A new report contains both good news and bad news for the Nunns Creek Nature Trust.
The good news is that it is an ecologically-rich area that has rebounded fairly well from being partially logged in the 1960s and has flourished relatively well for being surrounded by a growing urban environment. The bad news is that steps need to be taken soon to create a management plan for the area if the city wants it to remain the vibrant source of wildlife and enjoyable natural space it is today.
The nature trust is leased by the city “to manage the nature preserve for their intrinsic natural ecosystem values, as well as for the enjoyment of the public,” the report states, and as such, the maintenance and upkeep of the land is the city’s responsibility.
Approximately 70 years remain on the lease, and knowing that they would soon be embarking on a “Master Plan” for the area, the city commissioned the study and inventory back in December of 2015. The city’s Nunns Creek Master Planning process, set to take place this year, includes Nunns Creek Park and the old BMX track site. Although those areas were not directly included in the study, development and activity within those parcels affects the nature trust, and vice versa. The floodplain and estuary of Nunns Creek also “currently provides a large portion of the natural habitats in the Campbell River estuary,” the report states, which is known for its “diverse, resilient and productive fishery values.”
According to the report, seven of the 15 ecological units – ecosystems grouped together based on similar characteristics – in the nature trust, scored “very high” with respect to management importance. Some of these, the report says, “contain an at risk ecological community, provide habitat for a relatively high number of keystone species and species at risk, and contribute to floodwater storage and estuarine food webs.”
Twenty-one of the plant species recorded in the study area are considered invasive, including knotweed, scotch broom, Himalayan blackberry and climbing nightshade.
The inventory also included the man-made features in the conservancy, including the 1,800-metre authorized trail network – along with 190 m of unauthorized trails – bridges, culverts, signage and other features.
Of the 11 bridges mapped, eight were found to be in either “moderate” or “poor” condition, some of which “are missing railings or cross ties,” and pose safety concerns. Many of the culverts in the area are inadequate and create flood risks, signage is uninformative and educational opportunities are not being taken advantage of, the report states.
The report recommends creating an active management plan for the nature trust as part of the Nunns Creek Master Planning process, as well as completing a more detailed forest inventory “to support planting prescriptions that contribute to the city’s Urban Forest Management Plan,” to increase tree density and canopy cover.
The report was received at the city’s most recent Committee of the Whole meeting and will now be provided to the Advisory Planning and Environment Commission and Community Services, Recreation and Culture Commission.