The Steward Newsletter – Fall 2009

Fall 2009

Where does the Cowichan Valley Green Map go from here? • We want to help you be better stewards of your land and natural places that are important to you. • We want to help develop effective community partnerships that lead to better care of the land. • We will continue community mapping by developing web-based mapping tools and resources for the community. In the Green Map Project… We collected data… Data becomes colourful map information… Information pondered becomes knowledge… This knowledge upon reflection, can lead to wisdom… But ultimately we hope… It leads to… Action. Visit the Land Trust Green Mapping website for more information:
Green Map is Born
After conducting several community mapping workshops in the spring and countless editing sessions over the summer with many supporters, the Cowichan Land Trust is ready to launch the Cowichan Valley Community Green Map. The Cowichan Land Trust will join other community partners in the Cowichan Sustainable Harvest Festival at Providence Farm on Sunday, September 27th to celebrate the launch of the Cowichan Valley Community Green Map. We are excited to give the map back to the community, and share the values and concerns you told us. The theme of the green map is that we are all connected to this land, the people and the food. The message of the green map is that when we value the land, we will take care of it and it will take care of us. By telling the stories of local people and the many groups and individuals that care for the Valley, we hope to open new doors of partnership for conservation and stewardship.
Attention Members!
Annual General Meeting is coming up on September 30th from 6:30pm-8:30pm at Providence Farm in the St. Anne’s Garden Room Come celebrate a great year with the CLT and sample local food and refreshments.
The Steward
Fall 2009
Fall Fun The Top Ten List!
Autumn is a great time of year to get out and enjoy the outdoors. Yes, there is still some gardening and yard work to do, but it should be minimal once you harvest your produce. You can cut down on your work by letting some seed heads stand in the garden. The foliage will add beauty to your yard and the seeds will provide food for the birds in the winter. You can also save work by throwing your leaves in the compost pile or by using them as mulch in your flower beds and around your trees. What will you do with the time you save in the yard? Here are some suggestions to help you and your family get the most out of autumn: 1. Discover a new place in the Valley to hike and enjoy the spectacular autumn colours 2. Go birdwatching at Somenos Marsh 3. Pick apples for the Cowichan Green Community ‘FruitSave Program’ (see //www. cowichan_valley_fruit_save_program.html) 4. Build a mason bee nest to attract these native pollinators to your yard 5. Go for a bike ride through our beautiful Cowichan wine country 6. Fly a kite at China Beach or join those crazy surfers 7. Use a GPS device to go Geocaching (see for more information) 8. Check out the local markets like the Saturday Duncan Farmers Market 9. Go canoeing or kayaking on the Cowichan River or on Cowichan Bay 10. Jump in a pile of leaves, and then compost them Whatever you choose to do this fall, savour the unique colours and textures of the season. It is a wonderful time of year for all the senses. Take some time to enjoy the scenery!
Mission Possible: Chase Woods Saved
Thanks to a successful fundraising campaign and overwhelming public support, Chase Woods has been saved from future land development. The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC), with the help of local partners such as the Cowichan Land Trust and private donors, was able to achieve the seemingly impossible goal of raising $1.7 million by July 24, 2009. Now the NCC would like to thank everyone for their support. On Sunday, September 27 from 3 to 5 p.m., the NCC is hosting a community celebration for Chase Woods at Affinity Guest House at 5155 Samuel Road in Duncan. Coordinator of Conservation Projects Katie Blake and other members of the NCC will be there to express their thanks to the community. Chase Woods on Mount Tzouhalem is an ecological treasure in the Cowichan Valley because of the significant trees and wildlife in the area. Douglas fir forests and Garry oak woodlands along with animals such as Peregrine falcons, Pacific treefrogs and Great blue herons will now be preserved for future generations.
The Steward
Fall 2009
Can migratory waterfowl co-exist with farming?
The sight of migratory birds overhead means Fall is on its way! It also means the Cowichan Land Trust (CLT) is busy with waterfowl habitat stewardship in the Cowichan Valley. The Land Trust will be visiting local landowners, farmers, and community members to hear their perspectives on waterfowl conservation. The Cowichan Valley is located on the Pacific Flyway and receives large populations of swans, geese and other migratory waterfowl species over the winter. Urban development in the region is putting pressure on waterfowl habitat. As wetlands are lost, more birds rely on farmlands for foraging areas. Waterfowl foraging can damage farmers’ crops and fields; however, farmers currently don’t receive compensation for these losses. The CLT will be looking closer into these and other issues in order to help create a regional stewardship action plan by March 2010. The success of waterfowl habitat protection relies on support from both community members and local farmers, whose work is extremely important for food security. The Land Trust is investigating how farming and waterfowl habitat protection can become more compatible. The Comox Valley and the Delta Farmland and Wildlife Trust offer great examples of how communities have sustainably managed waterfowl habitat within farmland settings. The CLT would like to hear from anyone who is inter interested or has waterfowl or wetland related concerns. For more information, please see the project website:
GIS – Bringing the Land Trust into the Digital Age
GIS? What is
that? Good question. Geographic Information Systems (GIS) is simply a way to bring the location of things that exist in the world into a digital environment and then use this information to answer questions. The Cowichan Land Trust has recently acquired the capabilities to bring GIS into our projects. We applied to ESRI for a conservation grant and were approved for an ArcView and an ArcEditor license. Fantastic!! We also have two new staff members with Advanced Diplomas in GIS from Vancouver Island University, who are keen to use their newly acquired skills.
The next step is data acquisition and building up digital information about the natural environment for the Cowichan Valley area. As this information is gathered, GIS will allow the CLT to track patterns and trends in our land base and conduct critical baseline inventorying and monitoring of natural habitats and features. The Cowichan Land Trust envisions GIS as a tool to help bring the Land Trust into the digital age with interactive web maps and publicly available data that can empower people with their conservation projects. The Land Trust will also be able to use GIS to help create attractive and accurate maps that help to raise greater public awareness of the importance of protecting natural spaces. Stop in at the Land Trust the next time you are in town and let us show you how we are using GIS to help support local environmental stewardship, conservation and restoration of natural habitats.
The Steward
Fall 2009
The Legacy of Charles Poole
The Cowichan region lost a good friend when Charles Poole suddenly passed away last year. For many years Charles was a valuable volunteer with the Cowichan Land Trust, serving on our board as treasurer, volunteering at the office, and spearheading our part of the campaign to purchase the Cowichan Garry Oak Preserve and the Holland Creek Trail Corridor. He showed his commitment to protecting the natural and cultural heritage of our community by leaving the Cowichan Land Trust a bequest of $50,000, which the Board of Directors has placed in a fund for land acquisition. We can all follow Charles’s example and remember the Cowichan Land Trust in our wills. Donations can be earmarked for land acquisition, environmental stewardship, or our endowment fund. Until then we can support the Cowichan Land Trust while providing significant tax savings to ourselves or our estate through gifts of cash, land, securities, life insurance, or in other ways. All that is needed is some careful estate planning and a commitment to preserving our beautiful rural community. The Cowichan Land Trust cannot give specific tax advice to prospective donors, but we can provide general information and we can direct you or your financial advisor to chartered accountants who specialize in charitable giving. The many options for donation have been outlined in the book Green Legacies, which can be found online at We can all learn from Charles’s example of unselfish community service and real concern for the welfare of future generations of all life.
Message from the President
2009 has been a landmark year for the Cowichan Land Trust. As envisaged in our Strategic Plan, we have increased our staff from one to seven; increased our revenues to over $250,000 per year; increased the size and the breadth of the Board; and developed working partnerships for land acquisition and stewardship, such as the recent purchase of Chase Woods in partnership with Nature Conservancy Canada. In addition, we have continued many of our hands-on stewardship activities, such as the Streamkeepers courses, Eelgrass Transplanting, Community Mapping, Migratory Waterfowl Stewardship, and Children and Nature program support. Land Trust staff, Board members and volunteers have also maintained a strong presence at the Duncan Farmers’ Market most Saturdays, as well at the Mill Bay Garden Show and Cobble Hill Fair. They have also continued site visits and research for landowners who are working towards restoring ecologically important features on their lands as well as monitoring covenants. Special mention must, of course, be made of the Cowichan Valley Green Mapping Project. The end of the first phase of this project -the launch of the printed version of the map –is due to take place at the Harvest Festival on September 27. This exciting event will be the cornerstone of a plan to increase the awareness of the important work that the Land Trust does throughout the Cowichan Valley. Please join us in this celebration and remember that you can renew your membership on-line at
The Steward
Fall 2009
Currently, we are working on lining up the field logistics for subtidal mapping of existing eelgrass beds. We would like to map 2 to 3 sites by Thanksgiving (Bird’s Eye Cove and two more which are yet to be determined). We are also in the process of gathering community knowledge of eelgrass beds in our area, including both past and present locations of eelgrass habitat. Once we have this data we would like to get out and ground truth it. Finally the Land Trust is also working towards building some educational resources that can be used to help promote awareness of eelgrass and why it is such an important ecosystem. We are excited to use some of our new software such as Adobe Creative Suite and ArcMap to create attractive and educational maps and posters that can be displayed in various locations in the Cowichan Valley. How can you help? Please pass on any information about past or present eelgrass beds in the Cowichan Valley Area to Shari at the Land Trust. We are also interested in any community input about locations for permanent signage about eelgrass.
Eelgrass Restoration Project Update
Eelgrass restoration efforts in Cowichan Bay continued this summer and 2600 shoots were transplanted at the end of June thanks to the help of our wonderful volunteers. In addition to transplanting eelgrass shoots, project work this year is also focusing on public education and mapping existing eelgrass beds along the CVRD coast line.
Mapping both transplant sites as well as existing eelgrass beds will allow the Cowichan Land Trust to establish some base line data for eelgrass within our community. Once this base line is recorded, continued monitoring of these beds will enable us to use GIS to show how eelgrass sites have increased or decreased over that time period.
Cowichan Land Trust T-Shirts are coming soon!
They are available in the colours white, black, chocolate, olive, royal blue and are available in men’s and women’s sizing for a great low price of $20! Call the land trust today for more information or to order this hot new item for your wardrobe. Cowichan….it’s worth protecting.
The Steward
Fall 2009
After a legal review and consultation with the Ministry of Finance, the CVRD determined that the zoning does not permit the bridge demolition. In the event that the company begins work, the CVRD will seek an interlocutory injunction to force the work to stop immediately. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans, after being alerted by a local resident, has also determined that the bridge is too large for the water lease and is “trespassing” on the conservation area of the estuary. Other residents have questioned how well the bridge was examined for the presence of invasive species. At the time of writing, the bridge is still at the dock and no work is taking place. The surprising appearance of the bridge should alert all of us to the limited protection for the estuary provided by the Cowichan Estuary Management Committee and other agencies mandated to protect the environment.
Hood Canal Salvage The Bridge to Nowhere
Four gigantic sections of the old floating Hood Canal Bridge were towed into Cowichan Bay and moored beside WestCan Terminal in early May. The arrival of this huge structure, towering over the estuary and village, was a surprise to almost everyone. The owner of the bridge sections planned to remove the road and superstructure components and break them up, with the concrete to be used for aggregate and the steel to be recycled. The pontoons were to be sold for use as breakwaters and piers. The work was to begin in June and last five months.
Membership in the CLT is an important contribution to our continued presence in the Cowichan Valley and makes it possible for us to continue our work to conserve our natural heritage. Thank you to all our members, volunteers and Directors for your support. If you are interested in becoming a member of the Cowichan Land Trust or making a donation, please contact the office at (250) 746-0227 or visit our website at:
Hood Canal Bridge seen from high on Mt. Tzouhalem.
Possible environmental impacts of the proposed work were significant – noise, dust, and turbulence threatened eelgrass, fish, birds, water quality, and marine mammals. The Cowichan Bay Residents Association and the Cowichan Valley Naturalists’ Society expressed their concerns about this project and Area D’s Director Lori Iannidinardo brought a request for a public information meeting to the Electoral Area Services Commission of the Cowichan Valley Regional District (CVRD) on June 2.
We would like to thank our Fall Newsletter contributors, Roger Hart, John Scull, Shari Willmott, Margaret Paridaen, and Erin Ward. And a special thanks to Linda Wilkinson, volunteer editor, and Amber Hiscock, graphic designer.
The Cowichan Land Trust thanks our current funders!