The Annual General Meeting of the Friends of Ecological Reserves was held at the University of Victoria on March 8, 2002.
President Lynne Milnes welcomed members and guests, saying that every year is a busy year and 2001 was no exception. Her annual report to the membership follows.
We managed to put out 3 newsletters a spring, summer and winter edition, thanks to Cheryl Borris our editor. Continuing with our focus on wardens we featured Ecological Reserves in the Prince George District, the Cariboo-Chilcotin and the East Kootenays.
Wardens throughout the province contributed articles on challenges in their regions including the case of the disappearing reserve at Sunbeam Creek where radio towers, snowmobilers and hikers are no match for the fragile alpine tundra the Reserve was established to protect. We advertised for new wardens in each district and many came forward to their district offices.
Research reports were essential part of each newsletter. In 2001, FER continued to support the sea otter-sea urchin population studies of Dr. Jane Watson and Dr. Tom Reimchen’s fish-forestry studies. FER supported the fungi analysis of Pam Janszen on Saturna Island. Pam was able to make 22 separate surveys in the reserve in 2001. Student James Miskelly looked at rare butterflies in Garry oak meadows and Sue Salter studied invertebrates in hot springs for her masters degree. Ecological Reserves are set aside as outdoor classrooms and the baseline research conducted by these scientists is essential in order to evaluate changes to the environment over time. In some cases, these changes are happening faster than we can monitor them.
Finally, Rachelle Delaney, a fourthyear student in the faculty of Environmental Studies at the University of Victoria and having made an outstanding contribution to the volunteer environmental community, was this year’s recipient of the Vicky Husband Award. In 2002, we have doubled this scholarship allowing two students who volunteer to have a chance for financial support.
There were two field trips in 2001. The annual pilgrimage to Trial Island was packed. There we saw evidence of the excellent work done by a BC Parks crew to remove broom and gorse from the fragile flower meadows. Our summer trip went to the Gladys Lake Ecological Reserve within the Spatsizi Wilderness. It was a trip of a life time and we didn’t need to carry field guides because we had the authors with us. Jim and Roz Pojar were excellent leaders and although we did not see mountain sheep and caribou or bears we saw evidence of their presence and later questioned the sanity of having hunters in a Class A park set aside for wildlife. It is a bit unnerving to be hiking amid the sound of gunfire. Correspondence with BC Parks on this issue is ongoing.
As a result of the Gladys Lake trip, the Friends are producing our fourth placemat on the mountain flowers of BC with support from the TD Friends of the Environment Fund. The placemat will be our chief fundraiser for the 2002 season. Ongoing support from the Eden Conservation Trust and the Vancouver Foundation, donors and members is also greatly appreciated. We are a small and lean organization but we do the most with what we have.
As part of our protection mandate the Friends participated in a Pitch-in Canada clean up crew on Mother’s Day, that took styrofoam off the beaches of Alpha and Griffen Islet Ecological Reserves. Thanks to Marilyn Lambert, director extraordinaire and zodiac operator. In September, Nichola Walkden, our treasurer, and Mary Rannie were the sole volunteers for a Clover Point clean up. Nichola reported that it was very foul indeed and made her question the value we put on public spaces. This question was echoed by Rick Kool, of BC Parks, who wrote a fabulous article for the Log on the value of protected areas and estimated they contribute $4.5 billion dollars a year in services from clean air to water filtration—none of which is given any value by the bean counters in the Parliament Buildings.
Gail Ross, acting general manager of extension services at BC Parks was very helpful throughout the year and we are very grateful to have her 25 years of expertise within the parks system.
However, as of Black Thursday, all that has changed. What has taken 25 years to establish—BC as a leader in North American Park interpretation—has been obliterated over night. No-one knows what this spells for the future of Ecological Reserves but, at present, we are fighting a gas pipeline proposed through the Satellite Channel Ecological Reserve. I believe this is just the beginning.
We must take our role as wardens seriously and remain vigilant because there is no one left in government to do the watching. Please look to our April newsletter for more information as we try and keep you informed of the changes and threats to existing Ecological Reserves both outside and within the government itself.
Lynne Milnes, Past President