Moving day: native plant salvage benefits Cowichan parks

So you take out invasive plants like Scotch broom and Himalayan blackberry. Then what?

As part of the residential development of Elkington Forest in Shawnigan Lake they are rescuing native plants displaced by the building and transplanting them to disturbed sites elsewhere in the Cowichan Valley.

"Elkington Living Forest is pleased to deliver on a commitment to the local community at the start of our project five years ago to provide these salvaged plants for re-use in local parks," said Doug Makaroff, president of Living Forest Communities. "We are equally excited to support through this event capacity building for youth in our community to learn new skills, such as the regenerative design in indigenous plant restoration applied today."

On Oct. 29, 16 Tsawout First Nation students from the Growing our Futures course at Royal Roads University, in conjunction with Elliott’s Native Nursery in Duncan, took the plants from the Elkington Forest property. Plants included salal, Oregon grape, Kinnikinnick, red huckleberry, and twinflower.

One of the sites the greenery was transplanted into was the Shawnigan Hills Community Athletic Park.

They’ve been trying to remove and control the spread of invasive species in Shawnigan parks, including an area next to the ballfield.

"A tremendous effort has been made the past few years to eradicate targeted invasive plants in our local parks throughout Shawnigan Lake," said Shawnigan Lake Director Bruce Fraser. "But removal is only half the challenge, and today’s actions to replant such areas with native species will go a long way to reduce re-establishment of unwanted noxious weeds at these parks."

The students’ planting efforts soon drew attention of park neighbours, who got into the swing of things, joining in with shovels and gloves in hand.

By the end of the afternoon over 200 native plants were successfully transplanted, according to the Cowichan Valley Regional District.

They will serve as a welcoming feature to park users.

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