If you follow the news media in virtually every medium we are subject to a constant flow of serious environmental challenges as in habitat degradation, loss of agricultural lands, stream pollution, and neglected forest re-planting programs compounded by growing budgetary impediments from senior levels of government.
The theme of current senior governments seems to reflect a view that encourages development in mining, industrial advancement, transportation corridors and real-estate growth, with reduced concerns of the negative effects on the natural environment, which is the foundation of balanced ecological systems.
Development and jobs is the vocal message from our strident politicians who fail to look beyond the next election. It is into these decaying environmental policies that public-minded conservation organizations take on major fundraising events to help protect and secure stable and enhanced environments for fish, birds, animals and plants.
To this end I draw to your attention two important conservation fund raisers that will take place in the Comox Valley during the next two weeks.
Saturday, April 21 Ducks Unlimited Canada, Comox Valley Chapter’s 27th annual Banquet & Auction takes place at the Florence Filberg Centre at 411 Anderton Ave. in Courtenay. Cocktails and silent auction viewing: 5:30 p.m, dinner at 7 p.m. and auction at 8:30 p.m. – raffles and prizes galore! Tickets $50 each (no minors). The wetlands of our Valley are no stranger to the marvelous conservation work of this dedicated organization. For tickets phone Julie Smith at 250-339-6843.
Friday, April 27, the British Columbia Wildlife Federation’s 56th annual Fundraiser and Dinner takes place at the Comox Valley Sports Centre, 3001 Vanier Drive in Courtenay. Tickets are $30. The doors open at 5:30 p.m. for viewing of the silent auctions items, sale of raffle tickets with a live auction later in the evening.
To the best of my knowledge this is the second time this conservation organization has held its annual fundraiser in our Valley because it is in conjunction with their annual convention, which is being hosted by the Courtenay and Dstrict Fish and Game Protective Association during the week. Tickets are available from Gone Fishin’, Tyee Marine, or contacting Greg Lafortune at 250-338-7676
Conservation-based fundraisers are frequently goal- or site-oriented as in Ducks Unlimited events. On the other hand conservation fund raisers by the British Columbia Wildlife Federation cover a broad spectrum of environmental concerns and objectives.
An interesting comparison is the numerous types of fundraisers we have in our seemingly endless search for a cure for cancer in all of its myriad forms. Many are very specific as in cures for breast cancer or prostate cancer and others are broadly based as in fundraisers for cures in diseases of childhood. Sometimes the more specific the goal the easier it is for individuals to identify with the objectives.
However, conservation is a many-sided affair and fundraisers will always cover the broad spectrum of the growing impact of humanity on the earth’s eco-systems.
In my research for this column I went to my 1966 copy of A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold. The closing paragraph had this to say about outdoor recreation:
“It would appear, in short, that rudimentary grades of outdoor recreation consume their resource base, the higher grades, at least to a degree, create their own satisfactions with little or no attrition of land or life. It is the expansion of transport without corresponding growth of perception that threatens the qualitative bankruptcy of the recreational process. Recreational development is a job not of building roads into lovely country, but of building receptivity into the still unlovely human mind.”
I have about 75 years of studious interaction with a variety of outdoor recreational pursuits across the broad spectrum of fishing, hunting, bird watching, nature study, photograghy and just plain sitting in quiet places in the outdoors. I still do all of the above, but as Leopold so eloquently pointed out, the more advanced I have become in my pursuits the less I have to take something away. I get great nourishment for my soul by the sound of whistling wings, the splash of a feeding trout, the ethereal music of wolves on the sky-line, or the muted call of a loon on my favourite fishing waters.
For these reasons I urge you to support conservation fundraisers wherever they may happen.
Ralph Shaw is a master fly fisherman who was awarded the Order of Canada in 1984 for his conservation efforts. In 20 years of writing a column in the Comox Valley Record it has won several awards.