Henderson Park Restoration

Mayne Island Conservancy Society

Henderson Community Park Education and Ecological Restoration Program

View from Vulture Ridge Trail - above the Henderson Park Restoration Area Viewpoint at top of Vulture Ridge Trail, Henderson Hill
Photo credit:Toby Snelgrove


Henderson Park was dedicated to the community after selective logging and subdivision of a large property. The park, just over 10 hectares, includes a hiking trail that winds through restoration zones and breathtaking viewpoints. Uncommon plant species represented in the Coastal Douglas Fir zone and the Garry Oak and associated ecosystems are also found in the park.

The park's recreational values and ecological integrity were compromised by the recent disturbances: invasive plant species have blanketed the landscape. The most pervasive invasive is scotch broom; it impedes views from viewpoints, out-competes native plants, and worsens growing conditions for native plant species by altering soil nutrient composition. Our Broom Action Team has mobilized volunteers to remove invasive species. These efforts have been successful from both a restoration and an educational perspective. Mayne Island's high population of native and fallow deer also prevents regeneration of plant species susceptible to browse.

Trail Opening

The Conservancy has been working on an interpretive nature trail for Henderson Community Park over the past 7 months, and the trail is now complete! We invite you to join us for a short opening ceremony at 1pm on Wednesday, April 11th to celebrate the completion of the trail. We will be meeting at the main parking area at the end of Beechwood Drive before embarking on an inaugural hike of the 1.2km trail. We hope to see you there!

Pictured at the right: Diagram of the Henderson Hill Community Park trails. Click on the image to see an aerial photo of the park area complete with a trail overlay

You might also be interersted in these 360° views recorded by Toby Snelgrove and posted on his site

Project Description

Uncommon plant species represented in the Coastal Douglas Fir zone and the Garry Oak and associated ecosystems are found throughout the park. These ecosystems are rare, and are the subject of broader regional conservation efforts. Henderson Community Park is one of the few parks that make up the 4% protected area of Mayne Island, the lowest in the Islands Trust area. Thus, it is an important venue for hands-on educational experiences regarding preservation of ecosystems that span private lands. The purpose of these educational and interpretive programs is to help residents and visitors appreciate the natural and recreational treasures of Mayne Island ....more

Overview of Current Events at Henderson Park

2011 saw the beginning of a new phase in the Henderson Hill Community Park Education and Ecological Restoration Program. The park is currently being used as a demonstration site, with training workshops being offered on a variety of topics, in addition to the ongoing restoration work. The Conservancy is working to engage community members as stewards of the park, and also of their own lands, through workshops on identification and protection of rare and sensitive species, best practices for invasive species removal, and photo-point monitoring. The photopoint monitoring program will be an example of “citizen science”, in which community members, some of whom may not have any formal scientific training, carry out research and monitoring-related tasks. More info on photopoint monitoring here.

Project activities from some earlier years here

Pictured at left: The new information kiosk at the park - major construction completed Feb 2012. Click on the image for a photo of the kiosk with information panels installed.

Photo Point Monitoring

Our photo point monitoring program continues in 2012 and Miriam Isaac-Renton describes this element of the project as follows:

"If you have recently been for a hike at Henderson Community Park to enjoy the summer weather, you might have noticed pieces of rebar with orange mushroom caps sticking out of the ground. There are actually about 40 pieces of re-bar scattered throughout the park, and if you happen to see one, please leave it where it is. These pieces of re-bar are "photo-points", which act as permanently marked locations to provide a point of reference so that the same photo can be reproduced year after year.These annual photos are part of the Conservancy's Henderson Photo-Point Monitoring program, which will document changes in the park. For example, the Conservancy has been working with volunteers to remove invasive species, plant native trees and install deer fencing in this ecologically significant area. The Photo-Point monitoring program is designed to track the success of these restoration efforts and to help us adapt our methods if necessary, ensuring that limited resources are used as efficiently as possible. At the conclusion of its second year, there are already noticeable changes - the "before" and "after" pictures on the right shows where the "Broom Action Team" has removed a patch of this nasty invasive shrub. (Keep up the good work, volunteers!)"

2016 Update

As we enter our fourth round of bi-annual photo point monitoring at Henderson Community Park, the restoration work of our dedicated staff and volunteers is apparent. The photo monitoring project consists of 20 landscape photos which are taken in various areas throughout the park in the first or second week of May. Having the photos taken at the same time of year for each monitoring period is important to insure consistency and comparable results. These photos are an important tool in monitor the changes in native and invasive vegetation over time, pick restoration priority areas and help us adapt and improve our restoration methods. Some of the most spectacular difference in the photos is the reduction of invasive including Scotch Broom, and the increase and establishment of native trees and shrubs planted by our volunteers.

Pictured below is a small area of the Henderson Hill escarpment taken at two year intervals, the latest shot dating from April 2016

Restoration Video

Facts & Stats

The Garry Oak Ecosystem is renowned for its beauty (especially wildflower displays in spring), its cultural significance, and its biodiversity. It's one of Canada's most biodiverse, but also most fragile and endangered, ecosystems. We are very lucky to have such a gem right here in our backyard.

  • The Garry Oak tree is British Columbia's only native oak
  • It was named in honour of Nicholas Garry - an early deputy governor of the Hudson's Bay Company
  • The Arbutus, Canada's only evergreen broad-leaf tree is commonly found in the Park
  • 140 trees have been planted and protected with chicken wire and stucco mesh deer browse fences
  • In 2010 three volunteer have put in more than 40 hours into restoration efforts sometimes with the assistance Mayne School's 4 to 8 classes

MICS has been working with the Mayne Island Parks and Recreation Commission since 1997, when Henderson Park came into being (after a generous donation of land to the community).

Our "Broom Action Team" (BAT) has cleared huge swaths of broom from the park and we're already seeing native plants come back (look closely for the tiny "Blue-eyed Mary" flower in April). They've also cleared broom from a viewpoint along the Vulture Trail. Enjoy the view from the newly installed bench!

Project Management & Execution

Garry Oak Seedling

Michael Dunn retired from the Canadian Wildlife Service as senior habitat conservation coordinator for the Pacific Region (May 07) where he led marine conservation programs for the region. Michael has led science-based and interdisciplinary teams on many bird conservation issues, and was the CWS lead for the creation of the proposed Scott Islands Marine Wildlife Area. He has experience and knowledge on shorezone and eelgrass mapping and classification, the development of stewardship programs and the creation of communications products. Michael has been a naturalist and community educator for 35 years.

In March 2013 Michael began a two year stint as the Conservancy's volunteer Executive Director.

Miriam Isaac-Renton has long been interested in conservation and enjoys sharing her knowledge: one of her first awards was a high school award, rewarding her involvement in environmental issues and for helping to raise community awareness. She pursued her interests by completing a B.Sc. in Natural Resources Conservation from the Faculty of Forestry at the University of British Columbia. After graduating in 2008, she worked as a field research assistant in the Gulf Islands, helping to identify plant species and conduct surveys in patches of the endangered Garry Oak and associated ecosystems. Miriam no longer has an ongoing role in the project though her expertise in the photopoint monitoring will see her return to the island from time to time

Chris Fretwell was one of MICS’ stewardship coordinators. He began working with MICS as an intern in the summer of 2010, doing much of the hands-on work for the forage fish surveys and kelp mapping that summer, as well as drafting a kelp-mapping manual to be used by other community groups in the region. In December 2010 Chris completed his undergraduate degree in Environmental Studies and Political Science at the University of Victoria. Previously Chris worked as an ecological monitoring technician for Parks Canada in Terra Nova National Park, Nfld. Some of his other interests include food security and music. Chris considers Victoria home but has spent much time on Mayne since he was a child, and although moving on to other calnges he hopes to maintain a long-term connection to this island.

Rob Underhill joined the conservancy in September 2011 as a Stewardship Coordinator. His previous work experience is varied and includes work in hospitality, landscaping, forestry, and resource conservation. Rob has an educational background in tourism, horticulture, and botany. He completed a certificate of Travel and Tourism at Kwantlen University in 2002, a certificate in Landscape Horticulture at Capilano University in 2004, and a B.Sc. in Biology at the University of Victoria in 2010. Before coming to Mayne Island, Rob managed an ecosystem restoration project for Parks Canada at Fort Rodd Hill National Historic Site. He can trace his love of plants and nature to family vacations on Pender Island, and entering a plant collection in the Pender Island Fall fair when he was nine, in which he placed 2nd due to an incorrect spelling of “Arbutes menziesii”.

Erin Ward recently visited us on Mayne and took up an assignment with the Conservancy. She has a Degree in Geography and Ecological Restoration, a Diploma in Organic Land Care and 3 years’ experience as an Environmental Project Coordinator. We are grateful to her for the work undertaken on Henderson Hill, and particularly for leading the Broom Action Team in the removal of broom from Bennett Bay.

Rheanna Drennan joined the Conservancy as a summer intern in 2012. She is an exotic from rural Alberta who prefers mild winters dry summers and marine-riparian landscapes. Rheanna has been on Vancouver Island for the past ten years, having moved out to work as a kayak guide in Johnston Strait. After finishing a BSc in Biology at UVIC with a focus on marine ecosystems, she decided to return to complete a second degree and the co-op program in geography. Having taken courses in GIS, ecology, botany, environmental studies and conservation Rheanna has a wide range of interests and applicable skills to assisted her in the work with the Conservancy.

During the summer of 2012 she split her time between the Community Stewardship and Shoreline Care projects assisting both Leanna and Rob in the field with mapping, monitoring, walkabouts, restoration work, and plant care at the nursery. In addition Rheanna has had a hand in developing a kelp analysis protocol enabling MICS to begin a structured assessment of past years' monitoring activities. Rheanna returned to the Conservancy during the summer of 2013 and among other tasks she was the lead "invasive species removal technician" and chief motivator of a varied group of broom bashers. The results of one late August session can be seen in the panorama along Beechwood Drive below.

Lauren Underhill has joined us until March 2013 working with our Stewardship Program. Lauren is already familiar with many of MICS initiatives through her volunteer work with us over the last year. Her education was focused in Criminology and Anthropology, while her work experience has been primarily within the environmental sector. If she looks vaguely familiar, it might be because she has worked for the Gulf Islands National Park Reserve in both environmental assessment and maintenance, and for the CRD, also in the area of maintenance. Her interests include native plant propagation, food preservation, volunteering, outdoor activities and playing music on whatever piano she can find.

Panorama of a portion of Beechwood Drive newly stripped of broom - Summer 2013

Deer Browse Protection below Beechwood Drive

Our Project Funding Partners

Mayne Island Conservancy Society has been fortunate in receiving interest and support from the following agencies and foundations:

  • Trees for Tomorrow
  • Capital Region District Grant in Aid
  • Mayne Island Parks and Recreation Commission
  • Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation
  • The Silver Maynes
  • Youth Eco Internship Program
  • TD Friends of the Environment
  • VanCity Credit Union's ENVIROFund
  • Government of Canada's ECO Action Fund
  • Province of British Columbia
We thank them for their funding; as well, we thank individual donors interested in the natural heritage of Mayne Island for their gifts

Volunteer Opportunities

Restoring the ecological integrity of public parks is important, and we need your help! There are many different ways you can help, and a variety of activities to participate in:

  • Removing invasive species, including Scotch broom seedlings, mature Scotch broom, and other invasive plant species. We will be performing invasive species removal all year round
  • Annual photomonitoring and vegetation surveys. We perform our monitoring program once each year in mid-May. If you are interested in helping out with this essential component of ecosystem restoration, please contact us no later than May 1st to discuss training and specific dates of fieldwork.
  • We occasionally require assistance with other tasks such as erecting deer exclosures, collecting native plant seeds, monitoring for sharp-tailed snake, etc. Contact us for more information
We encourage volunteers of all skill and fitness levels to participate in our projects. We will find tasks and activities to match the abilities and interests of all volunteers!

For all volunteer inquiries, please contact us at stewardship@conservancyonmayne.com or visit our Volunteer page here.

More Pictures

Broom to go!
Henderson Broom Set to be Bashed
Broom Gone!
The B.A.T.'s Been Through Here!
Deer Keep Out
Deer Exclusion Zone Established
Michael Dunn sets out markers for new plantings
Michael in the Zone - with Markers
Native Plants Re-established
Encouraging New Growth!
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Last modified: October 18 2016 03:31:55.