(From left) Friends of North Saanich Parks executive director Sharon Hope, with volunteers Joy Douglas and Tom Richards. (Nick Murray/News Staff)

North Saanich man cuts a swathe through invasive species

Former around-the-world sailor clears three truck loads of plants from District parks

In the battle against invasive species, the Friends of North Saanich Parks (FNSP) have found a useful recruit in Tom Richards, a former around-the-world sailor who now cuts a swathe through unwelcome plants.

Richards, 63, moved to North Saanich last year from the Mainland, after six years at sea. His house backs out on to Lillian Hoffar Park, one of the areas the group works on. He saw the great work the FNSP did and joined up, helping clear unwanted plant species from the 24 out of 35 parks they have targeted.

ALSO READ: Central Saanich police see spike in suspicious circumstance calls

Over a century of ivy, Daphne, Himalayan blackberry and other alien greenery had largely been left unchecked, swamping the local flora and choking many of the native trees. Some of the species are also poisonous to humans and animals.

The soft-spoken Richards has lost 25 pounds since starting his mission and describes clearing plants as a form of mindfulness as he hunts and digs. Although he modestly lauds his colleagues, he appears to be the star performer often spending an extra 12 hours each week clearing plants on his own. In Lillian Hoffar Park alone, he has cleared three truck loads of weeds in just a few weeks.

“In this day and age when climate change and man’s impact on the whole planet is obvious, it occurred to me that you can also go back and restore. All the Ivy and Daphne that comes off the ground allows the native stuff to grow, all the herbs and different beautiful native plants, so you actually get a feeling in a small way, in a microcosm, of doing what human beings should be able to do.”

ALSO READ: Slaying dragons: getting inside the minds of climate change skeptics

Richards says he enjoys the social aspect of the work groups the most. He also says he read that if a person plants 11 trees that live for 80 years, that will cover their life’s carbon footprint.

He’s unsure if that’s true but if it is, wonders if saving 11 trees can have the same positive effect. So far, he’s saved far more than 11 trees.

The FNSP was founded by Ashlee Scanlon and Sharon Hope, who has been described as the “driving force,” and aims to restore the parks back to their former glory. They run regular clearing sessions, helped by key allies Jarrett Teague, Amanda Evans and Jim Nelson. The group relies on members of the public, school groups and scout troops to volunteer, with work parties of up to 20 on some occasions. Help is in short supply and they appreciate every person who shows up to assist. Due to the big nature of the task, to clear a 20 metre square area often takes many months and the group hope to clear 90 per cent of unwanted plants in targeted parks.

ALSO READ: Light up August with a lantern building workshop in Sidney

“It’s resetting the succession clock back to native,” says volunteer Joy Douglas, adding, “Plus you meet some great people.”

If you would like to help restore the District’s parks, visit fnsp.ca. The next scheduled clearing dates are Aug. 10 at Quarry Park and Aug. 24 at Denham Till Park. Both from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The Friends will also join with the Greater Victoria Green Team, Saturday, Sept. 7 at 9:45 a.m. at Lillian Hoffar Park.



nick.murray@peninsulanewsreview.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Defense says burden of proof not met in double murder case against Oak Bay father

Closing statements begin in trial for man accused of killing daughters Christmas 2017

Victoria Conservatory of Music bursary fund reaches $1M mark

The Eric and Shirley Charman Bursary Fund launched in 2017

Sealand was much more than killer whales, says ex-employee

Former Sealasd trainer revisits Sealand of the Pacific in talk

Residents say Monday’s fatal crash in Saanich wasn’t unexpected

Speed has long been a concern for neighbours in the Cumberland and Union roads area

UPDATED: Hundreds gather to reflect and remember UVic students killed in bus crash

Campus community invited to reflect, support one another

WATCH: United Way #Drive4Five event launches campaign to raise $5 million

More than 80,000 lives changed last year by the United Way

Crime Stoppers most wanted for Greater Victoria for the week of September 17

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Man who crushed Nanaimo RCMP cars with stolen truck gets more jail time

Majore Jackson, 34, sentenced to two more years in jail in provincial court in Nanaimo

B.C. dog breeder banned again after 46 dogs seized

The SPCA seized the animals from Terry Baker, 66, in February 2018

Surrey mom allegedly paid $400,000 for son in U.S. college bribery scam

Xiaoning Sui, 48, was arrested in Spain on Monday night

Three dogs found shot dead in Prince George ditch

The three adult dogs appeared to be well cared for before being found with gunshot wounds, BC SPCA says

B.C. party bus company to be monitored after 40 intoxicated teens found onboard

Police received tip teens and young adults were drinking on party buses and limousines in Surrey

Rick Mercer calls out Conservative candidate in B.C. for fake meme

‘Not true. All fake. Please Stop,’ tweeted Rick Mercer in response

Bear killed in Kimberley after chasing girl, wreaking havoc on town

This particular brown-coloured bear has been the subject of many calls this summer; very food habituated, CO says

Most Read