100th Day Ecotour—cold, wet, and promising

Cold, windy, and wet. The conditions on the Hundredth Day Eco-Tour of the Garden City Lands at 2:30 last Sunday afternoon were not quite what we’d hoped for. We had encouraged people to wear boots, but we should have said wetsuits.

Fourteen people appeared anyway, with the usual range from children to seniors. We even had our youngest ecotourist ever: 11 months. Another participant, conservation biologist Pamela Zevit of Adamah Consultants, came all the way from Coquitlam—by public transit!

Two members of a film group rushed over after a meeting and began filming, carefully protecting their equipment from the elements while getting drenched themselves.

People like Pamela opted for the full 1.5-hour tour, while others like the infant’s mom opted for just a half-hour orientation. The video people excused themselves from the group but kept shooting for a while on their own. A carload of participants said they had to go but tried to get guide Michael Wolfe to commit to another tour date.

Everyone, including Michael and me, seems to learn something new on every eco-tour, and this was no exception. Reindeer lichen (winter food of reindeer and caribou) is easy to spot as one looks around the Garden City Lands at this time of year, and Pamela marveled at it, explaining how unusual it is to find reindeer lichen in such an exposed and disturbed area. That insight is one more example of the value of the lands for local biodiversity, as well for eco-education and ecotourism.

As we wrapped up at 4 p.m., the rain stopped. Despite some rays of hope, I still wondered if we’d had our first unsuccessful ecotour ever. I felt better about it when the video people made some preliminary plans to help share our message of conservation and restoration through video.

The next day, I talked to the chair of the regional permaculture group. He is a long-time supporter of conserving the Garden City Lands but missed the tour because his group had a meeting elsewhere in Richmond at around the same time. It turned out that the carload of participants that rushed off after half an hour or so was heading of to catch part of that meeting. He told me that they came in with wet feet but all excited about what they’d seen.

It seems that the Garden City Lands could be ideal for permaculture. That approach had crossed my mind as a brainstorming idea before, but it’s great to hear that the people who are more focused on permaculture see so much potential.

We got hold of Michael Wolfe and set up another tour with a permaculture theme. Michael will be along on it as a guide, but the permaculture people will take the leading role in developing their concept for the lands. Naturally, everyone who is interested in that goal will be welcome. It will be on Sunday, June 12, 2011, starting at the main (west) entrance at 2:00 p.m.

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