Cowichan is in good hands

Cowichan Lake and River Stewardship Society president Gerald Thom credited his recent provincial conservation honour to the entire society. - Malcolm Chalmers
Cowichan Lake and River Stewardship Society president Gerald Thom credited his recent provincial conservation honour to the entire society.
— image credit: Malcolm Chalmers

Lake Cowichan’s Gerald Thom has just been declared the top lake steward in the province.

Thom, president of the Cowichan Lake and River Stewardship Society, was recently awarded the Lake Steward of the Year award.

The award is presented by the BC Lake Stewardship Society whose board nominates and then votes for the winning recipient.

“It’s not a single-handed thing,” said a gracious Thom. “We have a society now that’s been going for about five years with a board of directors of 10 people and everyone contributes.

“It would be selfish of me to say that it’s all for me because it’s not, it’s about our society and what we’re doing as a group.

BCLSS is a non-profit organization for groups interested in lake issues and lake stewardship. CLRSS is a member with approximately 80 members of its own.

“This is only one component of what we do,” said Thom. “We do river clean-up and a whole pile of other things. We have a lot of volunteers who do a lot of good stuff.”

Thom agrees it’s important to bring in new, younger members to CLRSS all the time.

“It absolutely is important to keep bringing new people in and bring in youth because most of our membership at present, up until our co-operation with the high school, are 60 plus. So restoration work needs able young bodies.”

The society’s latest stint is a revamp of Saywell Park.

CLRSS has just had a new set of plants delivered by Island-based native plant nursery, Streamside Native Plants, that will be planted within the park.

“The idea is to get rid of the blackberries, the invasive species, and replace them with native species so that we can improve the habitat value for fish, birds, frogs, salamanders and everything else.

“We’ve teamed up with the high school, the town and the department of fisheries and oceans, and we’re going to create a demonstration site there so if people want to see proper repairing and habitat, mixed with recreation like tubing, we’ve got a site showing people how to do it.”

Thom’s society also recently applied for a grant worth a third of $1 million over the next three years to bring demonstrations to private residences around the lake.

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