Yule Log Message By Mike Fenger

Posted April 30, 2016 | Categories : 52,Newsletters,Reports |

Fast away the old year passes, join the new yea lads and lasses so the old carol goes, and yes we need to look ahead to what may be difficult times with regard to changes around the globe and shifts in species and ecosystems in response.

For me this year has flown by and FER is doing well – in the broad sense of doing well – but may need to take on more as we forge ahead into our 33rd year and the pace of change accelerates on the landscapes and watersheds of BC. A priority for us is to better understand and significantly expand on what we consider is a very modest ER network.

For those who follow Stuart McLean on CBC and his Vinyl Café, FER it’s a bit like Dave’s record store “We may not be big, but we’re small”. FER continues to peck/grind/badger away at issues related to ERs. We are not inclined to hire permanent staff. We want to keep a low operating budget and rely on project-specific donations or write proposals for grants to achieve advances for specific goals such as the Legacy Project which captured historic ER-related information or the more recent focus on a new approach to funding research related to big oil (Kinder Morgan) and the tanker transport risks to marine ERs and Marine ERs’ role in understanding marine ecosystems (see article entitled “Level The Playing Field for NEB’s Pipeline Projects Conditions”).

Thanks again to FER members for your support over this last year. We hope your Christmas and New Year holiday season are the best and wish you many more to come. We want you to renew your memberships and we want you to invite/recruit friends and like-minded individuals to do the same. Possibly gift a membership to a like-minded friend if you are in the mood. It would be good to grow FER membership in the next year so if you can recruit one friend to support the Friends of Ecological Reserves, you are donating to the environment. Can we double the size of this modest organization in 2016? Now that would be amazing.

FER remains focused on how to maintain the integrity of BC’s ecological reserve system and individual reserves, support ER wardens and opportunities to improve research, monitoring and reporting for each of these small gems of the protected areas system. We know it is not all about membership and donating funds and so appreciate the time that ER wardens donate to their ERs and that is “priceless” – thank you.

It is fair to say that supporters of FER understand human kind is dependent on the environment and that our collective future depends on vastly improved and accelerated acquisition of ecosystem knowledge. This will only be possible through accelerated focus on monitoring, research and knowledge of the extension of the limits, thresholds of natural ecosystems, and anticipation of where tipping points lie. We need to know this so that we do not exceed ecosystem capacity for change and ecosystems retain sufficient elements so they can be resilient as the global climate shifts around us all.

In this Yule LOG you will find information on the contributions that research in ERs has made to our collective understanding and our desire to put in place a governance model that facilitates learning in the marine environment should the Kinder Morgan Project be approved. We are fairly certain NEB will approve the project with conditions. We want conditions that ensure learning and adaptation along the way. You will find an article on 40 years of research in Drizzle Lake Ecological Reserve (see article entitled “What Does Drizzle Lake ER and Superpredator Humans Have in Common?) and an update on how we worked to reduce risks to this important ER. The Drizzle Lake ER example highlights just how important private donations have been for advancing ecosystem understanding. FER was pleased to be able to support Dr. Tom Reimchen (I was able to hand a cheque to Tom for $5,000 a few years ago so he could carry on his research). We can see just how well such funds are used by Tom whose inquiring mind and keen students helped understand productivity and predation within a relatively closed pristine aquatic system.

I encourage you, or if you know of other potential donors, to consider FER a worthwhile group to contribute to. If you have a favoured researcher, then rely on FER to flow your private donations to a specific researcher so you can obtain a tax deduction for your contribution however big or small.


Over 30 years of research has occurred at Drizzle Lake.

The hard questions on ecosystems resilience and human wants/pressures on ecosystems need informed answers. FER can help. In this age of seemingly endless diversion of research funding by senior governments (your tax dollars) to industrial corporate research questions, FER understands the need to invest in questions more in the public interest. FER will attempt to leverage research towards the broader public interest questions. Should we have funding we would go in search of matching funds to accelerate understanding natural ecosystems.

We have worked quietly with the BC government to address the need for new ERs and improve the boundaries of existing ERs to ensure their ecological integrity. To that end we were indeed saddened by the loss of a stellar conservationist Ken Millard (see article entitled “The Life of Ken Millard”). We had the privilege of walking the Galiano Bog ER with Ken and are in total agreement with him on the need to make boundary changes to this ER so that the watershed of this bog is entirely within the boundary of the ER.

We have, for the last year and a half, been in discussion with both Parks staff and crown lands staff in the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations (FLNRO) who manage lands outside of parks. We have submitted a list of candidate ERs to FLNRO and Parks. We also requested a modest boundary change to the Galiano Bog ER. We have been getting the inter-departmental shuffle between Parks and FLNRO Victoria staff; possibly a red tape indecision loop or lack of will from staff to help a group such as FER pursue conservation protection in the public interest and without an economic driver for treasury board. Another ER candidate put forward to the BC government is Pink Mountain. Please visit Ron Long’s website with details at: Ron will be in Victoria in February presenting an update on Pink Mountain. For details, please see box on back page.

FER will continue to promote to government the need for a process that evaluates the merits of candidate ERs such as those we have proposed. We note that recent amendments to the Parks Act ( allow for changes in Park boundaries. It seems to us that boundary changes can be pursued only if they promote private economic interests (which have been equated to the public interest) and there is no quid pro quo for boundary changes in the public interest for conservation and improved integrity for our shared environmental future. Ecological Reserves appear to be of low or no consequence as they are not bringing an economic resource opportunity to the government. FER’s only concern is for our shared future based on what we strongly believe, is our understanding of the natural environment on which we all depend.

So please renew your membership, recruit new members, and think about others you know who are concerned about the environment. Ask if they think that they may be a good fit for a donation to FER. FER aims to increase understanding and accelerate knowledge on sustainability of ecosystems and the use of Ecological Reserves as important benchmarks. Visit the membership portion of our web site: and the donate portions of the web site. Thanks.