The Annual General Meeting of the Friends of Ecological Reserves was held on February 26, 1999, at the University of Victoria.
President Cheryl Borris welcomed participants and reported briefly on the highlights of 1998.
Generous grants from the Vancouver Foundation and EcoAction 2000 have continued to give sound financial footing to our current major initiative, the Landowner Contact Project. During 1998, the focus of this phase of the project was to contact ranchers and other landowners in the Cariboo-Chilcotins in order to provide advice about stewardship and conservation covenants. As a result of this we have gained the support of the BC Cattlemens'Association, which is of strategic and essential importance to the project and, as a result of work done during the summer months, critical fish habitat on the Horsefly River will be preserved and enhanced.
"In 1999," Cheryl said, "the Landowner Contact Project moves into the East Kootenays. We are pleased to continue our relationship with Bill Turner, and our partnership with the Land Conservancy - one of the most important conservation organizations to surface in British Columbia in the past five years."
Three successful field trips took place in 1998. A sunny day trip was made in April to ER 13 2, - Trial Islands, - with interpreter Adolf Ceska. In May, the Friends organized a day trip to Winchelsea Island in conjunction with The Land Conservancy of BC (TLC). Cheryl pointed out that although Winchelsea Island is not an ecological reserve it is an important ecosystem. In 1998, TLC successfully negotiated the purchase of the island. Finally, in August, there was a memorable 3-day boating trip to Robson Bight ER. In addition to being educational, these field trips continue to raise awareness about the importance of Ecological Reserves, allow for the monitoring of protected species and provide an opportunity to raise funds for specific projects.
Cheryl went on to say that generous support from other donors, some of whom choose to remain anonymous, have allowed us to sustain solid support for land acquisition - the Elkington property in Duncan, the McFadden Creek heron rookery on Salt Spring Island and the Ayum Creek connector in Sooke have all benefited in 1998. She continued, "As well, the generous financial support of our members allowed us to be responsive to the needs of four dedicated scholars. On their behalf, thank you so very, very much!"
Several board members traveled to the Okanagan in May, to the first annual Meadowlark Festival. A week of painting and sketching with local artists produced images which have been beautifully replicated on the third in our series of botanical placemats. These placemats provide a showcase for native plants as well as being a fund-raiser for the Friends. 1998 saw improvements to our newsletter, The Log, thanks to editor Eileen King, and we took the time to reflect on our past achievements and chronicle them in the fall issue.
Chair of the Nominating Committee, Syd Cannings, presented the election slate for the 1999 Board of directors. Nine of the 1998 board of directors stood for re-election, and three additional candidates were put forward. All 12 were elected by acclamation.
A special resolution was passed conferring Honorary Director status on retiring Board members Vicky Husband and Trudy Chatwin in recognition of their service towards ecological reserves in British Columbia.
Vicky Husband was honoured with the establishment of a scholarship in her name at the University of Victoria. Beginning in 1999, the FER will make an annual award to a student in third or fourth year Environmental Studies, who has academic merit and who has made outstanding contributions to the volunteer sector.
At the conclusion of the business portion of the meeting, Doug Biffard of the Ministry of Environment, Lands and Parks and warden for Satellite Channel ER, gave an illustrated presentation on protected areas around Vancouver Island.
The meeting was followed by an illustrated lecture by 1998 award recipient Dr. Tom Reimchen, who spoke about his research into the relationship between black bears, Chum salmon and the health of forests on BC's West Coast.