Haliburton Watershed Working Group
The Haliburton Watershed Working Group (HWWG) came together over their shared interest in the health of the Haliburton Brook watershed, a small sub watershed of the Colquitz River system. The HWWG became a formal group in 2021 with a membership comprised of citizens, stewardship groups, environmental non-profits and local government agencies. This initiative also links with the Elk/Beaver Lake Watershed Management Plan.
A map showing the extent of the Haliburton Brook watershed, courtesy of the District of Saanich.
The Haliburton Brook watershed is located in the Capital Regional District (CRD), within the District of Saanich and on the ancestral lands of the Lekwungen and WSANEC Nations. The brook begins in the forested area of the Royal Oak Burial Park and ends where it flows into Beaver Lake, in Elk/Beaver Lake Regional Park.
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Biodiversity in the Watershed
Despite high development pressures, the Haliburton watershed still supports rare ecosystems. Stream, stream wetlands, riparian, seasonal forested wetlands and older second growth forests (including red-listed, Douglas-fir/Dull Oregon-grape) are habitat types found within the watershed that a diversity of species rely on. Some of these species are federally listed under the Species At Risk Act (SARA) and/or provincially red (at risk of being lost) or blue-listed (of special concern). Some of these include:
- Wandering salamander
- Northern red-legged frog
- Purple Martin
- Olive-sided Flycatcher
- Barn Swallow
- Band-tailed Pigeon
- Vancouver Island beggarticks
- Western Bumble Bee
- Western Pondhawk
- Blue Dasher
- Propertius Duskywing
Many more plant, animal, fish and insect species call this small but surprisingly diverse watershed home.
Threats to the Watershed
Severe disturbance has taken place in the Haliburton watershed due to historic ditching, clearing and development. While the upper reaches of the brook are forested, before entering Elk/Beaver Lake Regional Park, the lower reaches are partly ditched with roughly 200m in culverts under the Patricia Bay Highway. This underground section has disconnected the upper and lower reaches from one another and limits seasonal habitat availability to fish and other wildlife, in addition to instream blockages.
Much of the stream side (riparian) vegetation has been disturbed, resulting in bank erosion and instability, especially in the lower watershed. Invasive plant species – such as English ivy, Daphne, Holly and Himalayan black berry – are a problem throughout, and easily outcompete native vegetation. The brook collects water from properties within this sub-watershed, including the Pat Bay Highway, that is currently contributing to poor water quality and algal blooms in Elk/Beaver Lake.
What are we doing?
Watershed Management Plan
One of HWWG's primary goals is to develop a Watershed Management Plan endorsed by local government agencies. This plan will outline the history and present state of the watershed, as well as plan for its continued monitoring and care to guide future work.
Invasive Species Management
English Ivy, Holly, Daphne, Himalayan blackberry, and Reed canary grass are just a few of the introduced invasive plant species that can be found in the Haliburton watershed. HWWG's partners are working to removing these and other invasive species and to reestablish native vegetation.
Restoration and Enhancement
From managing invasive species to recreating wetlands, HWWG partners are hard at work trying to reverse the past damage done to the Haliburton watershed and prevent further habitat loss. Bringing the watershed back to a more natural state is one of our main objectives.
HWWG partners are keeping an eye on the plant, bird, amphibian, fish and insect populations within the watershed and surrounding areas. This is done through scientific surveys and citizen science, including the collection of observations through the iNaturalist app.
Water Quality Monitoring
HWWG partners test for various water quality parameters of importance to the health of the watershed and species that call it home. We are actively working to standardize what parameters are monitored and how they are tested to more easily compare data.
Multiple HWWG partners provide educational tours and activities aimed at educating children, youth and adults about urban biodiversity and watershed health. These initiatives help foster a sense or responsibility and help bring communities together!
Meet HWWG's Members
District of Saanich
The District of Saanich is an active partner in the Haliburton Watershed Working Group and has a lead role in implementing the Elk/Beaver Lake Watershed Management Plan. Representation for participation and support is currently led by Saanich Environmental Services. Information about the natural environment in Saanich is available on the website at:
Natural Environment | District of Saanich
The Haliburton Urban Biodiversity Project (HUB), at the Haliburton Community Organic Farm, aims to conserve and enhance wetland, meadow, and forest habitat that once covered large parts of the Greater Victoria area. This initiative provides an educational site to learn about the characteristic habitats, plants, and animals of the region and to demonstrate techniques that can be used to enhance biodiversity in our region. Learn more at:
Biodiversity | Haliburton Community Organic Farm
The Beaver Elk Environmental Stewards (the BEES) are a diversity of people united in the intent to see Elk/Beaver Lake Regional Park brought back to health. What happens in the Haliburton Watershed directly affects the integrity of the Park lands and Elk/Beaver Lake(s). Through this initiative and our BEES projects and volunteer remediation efforts we will work with our partners in stewardship and our neighbours in the interest of our community environment. Learn more at:BEES
Victoria Golden Rods and Reels Fishing and Social Club has been involved in the aquatic health of Elk/Beaver Lake and its watershed for over three decades . In the 1990’s it completed a major restoration and pollution control project on O’Donnell Creek. In 2016 the District of Saanich awarded the club its Environmental Award in the Volunteer Organization category, recognizing its work on promoting and facilitating the lake’s restoration. The group continues to be active here , on Craigflower Creek, at the Colquitz River fish fence and at the Goldstream fish hatchery. For more information please see:
Victoria Golden Rods and Reels – Fishing and Social Club
The headwaters of Haliburton Brook are within the boundaries of Royal Oak Burial Park. Royal Oak Burial Park was created in 1923 and is a municipal, not-for-profit full-service burial and cremation service provider, including green burials and a dedicated space for scattering cremated remains in a natural setting. Currently, the park encompasses 135 acres including 78 acres of mature forest, of which 25 acres are planned to remain in their natural state. Ensuring Haliburton Brook is preserved and restored aligns with the green environmental ethic of our organization and that of many in the community we serve.
Royal Oak Burial Park | A beautiful place to remember
Since 2002, Peninsula Streams Society has worked to achieve healthy aquatic habitats through research, education, and stewardship. Importantly, we plan, fundraise and deliver stewardship projects and education programs. By providing the technical expertise, training, and resources for our associated groups, we help them to actively protect and restore their local watersheds. For more information about our organization, please see:
Peninsula Streams Society
The Capital Regional District held the lead role in developing the Elk/Beaver Lake Watershed Management Plan, and now plays an active role in the Haliburton Watershed Working Group. The downstream portion of the Haliburton Watershed is found within Elk/Beaver Lake Regional Park, where efforts by CRD Regional Parks staff will support collaborative opportunities to help restore the ecological function of the watershed that will improve water quality and enhance habitat for wildlife.
Elk/Beaver Lake Initiative | CRD