User who defined this location: Oluna & Adolf Ceska
Lowest Elevation: 150.0 meters
Notes: Observatory Hill (also called Little Saanich Mountain) is 224 m high between Beaver/Elk and Prospect Lakes. The total area of the property is 71.4 ha. This is a federal property and the site of the NRC Hercberg Institute of Astrophysics. Our survey area included a small piece of a private property at the SE corner around an ephemeral creek and the eastern slope above it. The observatory on the top of The Hill was built in 1918 and houses the telescope with the mirror of 183 cm in diameter. The telescope was for about two years the largest telescope in the world.
The plant communities are typical of the Coastal Douglas-fir Biogeoclimatic Zone. The drier western and southern slopes in the upper parts of Observatory Hill are open rock outcrops with a mosaic of mossy/grassy vegetation and several stands of Garry oak (Quercus garryana). The western slopes with Quercus garryana represent younger stages of the Garry oak (=White Oregon Oak) vegetation after the 1934 fire.
The mixed forest of Observatory Hill can be classified as mid-successional (45-80 years). Forest age is a factor in determining species composition of macrofungi, especially of the mycorrhizal fungi. However, the greatest richness in species was found in more complex, late- successional mixed forests.
Stands dominated by Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) are the major vegetation forest types in the study area. In the lower, colluvial slopes the forests belong to the Pseudotsuga menziesii – Gaultheria shallon and Pseudotsuga menziesii – Mahonia nervosa site series; whereas on the upper parts of the top plateau the forests belong to the drier Pseudotsuga menziesii – Melica subulata site series. Large area of this forest has never been logged and is a good example of the drier Douglas-fir forest.
The area at the eastern base of the hill below the access road is covered with wetter Douglas-fir forest (Thuja plicata – Eurhynchium oreganum site series) with scattered big-leaf maple (Acer macrophyllum). Big-leaf maple forms a small stand along a small ephemeral stream at the bottom of this area.
Inspiring place, indeed