A group of volunteers joined forces to rebuild a fence around an ecological restoration site in the Swan Lake Christmas Hill Nature Sanctuary after it was destroyed by vandals.
On Jan. 28, two nature sanctuary staff members, four volunteers and a crew from the District of Saanich reconstructed 200 feet of split-rail fencing around the restoration site at the top of Christmas Hill, said Julia Dawson, the nature sanctuary’s coordinator of volunteers and events. The group completed the project in one day.
They also anchored the new fence to avoid future destruction.
Thanks to a work party of #SwanLakeNature #volunteers + @saanich folks we got ~200ft of #ecosystem #restoration fence replaced in under 10d! This will protect newly emerging native plants from being trampled. #ChristmasHill is one of the last #GarryOak habitats on #vanisle 🙌🏽🌿 pic.twitter.com/TO7UjIbfpv
— Swan Lake Nature (@SwanLakeNature) January 29, 2021
At some point between Jan. 16 to 18, the volunteer-built fencing protecting newly emerging native plants from being trampled was dismantled and pushed off the embankment. The destruction would have taken a lot of effort and leverage as the fence rails were held together with large spikes, said Cara Gibson, executive director of the Swan Lake Christmas Hill Nature Sanctuary. Volunteers contacted Saanich police who began an investigation.
As of Feb. 2, there was “no additional information so far” in terms of suspects, but staff have heard from several members of the community who don’t like the fencing at the top of Christmas Hill, Gibson said. The fence is on the steeper side of the summit – where visitors typically don’t walk – to protect the Garry oak ecosystem on Christmas Hill.
In an effort to educate about the purpose of the restoration sites, new signage is in place.
Protecting the ecosystem is more complex than just fencing off the Garry oak trees, Gibson explained. There needs to be a place for migratory birds and native plants – to thrive.
She added that there are other parks in Saanich without those limitations.
Gibson hopes to bring more in-depth educational signage to the top of Christmas Hill in the near future to expand visitors’ knowledge about environmental restoration and encourage mindfulness.
Anyone with information about the vandalism can contact the Saanich Police Department at 250-475-4321.