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Our take: Cowichan Estuary Nature Centre an educational tool for everyone

Saturday's opening of the Cowichan Estuary Nature Centre isn't just about studying Cowichan Bay's ecology.

It represents the whole valley's fragile environment under threat from development, urban sprawl, fuel and sewage pollution and other insidious forces.

But the $350,000 centre lends hope of understanding the sensitive web of nature in and around the bay, and how human activity affects that ecosystem.

Everything's connected.

That's the estuary centre's main plank seen in its sea-critter tank, under its microscopes, and on its computer videos.

Not to mention the stunning view of where land and fresh water meet the sea.

Looking past lumber-loading docks and the sawmill, visitors who packed the cedar centre Saturday realized humans could live in harmony with nature — and learn from past eco-mistakes.

The estuary's spirit resonated in opening songs by First Nations' artists

Residents, including First Nations folks, and director Lori Iannidinardo are wisely reclaiming the bay from industrial uses that fouled wetlands, spoiled seafood sources, and ruined eelgrass beds, affecting uniquely interdependent flora and fauna.

But the centre — boasting green-shores' reclamation trails and a cool observation platform — is now a showpiece of Cow Bay's green renaissance, and perhaps a replacement for the bay's former Marine Ecology Station.

It also symbolizes community co-operation in raising and requesting funds.

That was money well-spent in continual, hands-on education to seed changes in thinking while drawing tourist and shopping dollars to the bay.

Now the managing Cowichan Land Trust aims to work with bay merchants and local groups to gain benefits for all.

That's the type of win-win needed across the Warm Land in the face of tough times, and new business opportunities.

Visit the centre. It could be a template for similar facilities throughout Cowichan.

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