A decades-old dream came true for members of the Somenos Marsh Wildlife Society on Nov. 7 when TimberWest Forest Company donated the entire lakebed of Somenos Lake to Ducks Unlimited Canada.
Paul Fletcher, president of the SMWS, said the society has been advocating for the forest company and its predecessors to donate the Somenos lakebed to a non-profit society like Ducks Unlimited since 1989.
Only land, such as the lake bottom, can be owned and not the water in the lake.
Fletcher said the lakebed will now become part of a larger wildlife-protection area, and properties surrounding the lake will likely see their values rise as a result.
He said one of the many advantages of having Ducks Unlimited and its partners, including the SMWS, take over management of the lake is that it opens up numerous funding opportunities that weren’t available before.
“Like Quamichan Lake, the water quality in Somenos Lake is deplorable and funding may now become available to help deal with that,” Fletcher said.
“There are 62 similar lakes on the east side of Vancouver Island that are also owned by TimberWest and we’re hoping this is just the first lakebed that the company will donate to agencies like Ducks Unlimited.”
Somenos Lake and the surrounding area is considered an important wetland on Vancouver Island, and its conservation is imperative to securing and growing the number of species of waterfowl, birds, and other wildlife that call the area home.
The area is known for attracting thousands of trumpeter swans, mallards, northern pintail and American wigeon each year, as well as thousands of Canadian geese who winter at Somenos Lake.
“Never before has an entire lakebed been legally surveyed and donated to a single non-government organization,” said Leslie Bogdan, a spokesman for Ducks Unlimited Canada.
“This is a testament to the 15-year-long partnership cultivated between TimberWest and Ducks Unlimited Canada. We are grateful for this opportunity, and the remarkable contribution Somenos lakebed makes to conservation on Vancouver Island and the community of North Cowichan.”
Jeff Zweig, president and CEO of TimberWest, said he was “thrilled” with the donation of the lakebed.
“We are grateful to Ducks Unlimited for their continued passion and dedication to conservation on the Island, and we are extremely honoured to deed Somenos lakebed to them,” he said.