A new six-metre high viewing tower will soon be under construction in the Somenos Marsh.
The new tower, a first for the S-amuna’/Somenos Conservation Area, will be located near the entrance to the Open Air Classroom, an educational outdoor experience that includes a multi-use trail network, elevated boardwalk and informational signage about some of the 200 bird species that make the marsh their home.
The tower, called the Somenos Marsh Wildlife Society Viewing Tower, is planned to be completed in the summer 2019.
The Somenos Marsh Wildlife Society and Mosaic Forest Management, which has stepped up to be a major funder of the project, will host a sod-turning event at the marsh on April 23 to celebrate construction of the new tower.
“This generous contribution from Mosaic, together with contributions from David Coulson Design, Bavarian Lumber, as well as numerous others, along with the beautiful design by M&L Timber Framing, allows us to proceed with construction of the six-metre high viewing tower,” said Paul Fletcher, president of the Somenos Marsh Wildlife Society.
“This tower, or ‘beacon for conservation’, will provide a visible exclamation point to the years of effort by many volunteers in reclaiming this site which originally was home to a turn-of-the-century large sawmill, and more recently a retail boat sales business.”
Domenico Iannidinardo, Mosaic’s chief forester and vice-president of forest and sustainability, said the viewing tower will be an excellent way for students to learn about nature and the importance of conservation.
“In 2016, we donated the Somenos Lake bed to Ducks Unlimited Canada, and the addition of this viewing tower will be a highlight for students, teachers and adventurers for many years to come,” he said.
Fletcher thanked the staff and leadership at the Municipality of North Cowichan for their support in guiding this project through the administrative approval process.
“The viewing tower represents the culmination of 30 years of efforts by the Somenos Marsh Wildlife Society in first protecting, then reclaiming this site and will be a shining example of local support,” he said.
“Local support has been important from a financial perspective with over 1,000 sponsored boards on the boardwalk in the Open Air Classroom.”
Fletcher went on to say that due to structural issues with the board material, the society is now nearing completion of replacing all of the boards in the boardwalk.
“We have taken this opportunity to reorganize the boards so that there is now an opportunity to sponsor 200 new boards,” he said. “This will be the last opportunity to get your name, or the names of your loved ones onto the boards.”