On Friday, June 12 I was invited, along with other members of the Courtenay and District Fish and Game Protective Association (CDFGPA), to be a part of the celebration of the awarding of the Ducks Unlimited Canada and Premier of BC Conservation Award to the CDFGPA for its outstanding record of conservation projects and causes over the years.
The awarding of this beautiful symbol of conservation is normally given to an individual, however the 2015 award goes to the CDFGPA in recognition of their sustained and broadly based conservation work in restoring fish and wildlife populations in the Comox Valley, Vancouver Island and on the Coastal Mainland.
The conservation committee of the club has been especially active in their role of implementing and creatively carrying out challenging conservation projects that have made a difference. For several decades the club played a leadership role in transplanting herds of Roosevelt Elk on Vancouver Island and the Mainland. Capturing and moving herds of elk from agricultural and urban areas to forest habitat was no small endeavour.
Another challenging conservation project they did for many years was to capture brood stocks of coho salmon in the Trent River canyon and physically lift them to waiting trucks near the highway. The fish were spawned and released back into the Trent System. Each year smolts from coho and steelhead become trapped in side ditches running into the Trent and the conservation committee of the club organizes rescue missions to save hundreds of smolts from ditches that dry up.
For the past few years the through the untiring efforts of the conservation committee the club has been actively involved with the department of Fish and Wildlife of the Ministry of the Environment in monitoring the quality of the Comox Lake watershed. There are many other club activities that could be listed, but I see this award primarily about the type of conservation work that Aldo Leopold wrote about in “A Sand County Almanac” and what T C McLuhan was illustrating in her book “Touch the Earth: A Self-portrait of Indian Existence.”
One author articulated the spirit of modern conservation ethics and the other dramatically illustrated the First Nations’ connection to the natural world which is illustrated locally by the ancient clam beds in Baynes Sound. Conservation of the natural world is an ancient practice in our Valley.
The picture with the column shows our local MLA Don McRae addressing the recipient group about their proud conservation traditions. Also in the photograph is Len Everett representing Ducks Unlimited, Brad Arner B.C. manger of DUC operations who presented the trophy, and Mary Polak, Minister of Environment, who represented her department and the Premier.
Polak praised and thanked the members of the club for their ongoing dedication to the health of the environment. The award is a significant recognition, as noted by Everett, on the part of Ducks Unlimited Canada and the province for the collective work of the CDFGPA in its ongoing struggle to protect and enhance the environment and the fish and wildlife populations of the Valley.
The beautiful trophy will be on display at the clubhouse for the coming year. This columnist takes pride in being a member of the club and offers congratulations to the club and all of it members who made this achievement possible. This is the fifth time the award has been presented and the first time to an organization.
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.