatively old cultural landscapes called, in the nineteenth century, ‘the Old Indian Lookout’. The richness of the reliance on this wild cucumber, for medicine, has only partially been made public.

2018 June 8 immature Marah oregana fruit * photogragh by Gordon Brent Brochu-Ingram

Five plant species native to the Gulf Islands in rapid decline because of predator suppression

2018 May 15 Camassia leichtlinii inside the north upper exclosure, Mount Maxwell Ecological Reserve, Hwmet’utsun Conservation Area, Salt Spring Island

Five plant species native to Salt Spring Island have been in rapid decline in recent decades because of historically elevated populations of deer, Odocoileus hemionus columbianus, largely because of predator suppression:
both species of native camas, Camassia leichtlinii and C. quamash;

Menzies larkspur, Delphinium menziesii;

common wooly sunflower, Eriophyllum lanatum; and

springbank clover, Trifolium wormskioldii.

2018 May 15 Menzies larkspur, Delphinium menziesii, P5150151 north upper exclosure, Mount Maxwell Ecological Reserve, Hwmet’utsun Conservation Area, Salt Spring Island

Today, these once abundant populations are often reduced on the larger Gulf Islands, areas with large deer populations, to the following sites:

well-fenced exclosures such as the three small areas in Mount Maxwell Ecological Reserve constructed in the years following its 2001 expansion);

rocky cliffs difficult for deer to reach; and

some tiny strips near busy roads and urban areas that deer avoid (including Grace Islet near Ganges).

2018 May 15 springbank clover, Trifolium wormskioldii, cliff Mt Maxwell Ecological Reserve and also in the N upper exclosure, Hwmet’utsun Conservation Area, Salt Spring Island, Salt Spring Island

The two large predator species, that have primary ecological relationships with populations of black-tailed deer were wolf, Canis lupus, and cougar, Puma concolor. In the last fifty years, outlier wolves have had only a sporadic presence on some of the smaller Gulf Islands (recently Chatham Islands and earlier Saturna) with the last large pack on central Salt Spring Island exterminated in the 1930s. There are wolf packs not far from Salt Spring Island, above the Cowichan Valley. But those packs are separated from the Gulf Islands by the Island Highway and increased travel barriers from suburbanization. A small number of cougars survive at higher elevations on Salt Spring Island but may be isolated and quite possibly in-bred. Migration corridors away from Salt Spring Island have not been determined but may include the Stony Hill and Mount Tzouhalem just across Sansum Narrows.

2018 May 15 common wooly sunflower, Eriophyllum lanatum P5150107 central upper exclosure Mount Maxwell Ecological Reserve, Hwmet’utsun Conservation Area, Salt Spring Island

 

2018 May 15 Camassia quamash P5150115, central upper exclosure Mount Maxwell Ecological Reserve, Hwmet’utsun Conservation Area, Salt Spring Island

 

Ottawa never ‘did the work’ to hear out Indigenous concerns over Trans Mountain pipeline

A W̱SÁNEĆ  elder listens during a rally outside the Federal Court of Appeal where a hearing about the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline expansion is taking place, in Vancouver, BC, on October 2, 2017 photograph by DARRYL DYCK, THE CANADIAN PRESS

Ottawa never ‘did the work’ to hear out Indigenous concerns over Trans Mountain pipeline: lawyer

 

Camille Bains. 2017. Ottawa never ‘did the work’ to hear out Indigenous concerns over Trans Mountain pipeline: lawyer. Globe and Mail (OCTOBER 2, 2017). 

 

W̱SÁNEĆ & Hul’qumi’num clam garden, Russell Island, Gulf Islands National Park

This site is barely two kilometres south of KEXMIN field station and is being restored through cooperation of W̱SÁNEĆ governments and Gulf Islands National Park.

Nathan Cardinal, manager of resource conservation at Gulf Islands National Park Reserve, said he discourages the view of parks as pristine or untouched. “All these landscapes were actively managed by First Nations for millennia,” he said. One of his goals is to “change some of the common perception of Indigenous people as people who were hunter-gatherers to people who were effectively resource managers, just as I’m doing today,” he said.

Solidarity with indigenous communities engaged in their territories on Salt Spring Island

Mr. Robert Birch
XXX McLennan Drive
Salt Spring Island V8K 1X3

2017 June 12

RE: Forms of solidarity for supporting indigenous governments as part of living on the Salt Spring Island

Dear Robert,
‘Nice to receive those notes about working with First Nations with territories on Salt Spring Island. Below are a few additional points.

There is no generic ‘Unesco status’ but rather a number of Unesco-related programmes such as

World Heritage Sites (such as the Ninstincts Villages on the West Coast of Gwaii Haanas National Park / Haida Nation) and

Biosphere Reserves (that include Clayoquot Sounds [and has provided little or no additional protection] and part of the Salish Sea with some small islands north of Nanaimo up towards Parksville).

All that work is coordinated by Canadian committees, coordinated from Ottawa, advisory groups that have been increasingly partisan in its politics. I’ve worked with both programmes both in Paris and in Ottawa — and I don’t expect any new WHSs and BRs around the Salish Sea in the coming years partly because…

There are a host of new ‘joint management’ protected areas efforts being initiated / re-asserted and led by First Nations. And there was a planning process begun in 2005 that involves much of the wild West Coast of SSI in treaty negotiations. And all these initiatives could move much more quickly once BC signs on the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of. Indigenous Peoples (if the New Democrat / Green government were to form).

As someone who grew up in a First Nation with territory at the Deep South-East of Salt Spring, I’d like to caution people in reaching out to the five First Nations (involving two Salish languages as different as English and German) — without first engaging in some self-reflexive research and studying the important work that is already going on.

The historical and contemporary relationships of these very different FNs to Salt Spring are asymmetrical and fluid. The Cowichan have made a deep commitment to living and teaching back in Burgoyne Bay part of the year (and it was only a summer village) and will hopefully put a houseboat in there. I have been working with the Cowichan Nation on protecting the Hwmet’utsum (Mount Maxwell) cultural landscapes spanning the two provincial parks and the ecological reserve. The Tsawout keep tabs on the federal lands reserved for their large, historic W̱EN,NÁ,NEĆ village site that extended east to Bridgman Road (and will crack down on dogs in the coming years). Similarly the Chemainus, Penelakut, and Lyackson are increasingly involved again with the north end of SSI. So the best way to ‘work’ with FNs elders and governments is to engage in deep research and learning about what’s already going on.

The three most important ways to work with these five First Nations (and remember that the W̱SÁNEĆ (Saanich) were broken up artificially into five communities with historic ties to Salt Spring so we’re up to 10 different FNs offices) is to provide solidarity around:

1. reassertion of First Nations’ joint ownership of large portions of public lands on Salt Spring;

2. reassertion of food gathering and related land management (already going on) of large portions of public lands on Salt Spring; and

3. (with an acute indigenous housing shortage on all sides of Salt Spring) accelerating indigenous repopulating and diversified housing options on Salt Spring Island (for folks that haven’t felt too welcome on this island for the last century and a half).

All of this work is already being pursued by FNs in relationship to Salt Spring. Elders and FNs administrators will call on broader support and resources when they need it and want it — support from people who have done enough intellectual and personal homework to be fully trusted.

Sincerely,

Brent
Gordon Brent BROCHU-INGRAM

First day of blooms of Salish crabapple, Malus fusca, at the Cowichan village of Xwaaqw’um, Salt Spring Island

photograph by Alex Grünenfelder & Gordon Brent Brochu-Ingram

This was the first or second day of the bloom of the grove of Pacific crabapple, Malus fusca, at Burgoyne Bay, Salt Spring Island — on May 6, 2017 (in an unseasonably cool and late spring). Part of the Cowichan village of Xwaaqw’um that is increasingly used as a tribal educational site, this grove persists through millennia of Salish land stewardship, propagation, and ownership. Today, this crabapple grove more often goes un-noticed and is vulnerable to sea level rise.

This is the only North American crabapple species that is in the primary gene pool of Eurasian apple landraces and cultivars with a distribution that extends along the North Pacific from central California to just north of Japan.

At KEXMIN field station, we are studying traditional small-tree stewardship and harvesting as well as both Salish and modern propagation approaches.

This is another Pacific crabapple blossom, at the same grove as above, at the old Cowichan village of Xwaaqw’um, Burgoyne Bay, Salt Spring Island on May 11, 2017. (photograph taken jointly by Jan Steinman, Ecoreality Cooperative & Gordon Brent Brochu-Ingram, KEXMIN field station).

salmonberry, Rubus spectabilis, blossom

a relatively late blossom (in a late spring) of salmonberry, Rubus spectabilis, just above the high-tide line at Burgoyne Bay just north of the Cowichan village, Xwaaqw’um, Salt Spring Island 2017 April 25 * photograph taken jointly by Jan Steinman, Ecoreality Cooperative & Gordon Brent Brochu-Ingram, KEXMIN field station

The Humet’utsun (Mount Maxwell) Protected Landscape, Salt Spring Island: Ongoing monitoring & assessment

Sansum Narrows and Vancouver Island from the southern parcel of Mount Maxwell Ecological Reserve, Salt Spring Island, 2018 April 23

KEXMIN field station includes scientists and conservation planners who have been conducting research on the indigenous cultural landscapes, ecosystems, and species at risk on wild South and West Coasts of Salt Spring Island, including the ecological reserves, going back to 1979.

Sansum Narrows vista from Mount Maxwell Ecological Reserve, August 1993 photograph by Gordon Brent Brochu-Ingram

***

The current work in the area involves a number of interim reports for a range of clients.

Interim Report on the Status of Mount Maxwell Ecological Reserve, as part of the Hwmet’utsun Protected Landscape, Salt Spring Island

contents

executive summary………………………………………………………………… 2

introduction & problem statement ………………………………………………….6

ecological reserve history & landscapes ……………………………………………7

some conservation roles of this ecological reserve…………………………………11

global trends & longer-term management imperatives …………………………….23

management & sites from 1973 to present …………………………………………31

destructive activities warranting timely interventions ………………………………34

some short-term solutions to minimize further damage ……………………………47

recommendations for conservation strategies, advocacy & policy………………59

Appendix One – Map of Mount Maxwell Ecological Reserve………………………63

Appendix Two – A shore area of the ecological reserve…………………………….64

 

Algae on an older Garry oak tree (with thick bark that protects from fire). This remaining oak savannah, one of the larger fragments of remaining grassland on Hwmet’utsun, is in the higher part of the southern parcel of Mt Maxwell Ecological Reserve that was purchased by NatureServe in 2001 and made part of the Ecological Reserve in 2002. These grasslands were maintained by Salish burning that continued into the 1930s. photograph by Gordon Brent Brochu-Ingram on 2017 September 14 * Non-vascular plants such as these are increasingly valuable as indicators of local, regional, and global change.

 

 

 

This remaining oak savannah, one of the larger fragments of remaining grassland on Hwmet’utsun, is in the higher part of the southern parcel of Mt Maxwell Ecological Reserve that was purchased by NatureServe in 2001 and made part of the Ecological Reserve in 2002. These grasslands were maintained by Salish burning that continued into the 1930s. photograph by Gordon Brent Brochu-Ingram on 2017 September 14