Annual President’s Report By Mike Fenger

Posted July 8, 2015 | Categories : Annual Reports |

By Mike Fenger
A sincere thanks to members who responded to a call in the Autumn/Winter LOG for support to narrow the gap between income and expenses. Things are now closer to a sustainable income-expense balance.

For a small organization with a little over a hundred members, thanks to those who, along with renewing their memberships, made the extra commitment to become sustaining members. Also a very big thank you to all who sent donations along with their membership dues. Fifteen hundred dollars was received and we are hopeful we can reach break-even status by raising the remaining $500 needed, as the year progresses. Sorry about all the budget stuff right up front, but really, thanks!

Friends of Ecological Reserves has no staff which has its drawbacks, but it also means we are not in a position where people are financially dependent on us. We remain decidedly small and decidedly volunteer-powered as we enter our 32nd year as a registered charity. I think the founding alumni such as Lynn Milnes, Vicky Husband, Bristol Foster, Jim Pojar, Trudy Chatwin and other early FER pioneers whom I did not know, would be pleased with the FER situation and our continuing efforts today.

We held our Annual General Meeting a little later than usual this spring and would like to thank those who attended on a warm Friday evening. Also, a big ‘thank you’ to our guest speaker, Matt Fairbarns, Trial Island ER warden, for entertaining us with his informative talk entitled “A Sweep of the Broom: Why Trial Island matters and what we can do about it”. Matt gave us a brief history of Trial Island, including fascinating pictures from the archives. He discussed the ongoing battle against invasive species, primarily Scotch broom and talked about the various methods of eradicating this invasive. Because of his and his team’s efforts over the years, Trial Island has virtually no broom left. This work has helped to ensure the continuing survival of such rare and endangered plants as Victoria’s owl-clover and Golden paintbrush.

We like to provide our members and supporters with a review of last years’ activities measured against our Strategic goals and aspirations. And there is some crystal-ball type forecasts about where we hope to go during the rest of 2015 and into the first quarter of 2016. Here goes:

Goal 1. Support for the Ecological Reserves wardens program

A review of 2014/2015

  • FER did work with BC Parks staff on Vancouver Island and thanks to Erica McLaren for support for the Parks Legacy project. (See article in the Spring/Summer 2014 edition of the LOG. )We did not get the opportunity to work more closely with interior Parks region Areas Supervisors. Although we applied to the Parks Legacy Fund in order to continue this work, we were not successful. There are so many deserving volunteer organizations who care deeply about Parks and it was good to see Parks recognize groups and individual volunteers and worthy projects


  • We hoped to receive more ER warden reports to post on the FER website. Some ER wardens are stellar in supplying warden reports to FER to share and archive. Many ER wardens do not file reports with FER and we are unsure if they file reports with Areas Supervisors. Even an email to FER containing a few observations and some images is considered a report and worthy of being placed on the ‘wardens notes’ pages of the FER website. Warden’s reports do not need to be elaborate. Our vision of the role of FER and the FER website and the wardens’ field reports remains unchanged. We want to post whatever we are sent. If you are a warden and you visit your reserve, we want you to share your observations and images with FER so we can post these.
    • Similarly if you are an Area Supervisor with BC Parks and visit an ER or receive an ER warden report, do share them with other wardens, but you leave a little accessible legacy if you send them to FER. This is how we build the ER legacy; through observations, images and reporting.
    • Two board members Marilyn Lambert and Garry Fletcher are both ER wardens but there was no regional meeting of ER wardens on Vancouver Island this last year. FER is unsure which other regions held ER warden meetings in 2014.
    • Judy Miller of Parks has retired and we wish her well in her retirement. Judy helped us maintain and keep current the ER warden list. We hope to hear of a replacement soon.

    Anticipated Direction 2015/2016

    • FER will continue to reach out to Area Supervisors and ER wardens to share ER-specific information/images/field trips so we can post on the FER website against specific reserves.
    • FER will continue to encourage regional ER wardens and Area Supervisor meetings to build stronger relationships and sort out ER priorities for management and research opportunities.
    • FER may have had a hand in recruiting new ER wardens through contact with some Area Supervisors. There are a number of ERs that are fairly accessible and in need of ER wardens. FER is less concerned about remote ERs without wardens as the risks to these from public misunderstanding, i.e. fishing, hunting, plant collecting, and camping are lower.
    • We may propose a project to visit wardens and Park’s offices in the Interior to complete a project similar to the Coastal ER Legacy Project and seek ER specific information from regional files.
    • Other activities to be decided.

    Goal 2. Support studies in ERs

    A review of 2014/2015

    • It takes funds to support researchers and FER hopes to find new sources of funding to enable ER-specific research. We sadly had to turn down some modest requests for support and could only steer researchers and ER wardens to the Parks Enhancement Fund. Sometimes a small amount of funding can make the difference in getting new data for an Ecological Reserve. FER hopes to be in a position to offer assistance to those who choose to add to the research legacy of specific ERs.
    • We applied for and received intervenor status in the National Energy Board (NEB) Environmental Review of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Expansion project. We also applied to the Participants Funding Program as an intervenor and after a nine-month delay were approved for an amount up to 2/3 of what we applied for.
    • We are optimistic that BC Museum staff may get to Ospika Cones and Sikanni Chief Ecological Reserves to sample species in these ERs. These ERs are extremely remote and difficult to access and we will be grateful for any data on these reserves. The purpose of BC Museum’s staff visit is to sample flora and fauna to compare plant communities in these ERs to those of Pink Mountain, a candidate ER. We are working with Ron Long who continues to add to the baseline information on Pink Mountain. Please visit: (
    • We will seek new sources of funds to channel to researchers willing to add to field studies to increase understanding of basic ecology in ERs. We dream of course, to be in a position to add data needed for understanding existing ERs and what may be needed to carry the biological legacy into an uncertain climate future. FER believes it could efficiently allocate funds to ERs and manage an ER-specific research in the order of $250,000+. This would ensure that there is standard baseline data for all ERs.
    • Anticipated Direction 2015/2016
      • It is hoped that our Information Requests and Final Evidence Report to the National Energy Board Trans Mountain Expansion Project meets with success in terms of monitoring/surveys and building better baselines and improved cross-agency cooperation. (see story page 6) We are unsure if the project will be approved, but have prepared permit conditions for the National Energy Board to consider, based on conditions imposed on the Enbridge Northern Gateway Project. Hopefully our modest proposal to improve monitoring of indicator species and establish baselines for ecosystem indicator health, resilience and productivity meet with success. We need baselines and longer term monitoring in light of the 460 per cent increase oil tanker traffic and the enormous oil spill risk and environmental damage this project brings to coast waters.
      • We hope to interest some graduates and undergraduates to work in ERs.
      • Other action to be decided.

      Goal 3. Support development of a resilient science-based ER system

      A review of 2014/2015

      • FER will continue to work with larger conservation organizations with similar goals of improving marine and terrestrial protected areas.
      • FER met with the Assistant Deputy Minister of Parks and senior planners in Forest Land and Natural Resource Operations with a specific proposal for new ERs. The discussions are on-going.
      • Other actions to be decided.
      • Anticipated Direction 2015/2016
      • Continue with a process to make decisions on the candidate ERs proposed to government in 2014.
      • Other action to be decided.

      Goal 4. Raise awareness of the value of ecological reserves

      A review of 2014/2015

      • Continue our newsletter the LOG and our Annual General Meeting and our annual public lecture series.
      • Maintain the ER website, add reports and images as made available and encourage wider use of the FER website by wardens and Area Supervisors.
      • Other action to be decided.

      Anticipated Direction 2015/2016

      • Find more help with web postings and web management so Garry Fletcher does not need to carry this webmaster responsibility to the level that he does.
      • Continue to post information related to NEB with regard to potentially impact on Marine Ecological Reserves.
      • Other action to be decided.

      Goal 5. Sustain a nurturing and effective organization

      A review of 2014/2015

      • Increase membership and build a larger operating budget.
      • Remain a volunteer run organization and aim to stay that size without staff.
      • We are so thankful that Liz Williams has joined the FER as she brings considerable experience to the FER Board especially on workings of government and decision making.


    • Stephen Ruttan and Jenny Feick, FER Board members, have taken temporary leave to pursue travel plans. We are happy for them but will miss them at the monthly board meetings.
    • The Board of FER organized a joint field trip with members of the Victoria Natural History Society to Mount Tzouhalem with the Dave Polster and Genevieve Singleton ER wardens as our guides. (see story on page 4) It was so good to get out with like-minded naturalists into this ER.
    • Other action to be decided.

    Anticipated Direction 2015/2016

    • Recruit new Board members.
    • Apply for funding to do specific projects to complete on a contract basis.
    • Maintain or increase membership.
    • Organize field trips to ERs for Board and interested public.
    • Other action to be decided.