Giving Back

By choice, we spent the day yesterday pulling invasive species plants on an island and today we are paying for it with sore arms and backs but it was worth it!

Our paddling club supports the BC Marine Trails Network (BCMT) organization whose mission is to create and preserve a network of BC coastal marine launch points and public recreation sites and the protection of the environment through our environmental stewardship practices. They rely heavily on volunteer support and we acknowledge that we benefit from their efforts, So we wanted to contribute a bit to help develop and maintain sites and resources that we will use during our paddling adventures.

This week their focus was on rehabilitating Gerald Island, a BC Parks site. The island was purchased by the government in 2013 but as with many parks, due to underfunding, it has not really been maintained or improved. It’s a gem of an island, easily accessible by kayak, but is now overrun by invasive species, especially ivy. So since 2017 BCMT has organized work parties in spring and fall to pull the invasive species to allow the native vegetation to thrive. Ultimately the goal is to create space and facilities for camping spots.

So we signed up to work yesterday on the island. While for aging backs and bodies, it has lasting effects until today, it was well worth the effort on many levels.

Firstly, the island is just 1/2 hour paddle from the shore and with beautiful warm and sunny, clear weather we had yesterday, the views were stunning. WIth snow still on the island mountains, they stood our clearly against the blue sky and provided a wonderful backdrop for working and our well-deserved breaks!

We focused on a very small area right near the beach that was choked with ivy and one other weed whose name I cannot remember. We probably cleared MAYBE 20 sq. ft during the day, using a combination of hand mattocks, pruning shears and brute force. The challenge of course was to find the roots so the plant would be completely removed. There is a small swamp on the island that feeds the enthusiastic growth of the ivy. It entwines itself everywhere including up trees. This can eventually kill the tree. The leader estimated that they have ‘freed’ up to 75 trees on the island by chopping off the vines on the lower 4 ft of the trunk and removing the roots. I didn’t get a pictures, but it’s amazing to see the dead vines that will eventually slough off and allow the tree to thrive. So much work!

Yes, we had to pull all that stuff! We did get to sit for a lot of the day but our forearms and backs are paying the price today!

We pulled a lot of greenery and piled it on the beach to be burned later.

The most fun was the fire at the end of the day to get rid of the pulled plants. One would think that all the green plants would not burn, but with a good cradle of dried red cedar from the beach, this stuff burned really well. It did create a lot of smoke but the fire burned hot and furious. The crackle and pop was nice to hear as well!

Our fearless leader, Gene, who was camping on the island for 8 days. I admire her ability to work that many days in a row! Making the base of the fire.
Feeding the beast!

Typically one is not happy to see something go up in smoke, but it was a great feeling to see all our hard work get burned! We did a small area, but it was gratefully accepted and we feel we contributed. So we will take it easy today!

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