|BOTANICAL ELECTRONIC NEWS|
|No. 534 March 15, firstname.lastname@example.org||Victoria, B.C.|
This issue of BEN is dedicated to MORALEA MILNE (1950-2018), a prominent British Columbia naturalist, local politician and friend of many of us. Moralea died in a traffic accident on July 28, 2018. http://mpb.ou.edu/ben/534/ben_534_plate-1.pdf
Metchosin Councillor Moralea Milne was killed in a traffic collision in Surrey, BC, on July 28, 2018. She was 68 years old.
Moralea was born March 15, 1950, in Halifax, Nova Scotia to a long lineage of coal miners in Cape Breton. Always one for adventure, Moralea took the train out West to BC when she was 18 years old. Living first in Whistler and then in the interior, Moralea moved to South Vancouver Island in the late 80s with her three kids in tow. After running a successful retail business for 15 years, Moralea went back to school to study Restoration of Natural Systems at UVic.
Moralea was first elected to Metchosin council in 2008. During her tenure sat on a wide range of committees and boards. Among her many legacies to the District of Metchosin, her conservation legacy may be among her most enduring.
Under the auspices of the Project's annual BioBlitzes and MycoBlitzes, more than 60 species experts from around BC have visited Metchosin over the last seven years. They have documented more than 2400 species from the many species groups-birds, bats, bees, butterflies, mushrooms, and so on that make their home in Metchosin. This is the second-longest sustained inventory of species in Canada (after Whistler).
In addition to her work on the Metchosin Biodiversity Project, Moralea has also helped to make information about Metchosin's species and ecosystems available through the Talk & Walk series. This series, which began in 2006, has been an outstanding success. Metchosinites and others have gathered once a month in the Council Chambers for a Friday night Talk on various aspects of the District's natural history. The Talk has often been followed by a Saturday morning Walk. This series was Moralea's creation, and she invested countless hours in it over more than a decade. Earlier this year Metchosin celebrated its 100th Talk & Walk!
Moralea didn't just collect and provide information about Metchosin ecosystems-she backed it with sustained actions that have inspired many Metchosinites to protect and restore their properties. In the wet seasons of the year, Moralea convened a group of volunteers to do weekly removal of invasive species in Devonian Park. In 2015, The Honourable Judith Guichon (BC's Lieutenant-Governor) presented to Moralea and her small group of tireless warriors the Invasive Species Council of BC "Together in Action Stewardship Organization" award for their efforts.
Moralea was also involved in protecting critical Metchosin green spaces in last year's land swap with Beecher Bay and Langford. (The Biodiversity Project had conducted biological inventories on some of these parcels the year before.) Moralea's leadership as Metchosin's representative on Westshore Parks and Recreation led to the protection of the hill immediately adjacent to our Juan de Fuca Library. The inventories of the hill that she organized showed that the land provided habitat for at least three threatened and endangered species.
Moralea, through her work in the Metchosin Foundation, was also the prime mover in several conservation covenants that Metchosin landowners have established on their properties. These covenants ensure that ecosystems located on private land have legal protection even when the ownership of the properties changes. Properties protected by land covenants include Moralea's own Camas Hill.
In 2014 Moralea said, "The environment is the lens through which I view Every decision." She was speaking here specifically about municipal politics, but this focus could be extended to her decisions and actions in all aspects of her life. Moralea's conservation legacy has educated, inspired, and enriched a generation of Metchosinites. It serves both as an enduring gift to our community and as an enduring legacy to a remarkable woman-and my good friend.
Many years ago when Moralea and her husband John Webb chose to make their home in Metchosin, attracted by the quiet lifestyle of the people and the rich endowment of forests, fields, and streams bordered by the sea, they saw that measures were needed to preserve that balance while living on the verges of a growing city.
They literally spent the rest of their lives bending to that task. John was first elected to Council while he was professionally engaged in providing internet service to First Nations communities throughout the Province including our neighbours at Scia'new (Beecher Bay). In parallel, Moralea reached out through her friendship with Pakki Chipps to the young people of Scia'new.
Moralea seized upon the suggestion that some agency was needed to voice the value of preserving our way of living, and in particular our green spaces; and so the idea of a Foundation was born. Moralea (and here Jo Mitchell, another Metchosin councillor must also be named) recruited lawyer Dan MacIsaac to draw up a legal constitution for the Metchosin Foundation, and then guide it through the labyrinth of legal verbiage to have it approved. That process took more than a couple of years; meanwhile, a board was chosen and planning continued.
Moralea's husband John died from cancer when he was far too young, and after a time it became Moralea's turn to join Council, where she served as Treasurer, and Council adviser to the Environmental Committee.
And so, today stories have been pouring in about how Moralea helped someone with this problem or that, how she organized the monthly "Talk and Walk" series that have just now numbered a hundred! The BioBlitzes that have brought naturalists from near and far to recognize the flora and fauna that inhabit Metchosin, and her frequent articles in "The Muse" on natural history, to mention just some of her work. And to quote from just one such email, "Moralea had an indomitable spirit and an indefatigable commitment to making this community the best it could be."
May she rest in Peace, while the Metchosin Foundation takes up the Torch.
The Victoria Native Plant Study Group (NPSG) has been at the forefront of the plant rescue movement. By negotiating with developers, we save native plants, even some quite rare ones, from sure eradication under the blades and tracks of land clearing machinery. Since you must be a member of our organization to participate and as more people hear about the rather new concept of harvesting native plants from sites that are earmarked for immediate development, they join our group, and we benefit from increased membership and the annual attendant fees. Sometimes these rescued plants are used in our gardens, or sometimes they are donated to restoration projects throughout the Victoria area. Sometimes the seeds and cuttings are used to propagate more plants in nurseries and further the native plant gardening movement. These all seem to be activities that we can and should support.
But I wonder...
Spring 2002 and 2003 saw a huge plant rescue operation at what came to be known as the Langvista sites in Langford.
Early spring 2002 found myself an eager participant in plant rescue activities. I was delighted to be able to save native plants from certain obliteration and provide my own property and a native plant garden I was attempting to create on my local municipal grounds with often expensive and hard to find native plant material. We all carefully followed the rules laid out by the developers and stayed well out of covenanted areas, glad to know some of the site's natural beauty and plant community was protected. I did give a moment's pause to wonder where the many birds displaying territorial behaviour would be nesting this year. However there was a beautiful intact site across the road they could migrate to, and I ignored the obvious, which was; that site would already have its full complement of birds asserting their territories. Overall, I felt good about myself and my efforts.
Early 2003 myself and a friend bid on the contract to remove broom from the covenanted areas on this now developed the site. Through this work, we learned that the area across the road, the back side of Mill Hill Capital Regional District Park, was also about to be developed.
I consulted with the developers and found they were amenable to further plant rescue operations at this new site. NPSG membership grew as word of the wealth of plant material at this site filtered through the native plant enthusiast community.
This site was so amazing; everyone commented on the abundance and diversity of plant material. There were a few blue-listed Isoetes nuttallii, literally thousands of Allium amplectens, only recently declassified as a blue-listed species, both species indicative of a unique vernal wetland ecosystem. Some of the plants collected include Delphinium menziesii, Olsynium douglasii, Allium accuminatum & A. cernuum, Piperia spp., Spiranthes romanzoffiana, Calypso bulbosa, Erythronium oregonum, Camassia quamash & C. leichtlinii, Ranunculus occidentalis, Brodiaea coronaria, Triteleia hyacinthina, Fritillaria affinis, Saxifraga occidentalis and S. cespitosa, Lithophragma parviflorum, Eriophyllum lanatum, Lupinus bicolor, Clinopodium chamissoi, Lilium columbianum, Dodecatheon hendersonii & D. pulchellum, Trifolium willdenowii, Mimulus spp., Collinsia grandiflora var. pusilla, Plectris congesta, Grindelia intergrifolia, various native grasses, such as Danthonia californica, Elymus glaucus, Festuca roemeri, Bromus spp., and Stipa lemmonnii, ferns Aspidotis densa, Pentagramma triangularis, Cystopteris fragilis, Polystichum munitum and P. imbricans, many unidentified mosses, lichens and fungi and there were large numbers of virtually all these plants. Some sharp-eyed members "salvaged" Aster curtus, designated red-listed in British Columbia.
All these species begs the question, what did we miss? What other rare jewels were not apparent to our non-expert eyes? Mill Hill Park has recently been inventoried by Hans Roemer, and he has Found many more species and occurrences of rare plants than was previously Thought to exist there. It is logical to consider the same would be true at this adjacent site.
This year brought a shift in my perceptions, and I didn't feel quite so lucky to be involved in the "good works" of plant rescue, rather I felt increasingly sickened by the destruction and plunder of this hugely productive, rich, rare association of ecosystems. When someone declared they felt like "a kid in a candy store", I really started to wonder at the appropriateness of what we were doing. This was no candy store that could be restocked with old favourites. It took many thousands of years to produce the assemblage of plants and animals at this site. Nothing we attempt in our lifetimes could ever replace the astonishing environment that was lost.
When I consider the number of people who made many repeated trips to this site to rescue plants, I wonder what could have been accomplished had that same time and energy been directed towards saving the site. I have heard the developers were willing to sell the site to CRD Parks. What if we had worked with the District of Langford, CRD Parks, GOERT, NGOs, the provincial and the federal governments?
Could we have preserved this immensely rich and biodiverse community for future generations? Garry oak ecosystems are considered one of the three most endangered ecosystems in Canada, only a tiny fraction remains, and through our ignorance and inactivity, we let a piece of the best of the last remnants be destroyed. Perhaps if we had not been so focused on "rescuing" individual plants, we could have rescued an entire ecosystem. What good are the plants that we saved really? They have become mere gardening material rather than part of a dynamic ecosystem, is that a worthwhile trade?
Since that spring I have not participated in further "plant rescue" opportunities. I feel ambivalent about the value and appropriateness of this activity. Should we focus our limited resources on plant rescue? Or would the enthusiastic members of the plant rescue corps harness the power of their combined energies to the preservation of endangered ecosystems? Does the immediate gratification of "owning" rescued plants outweigh the long and sometimes arduous struggle to protect and preserve our natural heritage? Does the diplomacy involved in securing plant rescue options on a site preclude the ability to fight for the preservation of the site? Is there even an organization that is working to prioritize the acquisition of the last relics of our Garry oak ecosystems?
Perhaps if I could be sure that we had explored all possible avenues to protect and preserve every remaining significant Garry oak and associated ecosystem site, then "plant rescue" operations would be worthwhile endeavours.
At the moment I find myself sitting on the fence of indecision, staring at the crossroads of choice and I ask myself this question: if there is only a limited time left, what would I want to leave as my legacy?
For the BEN Plate see http://mpb.ou.edu/ben/534/ben_534_plate-2.pdf
Hundreds of hectares of the grandest old-growth forests in Canada are being logged at breakneck speeds right now in the Nahmint Valley near Port Alberni, including thousands of old-growth western red-cedars - some 4.3 meters (12 feet) in diameter - and exceptionally large Douglas-firs. BC's 5th and 9th widest Douglas-fir trees, according to the BC Big Tree Registry, have been found on recent expeditions to the area. The logging has been coordinated by the BC government's own logging agency, BC Timber Sales (BCTS), which has auctioned off over 300 hectares of these magnificent ancient forests. The Nahmint Valley is considered a "hotspot" of high-conservation value old-growth forest by conservation groups and is home to Roosevelt elk, black-tailed deer, cougars, wolves, and black bears, as well as old-growth associated species like the marbled murrelet and northern goshawk. The area also supports significant salmon and steelhead spawning runs. On Vancouver Island and the southwest mainland, 75% of the original, productive old-growth forests have already been logged, including over 90% of the valley bottoms where the largest trees grow. The BC NDP government needs to wake up and direct BC Timber Sales to immediately stop issuing old-growth cutblocks and ensure sustainable second-growth forestry instead.
The Forest Practices Board is examining old growth harvesting in the Nahmint Valley, located southwest of Port Alberni, in response to a public complaint. The B.C. Ministry of Forests has also completed an investigation into the practices, but is yet to release any results.
A forestry watchdog is investigating practices in the Nahmint valley after a year of intensified old growth harvesting in the region southwest of Port Alberni.
The Forest Practices Board is currently conducting interviews to gather information about old growth logging in Nahmint, part of an extensive assessment that will include visits to the area south of Sproat Lake. Darlene Oman of FPB communications said that their study of the ongoing forestry practices in Nahmint will determine if the logging has complied with provincial legislation.
"We're required to investigate complaints that the public brings to us, as long as they relate to activities under the Forest and Range Practices Act," she said. "We are doing an investigation, looking into the allegations in the complaint. What we investigate is whether the licensees involved have complied with the requirements of the legislation."
That complaint came from the Ancient Forest Alliance, a Vancouver Island-based group that advocates for sustainable forestry and the protection of old-growth trees. In May the Ancient Forest Alliance publicized the logging of massive old-growth fir and cedar in Nahmint, including one Douglas fir tree that measured three metres in diameter, dimensions that would rank it among the top 10 largest and oldest of its species in Canada, according to the BC Big Tree Registry.
Ancient Forest Alliance campaigner Andrea Innes cited the Vancouver Island Land Use Plan, a provincial guide for forestry activities that lists Nahmint as a "Special Management Zone" to "minimize development impacts."
"The nature of that complaint was we believed that logging in the Nahmint Valley did not comply with the objectives set out in the Vancouver Island Land Use Plan," said Innes. "The Vancouver Island Land Use Plan explicitly says that old-growth characteristics, including old growth Douglas fir trees, should be maintained under forest stewardship plans."
The land use plan, which was released in 2000, states that "emphasis should be on high biodiversity values" for Nahmint, with objectives citing maximum clearcuts of five hectares. This is a relatively small cutblock compared to the province's Nahmint Watershed Review in 1991, which stated clearcuts "will typically be in the 30-hectare range. Openings in excess of 40 hectares will be the exception."
Yet a visit to the Nahmint Valley in late November yielded indications of a gold-rush for harvesting old growth from the region. The Ha-Shilth-Sa witnessed a semi-trailer pulling two fuel tankers leaving an area currently being served by an Erickson helicopter, a heavy lifting, twin engine skycrane aircraft that normally costs thousands of dollars an hour to operate. Clearcuts stretch up the slopes along some logging roads, as piles of felled cedar and Douglas fir await transport.
Opposition to logging in Nahmint this year has been focused on the practices of BC Timber Sales, a provincial agency that manages the auction of Crown forest land. According to the Tseshaht, BCTS auctioned five timber sale licences in the First Nation's territory without consent. Those licences were sold between November 2017 and March 2018 during a time when the market value of Douglas fir had reached a record high in the Pacific Northwest. The Tseshaht and the Ministry of Forests have been in negotiations over Nahmint this year, but any results of these talks are yet to be publicized.
Under its Best Management Practices for Coastal Legacy Trees, BCTS states that enormous old growth trees "are often attributed with having important cultural, aesthetic and ecological value. These trees, when retained, can play an important role in habitat conservation by bridging old-growth characteristics into second-growth stands."
That document, which was produced in September 2017, lists guidelines for legacy tree retention at a minimum of 2.1 metres for Douglas fir and three meters for Western Red cedar. But trees cut in Nahmint have exceeded those limits, as witnessed by the Ha-Shilth-Sa during visits to the area. "In the Nahmint landscape unit, there are 2,760 hectares of old growth management areas, ungulate winter ranges and wildlife habitat areas that protect old growth forests," stated Doug Donaldson, B.C.'s minister of Forests, Lands Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development, in an email to the Ha-Shilth-Sa. "In addition, BCTS conducted a cedar assessment and specifically identified old growth cedar trees to retain from logging."
Since the summer, some massive legacy trees have been are clearly marked for protection in Nahmint, including next to a line in the forest flagged for road construction. But some are left to wonder if these legacy trees will be solitary figures left in a clearcut after the surrounding forest is logged. "In lands not managed by First Nations, British Columbia has been giving areas of old growth to forestry companies for harvesting, often without First Nations consent, let alone consultation," stated a press release issued by the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council in November. "They are downloading their responsibility to the forestry companies to manage the old growth."
Another investigation into logging practices in Nahmint was completed by the Ministry of Forests, according to Innes. But despite the Ancient Forest Alliance's Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act request, results of this investigation have not been made public. "We know the investigation is complete, why the ministry hasn't been forthcoming with any recommendations that came out as a result of that investigation is worrying," said Innes.
Meanwhile, the Forest Practices Board's investigation could last for over a year. "Our investigations can take anywhere from eight or nine months, up to a
year and a half or two years, depending on what's involved," said Oman. "We could make recommendations to the companies involved, or it could be to the government."
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