Enthusiastic and knowledgeable participants are crucial for successful public outreach workshops – and that’s exactly who attended the BCWF Wetland’s first Wetlandkeepers Course of 2013 in Chase, BC. We partnered with the Chase Fish & Game Club for this 2.5 day workshop over the May 10-12 weekend, which taught 10 full-time participants about the different ways that communities can protect their local environments and become wetland stewards. It was also my first Wetlandkeepers workshop, and I can say with confidence that I learned a lot from both the instructors and the participants. And since this event took place over Mother’s Day weekend, you know the participants are all truly dedicated individuals.
Our group consisted of hikers, nature enthusiasts, Geocachers, conservationists, a member of the Invasives Species Council of BC, and representatives of the Chase Fish and Game Club. On the first night, we had the privilege to receive a talk from Kirsten Harma, the Program Coordinator of the Lake Windermere Ambassadors (LWA). She discussed the lake management plan that was implemented by the LWA and its success in structuring sustainable shoreline development. This was a timely discussion since one of our participants, Elizabeth Winter, was hoping to implement this type of management plan with the Friends of Garden Lake group – and we have strong faith in her that she’ll be successful in her future endeavors.
On the second day of our workshops, we had Dr. Brian Heise – a Natural Resource professor at Thompson Rivers University (TRU), lead us through a series of educational and engaging activities about aquatic invertebrate species. One particular activity taught us how some of these wetland insects (such as mosquitoes & dragonflies) use a “breath through your butt” technique, and Brian led an afternoon yoga session with the group to demonstrate.
Brian also discussed the impacts of invasive species on wetlands and mentioned the risks that are associated with recreational and economic developments, such as docks and transportation structures. He stated how, “Whenever you see maps of movement of people & movement of invasives, it’s always a wonderful match.” His talk included the growing issue of invasive fish species in the Chase area due to the high demand for “catchables” or commercially-desired fish. This transitioned perfectly into our afternoon at Phillips lake with Marge Sidney from the Ministry of Environment in Kamloops. She gave us an informative summary about the history of fisheries and invasive species around the Chase area. As well, she discussed a fascinating scientific process called Environmental DNA or eDNA. This advanced method involves using DNA signatures to tell us about every species that is living in the lake, just with a sample of water! If you’d like to read more about it, visit this website by the USGS here. As Marge said, “This could revolutionize how we do field work in the future” and it could help with the early detection of invasive species.
We ended off a great weekend with a successful morning back at the lake, bird-watching with Dr. Stephen Joly – a Biology professor at TRU. Our morning was filled with a chorus of common birds, such as Redwinged Blackbirds, as well as rare birds such as Soras – a species that even experienced birders like Stephen have only seen twice. Stephen’s passion for ornithology began at the early age of 7 as he was fascinated by the swallows that used to fly into his uncle’s barn. Unfortunately in BC, these barn swallows have been on a 7.6% annual decline over the past decade and has recently become a blue-listed threatened species.
Here’s a bunch of other interesting (and slightly random) things that I learned from the workshop:
- Only the female mosquitoes bite. They do this to get protein for their eggs and feed their young – and since it was Mother’s Day, we weren’t too upset to get bitten.
- The strong winds from Hurricane Sandy blew birds into irregular territory, such as tropical birds to New England.
- Water striders are carnivorous and use special hairs to walk on water.
- Whirligig beetles have 4 eyes consisted of two eyes split in half.
- Caddisflies make little stone cases to live in, which are a popular item for natural jewelry.
- Looking for Kingfishers? Check steep cliffs and sandy banks alongside creeks or highways.
- Red-winged blackbirds are extremely protective of their females. So much, that they can hide their red shoulder feathers in order to appear less threatening.
Thanks to all of our great participants for sharing their weekends with us and for our instructors who were a major part of the workshop’s success! Special shoutouts to Bernie and Louie of the Chase Fish & Game Club for their generous hospitality! We look forward to hearing about all of your future successes! To check out pictures from our weekend click here. If you’d like to attend one of our Wetlandkeepers workshops, we have our meetings in New Denver from June 7-9 and Grand Forks from June 14-16 (more info found here). If you can’t attend, then there’s always following us on Twitter (@BCWFWetlands) and Facebook!
A BIG thank you to our following sponsors!