Protecting and enhancing the natural values of Salt Spring Island and its surrounding waters


Greening the Greens: Restoring Wetlands on a Former Golf Course

>>Greening the Greens: Restoring Wetlands on a Former Golf Course

Greening the Greens: Restoring Wetlands on a Former Golf Course

Twenty-five volunteers helped to plant 11,500 native plants over 4 days!

This fall, the Conservancy restored another fairway (about 1 ha) at the former golf course at Blackburn Lake Nature Reserve, building new wetlands to increase wildlife habitat.

Tom Biebighauser, wildlife biologist and wetland ecologist, oversaw project construction. The crew removed drainage and irrigation pipes laid under the soil for the golf course, constructed natural pools and wildlife perches, and removed invasive plants along the western edge of Blackburn Lake. According to Tom, the Blackburn restoration project is one of only two golf course restoration projects in North America.

Thomas R. Biebighauser, the wildlife biologist and wetland ecologist who oversaw the first stages of the restoration project, with a handful of reed canary grass. Photo by Coreen Boucher

A team of 5 staff, 6 consultants and 25 volunteers worked on this year’s project. Land manager/biologist Laura Matthias and consulting botanist Carrina Maslovat coordinated the implementation—sourcing funds, materials and machines, and helping Tom in the field. Weed-free straw was spread on restored areas to reduce erosion, maintain moisture and control weeds. Walking trails were re-routed, with signage about wetlands and careful wildlife viewing coming soon.

Volunteers helped plant 11,500 native plants (about 45 different species) over four days, collectively devoting 165 volunteer hours and completed the planting a week earlier than scheduled! Many of the native plants were grown from seed in the Conservancy’s nursery at Blackburn.

Since 2014, over $300,000 in grants have supported restoration of most of the reserve’s lakeside wetland areas, several uplands and four streambanks. Over 20,000 native plants have been installed and protected by deer fencing, which also surrounds the south end of the reserve. Several boardwalks, a bridge and many old drainage and water pipes have been removed. One bridge has been rebuilt, walkers have been encouraged to use specific trails, and much educational signage has been installed.

We’re grateful for this year’s project funding from the Wildlife Fund-Coca-Cola Canada Restoration Fund, Government of Canada’s National Wetland Conservation Fund and Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation.

Photos by L. Matthias

Drainage pipes that were laid to drain the golf course removed to allow water to return to natural levels. Photo by Coreen Boucher

Log being pushed in to become bird perch. Photo by Coreen Boucher

Broken (not sawed) end for birds to perch on. Photo by Coreen Boucher