On Saturday Sept. 10, Upper Clearwater lichenologist Trevor Goward unveiled the Clearwater Wetlands and Wildlife Corridor Project he has been working on for the past six years. During a day-long open house, the public was treated to discussions, lectures, interviews, naturalist walks, storytelling and media presentations explaining the value of this project to the people of British Columbia. The Land Conservancy (TLC) of British Columbia will be the recipient of Goward’s property and some property from Edwina and John Kurta. This property will be held in perpetuity for the benefit of the people of British Columbia. Bill Turner, the executive director of TLC, introduced the day’s activities and announced that fundraising activities were well underway to support the work of TLC as he had recently received a substantial donation from local park operator Merlin Blackwell and the Habitat Conservancy Trust Fund. Chief Nathan Matthew welcomed all into the Simpcw traditional territory. He commented on the evidence of long time habitation of Wells Gray area and welcomed the project as “it will help maintain a place for future generations.” He also commented that a project like this shows we care for the land.
Dr. Terry Lake, Minister for the Environment spoke of how proud he is to represent the riding that includes Wells Gray Park.
Bill Turner commented that the government does what it can do for conservancy and there is “a role for the community as a whole to step up to the plate” as was evident in Goward’s work.
Goward then answered the question, “Why Wells Gray Day?” He talked about how humans and fire have impacted the creation of the special nature of Wells Gray Park with relations to human and animal interactions. “Now, animals need to trespass” in order to move about on their paths in their daily lives. This Corridor project will ensure their safe passage as the area builds up.
Jim Ginns, a retired tree disease specialist from Penticton said “Trevor puts his money where his mouth is. Trevor’s approach is not just telling facts but he forces students to ask questions and encourages them to think.”
Dr. Catherine Hickson was the next person to speak. She recalled a time beginning in 1981 when she did her research for her doctoral thesis on the volcanoes in the area and made some startling discoveries that showed how unique the volcanic formations are. Her research changed the way scientists understood the geological landscape of Wells Gray Park. “We as people are here for a brief period of time and even our large scale projects can’t touch what glaciation did.”
The final presentation before lunch was given by Frank Ritcey who “was raised alongside Jerry the Moose.” He talked about the early moose research done by his father Ralph Ritcey and others. Frank introduced Herb Green who was one of the wildlife biologists sent to Priestly B.C. to bring a reasonably tame moose back to Wells Gray Park so that he could be studied. Herb told an entertaining story about loading Jerry the Moose up and transporting him to Wells Gray.
Because Jerry the Moose continues to be a popular mascot for BC Parks, Minister Lake and Park Ranger Mike Rowden brought Jerry the Mascot out along with a birthday cake to help celebrate the 100th Birthday of BC Parks. The engaging moose story and Jerry the Mascot prompted grade one student Calvin Powell to ask if Mr. Ritcey knew the story of the Root Bear. Where is a park naturalist when one needs one?