Ducks Unlimited dinner benefits local wetland projects

Volunteer work continues at Rithet’s Bog in Saanich

Volunteers Russ Pym

Volunteers Russ Pym

Community support is rolling in as the local chapter of Ducks Unlimited readies to host its fundraising annual dinner at the Saanich Fairgrounds.

The 17th annual dinner is Nov. 19 at the Saanich Fairgrounds, the key annual fundraiser for the group.

Barbara Schubert is part of the local Ducks Unlimited chapter, which has focused on Rithet’s Bog as one of its South Island projects.

The bog’s precious ecosystem, in the Broadmead neighbourhood, was resuscitated in 2002 when Saanich and Ducks Unlimited partnered to remove heavy brush. It brought back the open water area crucial to native waterfowl and pond plants. But by 2010, the pond was once again invisible, hidden behind a wall of cattails three metres high.

Since then, it’s been an ongoing joint project by Saanich Parks, the Friends of Rithet’s Bog and Ducks Unlimited volunteers to slowly remove the invasive cattails.

“We’re making inroads for sure, but there’s no end in sight to the cattail removal because even if we [remove] the cattails in five years, we’ll then move on to the willows.”

Initially, Ducks Unlimited helped raise money to install trails at Rithet’s Bog. Most of the Ducks Unlimited work at Rithet’s is now volunteer based but the group relies on the dinner to raise about $10,000 for its other projects.

“The net proceeds of the dinner and auction go to regional projects all the way up Vancouver Island,” Schubert said. “We have projects in Duncan and Cowichan Bay right now, and one of the next goals is to install signage where we are undertaking some of our 88 Vancouver Island projects.”

Adding to the difficulty of the cattail removal is the spread of hybrid native/invasive cattails, Schubert said.

“Each year we can only take back so much of the invasive and hybrid cattails, as there are frogs and other wildlife in there that we don’t want to disturb.”

Friends of Rithet’s Bog are credited for their work with willow removal on the eastern side of the bog where the trees threaten to swallow a unique place.

Ducks Unlimited’s role is not always to restore marine and wetland hunting grounds, and in turn has several positive effects for the water quality systems in the areas of restoration, Schubert said.

This year, there are a few travel items sure to gain big interest at the dinner’s silent auction. Up for grabs are a weekend package to the Seattle Seahawks football game, all-inclusive. There’s also Tofino getaways that include a Lexus rental car for the trip. And there is two charter fishing packages in Sooke for the whole day, including a hotel accommodation in Sooke before and after the fishing.

“I can’t overstate how many great raffle items and silent auction items there are available to the diners, it’s hundreds of things.”

Tickets are $60 each and are pre-sold, with a Nov. 14 deadline for the Nov. 19 dinner.

Call Sheila or Ralph for tickets at 250-598-3279.