By Amy Clarke
A haven for wildlife viewing and biological diversity, The Revelstoke wetlands seem to be an underutilized recreational space and somewhat elusive to our community.
For such a beautiful ecosystem right in our own backyard, many people do not realize it is available to enjoy a walk with friends and family, birding, a nice picnic, or a cross-country ski. If you indulge in any of these activities, perhaps you have never noticed that upon closer inspection it can be seen that this place is an important stop on the migratory path of various water birds. Or, know that there is a rich history tied into the biology of this region. Or, have heard that there is ongoing research into the future use and sustainability of this space.
On May 2, the North Columbia Environmental Society will be hosting a speaker event at the Revelstoke Visual Arts Centre to shed light on the past, present and future of the Airport Marsh. The story of the past will be told by Cathy English from the Revelstoke Museum & Archives. This wetland ecosystem has not always existed, and some may say it has come about by accident. A combination of shifting water levels and introduced plants has created pockets of productivity which are taken advantage of by numerous animals in the region. BC Hydro operations as well as airport development has certainly shaped the region, and Cathy is the perfect person to tell us what changes have come about over the years.
The effects of such changes have been a focus of many studies by local biologists and organizations. As Revelstoke is an outdoor recreational paradise, many photographers, wildlife enthusiasts and sport lovers have been drawn to the area. Included in these demographics are Corey Bird and Harry Van Oort, two local biologists who have spent their fair share of time studying migratory bird paths through the airport marsh area. They will be joining us to shine some light on birds nesting in the marsh, as well as the regional significance for wildlife of this space. We will also have former BC Hydro biologist Brian Gadbois bring his experience to the table, who has been involved with the Airport Marsh on a professional and personal level for many years.
If we are able to learn from the past, which affects our actions of the present, then it wouldn’t be fair to forget about looking forward to the future. I believe it is reasonable to say that the research being conducted is a way to keep this beautiful ecosystem alive and vibrant for generations to come, but what about keeping pedestrians engaged and interested in preserving this beautiful ecosystem? Alan Mason from the Chamber of Commerce will be present to speak to the possibility of increasing pedestrian trails and adding ‘bird blinds’ to the area, allowing members of the community to enjoy the flora and fauna and minimize their impact while using this space. And last but not least, we will have a presentation by Jean-Marc LaFlamme with Jump On Flyaways to speak to the economic side of having an airport nestled within the marsh, and the possibility of this being a growing industry into the future.
These stories will also be accompanied by local art and photography. To top it off, we will have wine and cheese available to enjoy while you view local art and informational displays contributed by local organizations. If you are a local artist and would like to submit your work, please contact Amy Clarke at firstname.lastname@example.org. Doors open for art viewing at 6:30 pm, presentations begin at 7 pm on May 2 at the Revelstoke Visual Arts Centre, located at 320 Wilson. Please visit www.northcolumbia.org for more information.
For further information on research taking place around the airport marsh and a field trip to the area, you are also welcomed to join the Columbia Mountains Institute’s Annual Research Forum taking place earlier this same day from 9 am-4 pm. For more information about this opportunity to learn more about ecological research taking place in our region, visit their website via the link above, or email Hailey Ross at email@example.com.
Amy Clarke is coordinator for the North Columbia Environmental Society in Revelstoke