by Mackenzie Clark (BC Parks Community Engagement Intern, summer 2021)
At BC Parks, we are committed to serving British Columbians by protecting natural features and providing diverse opportunities for outdoor recreation for current and future generations. BC Parks benefits tremendously from the contributions made by volunteers and in collaboration with other fantastic organizations. I’m Mackenzie, a BC Parks Youth Employment Program Community Engagement Intern of summer 2021.
For the last event of my season, I travelled to Gabriola Island to support a collaborative project with the Gabriola Land and Trails Trust (GaLTT) removing invasive orchard grass at Drumbeg Provincial Park. Drumbeg is a special place, and as one of the GaLTT volunteers described, it is the first park that they bring visitors to on Gabriola Island. It is undeniably a beautiful and beloved park. GaLTT is an example of an extraordinary volunteer association who plays a tremendous role in the preservation of parks. The effort of these volunteers helps to ensure that parks, like Drumbeg, remain special.
The removal of invasive plant species in this park has been an ongoing labour of love spearheaded by the GaLTT volunteers, and their efforts are apparent. At Drumbeg, Scotch broom previously covered much of the open meadow. Presently, Scotch broom is contained to a significantly smaller area. The GaLTT volunteers’ dedication and perseverance with invasive plant removal at this location demonstrates just how passionate they are about their role as conservationists. Lou Skinner, who was my planning partner for the event, explained that the GaLTT volunteers return to this park and other natural areas across Gabriola intermittently throughout the year to remove invasive species. By removing these species, the volunteers are effectively protecting the unique Garry oak ecosystem along with other culturally and ecologically important native plants, such as camas.
The work of GaLTT extends beyond invasive plant removal. Their purpose, upon formation in 2004, was “to secure, develop and sustain a network of parkland and trails on Gabriola Island for the benefit of the public, and to preserve sites of environmental, historical, and social importance.” To support these goals, GaLTT undertakes work relating to conservation, improved access, continued work with First Nations, trail building, and invasive plant management. The work of the GaLTT volunteers is invaluable, as they provide an incredible service and stewardship for both provincial and regional protected areas.
Although removal event was limited to one afternoon, I feel we were able to make a notable impact. More so, the volunteers had a great impact on me. In an hour and a half, I was taught how to identify and remove orchard grass, I learned of the past projects that have been undertaken by the volunteer association, and I was moved by the knowledge and commitment of this group.
To learn more about GaLTT or to get involved with this project, go to: www.galtt.ca
Thank you again to the Gabriola Land and Trails Trust.
Your dedication is appreciated.