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Recovery Strategy for Multi-Species at Risk in Vernal Pools and other Ephemeral Wet Areas Associated with Garry Oak Ecosystems in Canada (Proposed)

Bog bird's-foot trefoil
Tall woolly-heads (Pacific population)
Water-plantain buttercup
Kellogg's rush
Rosy owl-clover
Dwarf sandwort

Multi-Species at Risk in Vernal Pools and other Ephemeral Wet Areas Associated with Garry Oak Ecosystems in Canada. Photo: Mike Miller.

August 2005

Logos: Habitat Conservation Trust Fund, Garry Oak Ecosystems Recovery Team and Nature Conservancy Canada

Responsible Jurisdictions
Strategic Environmental Assessment


About the Species at Risk Act Recovery Strategy Series

What is the Species at Risk Act (SARA)?

SARA is the Act developed by the federal government as a key contribution to the common national effort to protect and conserve species at risk in Canada. SARA came into force in 2003 and one of its purposes is "to provide for the recovery of wildlife species that are extirpated, endangered or threatened as a result of human activity."

What is recovery?

In the context of species at risk conservation, recovery is the process by which the decline of an endangered, threatened, or extirpated species is arrested or reversed and threats are removed or reduced to improve the likelihood of the species' persistence in the wild. A species will be considered recovered when its long-term persistence in the wild has been secured.

What is a recovery strategy?

A recovery strategy is a planning document that identifies what needs to be done to arrest or reverse the decline of a species. It sets goals and objectives and identifies the main areas of activities to be undertaken. Detailed planning is done at the action plan stage.

Recovery strategy development is a commitment of all provinces and territories and of three federal agencies -- Environment Canada, Parks Canada Agency, and Fisheries and Oceans Canada -- under the Accord for the Protection of Species at Risk. Sections 37–46 of SARA outline both the required content and the process for developing recovery strategies published in this series.

Depending on the status of the species and when it was assessed, a recovery strategy has to be developed within one to two years after the species is added to the List of Wildlife Species at Risk. Three to four years is allowed for those species that were automatically listed when SARA came into force.

What's next?

In most cases, one or more action plans will be developed to define and guide implementation of the recovery strategy. Nevertheless, directions set in the recovery strategy are sufficient to begin involving communities, land users, and conservationists in recovery implementation. Cost-effective measures to prevent the reduction or loss of the species should not be postponed for lack of full scientific certainty.

The series

This series presents the recovery strategies prepared or adopted by the federal government under SARA. New documents will be added regularly as species get listed and as strategies are updated.

To learn more

To learn more about the Species at Risk Act and recovery initiatives, please consult the SARA Public Registry and the Web site of the Recovery Secretariat (http://www.speciesatrisk.gc.ca/recovery/).

Recommended citation:

Parks Canada Agency. 2005. Recovery Strategy for Multi-species at Risk in Vernal Pools and Other Ephemeral Wet Areas in Garry Oak and Associated Ecosystems in Canada (proposed). In Species at Risk Act Recovery Strategy Series. Ottawa: Parks Canada Agency. 80 pps.

Additional copies:

You can download additional copies from the SARA Public Registry.

National Library of Canada cataloguing in publication data

Main entry under title:
Recovery Strategy for Multi-species at Risk in Vernal Pools and other Ephemeral Wet Areas Associated with Garry Oak Ecosystems in Canada

Cover photos: Mike Miller

Également disponible en français sous le titre :

« Programme de rétablissement multi-espèces visant les plantes en péril des mares printanières and autres milieux humides saisonniers associés aux chênaies de Garry au Canada. »

© Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, represented by the Minister of the Environment, 2005. All rights reserved.

ISBN To come

Cat. no. To come

Content (excluding the cover illustration) may be used without permission, with appropriate credit to the source.

Responsible Jurisdictions

The species addressed within the Vernal Pools Strategy occur exclusively within the Province of British Columbia in Canada. The Vernal Pools Recovery Strategy was developed by the Parks Canada Agency on behalf of the Competent Minister (the Minister of the Environment) in partnership with the Government of British Columbia.


Michael T. Miller, Ph.D.
201-340 Linden Ave. Victoria BC
Email: Email: lambdarules@yahoo.com
Telephone: (250) 383-8876

For the Garry Oak Ecosystems Recovery Team, Plants at Risk Recovery Implementation Group


This document is adapted from a pre-consultation draft prepared by M. Miller on behalf of the GOERT Plants at Risk Recovery Implementation Group. M. Miller thanks the following individuals in particular for valuable input, suggestions, and time spent editing: Ted Lea, Brenda Costanzo, Marilyn Fuchs, Matt Fairbarns, Hans Roemer, Adolph Ceska, Carrina Maslovat, Terry McIntosh, and Marta Donovan. This project was funded by the Nature Conservancy of Canada, the Habitat Conservation Trust Fund, and the BC Ministry of Environment. The Habitat Conservation Trust Fund was created by an act of the legislature to preserver, restore, and enhance key areas of habitat for fish and wildlife throughout British Columbia. Anglers, hunters, trappers and guides contribute to the projects of the Trust Fund through license surcharges. Tax deductible donations to assist in the work of the Trust Fund are also welcomed.


This multi-species Recovery Strategy addresses the recovery of six endangered plant species inhabiting vernal pools and other ephemeral wet areas: bog bird's-foot trefoil (Lotus pinnatus), tall woolly-heads (Psilocarphus elatior), Juncus kelloggii (Juncus kelloggii), Ranunculus alismifolius var. alismifolius(water-plantain buttercup), rosy owl-clover (Orthocarpus bracteosus), and dwarf sandwort (Minuartia pusilla). In Canada, these species occur (or occurred) primarily in Garry oak and associated ecosystems on Vancouver Island and nearby Gulf Islands where they are largely restricted to low elevation, coastal areas. Although the range of all species extends into the United States, many of the species are widely disjunct from the U.S. populations.

The Species at Risk Act (SARA, Section 37) requires the competent minister to prepare recovery strategies for listed extirpated, endangered or threatened species. The Garry Oak Ecosystems Recovery Team, Province of British Columbia and the Parks Canada Agency led the development of this Recovery Strategy. The proposed strategy meets SARA requirements in terms of content and process (Sections 39-41). It was developed in cooperation or consultation with numerous individuals and agencies: the Garry Oak Ecosystems Recovery Team, Province of British Columbia, Environment Canada; numerous aboriginal groups within the range of the species were informed of the strategy and opportunity for involvement; numerous environmental non-government groups such as The Land Conservancy and Nature Conservancy of Canada; industry stakeholders such as Weyerhaeuser, and BC Hydro; and landowners such as the Department of National Defence. Almost 1700 individuals and agencies were contacted directly and informed about this recovery program and the opportunity for involvement.

In accordance with the Cabinet Directive on the Environmental Assessment of Policy, Plan and Program Proposals(the Directive), a strategic environmental assessment (SEA) was conducted on this Recovery Strategy. The purpose of an SEA is to incorporate environmental considerations into the development of public policies, plans, and program proposals to support environmentally-sound decision making. The strategy has no significant adverse effects, and presents an overall benefit to the environment.

Strategic Environmental Assessment

In accordance with the Cabinet Directive on the Environmental Assessment of Policy, Plan and Program Proposals, a strategic environmental assessment (SEA) is conducted on all SARA recovery planning documents. The purpose of a SEA is to incorporate environmental considerations into the development of public policies, plans, and program proposals to support environmentally sound decision-making.

Recovery planning is intended to benefit species at risk and biodiversity in general. However, it is recognized that strategies may also inadvertently lead to environmental effects beyond the intended benefits. The planning process based on national guidelines directly incorporates consideration of all environmental effects, with a particular focus on possible impacts on non-target species or habitats. The results of the SEA are incorporated directly in the strategy itself, but are also summarized below.

There are no obvious adverse environmental effects of the proposed recovery strategy. Implementation of direction contained within this recovery strategy should result in positive environmental effects. In this strategy, the appropriate species (i.e. those in greatest danger of irreversible damage) are targeted for action. Threats to species and habitat are identified to the degree possible and related knowledge gaps are acknowledged. The state of knowledge of habitat critical for the survival and recovery of these species is provided and a specific course of action for definition of these spaces is outlined. Recovery objectives relate back to the specified threats and information gaps. It follows that acting upon the objectives will help to mitigate the effects of threats and improve upon knowledge gaps, thereby resulting in positive impacts to the subject species populations.

The compatibility of this recovery strategy and other plans is facilitated through the multi-stakeholder committee structure of the Garry Oak Ecosystems Recovery Team. It is reasonable to assume that successful stakeholder participation allows for this recovery strategy and relevant plans to be mutually influenced, thereby resulting in some degree of compatibility and positive cumulative effects.

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