Fuel management continued in Helliwell last fall and winter
By Chris Junck, Taylor’s Checkerspot Butterfly Recovery Project Team
Last fall and winter BC Parks continued a multi-year project to meet fuel management and ecological restoration objectives in Helliwell Provincial Park. The focus is on reducing wildfire fuels by selectively removing small diameter dead and dying trees and manually thinning dead branches below three metres from the ground. The target trees are Douglas-fir and shore pine along the coastline trail east towards St. Johns Point. On site pile burning is used to dispose of thinning debris. Eight burn piles were planted and seeded to enhance ecological values for the second time in the fall of 2022: three by Hornby Island elementary school students and five by Satinflower Nurseries. The areas are recovering well. This year, work was completed by February 15, before Taylor’s checkerspot butterfly larvae emerged from their winter diapause.
On October 27, 2022, BC Parks representatives Derek Moore, Erica McClaren, and Stephanie Govier met with members of the Hornby Island Provincial Parks Committee, Conservancy Hornby Island and Hornby Island Natural History Centre, Ilze Raudzins and Neil Wilson. They toured the treatment zone adjacent to the coastline trail and discussed the fuel management and habitat restoration work.
“We’re taking a gradual approach so that iconic trees and important species such as Garry oak, juniper and arbutus will not be negatively impacted,” said area supervisor Derek Moore. Conservation coordinator Stephanie Govier added, “this work will support and enhance the coastal bluff ecosystem and is intended to benefit endangered Taylor’s checkerspot butterflies and other species.”
The project is guided by the Helliwell Provincial Park Ecosystem Based Plan (2001) and Helliwell Provincial Park Wildfire Threat Assessment and Fuel Management Prescription (2021).
Small Garry oak seedlings have been identified along the trail where fuel management activities are occurring and some of these will be fenced to protect them from deer browse and monitored by Conservancy Hornby Island.
The Taylor’s Checkerspot Butterfly Recovery Project Team and BC Parks thank the Cowichan Tribes, Halalt, Homalco, K’ómoks, Lake Cowichan, Lyackson, Penelakut, Qualicum, Snaw’Naw’As, Stz’uminus, Tla’amin, We Wai Kai, and We Wai Kum First Nations, for allowing us to restore ecosystems in their traditional territories. Thanks to Ilze Raudzins and Neil Wilson for their insightful comments and questions during the October information session in Helliwell Provincial Park.
Find out more about fuel management or other aspects of the Helliwell Provincial Park Ecosystem Based Plan here.