On October 14th, 2019, Oak Harbor City Parks Board voted unanimously to begin the policy of deferred lawn mowing in Smith Park, a proposal put forth by Oak Harbor Garry Oak Society, in order to allow ecologically important native wildflowers to fully bloom and set seed. The practice of deferred mowing will allow the resurgence of native wildflowers which have experienced a severe decline in our our area. This will also benefit pollinator insects and birds who are attracted to native blooms.
The City of Oak Harbor Parks Department will now differ mowing in Smith Park, each year, January through mid-July. Deferred mowing in Garry Oak ecosystems, or “mowing at the right time”, complies with best management practice of Garry Oak ecosystems, will help to restore this beautiful park to springtime glory, and enhance its role as a vital habitat link.
The policy of deferred mowing builds on the work the Oak Harbor Garry Oak Society has begun in Smith Park. Last fall, with permission from Oak Harbor Parks manager, Hank Nydam, several landscaping islands in the northern part of the park were planted with native plants by OHGOS volunteers. Species planted include Roemers fescue, camas, Chocolate lily, Nodding onion, and Shooting Star, just to name a few.
Oak Harbor Garry Oak Society is excited about species restoration and recovery projects in Smith Park. We hope that this park will continue to gain importance as an outdoor living classroom for Oak Harbor students, an amazing “urban arboretum” for the general public, and an eco-tourism destination for visitors!