Have you wondered where the name Devonian came from? You would not be alone if you thought it had something to do with the Devonian period of history, a time defined as "the geologic period that extended from 410-360 million years ago, when forests and amphibians first appeared and fish became abundant". In fact it refers to the Devonian Group of Charitable Foundations of Calgary, which supports "preservation of history; creation of public parks; and scientific research".
In 1979, the Devonian Foundation purchased 100 acres of Sherwood (the section of land below William Head Rd) from the Helgeson family, and in 1980 they donated 2/3 of the purchase price of the 28 acre (11.3 ha) piece now known as Devonian Park. The provincial government provided the remaining one third of the cost. In 1983 the CRD purchased an additional 2.2 ha to provide access along the bridle trail.
Rising 35 metres from Parry Bay to William Head Rd., Devonian Park offers a variety of natural habitats. Originating in Ali Pond, Sherwood Creek, home to our native cutthroat trout and sticklebacks, has cut a shallow valley through the landscape. Please observe the signs and a split rail fence that have been erected to preserve the spawning habitat. Sadly, the creek is not as healthy as it should be, suffering from excessive erosion and possible coliform contamination. Do not drink the water! Perhaps the future will bring a restoration plan to this area. The creek flows into Sherwood Pond and marsh, a staging area for migrating waterfowl and home to many species of birds and plants. Springtime brings the raucous territorial calls of the red-winged blackbird with its adamant "conk-o-reee-ah" filling the air. Occasionally you can glimpse a playful river otter family slipping into the pond from the beach.
Taylor Beach, from its southernmost end by a rocky promontory to an area near Sherwood Pond is considered a "Class 1 berm beach with a steep foreshore". The stable back berm or embankment reduces erosion potential and is populated with driftwood, dune grass, trees and shrubs. It is a wonderful spot to enjoy the panoramic views of the Olympic Mountain range in Washington and provides excellent opportunities to see marine life. We are often rewarded with the sight of a sleek seal head with their "velvet painting" eyes. It sometimes seems that the seals are out there watching our antics on the beach, rather than the other way around!
The interior of the park and over to the southern boundary, along the bridle trail, has some enormous, fire scarred Douglas-fir specimens, not quite ancient growth, but nevertheless about as large as still can be found. Here, in the late winter to early spring, just before dusk, you can sometimes find great horned and barred owls, resting before their evening work, the field to the south of the park provides prime hunting grounds. Delightful patches of fawn lilies, one lonely trillium and some gorgeous flowering currants occur in the drier sections of the forest. In the fall you can sometimes find bear scat, it appears the bear enjoys someone's apple trees!
Where there has not been too much disturbance, the riparian area of the creek is thick with salmonberry, sword ferns and Indian plum with their very early chartreuse leaves. Here winter wrens flit close to the ground, from log to shrub, occasionally proclaiming their presence with a high pitched kip-kip, often inaudible to those of us with failing auditory faculties. Many hours have been spent successfully removing the evergreen Daphne laureola or spurge laurel from throughout the forest area, where it was invading.
On the southern side of the park are the remnants of volcanic action in the form of rolling moss covered hills. These are disturbed Garry oak ecosystems on thin soils with moss and lichen crusts. These moss balds are easily destroyed by even casual use. It takes a thick cover of moss to protect the spring flowering bulbs beneath. Home to some of our rarest plants, it is here that an ongoing restoration project is happening. Years of inattention have contributed to a far too healthy population of broom that is displacing our native species and reducing the biological diversity of the site. To date close to 3800 hours of volunteer labour have been expended in broom removal and these ongoing efforts have contributed to an increase in the spring flowering plants that so define our Metchosin sensibilities. Of course, broom doesn't stay gone, it has an annoying and very successful strategy of regeneration. In addition to the imperative to remove the rest of the broom, there is also a need for continual vigilance to spot and eradicate new broom seedlings.
Text taken from an article by Moralea Milne
Background image by Linda Holland and photo by Larry Moss