Taylor Beach Land Slides in February 2016

This past week we have had a few days of extra heavy rainfall in Metchosin and  consequently the hazard land slopes of the Development Permit Area along the Taylor Beach bluff have certainly met the designation.  On the South end of the bluffs alone, at least ten new slides have left large gaps on the cliff and have deposited piles of vegetation on the beach. Residents on the top of the bluff are continuously at risk of losing property so development of any new structures or vegetation removal is inadvisable.

The following pictures were taken starting from the south end of the cliff toward the first corner heading North.




Surf’s Up !

Since the 25th of November, we have had 5 inches of precipitation and in the last two weeks an unusual number of South-Easterly storms providing great action at Taylor beach in front of the farm, especially at high tide. The view starts by looking towards William Head prison and ends with a view of Victoria in the distance



Riparian well defined

In determining the importance of the watershed that connects with our shoreline, the word Riparian often surfaces. In the National Energy Board KM/TMX hearings, the pdf enclosed was one of the reports presented. It gives a well-researched description of the definition of Riparian along with the implications for development which impinges upon such areas.

This was originally filed at : https://docs.neb-one.gc.ca/ll-eng/llisapi.dll/fetch/2000/90464/90552/548311/956726/2392873/2449925/2450952/2798050/C301-15-1_-_IR_From_Salmon_River_Enhancement_Society_to_Pipeup_-_A4Q7W6_SRES_RESPONSE_compressed_-_A4R4F2.pdf?nodeid=2797843&vernum=-2

QUOTE” “Role of Riparian Habitat in Streams Why is the Riparian Area Important? Riparian areas and the vegetation and structure associated with this component of aquatic environments in streams and lakes comprise critical habitats for many species, including commercial, recreational and aboriginal (CRA) fishery fishes. A riparian zone, or riparian area, is the water/land interface between the terrestrial upland area and a river or stream (Figure 1). Plant communities along the edge of streams or lakes are usually referred to as the riparian vegetation (Figure 2). The plant community within a riparian area often is dominated by hydrophilic species, but not always (Figure 2). In British Columbia watercourses that support CRA fisheries rely profoundly on intact and functional riparian areas (viz., Forest and Range Practices Act https://www.for.gov.bc.ca/code/ Table 1; Riparian Areas Regulation http://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/environment/plants-animalsecosystems/fish/riparian-areas-regulation Table 2). To reiterate, the scientific literature is very clear that riparian areas comprise critical habitats for both fishes and other species (Wenger 1999, Broadmeadow and Nisbet 2004). The role of riparian habitats is elegantly described by excerpts in the following quotes: Riparian buffers are important for good water quality [in streams]. Riparian zones help to prevent [deleterious] sediment[s], nitrogen, phosphorus, pesticides and other pollutants from C301 – Salmon River Enhancement Society 3 reaching a stream. Riparian buffers are most effective at improving water quality when they include a native grass or herbaceous filter strip along with deep rooted trees and shrubs along the stream. Riparian vegetation is a major source of energy and nutrients for stream communities. They are especially important in small, headwater streams where up to 99% of the energy input may be from woody debris and leaf litter. [Invertebrates associated with this and instream vegetation contribute as fish food.] Overhanging riparian vegetation keeps streams cool, [and] this is especially important for…mountain trout [i.e., salmonid] populations. Riparian buffers provide valuable habitat for wildlife. In addition to providing food and cover they are an important corridor or travel [path]way[s] for a variety of wildlife. Forested streamsides benefit game species [e.g., deer and bear]…and nongame species like migratory songbirds. Riparian vegetation slows floodwaters, thereby helping to maintain stable streambanks and protect downstream property. By slowing down floodwaters and rainwater runoff, the riparian vegetation allows water to soak into the ground and recharge groundwater. Slowing floodwaters allows the riparian zone to function as a site of sediment deposition, trapping sediments that build stream banks and would otherwise degrade our streams and rivers. [http://www.bae.ncsu.edu/programs/extension/wqg/sri/riparian5.pdf Accessed 6 July 2015.] The critical nature of riparian areas to a properly functioning stream cannot be overstated. As Tschaplinski and Pike (2009), in their analysis of the function of riparian areas to British Columbia streams, point out “No other landscape features within forests provide linkages that are as extensive and complex as those provided by riparian ecotones.” Tschaplinski and Pike (2009) go further to indicate that riparian areas contain and support many of the highest-value resources in natural forests and quote Hartman and Scrivener (1990) as evidence. In another citation, Gregory et al. (1991) indicate that the plant and animal communities in riparian areas frequently have the highest species richness found in forests. The issues relating to riparian areas are particularly relevant to the Trans Mountain Expansion Project (TMEP) as many of the streams crossed by the pipeline construction are typical of the watercourses that Tschaplinski and Pike (2009) and others refer to in respect to the importance of the role of riparian vegetation and the zone as fish habitat. And riparian areas are key habitats that TMEP will destroy as a function of crossing the streams where trenching will take place.See the full PDF:Ripariandefinition-_IR_From_Salmon_River_Enhancement_Society_to_Pipeup_-_A4Q7W6_SRES_RESPONSE_compressed_-_A4R4F2


Moon over ocean: Taylor Beach July 2 2015


A question for a physics student:
Why does the moon reflect in parallel lines over the ocean water rather than coming from narrow on the horizon to wide at the shore?

Six Problems with Beach Fires in Metchosin

It would be nice if we all were careful, cleaned up after ourselves and were considerate of others and the environment. Unfortunately the annual spring and early summer problem of Fires on Metchosin beaches provides much evidence to the contrary.  Those of us who frequent the area have observed a deterioration in the situation in the last few years on Taylor and Weir’s beach. This spring with the stair access to Wittty’s lagoon cut off and the announcement on local media that beach fires are not allowed in other municipalities but it was still okay  to have them in Metchosin, the problem has reached a tipping point.

Ed Note: Metchosin Council finally banned all beach fires in a meeting in mid-June this year.


The above was just part of last weeks legacy on Taylor Beach:

A quick review of the internet points out that :
Many Pre-2005 pallets have been treated with Methyl Bromide prior to exporting (part of phytosanitary regulations before import/export shipping to reduce risk of importing wood diseases and pests from country to country). The Methyl Bromide treated pallets should be disposed of as hazardous waste since it is dangerous to both people and the environment.  Newer pallets are heat treated, but don’t rule out mildicides ( for fungal inhibition) applied to some pallets.


It saddens us to see people chopping or sawing up  large logs  or dragging them whole onto fires . These logs,  some well over 50 years old provide habitat for beach creatures and being moveable, can absorb wave energy and help to stabilize the backshore from increasing erosion.

Why do people continue to burn driftwood when there is clear evidence that it can produce toxic substances?

This from the EPA in the US:

  • Never burn household garbage or cardboard. Plastics, foam and the colored ink on magazines, boxes, and wrappers produce harmful chemicals when burned.
  • Never burn coated, painted, or pressure-treated wood because it releases toxic chemicals when burned.
  • Never burn ocean driftwood, plywood, particle board, or any wood with glue on or in it. They all release toxic chemicals when burned.
  • Never burn wet, rotted, diseased, or moldy wood.

” The driftwood found on B.C. beaches may seem like an economically attractive heat source. Driftwood, however, is laden with salt, and burning it releases sodium and chlorine ions. The potential exists for these chlorine ions to form chlorinated compounds such as dioxins and furans, which are suspected human carcinogens. They may also corrode your stove and venting system.”

3. THE “I’VE GOT TO HAVE MY OWN PIECE OF THE BEACH” PROBLEM:2015-03-23multiplefirepitsjpg


Why is it not okay to use someone’s old firepit instead of building a new one a few feet away, creating another mess?
Last week I counted 40 old and recent firepits from this season along a stretch of no more than 200 metres of Taylor Beach.






Probably before the end of summer I will get a picture of the melted broken bottles and aluminum beer cans left in fire-pits, but for now this will have to do. The hazard this poses for children and animals is unacceptable. Winter storms will distribute any material left like in mounds and pits  over the beach, posing an unsuspecting hazard.


gf-sandlance-july1320154In the photo below, the darkened sand area, a diameter of around 4 metres or 12 feet , is where there will be complete sterilization of the sand and death of any organisms living within it. Sand is not an inert environment to begin with. It can have a complex ecosystem of  bacteria and invertebrates which contribute to decomposition and nutrient cycling , as well as a habitat for forage fish.



Darkened sand shows area of influence of a beach fire.


Perhaps this is the biggest problem that threatens to have a huge impact on life in Metchosin. The continuity of dry brush and forest from the beaches to backyards is a real threat for wildfires. Fanned by winds, fires that escape or were not completely extinguished and left unattended could cause untold damage to residents and property in the district.

So one shouldn’t complain unless they are prepared to do something about it. Here are my recommendations:
1. Have fires in designated locations only . Why not install a set of  metal container pits for the duration of the fire season, and all wood must be brought to the beach by the fire-maker.. ie no in-situ burning of driftwood (see reasons above)
2. The allowed season for fires must be regulated by conditions not by a  standard date like the start of a certain month.
3. Absolutely no burning of old habitat logs.
4. Absolutely no leaving of trash including bottles or cans in fires..( Pack it in pack it out. )
5. All fires to be extinguished by water. ( Everyone needs a bucket with them.)
6. Make very clear signage at the end of Taylor road… and if necessary for a few weekends have volunteers sit there and hand out information pamphlets on sustainability of the values of the beach.
7. Note that municipalities can regulate: from http://www.bcairquality.ca/topics/outdoor-burning-laws.html
8.. As a taxpayer I keep this in the back of my mind:  from the BC Forest Service website :
  • Q: Are people entitled to build fires on the beach?
    A: Yes, people have the right to build fires on the beach as long as they are in compliance with either their local government bylaws or the Wildfire Act & Regulations. If Campfires are restricted in this area, then a beach campfire fire is also prohibited.
  • Q: What are the rules that apply to having a campfire (a half a meter by a half a meter used for recreational or first nation’s ceremonial purposes)?
    A: A person may light, fuel or use a Campfire when:
     the person is not prohibited from doing so under another enactment;
     to do so is safe and is likely to continue to be safe;
     the person establishes a fuel break around the burn area;  while the fire is burning, the person ensures that
     the fuel break is maintained, and
     the fire is watched and patrolled by a person to prevent the escape of fire and the person is equipped with at least o one fire fighting hand tool, or o 8 litres of water in one or more containers;
     before leaving the area, the person ensures that the fire is extinguished.
  • Q: What are some safety guidelines when conducting a beach fire?
    A: Ensure that you comply with regulations and/or bylaws in your area regarding fire size and safety measures. Always check whether there are any bans or restrictions in effect, and pay close attention to wind conditions before lighting a fire. Keep fires at a reasonable distance from flammable materials and never leave them unattended. As hot coals can easily reignite: use water to extinguish the fire and ensure that it is cold to the touch before leaving it unattended.Q: If a fire is started illegally, who is liable for the suppression costs it if it escapes?
    A: If the fire is started within an organized area, costs are assumed by the fire department (local government) and area tax payers. If it is started outside of a fire department’s jurisdiction (crown land), the BC Forest Service responds and assumes costs. If the person who started the fire is caught and found to be in non-compliance with regulations, there are penalties that can be enforced, such as restorative justice, ticketing (fines), cost recovery, or criminal prosecution in serious cases.“Local governments have the power to set bylaws to control (back)yard burning, campfires and beach fires within their boundaries. A growing number of municipalities have passed their own bylaws that ban backyard burning and other kinds of burning. For more information on municipal burning bylaws, see Inventory of Air Quality Bylaws in British Columbia for Anti-Idling, Open Burning and Wood-Burning Appliances (PDF: 1017 KB/197 pages), and Review of Open Burning Bylaws on Vancouver Island (PDF: 150 KB/25 pages).”

Some other references :

BC Govt Regulations:

District of Metchosin Burning Regulations:

Metchosin FIre Department Burning regulations:

Colwood Burning Regulations:

Central Saanich Burning Regulations:

Saanich Beach Fire regulations:

Comox Valley Regional District:

Newport Beach Fire Problems


Purple Martins nesting at Pearson College Docks in Pedder Bay


John Costello and James Kennerley-Aug 2013.

Four new purple martin boxes were installed on the pilings of the Pearspn College docks in Pedder Bay on August 6, 2013. The team was Fred Beinhauer, John Costello, the late Tom Gillespie, and James Kennerley , a student from Pearson College.

This is now the second year that they have inhabited the houses and raised offspring. Locally, the Rocky Point Bird Observatory has assumed responsibility for Purple Martin colonies on South Van Island. The RPBO coordinator is Wallis Moore Reid. Courtney Edwards agreed to be the PC colony steward. Her office is right on the wharf where the boxes are located.

The overall effort in BC is administered by the Purple Martin  Recovery Society. Bruce Cousens out of Nanaimo is the Biologist who is the driving force behind the project.

Some websites are: http://www.georgiabasin.ca/puma.htm (the official website of Bruce Cousens mentioned above) and  http://rpbo.org/ 

RESEARCH ARTICLE: Conserv Genet DOI 10.1007/s10592-007-9358-3
High genetic diversity in the blue-listed British Columbia population of the purple martin maintained by multiple sources of immigrants Allan J. Baker, Annette D. Greenslade, Laura M. Darling and  J. Cam Finlay

Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Hirundinidae
Genus: Progne
Species: P. subis
Progne subis
(Linnaeus, 1758)

Herring Spawn Video from Denman Island

Why are BC residents so concerned about what might happen to their coastline from an increase in shipping and oil tankers?

We don’t have a scene like this video portrays in Metchosin, although we do get frenzy feeding by birds and mammals in the fall at Race Rocks but we do have forage fish which live on our beaches and provide year round food for the ecosystem.

Don’t miss this video from Denman Island : https://vimeo.com/121960894?fb_action_ids=10153160722717497&fb_action_types=

Vegetation in April at Tower Point

In Mid-April,  native species provide a colourful display on Tower Point next to the ocean.

2015-04-13 camas

Camas on the shore of Tower Point


I was also impressed with the display of a high biodiversity of Bryophytes ( mosses) on the rocky shore just above the spray zone:

In this rocky exposed area on the East side of Tower Point was also located an interesting small tuft grass with rather large heads which I had not seen before: