What a year! During the summer we were able to hold our socially distanced Board meetings in one of our Board members’ garden, but otherwise, like everyone, we have migrated to Zoom, where the phrase of the year is surely “You’re on Mute!”
Our passion to protect and restore Nature has not been on mute, however. Our mailing list now has 287 members, our Facebook Group has 297 members, and our website had 30,000 views in 2020. 20,000 were for the page on Common Yard Birds on Eastern Vancouver Island created by Ian Reilly, and 10,000 were for our other pages, led by the Yellow Point Trail, with over 2,000 views.
Early in the year we launched our YES Nature Photo Contest, the winner of which we will announce following after the AGM.
We also continued to offer community meetings, moving to Zoom in March.
In January, we had an evening to prepare for the new and improved Modernized Official Community Plan for the CVRD, on which we are awaiting news of the next steps from the CVRD. We want to engage productively, and find ways to ensure that the protection of nature is included.
In February we explored the potential for Environmental Development Permit Areas as one possible way to protect the forest, with guest speakers Peter Grove, a Salt Spring Islands Trust Trustee who has made it his #1 commitment to get a DPA crafted to protect the forest, and Marilyn Palmer, from North Cowichan, an architect and community leader who seeks greater collaboration to protect our landscapes, forests and watersheds.
In May, Jain Alcock-White spoke about Cultivating a Relationship with Nature, sharing her knowledge of the benefits of nature immersion, plant communication, and how some medicinal nature plants can reduce stress and anxiety.
In July, Nikki Wright gave a presentation on the importance of Eelgrass in the ocean, the various ways in which it is being damaged and destroyed, and the efforts that she and her team at the SeaChange Marine Conservation Society have been making to restore it.
In November, we held a Zoom community meeting when Elke Wind shared her experience on Why Landscape Context Matters in Wetland Conservation, with a special focus on toads, and their migration patterns between their wetland breeding areas and their winter hibernaculums.
In November we also hosted a Candidates Forum for the Area H Election, providing the wider community with an opportunity to hear from our two candidates, Ben Maartman and Murray McNab, and to ask them questions. The election two weeks later was won by Ben Maartman, by the narrow margin of eight votes.
In December, we held a Zoom community meeting where the lawyer Ruben Tilman presented his thoughts on How Can We Protect the Forest on Private Land? Ruben worked with the Environmental Law Centre at UVic and the Raincoast Conservation Foundation to write a recent report on Legal Measures to Protect the Gulf Islands Coastal Douglas-fir Zone.
Throughout the year we have been working on two big projects. The first is researching and writing a big Handbook ,titled The Nature of Yellow Point – A Guide for Landowners. This is a major undertaking, with 45 two-to-four page chapters. For each chapter, one of us has taken the lead, researching and writing it, followed by review, layout and design. We hope that it will be published and available sometime during 2021.
Our second big project is our proposal for a Yellow Point Trail, a safe separated multi-purpose trail all the way around Yellow Point Road, from the Chuckwagon to Cedar. During the summer Pamela Walker, one of our YES Directors, dreamed up an imaginative way to get people talking, gathering old bikes, painting them yellow, and hanging them around the route of the proposed trail. This revealed a huge level of local support, including from local businesses. Combined with a lot of outreach to local politicians and officials, YES has been approved to head up the Joint Management Committee with the RDN, the CVRD and Ministry of Transportation. Our goal now is to find $28,000-$40,000 to pay for the Feasibility Study for the proposed trail. We are seeking volunteers who will be willing to walk 2 kilometres of the trail, making notes on the condition of the land on either side of the road, within the public right of way.
Thanks to all the publicity and the community support, the Ministry of Transportation decided to prioritize adding a paved bike lane to Cedar Road between Code Road and Haslam Road, which is now complete, and just awaits painting. We have asked if they can extend it up into Cedar, but that will depend on their next year’s budget.
During the summer we also organized a Community Broom Pull to clear the broom along part of Yellow Point Road, and two Ivy-Pulls to clear an invasive patch of ivy in the heart of Hemer Park, supported by BC Parks staff.
We also obtained, repotted and sold two hundred Douglas fir tree and cedar seedlings, which are now in the ground, hopefully protected from the deer. The volunteers in our Yellow Point Trash Challenge have also continued to pick up and recycle trash along our local roads.
As 2021 begins we are starting a new project with Carrie Robinson titled Yellow Point Ecology Mapping: Discovering the Unrecorded Wetlands. Carrie is a GIS Masters Student at VIU, and her practicum project, for which YES is the sponsor, will involve spatial data analysis and ground-truthing to establish the GPS coordinates of local wetlands, meetings with landowners who give permission for Carrie to visit their land, the visual identification of flora and fauna, and the potential roll-out of a community Bioblitz in the spring to identify species at the mapped wetlands sites. This will result in an interactive Web Map to which landowners and others can contribute, which can also hopefully contribute to the development of the new CVRD OCP.
Our year ended with the bulk purchase of 48 copies of Briony Penn’s book A Year on the Wildside: A West Coast Naturalist’s Almanac, which we resold into the community both as a fundraiser for YES, and so that we could share Briony’s humorous and deeply informed writing.
Our Treasurer’s Report is attached