Somenos Marsh Wildlife Society

Stewards of the Somenos Marsh Conservation Area

birdboxes.pngSomenos Marsh is a wonderful wild area on southern Vancouver Island fringing both the Duncan and North Cowichan urban areas. In 1988 the BC Ministry of Environment identified Somenos as “one of the best places to view wildlife close to an urban centre”.  In 2000 Somenos Marsh achieved a special designation when Bird Life International recognized Somenos Marsh as a ‘globally significant’ Important Bird Area (IBA).

Somenos Marsh has a long and colourful history. Waterfowl travelling the Pacific Flyway, as well as resident wildlife, have used Somenos for overwintering and food for time immemorial. Archaeological evidence within the Conservation Area prove that the Cowichan people have occupied the lands in and around Somenos Marsh for at least 4,000 years. The Cowichan people tell us that they have been here since time immemorial. The fertile lowland known locally as ‘Somenos Flats” has been drained and farmed since the earliest European settlers found their way to the Cowichan Valley.

marshsign.pngHow can you help?

Become a Member
Becoming a member is one way to help provide core financial support for our work and objectives Membership numbers are always valuable when lobbying for the Marsh and also provides the core volunteers a sense of support for our efforts. Download our membership form here.

Donate
Financial and in kind support is always appreciated for our many projects and to support the continued employment of our part-time Program Coordinator. Donors can select where their donations are applied. We have several projects on the go including restoration work, data collection and studies, and new wildlife viewing infrastructure construction. Download our donation form for additional information about supporting our efforts.

Consider Volunteering
We have a place for every type of skill or for people wanting to learn new skills and meet new people.
Download our Volunteer form to learn more about exciting and important volunteer jobs available now in the SMWS.

Visit our Facebook page or read our Blog for up to date reports on our events, projects and stories.

“The ecosystem services that Somenos Marsh provides to the community are only now starting to be recognized. One day Somenos Marsh will be celebrated as our Stanley Park or Central Park.” Paul Fletcher, co-founder SMWS


History of Somenos Marsh Wildlife Society

The Somenos March Wildlife Society originated in 1986 as a sub Committee of the Cowichan Valley Naturalists until incorporated as a charitable Society in the province of British Columbia in 1989. The SMWS played a lead role in establishing the Somenos Marsh Wildlife Refuge, which formally became the Somenos Marsh Conservation Area in 2000. The Society has achieved a long list of accomplishments over the last 25 years. Arguably the three most impressive accomplishments are:

  1. The Society has seen itself in a key role of public education and garnering support for preserving the marsh and stopping ongoing development that erodes and threatens the sensitive ecosystem.
  2. Building a coalition of partners and stakeholders, the Society has been very successful in partnership building, bringing together a broad coalition of stakeholder groups including NGO’s, government agencies, First Nations and property owners.
  3. Building wildlife-viewing facilities that provide public access for all levels of abilities to the natural experience that the SMCA provides.

The Society has raised and expended approximately $500,000 over the past 19 years on land acquisition, habitat restoration,wildlife viewing infrastructure, studies and the preparation of a comprehensive management plan. All of these projects have assisted in taking the Society closer to its overall objectives, which as detailed in the 2001 Somenos Management Plan (SMP), is to position the marsh as an ecological jewel for the benefit of all future generations.