Friday, February 24, 2017

Lha':lt/Harrison-Chehalis Wildlife Management Area - it's official!

Today I had the privilege of being invited to witness the signing of the paperwork to make the Lha':lt/Harrison-Chehalis Wildlife Management Area official.

The ceremony took place at....

Sts'ailes Lhawathet Lahem or the Healing House of the Sts'ailes.  A lovely lunch was provided to all the guests prior to the actual ceremony.

the language class, led by their teacher gave a song of greeting.....

some of the participants in the ceremony...

Sweepers, with the cedar boughs, led and followed the procession while the two boys two of the four 'markers' of the land.....'marking' this as a momentous occasion in the history of the land.

the actual signing done by Chief Harvey Paul and Brent Gund of the provincial government.

a song of celebration as he agreement was signed.

and the traditional exchange of gifts....

a Wolf mask....and I didn't get a picture, but the other was a salmon mask....

The designation of Wildlife Management Area for the Chehalis Estuary has been a long time coming.  It was being discussed back in the late 1980's, and rejuvenated several times over the years. Some of the comments made by dignitaries at today signing  said things like 'the area is unparalleled in so many ways' and it 'takes a community to save a river'. 

The reason it took so long to get this designation was due to the opposition of the District of Kent that borders just a very small area of the WMA and the IBA.  We have our local MLA to thank for finally working out an agreement that was acceptable to the district.  Unfortunately that agreement resulted in the whole Harrison Bay area of the IBA, NOT being included in the WMA.  The WMA starts at the bridge over the Harrison River and continues northward.  Even so, this area represents over 10% of all remaining wet lands in the entire lower mainland. 

Patience, persistence and partnership resulted in this giant step in protecting part our IBA area....perhaps eventually those same qualities will get the rest of the area included, but for now we will celebrate today's achievement.

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