Okanagan Region ER Wardens Meeting 2009
From The LOG newsletter, Autumn/Winter, 2009
By Eva Durance
Okanagan Region’s Annual ER Wardens’ Meeting and Field Trip
Summer has waned and the advent of fall signals catch-up time for people who have spent the past few months happily (well mostly!) working and playing outdoors. It’s also an excellent time for Ecological Reserve wardens to gather together with Parks staff for a general update (from both groups) to review the past year, and to discuss future projects and activities.
On a cool dampish October 16th, the Okanagan Region of BC Parks did just that. After a morning meeting, we reminded ourselves why we do this work, by taking an afternoon hike to the Trout Creek ER with longtime Warden Laurie Rockwell leading theway.
Sara Bunge, Senior Ranger for the South Okanagan, most capably organized the event as she has for the past three years. All but two wardens were able to attend. The ER wardens greatly appreciated that the Area Supervisors and other Rangers took the day from their very busy schedules to attend as well. One of the very important and enjoy- able aspects of these meetings is making and renewing acquain- tances among staff and wardens.
The morning was spent with wardens’ verbal reports on their particular ERs; a presentation by Orville Dyer, Wildlife Biologist, about rare and threatened plants in our Region and the Ministry’s current focus on preventing wildlife and plant populations from becoming threatened; a talk by Don Gayton, grassland ecologist, on vegetation surveys and monitoring; and a short presenta- tion by Sara Bunge on photo monitoring dos and don’ts. Wardens with ten or more years with the program were also most pleasantly surprised to receive recognition certificates and thank-you gifts from John Trewhitt, Section Head, Parks and Protected Areas.
After a delicious lunch, the group repaired to Summerland for the Trout Creek ER hike. The rain that accompanied us as we drove there stopped just as we arrived, a welcome coincidence even though the area badly needs rain.
During the hike, Don Gayton gave us a field demonstration of how to set up and interpret vegetation plots along a transect using a Daubenmire frame and discussed other aspects of the arcane art of vegetation surveying and monitoring. Laurie Rockwell pointed out a number of interest- ing changes in the ER over the 17 years he’s been warden, many to do with declines in populations of weeds such as Diffuse knapweed and Dalmatian toadflax following BC Parks’ introduction of biologi- cal controls for these invasive species. The ER is bunchgrass grasslands moving towards a dry Ponderosa-pine and Douglas-fir forest and it was a delight to be in an area so lightly touched by weeds or other human intrusions. Birds were scarce, but Red- breasted Nuthatches and Clark’s Nutcrackers chattered incessantly.
Once again, I urge wardens and Parks staff in other Regions to repeat the meetings most have had over the past two to three years and if possible to include a field trip. The value for wardens, and I think for staff as well, is well worth the time and effort involved. Note too that FER still has funds to offset some travel costs to such meetings. As war- dens in the Okanagan Region, we are blessed with Parks’ staff who make a special effort to keep in contact with us. However, if your Region has not held a meeting recently, I’m sure that staff in other Regions would also welcome the idea. wardens have requested travel support from FER in 2009. It is not clear whether this means that the Okanagan Region was the only region that has held wardens meetings in 2009 or whether this is the only region that is aware of the available support.
Follow-up. The FER-held financial assistance was communicated by Judy Miller of BC Parks during the fall AS conference call.
B. Expediting Research Permits Ecological Reserves
Question 3. What is the process for obtaining a research permit in an ER and how can it be streamlined?
Discussion. FER has concerns about the amount of “red tape”