Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Spotlight on Somenos Marsh

Wetlands are key to a healthy local environment. Somenos Marsh is important to the Cowichan Valley because it filters toxins and other debris out of the water, provides a valuable habitat for many types of plants and animals, and reduces flooding.  Rare species rely on Somenos Marsh for survival, such as the Vancouver Island Ringlet, Prairie Lupine, Yellow Montane Violet, and the Garry Oak trees that grow in the thick firm soil near the marsh.  40 acres of the BC Forest Discovery Centre's grounds are part of the marsh, providing great educational opportunities for museum visitors.

The Somenos Marsh trail on the BCFDC's property is full of birds and other animals that are exciting to watch. Great Blue Herons gracefully hunt for their next meal among the tall marsh grasses, while California Quail chitter in the Hawthorn trees. The museum works in partnership with Ducks Unlimited to conserve the marsh.

The Somenos Marsh covers approximately 200 hectares of land, including open water, grassland, marsh and Garry Oak forest. 219 species of bird have been spotted in this preserve in total, including rare migratory species. Trumpeter Swans, once hunted and harrassed to the point where in 1933 there were only 77 breeding in canada and 50 breeding in the United States, have made a strong comeback and are now a common sight in the marsh in the winter months.

The BCFDC has a special attachment to the critters seen in our marsh. Animals such as Red Eared Slider Turtles and Black Tail Deer fawns are regular favourites with the museum staff.

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