Denman Conservancy Association Newsletter – Nov. 2021


Denman Conservancy Association


P.O. Box 60, Denman Island, B.C. V0R 1T0 November 2021

On the Land

By Erika Bland

The rumours are true. I will be leaving my post as DCA Lands Manager as of the end of February 2022. Many people have asked what I’m doing, where I’m going, if I’ll still be on the island. I am happy to say that I’m deeply rooted here on Denman and not going anywhere. I plan to stand for the DCA Board of Directors when my contract is over, so I’ll still be in your face all over the island with all the latest DCA gossip. This means, though, that DCA is seeking a new Lands Manager to take over this important job.

I began this contract position nearly seven years ago and have learned so much in that time. The opportunity to work with the amazing DCA Board and Lands Committee members has been truly mind-altering (no psychedelics needed). The thing I love most about this job is how diverse it is, as well as how flexible. From one day to the next I might be learning about anything from forest biodiversity, to bats, to water chemistry, to environmental law, to cookie recipes.

I spend my time wandering around beautiful nature reserves, getting my hands dirty pulling invasive species (and rallying others to help!), or putting up signs. I write blog posts, make maps, and review management plans and biology reports.

Best of all, I get to work with some of the kindest people on the island, who also happen to be some of the smartest and most passionate about conservation and the environment. Of course, there have been challenging moments, but overall it has really been a dream job, and I want to say how thankful I am to DCA and the wider community for supporting me all these years. I’m so happy to have gotten to know you all. I’m very excited to help train and work alongside the next DCA Lands Manager. Will it be you?

Pickles Road Waterfall Wetlands

We are happy to announce that DCA is now the owner of the Raven Forest Products Pickles Road lands. It feels appropriate that in Conservancy’s 30th year we have protected such a large tract of Denman forest.

Now that the 80 acres belongs to DCA we plan to create a trail or trails for public access. Deciding where those trail(s) will be is part of the property’s management plan process. Before anything is done on the land we plan to hold guided walks on the old logging roads so that the community can get a sense of the property’s natural features. Watch for future events.

Who knows? We might even be able to hold a celebration one of these days!

JOB OPPORTUNITY: Lands Manager Contract Position

The Denman Conservancy Association (DCA) is seeking expressions of interest for the contracted part-time position of DCA Lands Manager starting no later than

January 3, 2022. The contract will be for 8 months (which includes a two-month training period) and may be renewed for a one-year contract after that following a successful performance review. Detailed information with respect to this position can be found at

Interested parties should provide written information supporting their qualifications and experience by November 8, 2021 to:

Denman Conservancy Association, Attention: JoAnne Shepherd, PO Box 60 Denman Island BC V0R1T0



Wetland Institute Workshop at Windy Marsh

One recent Sunday, about forty students and teachers descended on Windy Marsh to learn more about restoring wetlands. Windy Marsh is the wetland found between Owl Crescent, Beaver Drive and McFarlane Road. It is fed by the discharge from Graham Lake. Before McFarlane Road was built it also received the discharge from Morrison Marsh.

Dorrie Woodward from DCA and Craig Williams who lives on the marsh, were there to share local knowledge for this October 3rd workshop, a part of a week long training for students by The Wetlands Institute. The Wetlands Institute is a branch of the BC Wildlife Federation, focused on educating communities across the province and build their capacity to restore their local wetlands.

Neil Fletcher, the lead teacher, showed everyone how and where to take core soil samples and to learn what the layers of soil are revealing. He encouraged everyone to roll the various soils between thumb and fingers and get a feel for how much clay was present. Neil also showed students how to fly drones at varying heights for different purposes, and demonstrated some new digital surveying equipment.

While walking around Windy Marsh students traded ideas for possible restoration designs that would direct flows or increase habitat diversity or encourage beavers to build dams in the most useful places.

Perhaps that was the best part: lots of young people excited about the many ways of restoring a wetland!

As a gift, in exchange for hosting the workshop, Wetlands Institute staff will meet via zoom with Dorrie and Bob Parsons of the Windy Marsh Restoration Project, as well as Sarah Nathan and Ben Kavanagh of Ducks Unlimited, to share the information gathered at the marsh during the workshop, and offer practical advice we can have ready when we move to the design phase of the project.

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Seeds and Berries Galore!

By Erika Bland

In mid-October we had a wonderful turnout for our native plant seed collecting day, organized by Emma Scheurwater. Dedicated volunteers who had signed up to collect seed over the summer brought in a huge amount and variety of dried and packaged seeds.

Thank you so much!!

We also had some newcomers keen on helping collect, as well as 15 bright, smiling kids from the Denman homeschool group, with their keen parents. The participants braved a yucky weather day to go out and collect various seeds and berries from native shrubs.

The seeds and berries collected will be used to help increase native biodiversity on DCA lands, especially in areas where Scotch broom has been removed. The idea is that when we disturb soil from removing broom, we will replant some native seeds in hopes that they will fill the void and discourage the germination of new broom seeds. We will also seed some of the collected seeds in the Butterfly Reserve, to encourage the growth of plants needed by pollinators including the Taylor’s Checkerspot butterfly.

DCA is thankful for support for coordinating this work from Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation, through our 3 year Land Stewardship Grant!

We will be looking for more seed collectors for the next growing season. If you would like to collect seeds for DCA next summer/fall, please send me an email at We hope that people can choose one or two species and collect lots of those particular types, from diverse locations. We can help with making sure that plants are identified correctly, as well as help identify areas where certain seeds are likely to be found.

Also, if you are interested in growing out some seeds to provide host plants for the Taylor’s Checkerspot butterfly, you can also get in touch with me to learn more. If we are able to have a Seedy Saturday event this winter, I hope to be there with some more info as well. For now, happy hibernating, and thank you for all your support.

Contributors to this Newsletter: Jenny Balke, Erika Bland, DD Fuchs, John Millen, Patti Willis, Dorrie Woodward


2022 Home and Garden Tour

We’re excited to announce the return of the Denman Island Home and Garden Tour! Everything of course is dependent on the status of Covid 19, but if all goes well, the Tour will occur on June 11 and 12, 2022. The Tour will follow all up-to-date Provincial Covid Regulations, and each homeowners’ views on strategies to ensure their health and safety will be solicited and respected.

Many hosts in fact may prefer that visitors remain outside in the gardens with only a peek through doors and windows into the house or outbuildings, but this will develop as the planning for 2022 continues.

We are fortunate to have a coordinator team this year to plan and organize the Tour. Naomi Elliot and JoAnne Shepherd will share the Tour Coordinator role and Katarina Meglic will return as Media Coordinator.

Most homeowners who have been on the Tour, say it’s lots of fun to share their little piece of paradise with the appreciative visitors who come to the Tour. If you have a garden you’d like to share, we hope you’ll contact the coordinators. And as we all know, the tour is a lot of work, not only on the part of our generous homeowners and gardeners but on the part of many, many volunteers.

Naomi and JoAnne will be looking for helpers, so if you are willing to lend a hand either before or during the Tour or for the volunteer after party, contact either Naomi ( or JoAnne (

Finally Completing the Old School’s Roof

& Helping the Old School’s Endangered Bats

The Old School is about to get it’s new roof completed, together with a new voyeuristic display of the attic’s summer-time residents. This means replacing the old rotting fascia and soffit boards on the Old School, and creating a new bat display in the Denman Conservancy Association’s room. In the summer, the Old School’s attic hosts a mixed species bat colony with some of Canada’s most endangered bats. This maternal colony of about 1000 bats has a safe and significant haven for birthing and raising the next year’s bat offspring.

Bats are so important to Denman’s forest and gardens, as well as the island’s overall ecosystems by scooping up those insects by the belly-load. A loss of bats would mean an insect-overload! Many bat species in BC and the world are also severely threatened by disease,

habitat-loss, pesticides and a host of human-related global changes. Little brown bats in the school’s attic are on Canada’s Endangered Species list. But, we on Denman are able to help.

Repairs on the Old School’s 100+ year-old rotting wood will begin with funding support from the Comox Regional District Grant in Aid, the Islands Trust Conservancy’s species at risk project, Denman Residents Association. We have had the help and support of bat expert Susan Holroyd (former biologist with BC Environment), Mandy Kellner (BC Community Bat Program), tireless Gloria Michen (Old School Committee), and many in the Denman Conservancy Association, especially funding guru Patti Willis.

Remote cameras will also be installed in the attic to monitor the bats. In the summer, Denman Islanders will be able to see the attic’s bats raising their pups. The monitor will be part of a new bat-biology display in the Denman Conservancy’s room. The Conservancy is hoping to inspire new bat researchers to help in the quest to understand the natural ecological processes that keep our island ticking away.

The final piece of this project is to seek funding to set up a safe access route to the attic for maintenance of the colony. We have made do in the past, but a new ladder that can be easily and safely set up to enter a modified attic-access is needed. We are hoping to raise an additional $2000 to complete the interior work….

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For the Love of Chickadee Lake

  • At 35 acres, Chickadee is the largest body of open water on Denman Island.
  • The Lake is surrounded by the Provincial Park and Winter Wren Wood.
  • It’s one of the last undeveloped lakes in the Islands Trust Area.
  • The Lake is the headwaters of the salmon-bearing Beadnell Creek system, flowing through Fillongly Park into the Strait of Georgia.
  • It provides an overwintering/nesting/resting site for waterfowl/migratory birds on the main West Coast Flyway.
  • The Lake & its surroundings have varied habitats to support a rich abundance of plant & animal life, including some species-at-risk.
  • It’s a fresh water drinking source for many Denman families.
  • And, of course, it’s a well-loved, scenic swimming and strolling place.

The Threats:

Wildfire: There have been 2 serious wildfires at Chickadee in recent years. Every summer evening, a team of volunteer Fire Watchers from the neighbourhood go out to look for campfires and smokers. (The Watchers put in over 100 hours this past summer.) They collect trash (from the inconsequential to the unmentionable), and, of course, the numerous cigarette butts tossed by visitors to the area.

Expansion of Trails and the Erosion of the Lake shoreline: Over the past few summers, folks have gone off trails, forging new trails, new entrances to the Lake shore and expanded sitting areas at the Lake. In the process, fragile mosses and other ground cover species have been destroyed and the shoreline eroded.

Mushroom pickers have also made new trails in the woods with the same unfortunate outcome.

Unleashed Dogs: Chickadee is in a Provincial Park, requiring dogs to be leashed. Unrestrained dogs have startled both walkers and wild critters, including beavers and goose families. Sadly, often piles of dog poop line the trail on the east side of the Lake. Horses, rather than staying on the gravel portion of the trail, occasionally kick up the hoofprint-sized chunks of moss on the side or middle of the trail. Walkers try to replace the chunks, but recovery can take some time.

Boats at Winter Wren Wood: The undeveloped boat launch at Winter Wren Wood is a well-used community resource providing non-motorized boat access to the Lake. Increasingly, boat users are leaving vessels year-round at the boat launch area, and stowing canoes and kayaks where they impact sensitive vegetation at the water’s edge. This area is closed to vehicles in summer due to wildlife risk, but vehicles accessing Winter Wren Wood at other times of year, to load and unload boats, also disturb vegetation. In some instances, vehicles have been seen to drive right over or were found parked on top of sensitive plants and marked interpretive areas.

Our Plea

Please respect this wild and wonderful place. Careless use and damage will inevitably result in Park restrictions and development, reducing it to yet another urbanized setting.

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