Somenos Marsh viewing tower takes wetland fans to new heights

Fundraising is starting for a wildlife-viewing tower offering an aerial look into Somenos Marsh and lake near Duncan. - Andrew Leong file
Fundraising is starting for a wildlife-viewing tower offering an aerial look into Somenos Marsh and lake near Duncan.
— image credit: Andrew Leong file

Look up.

Way up, to Somenos Marsh’s new viewing platform which could be built to complete the marsh society’s open-air classroom.

Pending a successful fundraising campaign, the tower will finish the OAC wildlife-viewing infrastructure plan initiated by the Somenos Marsh Wildlife Society several years ago.

The viewing tower will be designed and built by Cowichan’s Macdonald & Lawrence Timber Framing Ltd. The contractor also refurbished the valley’s Kinsol Trestle, and built Cowichan Bay’s new Maritime Centre addition and wildlife viewing tower.

The volunteer-built marsh tower will have a similar design as the bay’s tower. The platform floor will rise about 21 feet, and measure 12 square feet to hold group presentations.

It will provide a 360-degree view of the Somenos Marsh Conservation Area, enabling visitors to view wildlife on Somenos Lake to the northeast.

Interpretive, bilingual (English and Hul’qumi’num) signage will focus on fish habitat and the marsh’s importance in salmon-life cycles.

Earlier phases, folks with the society say, included 800 feet of raised boardwalk, parking lot and amenity improvements, plus a recently completed viewing platform bankrolled by Cowichan Wheels.

The SMWS have been actively restoring the classroom site since 1989 when the property was a derelict commercial site with a large parking lot.

“The OAC now shows no sign of its commercial past, and has now become one of the more popular walking and wildlife viewing sites close to Duncan’s urban core,” the society’s release reads.

Total cost of the platform is estimated at close to $50,000. The society has already earmarked $5,000 from its existing reserves and hopes to raise the rest through grants, fundraisers and donations.

To donate, or for more information, contact the SMWS or 250-732-0462.

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