The “Lulu Island Wetlands,” Post 3

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Sandhill cranes are the stars of this show. At left, three of them enjoy the Ecowaste wetlands in Richmond, B.C. (Lynton photo.)

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This posts builds on previous ones about the Ecowaste wetlands (“Lulu Island Wetlands”) on the basis of a Nature Vancouver presentation today, Nov. 23, 2010, to the Parks Committee. The property of almost 80 acres is located east of No. 6 Road and south of the Blundell road allowance. To come up to speed on the issue, you may wish to read this post, this second one, and this third one.

Julian Hudson of Nature Vancouver gave the slide-assisted presentation to the council members. He mentioned that this year there was one new young sandhill crane on the wetlands. That alone, in my view, should be sufficient to show that the Ecowaste wetlands are a nesting site, and every offspring is important when there are only about 16–20 sandhill cranes in the Metro Vancouver region nowadays. Julian’s opinion is that it’s likely there are other significant stopovers of migratory birds on the wetlands—with breeding by other blue-listed species besides the sandhill cranes.

More than once, Julian observed that it is hard to understand why just the northwest corner of the wetlands property is designated as an environmentally sensitive area (ESA). No one disagreed, and there was a feeling of tacit agreement. Staff said that the designations are twenty years old and soon to receive the needed update.

There is a birch-forested property of about the same size as the wetlands to their north, across the Blundell road allowance, and Julian suggested that it would make sense for that property too to be part of a natural park. The northerly part could have trails for public use, while the southerly wetlands would be out of bounds (other than for observation from the trails).

A revelation occurred when Julian mentioned that he had noticed that Blundell Road might be put through (on the road allowance from No. 6 Road eastward on the north side of the wetlands) as part of the Gateway Project. It turned out that there is truth to the possibility, and Coun. Bill McNulty asked for staff to investigate the status of that possibility. It would be harmful to the conservation of the wetlands and their wildlife.

Coun. Harold Steves, the chair of the Planning Committee, pointed out that the City of Richmond would not be in a position to purchase the property, and he encouraged Julian and Nature Vancouver to seek funding from organizations that sponsor land conservancies.

The committee voted, with no one opposed, to refer the Ecowaste wetlands issue to staff for further study. Certainly there will not be any development on the wetlands property occurring suddenly, unexpectedly, or unannounced.

Garden City Lands Coalition Society director Bruno Vernier and I were both impressed with the presentation. Julian Hudson managed to keep hitting just the right notes. As an environmental group that aims to do things well, we appreciate collaborating with like-minded conservationists.

Afterwards in a City Hall open area, Garden City Lands people were able to bring Nature Vancouver people together with Ecowaste Industries people. And they all lived happily ever after.

Actually, we’re not certain about that last part. We’re at least  hopeful that the naturalists and the waste managers can work with the city and other parties to arrive at a mutually beneficial way to conserve the Ecowaste wetlands.

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