General News · 23rd August 2012
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Whaletown Commons Bio Blitz!
Sincere thanks to the biologists and naturalists who contributed to the weekend BioBlitz at the Whaletown Commons and to the community members who came out to learn about the biological riches of the Commons.
Everyone who attended expressed a clear and dedicated commitment to supporting the purchase of the Whaletown Commons for the creation of Cortes Island’s next Regional District Park.
Was it the moss mania, the giggle of children discovering red-legged frogs, the Veronica beckabunga, the 25kHz click of a little brown bat in the night or the delicious peacefulness felt beneath the ancient cedars… that most passionately spoke to folks? The Whaletown Commons speaks to us in this way and we, in turn, speak for the Commons!
The Whaletown Commons Society (WCS), formed in the 1990’s and with a present membership of just over 300, initially requested that the Strathcona Regional District (SRD) assume land purchase negotiations with Island Timberlands (IT). In May of 2010, the SRD offered IT $583,000.00 (full independently assessed value). The monies offered to purchase the Commons came from a combination of regional district parkland acquisition funds generated through property taxation and locally raised (WCS) funds. In August of 2010, IT countered with an offer of $1,053,000.00, which was declined by the SRD in March 2011. At that point, the SRD formally withdrew their offer. The WCS then formally requested that the SRD retain the parkland acquisition funds until such time as a new purchase option could be negotiated for the Whaletown Commons. Regional Director Noba Anderson reported in her July 2012 report, “Funds remain available at the regional district level for the purchase of the Whaletown Commons at fair market value.”
At a February 2012 meeting, Island Timberland’s Director of Planning & Forestry, Bill Waugh, clarified that part of the discrepancy in values for the Whaletown Commons was due to the difference in domestic timber values used by the SRD evaluation versus the raw log market values used by IT.
Throughout the spring and summer of 2012, community discussions with Island Timberlands have consistently kept the community’s intent to purchase the Commons “on the table”. The BioBlitz weekend is but one more expression of intent by the Cortes community to secure the Commons as Regional District Park.
Thank you one and all, for continuing to speak out for this wild place… the Whaletown Commons!
The tally of species is still coming in, with additional biological expertise arriving throughout the next few months to add to the inventory. If you are interested in receiving a copy of the inventory, please e-mail me at slmensetelus.net and I would be pleased to provide you with a copy.
Henry Beston, one of my favourite nature writers, wrote: “Rest your spirit in her solitary places.”
Do take the time, to take a walk in the Whaletown Commons!