Lichen auction winner Sulyma familiar with area

Two “name that lichen” auctions ended Dec. 15 and together raised $21,900 for environmental causes

Two “name that lichen” auctions ended Dec. 15 and together raised $21,900 for environmental causes.

Upper Clearwater naturalist Trevor Goward, who organized the auctions, said he was pleased with the results, although he had been hoping more money would be raised.

“Both winning bids were from people who had lost loved ones,” he said. “It was actually very touching.”

The family of Randy Sulyma, a Fort St. James forester and biologist, won an auction to name a crottle lichen found in the Clearwater River Valley. Sulyma was killed in an auto accident about one year ago.

The winning bid was for $17,900.

The lichen will be named Parmelia sulymae in his honor.

The money will be used by The Land Conservancy of B.C. to purchase land for a wildlife corridor through Upper Clearwater.

Goward and his neighbors, John and Edwina Kurta, have already donated 31 hectares towards the project.

Another $350,000 is needed to purchase three more pieces of land to create a 42-hectare corridor.

Goward said he actually met Sulyma once and wishes he had gotten to know him better.

Interestingly, the forester and biologist was Kurta’s son-in-law and so was very familiar with the area proposed for the corridor.

The corridor would create a connection between two portions of Wells Gray Park.

Deer and other animals use the high ground to the east as their summer range, and then migrate through private land in Upper Clearwater to spend the winters in the lower land to the west, said Goward.

The crottle lichen or Parmeli whose name was auctioned consists of strap-like lobes, pale grayish above and black below. It inhabits the branches of trees in B.C.’s inland rainforests such as the Clearwater Valley.

A second lichen-naming auction, which also closed Dec. 15, raised $4,000 for the Ancient Rainforest Alliance.

The family of biologist Henry Kock, who ran programs at the University of Guelph Arboretum for 20 years, won that auction.

That lichen will be named Bryoria kockiana.

Kock died of brain cancer in 2005.

“Henry was a tireless champion of biodiversity and inconspicuous species like toads, lichens and sedges,” said his wife, Anne Hansen, a noted artist who now lives in Victoria. “Lichens have been around since ancient biological times. If we do something fast about climate change, lichens will be here far into the future.”

The Alliance will use the money raised to help protect B.C.’s rainforests and forestry jobs.

Goward discovered both lichens. Normally the right to name a new species goes to the person who discovers them. In these cases, Goward donated those rights to environmental causes.

He expects the names for the two newly discovered species of lichen to become official sometime in 2012.