Chemainiacs remove invasive species from Echo Heights

Volunteers spent several hours pulling Scotch Broom, Himalayan blackberry and other plants from Echo Heights Forest on Oct. 13.

Volunteers remove invasive species from Echo Heights Forest in Chemainus.

Volunteers remove invasive species from Echo Heights Forest in Chemainus.

Not to be discouraged by the on-and-off rain, a hardy group of Chemainiacs spent several hours on Oct. 13 pulling Scotch Broom, Himalayan blackberry and other invasive species plants from their beloved Echo Heights Forest.

Two truck loads were hauled off to the dump by the volunteers from the sponsoring Chemainus Residents Association (CRA).

Removal of the offending invasive (non-native) species gives the native ones, such as Camas, a greater chance to thrive and inhibits the growth of the invasive species.

As Echo Heights is not a North Cowichan designated park, the 52-acre second-growth Coastal Douglas fir forest doesn’t get attention from municipal park or maintenance crews. Over the years, residents, usually not as orchestrated as this group, have taken upon themselves the stewardship task of yanking out the offending plants. Mercifully, most of these are along the borders of the forest, close to the road.

This spring, CRA held its second annual Camas Fest, which featured education walks through the forest led by several Chemainiacs with botanical expertise.

Echo Heights continues to be the subject of competing visions.

The municipality of North Cowichan has prepared a comprehensive development plan for the forest, calling for replacing half the acreage with some 200 housing units. The CRA vision, on the other hand, calls for designation of this rare ecosystem as a park. The prior council tabled indefinitely the second reading and public hearing on the plan, and the current council has not yet taken up the matter again.

— Submitted by the Chemainus Residents Association