Drip Irrigation Workshop in the Koksilah Watershed – July 24th, 9am – 1pm

Hands-on DRIP IRRIGATION WORKSHOP – Back by popular demand!
We are going to build a drip irrigation system from the ground up in the Koksilah Watershed!
Saturday, July 24th, – 9 am -1pm
Ages: Adults and Youth 15 and up. The workshop is limited to 15 people so we can effectively social distance for the full workshop.
Register for your spot soon!
This 1-day workshop will support you to learn or refine skills in building a drip irrigation system. Permaculture expert, Jason Greenwood from Greenwood Earthcare, will lead us in building a drip irrigation water system together to learn the skills to each build our own in our own backyards. Drip irrigation saves you money, time and most of all water, which is a scarce resource here in our Valley in the summer months when gardening!  Water-saving gardening also means gardening without guilt, because you can be confident you are protecting our aquifers and salmon bearing streams. Jason is a Permaculture Designer, Earth Care Provider & teacher with lots of experience with drip irrigation systems and he’s passionate about re-connecting people with the power of nature and plant allies.
Cost: free – you donations are gratefully accepted. Our goal is to help you be a watershed warrior and conserve water without barriers!
Closer to the event you will be sent the details of the workshop location in the Koksilah Watershed near Bright Angel Park. The workshop is outside, so bring your hat, sunscreen and/or rain gear and dress for the weather.
TICKETS: https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/drip-irrigation-workshop-grow-your-own-food-save-water-money-tickets-161245273955

2020 Volunteer of the Year Award

2020 Volunteer of the Year Award

We are proud to give our Volunteer of the Year Award for 2020 to Stephen Bishop who we thank for consistently helping us through Covid closures, with school groups and the care and maintenance of our touch tank.  We thank him for building our fantastic display board in the Centre and for bringing in nature themed cards to raise funds for our work. Thanks Stephen, we appreciate you!

Remembering Eric Marshall

Eric on weekly rounds with the Swan & Goose counters – photo Derrick Marven

Eric Marshall lived his life in service to community and the natural world, with a deep knowledge and love of creatures large and small, from the tiniest nudibranch and all things aquatic in the Cowichan Estuary, to birds of all kinds and the giant Humpback Whales that travel up and down our west coast waters. He had a great gift for sharing his knowledge and love with others, to the special delight of children at our touch tank. This love of the natural world was a love he also shared with his wife Dorothy, his long-time partner in his life’s adventures. We celebrated Eric’s 90th Birthday at the Centre on October 25, 2020 and on December 17th he left us. Eric, thank-you for your gifts. We miss you. It is hard to even begin to say how much.

Eric grew up in England. A natural scientist and archivist, he was recruited to come to Winnipeg to create the world-class scientific research collection that bore his name: the Eric Marshall Aquatic Research Library at the Freshwater Institute on the University of Manitoba campus. It was one of seven regional Department of Fisheries and Oceans libraries lost to Ottawa’s cost-cutting in 2013 – a terrible blow not just to Eric, but to the scientific community. The sign from the library, retrieved by his son and brought to Cowichan Bay, was one of the artifacts from his life on display at Eric’s birthday celebration. Eric was our diligent Cowichan Estuary Nature Centre science librarian since we began in 2012.
Eric and Dorothy moved to Cowichan Bay in August 1996. Visiting the floating Marine Ecology Station in Cowichan Bay was early on Eric’s list. As Eric told it, Marine Biologist Bill Austen greeted him and said, “Great to have you as a volunteer – I’m would like to go to a sponge conference in Australia and you can look after the Station while I’m away!” Eric became Treasurer for the Station and when the Station moved to Sidney in 2001, he went with Bill in his boat as it was towed there. He stayed on as Treasurer for a couple of years as the old Board handed over the running of the station to a new one.
When the Cowichan Estuary Nature Centre opened in 2012, we were delighted when Eric volunteered his services and joined our Operations Committee. When we became a separate charitable society, Eric was elected to the Board and served as Vice Chair until his death. Eric was a dedicated volunteer docent and teacher at our fresh and salt water aquaria and touch tank, much loved by visitors of all ages, including our many school groups. He took amazing photographs of the animals and plants in the tanks, labelled and put them in a binder which remains a wonderful resource, with those creatures currently in the tanks at the front of the binder and photos of others at the back, ready to bring forward when a new specimen is added. Ever the meticulous science librarian, Eric also prepared notes on each of these creatures to support other volunteers in providing information to visitors. While he was at the touch tank, his wife Dorothy could often be found on the viewing platform with school groups looking at the birds on the Bay, with notes prepared by Eric to assist her in expanding on the life history of our local birds, along with a long piece of cord with key tags marking the wing spans of common birds that Eric prepared to provide a better idea of their sizes. Eric was both our Estuary Nature Centre librarian and a keen photographer for us and for the many other groups of which Eric was a part. Many of his beautiful photos can be found here on our website. We honoured Eric and Dorothy together as volunteers of the year in 2016.
Eric was a member of the Cowichan Valley Naturalists’ Society (CVNS) since arriving in the Valley. He worked with DFO on surveys of juvenile salmonids in the Bay for a number of years, hauling in the seine net while DFO staff counted the fish in the net. Eric was also a regular on the Valley’s November to March weekly swan and goose counts, soon expanded to include raptors, as well as at the Birds Canada waterbird counts taking place monthly from the south shore of Cowichan Bay. In the winter he also made monthly counts of beached birds on the south side of the Bay for Birds Canada and previously, as a volunteer with DFO’s Cetacean Watch, was called out to check beached seal or sea lion bodies washed up in the Bay. In 1997 he became secretary of the CVNS, served as president from 2004-2019, and edited the CVNS newsletter. He represented the Naturalists on the Cowichan Stewardship Round Table, served on the Board of the Somenos Marsh Wildlife Society and on an advisory committee for the Cowichan Watershed Board. Eric became a CVNS honorary life member in 2019. In 2019 he also took on the role of “caretaker” for the Cowichan Estuary’s Internationally recognized Important Bird Area.

 

Humpback Whale photo by Eric Marshall

Between 2005 and 2008 Eric and Dorothy spent time each winter in Hawaii working with a humpback whale research team based on Maui monitoring the comeback of the previously endangered humpback whales. The many photographs Eric took of humpback whale tails were added to the Happywhale database and he would regularly receive notices from the system telling him where his whales were seen. Most spend the summer months feeding in Alaska, although three headed to Kamchatka one summer to feed. One of the whales he and Dorothy saw in Hawaii was regularly seen feeding in Alaska and one summer decided to head south to Mexico for a change. Eric provided many informative talks throughout the Valley on the Humpback Comeback.

 

Prior to coming to Canada Eric took part in many amateur dramatic performances. Locally he was part of a CBC reading of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol at the Cowichan Theatre, as one of those acting out the story on the stage as it was read, and won prizes for his poetry readings at the Cobble Hill Fair. Eric and Dorothy regularly attended Duncan United Church where Eric was an occasional lay reader, deliverer of “The address to the haggis” at the Robby Burns Night dinner and a reader in the Church’s reading of A Christmas Carol. Eric, along with Dorothy, was also a member and volunteer with the Cowichan Historical Society, the Chemainus Theatre, the Cowichan Theatre, the local Friends of the Library Society, and was a teacher/presenter for Elder College, as well as a member of the Elder College Advisory Committee.

Eric receiving his Simple Generosity Award on behalf of the CENC
Eric was a good, kind and generous human being and will be greatly missed.

Thanks to Peter and Everyone who participated in our Online Youth Leadership and Team-building Training!

Are you, or do you know a young person who is a climate activist or passionate about acting on behalf of nature? An evening and a day of interactive online leadership training with dynamite facilitator Peter Gibbs. More info here: http://www.cowichanestuary.ca/2019-youth-leadership-and-team-building-training/

Water Conservation in the Koksilah Watershed – Responding to Climate Disruption

Salvaging salmon fry in the Koksilah River. (photo Genevieve Singleton)

On July 17th, the Nature Centre is partnering with the Cowichan Watershed Board to host an evening on Water Conservation in the increasingly drought challenged Koksilah Watershed. Join us for a solutions-focused community conversation from 6 pm to 9 pm at the Hub in Cowichan Station.

Sierra Robinson, Permaculture Teacher

Speakers Tom Rutherford, fish biologist and Watershed Board Executive Director, and David Slade, Watershed Board member and former President of the BC Groundwater Association, will be joined by 17-year old Sierra Robinson, permaculture teacher, farmer, film-maker and crew-lead for the Cowichan Valley Earth Guardians. Together they will talk about the severe drought conditions in the watershed, the ongoing challenge of climate change and real, on-the-ground water conservation solutions.

“Water conservation is everybody’s responsibility,” says Rutherford, “While it’s easy to point fingers at the big agricultural users, we all have to step up.  We can all be better water stewards.”

A world-café style community conversation will follow the presentations to give residents a chance to share what water conservation efforts are working, what is worth trying and what kind of support is needed to better address the growing water challenges in the Koksilah.

During the evening local gardeners and hobby farmers in the Koksilah Watershed will also have a chance to apply to win one of six free permaculture water conservation garden audits on their property. These will be conducted by local permaculturists Jason Greenwood and Sierra Robinson in August. Those householders participating in garden audits will receive a report with specific water conservation recommendations for their property.

Permaculture is an ecological approach to gardening and food production and one of its most exciting aspects is its approach to water. Permaculture designers use landscape design to conserve and store water while building topsoil. Some permaculture projects have been so successful that they even recharge groundwater supplies.

One of the gardens selected for an audit will also be chosen for a Permaculture Blitz implementing water conservation solutions. This includes both design support from our permaculture experts and a day of hands-on help from a team of young volunteers to work on a water conservation garden transformation this fall.  The team will bring tools and willing hands. The property owner will cover the hard costs, such as the purchase of trees or shrubs.

 

Click HERE to enter to Win A Permaculture Water Conservation Audit

 

The Great Blue Heron Hair-off Fundraiser

You may remember local teacher and environmentalist Jim Wisnia’s 2012 “Pony Up for the Point” campaign when he raised $7500 to help Sansum Point become a protected Regional Park. He had his ponytail cut off on Earth Day at the grand opening of the Cowichan Estuary Nature Centre. Well, Jim has been growing his hair since them and he is ready to have a radical hair-cut on behalf of the Estuary Nature Centre and wildlife habitat, with a special focus on our Pacific Great Blue Herons, the fannini subspecies that nest in the ravine near the Centre. Hear the story straight from Jim:

“I’m now conducting a two-month fundraising campaign for the Nature Centre in support of things I value highly: nature education, wildlife monitoring, habitat restoration, community-building, and programs for the advancement of youth.  

The Cowichan Estuary Nature Centre is located on the shore of Cowichan Bay, a designated Important Bird Area where the Cowichan and Koksilah Rivers flow into the ocean.  It is a place where nature lovers meet and share stories.  Nature Centre staff and volunteers offer children marine and watershed science programs on class visits and day camps.  Drop-in visitors can learn from the saltwater touch tank, the juvenile salmon aquarium, the interactive watershed model, the videos of elders’ stories, the bird viewing tower, and the trail-side signs.  Immediately uphill from the Nature Centre is the largest Great Blue Heron nesting colony on Vancouver Island, nourished by the abundant life in the estuary. 

For a few years I’ve been letting my hair grow long.  I’m offering it up on Earth Day (April 22, the Nature Centre’s seventh anniversary) in the “Great Blue Heron Hair-off,” and I’m asking for your tax-deductible contribution to my campaign.  My goal is to raise $9000.  Depending on how much my campaign raises, it will help:

1-  Purchase a live-feed video camera for monitoring the heron nesting colony ($1500)

2-  Support a Restoration Biologist and a Youth Educator in mentoring and teaching a youth group in waterside habitat restoration in ($900)

3-  Bring 15 high-school-age youth to the 2019 Youth Leadership Training: Engagement for Healthy Watersheds ($1500)

4-  Support a day-long Whole Watershed Thinking workshop for youth ($1500)

5-  Bring five children from low-income families to a nature immersion summer science camp ($1100)

6-  Bring five classes from low-income neighbourhoods to the Centre’s nature immersion programming ($1000)

7-  Hire an educator to develop French language nature immersion programming ($1500)

Besides helping us learn more about our Great Blue Heron colony, donated funds will also provide youth scholarships, giving the next generation of leaders the big-picture context and the confidence to undertake hands-on restoration activities and to use their stories to connect with others around shared values, thus strengthening this conservation-minded community.

Donations can be made online at Canada Helps <https://www.canadahelps.org/en/charities/cowichan-community-land-trust-society/campaign/great-blue-hair-off/>  or send a cheque (noting Great Blue Hair-off) to:  Cowichan Community Land Trust, #6 – 55 Station Street, Duncan, BC  V9L 1M3.

Ken & Donna: 2018 Volunteers of the Year

Coordinator Haley Guest presents Ken and Donna with their 2018 “Volunteers of the Year” certificates

We’d like to introduce Donna Zipse and Ken Bendle, our 2018 “Volunteers of the Year”. Donna and Ken moved to Cowichan Bay from the Prairies just over a year ago and immediately fell in love with the estuary and the Cowichan Bay community.

Long-time volunteer Kerrie Talbot recalls their first day volunteering last year: “It was winter and it was snowing – I mean really snowing. I was ready to put up a ‘Closed’ sign at the Nature Centre when Ken and Donna showed up with smiles on. Like the good prairie folk they are, they jumped right in and shoveled the deck and stairs so that we could stay open safely.”

Donna and Ken are now regular volunteer interpreters at the Centre. They have also become godparents and protectors to all the critters and in our aquarium and touch tanks, researching their needs, making sure they are well fed and keeping an eye on the predator-prey balance in our little indoor ecosystem. During the three and a half day power outage in December they were a core part of the team keeping the critters fed and devising ways to keep their waters oxygenated without power!  On top of all that, they more than their share of keeping the place clean and tidy. Thank-you Ken and Donna!

Humpback Comeback – Nov 21, 7-9 pm – with Eric Marshall

Humpback Comeback – Humpback whales in the North Pacific
Come hear a FREE Public talk by retired marine biologist Eric Marshall Wednesday, Nov 21st from 7 to 9 pm at the Nature Centre. (Doors open at 6:30.)

Whaling in BC waters had reduced the humpback whale population by almost 90%.

Now their numbers in the North Pacific are close to the level they were before whaling started! Humpbacks are even being seen regularly in the Salish Sea for the first time for many years.

Come learn about this important species, as well as the science behind the story of how Humpbacks in the North Pacific have recovered.

Donations always gratefully accepted.
Cowichan Estuary Nature Centre, 1845 Cowichan Bay Road (at Hecate Park) , Cowichan Bay

2018 Summer Science Camps

Our popular five-day marine biology science summer day camps introduce children to the birds, animals and plants of the Cowichan Estuary. We’ll explore the clam beds, eelgrass mudflats, and the beaches at Hecate Park. Campers will use scopes on the observation tower, beach seines, plankton tows, shovels and buckets to find out who lives here. They’ll get to know the region’s intertidal and sea creature in our water and up close in our touch tank, and have an opportunity to get acquainted with young Coho salmon in our fresh water aquarium. There will also be other fun age-appropriate hands-on science activities, games, hikes, and crafts, as well as a chance to explore our microscope stations, giant maps, interactive exhibits and ecology library.

All Camps run from 9 am to 3:00 pm

Schedule for 2018 Marine Biology Summer Camps:

July 9-13 Children Ages 5 to 7
July 16-20 Children Ages 8 to 11
July 23-27 Children Ages 5 to 7
July 30-Aug 3 Children ages 8 to 11
Aug 6-10 Civic Holiday Monday – no camp – Centre open to the public
Aug 13-17 Children Ages 8 to 11
Aug 20-24 Children ages 5 to 7

Fees:

Camp fees are $215 per child for a total of five days. Single Day Attendance: $40 per day per child only if the camp is not fully booked. Please register by phone or in-person for single days.

Some Bursaries are available to eligible children from the Cowichan Valley Naturalists’ Society.

Details

All Camps run from 9 am to 3:00 pm.  You may drop off your child between 8:45 am and 9 am.

As our camp leaders are busy setting up for the day, we cannot offer early drop off or late pick up. Parents will be charged late fees for not adhering to drop of and pick up times.

All camp participants must to be able to eat, dress and toilet independently.  For children with special needs, contact camps@cowichanestuary.ca to discuss possible accommodations.

How to Register

Registration is a two-step process:

  1.  The Eventbrite link for registrations is COMING SOON!! Then you can select a camp, sign up, and make payment. Payment can be through a credit card on Eventbrite or cash/cheque dropped off at the Cowichan Land Trust office.
  2. Download and complete the required registration information and return by at least 2 weeks prior to camp start:
    – in person or mail to the Cowichan Land Trust at #5-55 Station Street, Duncan BC, V9L 1M2

IMPORTANT: Your registration is not considered complete until we have received the medical information and waiver forms. Payment and forms must be received at least 2 weeks prior to camp start date or your registration will be forfeited.

Questions?  Contact camps@cowichanestuary.ca.

Or phone: CLT: 250 746 0227 or CENC: 250-597-2288

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