MEMBERS OF THE Oyster River Enhancement Society get chum slamon smolts ready for ponding and release into the Oyster River.

Volunteers vital to conservation efforts

Several Comox Valley groups carry out variety of chores

Every once in awhile I find it helpful to pause and look around at what others are doing to help nature, in all of its myriad of forms, that is impacted by our daily lives.

This column will draw attention to three groups who are stepping up to the plate on a continuing basis to protect, enhance and recreate some special places for fish, shellfish, birds and wildlife in our ever-changing world of environmental stress.

As senior governments retreat from conservation programs that looked after the well-being of our fish, wildlife and natural places, it is an increasing challenge for citizens to respond to the needs of the growing stresses on the natural environment created by our modern growing industrial urban population.

Ducks Unlimited is celebrating 75 years of conservation on the continent and 28 years in the Comox Valley  with their annual fundraising banquet and auction.

The event takes place at the Florence Filberg Centre in Courtenay on Saturday, April 6 with cocktails at 5:30 p.m., dinner at 7 p.m. and auction at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are available at $50 from Greg Sawchuck at 250-338-6197 or Julie at 250-339-6843. Throughout the evening there will be raffles, silent auctions and draw prizes. Ducks Unlimited’s primary focus is wetlands which are so essential to ducks and other waterfowl. But they are also essential to fish, many wild animals and finally to the well-being of people as the recent weather events have demonstrated throughout the world.

Earl Cook of Fanny Bay was recognized by Ducks Unlimited with the Community Conservation Award for his and his family’s contribution to restoring wetlands of Cook Creek that flows into Baynes Sound near Fanny Bay. This was a partnership project with the Nature Trust and Ducks Unlimited.

In the near future a full column will be devoted to importance of the work of Ducks Unlimited based on their achievements over the past 75 years. As of this writing there are still a few tickets available for Saturday night’s celebration.

• • •

On Saturday April 13 the Coalwatch Comox Valley Society is holding an Ocean of Plenty #3 – Shellfish Gala Dinner featuring locally grown shellfish. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. in the Fanny Bay Community Hall, 7793 Old Island Highway. Tickets are $50 each.

There is an oyster bar, silent auction, live auction, 50/50 draw and cash bar. Tickets may be obtained from Laughing Oyster Book Store, Blue Heron Book Store, Fanny Bay Oyster’s Seafood Shop, Salish Sea Market (Bowser) Abraxas Books and Gifts (Denman Island).

The funds from this critically important event are used in the ongoing struggle to keep Baynes Sound free from possible acid mine drainage from the proposed Raven Coal Mine project.

Baynes Sound is one of the most important shellfish growing areas in North America and keeping its waters free from acid mine pollution is critical to the ongoing survival of this important source of clean healthy seafood industry that supplies us and much of Canada and the United States with locally grown oysters.

If you feel this is unnecessary check out the recent problems of the Elk River in the East Kootenay of our province or closer to home with the recent closure of Toguaht Bay campgrounds off the road to Tofino due to arsenic in the sand from former mining operations.

The threat to our shellfish and the well-being of Baynes Sound from acid mine drainage is real. We must protect clean food sources.

• • •

Last Tuesday I joined Jim Loring in an overdue visit to the Oyster River Enhancement Society in Bear Creek Regional District Park. It was a humbling experience as I walked around the grounds with Bruce Bell to tour some of the ongoing conservation projects of this exciting salmon enhancement society.

Every Tuesday a dedicated group of 30 to 40 men and women gather to do assigned tasks. On this Tuesday the release of 200,000 chum salmon smolts (among many other weekly maintenance chores) is scheduled.

At the hatchery building there is an assignment board where you choose your work assignment for the morning. I will devote a column to this important group in the near future.

Note: Increasingly our society relies on volunteers to save our environment.


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.



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