In late fall, the vast central meadow in Uplands Park looks simply like a soggy field, rather than home to several at-risk plant species.
In order to protect camas and other native plants, Oak Bay closed the space this month, with a plan to reopen in the spring. It’s the fourth consecutive year the district closed the meadow to park users during the winter and early spring – when camas and other native wildflowers are most vulnerable and waterlogged trails push walkers into sensitive spaces.
By the end of April, the same flowers should be reaching their peak, with walkers clearly able to avoid damaging them. Past closures have made a difference, said parks manager Chris Hyde-Lay, with improvement showing in the condition of the meadow and its wildflowers.
Garry oak wildflower meadows are globally critically imperilled, meaning if action is not taken, they will become extinct. There are 14 species of rare plants listed with the Canadian Species at Risk Act, and another six with the province, in the park.
While Oak Bay hasn’t officially closed other fields, walkers should stick to paths, no matter how soggy, to maintain sensitive, at-risk native plant life in all areas of the Garry oak meadow ecosystem.
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