Dune Ecosystem Restoration: Schooner Cove, British Columbia
The dune-stabilizing properties of invasive European Beachgrass (Ammophila arenaria) affect the geomorphology of coastal dune ecosystems in the Pacific Northwest (Hacker et al., 2012). This has ecosystem-wide repercussions. However, effects are amplified in threatened and endangered dune species such as the Pink Sand-verbena
[Abronia umbellata ssp. breviflora] (COSEWIC, 2004). In this study, sample plots at Schooner Cove in Pacific Rim National Park Reserve were designed to test the differential successes of combinations of three different European Beachgrass removal techniques: hand-pulling, shoveling, and light limitation. Light limitation results are inconclusive thus far. Albeit more time-consuming, preliminary results show shoveled plots have significantly less Ammophila regrowth than hand-pulled plots in the first three months post-removal.
In a side study, a unique population of Pink Sand-verbena consisting of individuals of varying ages was planted onto the dunes at Schooner Cove this year. Individuals were planted across various ecotones to determine the optimal age and habitat for future Pink Sand-verbena reintroductions.
Finally, a literature review was performed to determine a disposal method for removing European Beachgrass. There are concerns that the currently used burning technique may not be environmentally suitable. Other promising options include drying the grass and offering it to local farms to use as animal bedding or creating and maintaining a beachgrass compost facility to provide potting soil for the Park’s greenhouse.