Renewing biodiversity conservation planning strategies as part of joint management with First Nations especially for the drier islands around the northern Salish Sea.

Gordon Brent BROCHU-INGRAM, KEXMIN field station, April 9, 2021, The Land We Would Like To Be: Renewing biodiversity conservation planning strategies as part of joint management with First Nations around the northern Salish Sea. City and Regional Futures Colloquium, Department of City and Regional Planning, Cornell University College of Architecture, Art, and Planning.

a large and scattered grove of seaside juniper, PETEṈILĆ [SENĆOŦEN], Juniperus maritima, on S,DÁYES (Pender Island) including two trees with nearly ripe berries

Seaside juniper, Pender Island 2020 September 17 * P1010004
This was one of two of ten individuals in this landscape with ripening berries.
The smoky sky was due to the Oregon fires.

There is a landscape in the centre of North Pender Island evocative of the grasslands with lodgepole pines, with bison and mastodon, soon after the retreat of the glaciers roughly 14,000 b.p.

Seaside juniper, Pender Island 2020 September 17 * P1010055
This was one of two of ten individuals in this landscape with ripening berries.

While this endemic, island species of juniper, PETEṈILĆ [SENĆOŦEN], Juniperus maritima, is relatively rare throughout its range, there are over ten trees scattered in this landscape with this pine-grassland exceptionally rare on the Gulf Islands and evocative of central British Columbia or further north.

Seaside juniper, Pender Island 2020 September 17 * P1010044
This was one of two of ten individuals in this landscape with ripening berries.

Seaside juniper, Pender Island 2020 September 17 * P1010060
This was one of two of ten trees in this landscape with ripening berries.

Of these junipers, only two were fruiting with the aromatic berries perhaps a month from the peak of ripeness.

Seaside juniper, Pender Island 2020 September 17 * P1010001
This was one of only two out of ten juniper trees, that all appeared to be under fifty years old, with ripening berries. The smoky sky was due to the Oregon fires. Surrounding these
junipers was mesic grassland with old lodgepole pines and young Douglas fir trees.

Gray’s desert parsley, Lomatium grayi, on the cliffs of Hwmet’utsun

2020 May 5 Lomatium grayi, Hwmet’utsun, Salt Spring Island * P1010118

Within Canada, Gray’s desert parsley, Lomatium grayi, is at the northern edge of its range, which extends south-east to Utah, and only occurs on dry, south-west facing cliffs on Salt Spring, Galiano, and Prevost Islands.

After many of years of field studies, I had only encountered Lomatium grayi from a distance — looking up at it on a cliff slope from twenty or thirty feet below. While conducting field studies on May 5, 2020, in the ecological reserve on Hwmet’utsun, I was able to safely climb up to a relatively recent clump (with just one stalk) on a site that I have passed a hundred times. This could well have been the first year that this plant flowered.

A 2018 paper suggests that the far northern populations be renamed “Lomatium depauperatum” (Alexander, Jason Andrew, Wayne Whaley and Natalie Blain. 2018. THE LOMATIUM GRAYI COMPLEX (APIACEAE) OF THE WESTERN UNITED STATES: A TAXONOMIC REVISION BASED ON MORPHOMETRIC, ESSENTIAL OIL COMPOSITION, AND LARVA-HOST COEVOLUTION STUDIES. Journal of the Botanical Research Institute of Texas Vol. 12, No. 2 (20 NOVEMBER 2018), pp. 387-444.) but it remains unclear about whether or not there was comprehensive analysis of the Gulf Island populations. This taxonomic revision has yet to be fully accepted and the Recovery Plan for this rare plant in Canada is still organized as for Lomatium grayi.

Back to Tuam: Northern Garry oak, Quercus garryana, savannah dotted with Douglas fir, Pseudotsuga menziessi, parkland

The lower edge of the Mount Tuam oak savannah 2020 April 12 * P1010002

One the many 200 to 300 year old Garry oaks on the south-west slope of Mount Tuam,
2020 April 12 P1010025

The Garry oak savannah on the south-west face of Mount Tuam, Salt Spring Island, form in part as a Salish horticultural landscape. Today, most of the Northern Garry oak savannah on the Gulf Islands has been overgrown but this dreamy space persists and gives us many clues to what was and possibilities for ecological restoration and permaculture.


A grove of 100 to 200 year old oaks on Mount Tuam that have only been invaded by Douglas fir in the last 20 years 2020 April 12 P1010015

There is not a lot of Northern Garry oak, Quercus garryana, savannah left: grasslands with forbs, herbs, and wildflowers and less then 50% of the cover in large oaks, many between 200 and 300 years old. With many of these historic savannahs are now overgrown with young Douglas fir forest and invasive plants, such as broom, the south-west face of Mount Tuam on Salt Spring Island, part ecological reserve and special management area and part Department of Transport lands for the beacons for Victoria International Airport, is a particularly sunny, windy, and dry set of habitats. With little fire and many invasive forbs, these lands have maintained the expansiveness of grassland along high-contrast ecological edges around ancient trees.

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Fire, invasion & cloning

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One of more of a score of Garry oak clonal circles, well under a century old,
on the lower half of the Mount Tuam oak savannah 2020 April 12 * P1010038

On April 12, 2020, ḴEXMIN field station researchers explored three current dynamics in the Tuam savannah:

  1. the persistence of a large number of 200 to 300 year old Garry oak trees creative through Salish stewardship including low-temperature burning, with little competition from other trees because of the dryness of the slope due to sun and wind, that in turn provide exceptionally high ph environments for plants and invertebrates;
  2. the recent invasion of the more mesic edges of the savannah with very young Douglas fir that in turn shade out many grassland and oak woodland species; and
  3. the gradual loss of the larger, older Garry oak trees, vulnerably to increasingly powerful storms, and their replacement with circles of younger clones, from the same roots (that could well be thousands of years old) that might well come to grow together into very large individuals much like what they have replaced.
The contrast between a savannah Garry oak and a parkland Douglas fir, of roughly the same ages of 200 to 300 years each on Mount Tuam * 2020 April 12 * P1010027 * The ridge and island in the distance is Turtleback Mountain on Orcas Islands, Washington State
A cross-section of a ‘parkland’ form of a 200 to 300 year old Douglas fir,
on Mount Tuam * 2020 April 12 * P1010021

Within these small expanses of remaining Northern Garry oak savannahs are a few large, old Douglas fir trees that established in these oak, forb and grass lands centuries before. The habitat values of these coniferous trees, typically two or three times the height and biomass of the larger, older Garry oaks, are explored in terms of,

a. vertical structures and refuges particularly for nesting,

b. high contrast edges and perches especially for raptors, and

c. exceptional shade.

 

 

 
 

 
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Large Douglas fir trees provide crucial habitat within landscapes of oaks, forbs, and grass

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Within these small expanses of remaining Northern Garry oak savannahs are a few large, old Douglas fir trees that established in these oak, forb and grass lands centuries before. The habitat values of these coniferous trees, typically two or three times the height and biomass of the larger, older Garry oaks, are explored in terms of,

a. vertical structures and refuges particularly for nesting,

b. high contrast edges and perches especially for raptors, and

c. exceptional shade.

 

 

 
 

 
View this post on Instagram
 

 

 

 
 

 
 

 

 

Large, 200 to 300 year old Douglas fir trees within expanses of large oaks, forb, and grass land

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

2018 October 18 Lichen on a branch of one of the older Garry oak trees just north of the northern, more recent ‘NatureTrust’ exclosure, Mount Maxwell Ecological Reserve

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

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

coastal manroot, Marah oregana, Canada’s rarest and most threatened plant species

2017 May 25 photograph taken jointly by Jan Steinman, Ecoreality Cooperative & Gordon Brent Brochu-Ingram, KEXMIN field station

Canada’s rarest and most threatened plant species, with only one viable populations on a steep ridge above Fulford Harbour on Salt Spring Island, is,

coastal manroot, Marah oregana (Cucurbitaceae – Cucumber family).

2017 May 25 photograph taken jointly by Jan Steinman, Ecoreality Cooperative & Gordon Brent Brochu-Ingram, KEXMIN field station

This is the more northerly of the six manroot species and this particular population is the most northerly occurrence of this species. Manroot have large perennial roots that live for centuries, can take two decades to become reproductively mature, and require two roots to reproduce (like any good cucumber!), and is relatively rare. On Salt Spring Island, the 3 to 6 metre vines extend from the roots every April and dry out and disintegrate by the time that the cucumber fruit mature in September. Unless most other cucumbers, the seeds are relatively large and heavy. From the Gulf and San Juan Islands this species occurs sporadically near the coast as far south as the mountains of Los Angeles County.

2017 May 25 photograph taken jointly by Jan Steinman, Ecoreality Cooperative & Gordon Brent Brochu-Ingram, KEXMIN field station

At the northern end of this species’ range, the Salish cultivated this wild cucumber and used the fruit as one of their most powerful anti-viral medicines — crucial after the coming of syphilis.

This population remains unprotected. This population above Fulford Harbour was declared ‘endangered’, federally, in 2009 but the Harper Cabinet could not bother to give it legal protection. A few years ago, one of the landowners for this area bulldozed some of the old roots but the population is hanging on and shifting down the hill above Fulford Community Hall.

2017 May 25 photograph taken jointly by Jan Steinman, Ecoreality Cooperative & Gordon Brent Brochu-Ingram, KEXMIN field station

 

2018 June 5 coast manroot, Marah oregana, on Salt Spring Island late in the flowering period along with fruiting at various phases, photograph by Gordon Brent Brochu-Ingram, KEXMIN field station

 

2018 June 5 coast manroot, Marah oregana, on Salt Spring Island late in the flowering period along with fruiting at various phases, photograph by Gordon Brent Brochu-Ingram, KEXMIN field station

Some landscape ecologies of the Hwmet’utsum, Mount Maxwell & Burgoyne Bay, Cowichan cultural and conservation area & Tsing 2015 A Feminist Approach to the Anthropocene

drone video of Mount Maxwell Ecological Reserve, Salt Spring Island taken by Ben Taft on January 5, 2017 in cooperation with KEXMIN field station

 

Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing – A Feminist Approach to the Anthropocene: Earth Stalked by Man, November 10, 2015 Barnard Center for Research on Women, Barnard College, New York

Anna L. Tsing is a Professor of Anthropology at the University of California Santa Cruz, and the acclaimed author of several books including Friction: An Ethnography of Global Connection and In the Realm of the Diamond Queen.