Invasive removals at heart of environmental attention

Bill Dancer among those honoured as Saanich council hands out environmental awards

Cadboro Bay resident Bill Dancer earned the individual citizen recognition at the 2016 Saanich Environmental Awards for his work removing invasives from the grounds of Royal Roads University

After 15 years of leading 850 children through nature programs, volunteer Bill Dancer of the Victoria Natural History Society was recognized for his work.

And the children’s programming is only part of it.

Dancer, of Cadboro Bay, earned the individual citizen recognition at the Saanich Environmental Awards ceremony in council chambers on Monday. His work started in the 1990s when the DND Royal Roads land was under consideration as redundant and potentially for sale.

“A group of us went in and started pulling invasive species, and we started a hiking group there that’s still going,” Dancer recalls.

In 2001 the retired Coast Guard officer started children’s programming through the Victoria Natural History Society that connects with nature.

“It’s for any group, Beavers, Cubs, Scouts, school kids, and so on,” Dancer said. “What we teach is that as humans, we’re animals, but we just happen to be the brainiest of animals and it’s our responsibility to maintain this planet.”

Dancer is on the board of the Cadboro Bay Residents Association with president Eric Dahli, who highly credits Dancer’s volunteer work.

“Dancer’s work in Haro Woods and Konukson park, with broom pulls, removal of invasive species, is just amazing, he really gets the volunteer crews working,” Dahli said.

Saanich’s Environment and Natural Areas advisory committee selects the winners, who were nominated earlier this year.

Grade 11 student Lindsey Frederiksen accepted the youth group or school award on behalf of the Mount Douglas secondary ECO Club. The ECO Club was nominated twice for its ongoing work removing invasive species out of Mount Douglas Park and now Mount Tolmie.

“We had 300 students through the ECO Club leadership working on a half of Mount Tolmie that we adopted this year,” said Mount Doug teacher Amelita Kuecher.

That meant full mornings for some students, thanks to the support of the Stewards of the Future initiative run by the Lieutenant Governor’s office, Frederiksen said.

“On top of the biweekly removals at Mount Tolmie we have led a nature education program with Grade 1 students at Campus View elementary about invasives and last year we did a salmon presentation.”

The Victoria Golden Rods and Reels Fishing and Social Club was awarded in the volunteer organization category for its effort to revitalize Elk and Beaver Lake, including a partnership with the CRD to use a lake weed harvester.

Kristen and James Miskelly earned the business nomination for Saanich Native Plants, based at Halliburton Farms, as they give back 25 per cent of their earnings in kind to the community through education and action.

The biodiversity and conservation honour went to Purnima Govindarajulu, who helped create the ephemeral wetland at Haliburton Farm, as well as her work recognizing the importance of toads and bats in the region.

The Goldstream Volunteer Salmonid Enhancement Association won the sustainability award and Everett and Merle Peterson were given the long-term achievement award.



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