RESTORING LAND & WATER
Tseycum means “land of clay,” and the name is appropriate: our clay-rich subsoil holds water and makes for slow drainage, features that are synonymous with wetlands. Wetlands are an incredibly important part of a functioning holistic ecosystem, because they provide several ecosystem functions such as:
• Easing water shortages and drought
• providing flood control
• maintaining natural drainage and preventing soil erosion
• filtering out contaminants using native plants
• creating habitats that support populations of fish, mammals, birds, amphibians, and pollinators
Restoring the water quality and available habitats of Wsikem creek is a major objective of the Sandown Centre for Regenerative Agriculture. Wsikem creek flows within a 947-acre watershed in North Saanich; the southeastern portion of the watershed enters the 83-acres of Sandown before leaving the land on its way to the mouth at Patricia Bay on the Tseycum reserve. An Integrated Stormwater Management Plan for the watershed is being developed by the District of North Saanich and is expected to be adopted in 2023. An engineered stormwater management system exists on site and water flows into the land in a highly variable state from the nearby industrial area. (aerial map) Restoring the ecological value of Wsikem creek as it flows through Sandown is a great way to mitigate water quality issues and increase the abundance and diversity of our non-human relatives that call this place home.
This project is in the very early stages of development. Wsikem creek runs through the heart of Sandown and needs our care and deep consideration. There are several significant invasive species in the Wsikem wetlands, which include non-migratory Canada geese, American bullfrogs, reed canary grass, ivy, broom, thistle, and Himalayan blackberry. American bullfrogs and Canada geese are of particular concern as they have the potential to substantially affect the wetlands. American bullfrogs grow prodigiously, reproduce rapidly, and feed on a wide range of prey including native frogs. Thus, there are two main early objectives that are ongoing while the plan is being developed:
1. Monitor water quality. Water testing of Wsikem Creek is conducted every two weeks while the creek is running. Samples are gathered as the water enters the easternmost point of Sandown by Canadian Tire, as it leaves the main field, and as it leaves the entire property. The protocols were developed with the support of the Peninsula Streams Society.
2. Control bullfrog populations. American bullfrogs are an invasive species on site that is of particular concern as they have the potential to substantially affect the wetlands. American bullfrogs grow prodigiously, reproduce rapidly, and feed on a wide range of prey including native frogs. Substantial work has been completed with the support of the BC Provincial Government, District of North Saanich, and Stan Orchard's bullfrog control services. Approximately 500 tadpoles were culled in 2022 using minnow traps and a further 300 frogs were culled by Stan Orchard in 2021 and 2022. These included three mature females who can lay at least 60,000 eggs each!