Denman Island Trip 2019

Back in November, students in the first-year cohort travelled to Denman Island for their first field trip as a class. Throughout the weekend, we met with the community members and visited potential restoration sites across the island. On our final day on the island, we presented three different restoration ideas for the sites that we visited to a group of community members. It was a great weekend that allowed us to step away from the classroom and have a hands-on learning experience.

When we arrived on the Friday afternoon, a small group of community members joined us and presented one restoration project idea at Windy Marsh. The marsh had been cut into two when a road was built across it, which altered the hydrology of the marsh. The community members that live around the marsh want the natural flow to be restored so the marsh can be restored.

The next morning, we were up and out early to explore the island and visit more restoration sites. The first stop was Hinton Beach, where aquaculture activities are taking place on both sides of Baynes Sound. The beach has been compacted by vehicles that are related to the aquaculture activities. As well, plastics and other garbage from the aquaculture has begun to wash up along the beach. The community members are interested in finding a way to minimize the impact of the aquaculture on the beach environment and the species that rely on it.

The next couple of spots were related to re-connecting Windy Marsh to Morrison Marsh. One of the community members allowed us to come on to their property to get a better view of the marsh. We also went to another resident’s property on Morrison Marsh to look at the road that split the two marshes as well as a weir that helps prevent a local beaver from damming the marsh outflow.

We headed by to the camp and had a delicious lunch that was catered by a local chief. Following lunch, we headed out again for the last stop of the day. We went to Morningside Park to look at the bluffs along the beach. The bluffs are beginning to fail and the local residents are concerned that the slope might fail. The combination of beach and sunny weather made for a great final stop on our little tour of the island.

Following the beach site, we headed back to the camp, we were staying at and divided into groups to begin working on potential restoration ideas for each site. We also had one final presenter, the land manager of the Denman Conservancy Association, to tell us about the work that has been done on the island to help bring back the Taylor’s Checkerspot butterfly (Euphydryas editha taylori). The butterfly species is considered Endangered under the federal Species at Risk Act and considered ‘critically imperilled’ on the global conservation rating. The decline of the butterfly species is directly related to anthropogenic activities, such as habitat conversion, and the population has drastically shrunk across the eastern Vancouver Island area.

The rest of the night was dedicated to us finishing off our restoration ideas so that they are ready for presentation the next morning. Between the beautiful sunset and the delicious dinner we had, it was a great final night on the island. The next morning, we headed to the local community centre to present our restoration ideas to a small group of residents. It was a great experience to interact with the community and it was a fantastic way to cap off a great weekend.