The Quesnel Wetlandkeepers is the third such workshop we have held this year (Kelowna and Windermere being the other two so far), and it proved to be a huge success. Participants consisted of foresters, naturalists, environmental non-profits, government representatives, teachers, and those who were just very keen to learn. This resulted in one of the most detail-oriented groups I have had the pleasure of working with. Each presentation, exercise, and aspect of the workshop was filled with thoughtful questions and analysed down to the finest detail. Everyone was there to learn as much as possible and no one wanted to cut any corners. But, that’s not to say we didn’t have any fun!
The outdoor portion of the Wetlandkeepers Workshop began with a visit to the marshes surrounding Trueman Island, where birder Adrian Leather exposed participants to stories about bird species that frequent the area. During out visit, we encountered a cedar waxwing, sora, and red-necked grebe, to name a few.
The next wetland we visited was a fen/shallow water complex on Hallis Lake and was teeming with life. Hundreds of dragonflies (Four-spotted skimmers, chalk- fronted corporals , and red-waisted whitefaces, for those that are interested) circled around us; munching invertebrates, finding mates, and laying eggs. See the video for a small peek at what we saw. A myriad of other aquatic invertebrates swam silently among the lilies, buckbean, water arum, and sedges. Here, participants learned about wetland, plant, and soil classification.
Only minutes of walking led us to another fantastic classroom: Hallis Lake Bog. The star-shaped Common red sphagnum carpeted the ground with gold and red, punctuated by flowering cottongrass and hummocks of rosemary and scrub birch. All the while, young western toads crawled through the snaking bog cranberry and shining sundew. Unfortunately for some damselflies, they found the sundew too attractive to resist and got trapped to their sticky surfaces, soon to be consumed by the insectivorous plant.
The next day was primarily led by Elke Wind (E. Wind Consulting). After a presentation on the amphibians of BC, participants preformed visual, net, and trapping surveys at West Fraser Timber park. These wetlands are what remains of a once extensive swamp/marsh habitat. Unfortunately, only a few amphibian juveniles were spotted, but participants did not come up empty-handed: a wide array of invertebrates were found including a giant water bug and fishing spider. Nearby wetlands also provided the location for GPS training.
One of the benefits of hosting this workshop further North was the sheer abundance of wetlands. All five main classifications (Bog, Fen, Marsh, Swamp, and Shallow Water) were only minutes away from each other, contrasting other, more urban communities where only one or two classifications are easily found within driving distance. The people of Quesnel are blessed to have these untouched wetlands, and participants know it. Many were keen on sharing their new found knowledge with family and friends, cleaning up/restoring degraded wetlands, or classifying their local wetlands. With such a passionate group, we are certain we will be returning to Quesnel for another workshop in the future.
Click here to see almost 100 photos from this workshop!
We would like to give a big thank you to Michelle Arcand of FLNRO for inviting us to her community and making sure this workshop was such a success. We would also like to thank our financial sponsors: