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Rejuvenating Cowichan Estuary subject of weekend actions

Restoring the Cowichan Estuary to its environmental, cultural and culinary glory — amid creeping climate change — is explored in a new exhibit and sweeping symposium of experts this weekend.

The Cowichan Estuary Restoration and Conservation Association and the Royal B.C. Museum, unveil the mobile display Friday at 11 a.m. in the Duncan Mall.

It will usher Saturday’s VIU-Cowichan symposium on expected impacts of climate change on coastal communities and estuaries, such as Cowichan Bay.

“The rationale of the mobile exhibit is to raise the level of environmental awareness, knowledge and appreciation of the ecological, cultural and economic importance of estuaries, and the expected effects of climate change on estuaries and their flood plains,” a release by CERCA’s Goetz Schuerholz says.

“The Royal Museum has chosen CERCA as a prototype citizen group, within its recently established extension program, and the estuary ecosystem as the prototype ecosystem for future similar events focusing on other ecosystems elsewhere in BC communities.”

Generic information about estuaries seen in the exhibit and its mobility are expected to foster its use by other estuary groups on the island, and beyond.

“It is hoped the exhibition will achieve a better understanding and appreciation of the importance of estuaries to our communities and assist groups such as CERCA in their restoration lobbying and advocacy efforts in support of healthy and sustainable estuaries,” states Schuerholz.

Those are also the goals of Saturday’s symposium packed with professional presentations and a panel discussion about greenhouse gases (Geoff Strong), local climate change (Kate Miller), island river basins and estuaries (Kristi MacMillan, Brain Kingzett), blue carbon (Paul Horgen), First Nations perspectives (Cowichan Tribes), estuary governance (Loren Brokaw) federal Fisheries’ role (Kim Hyatt), living rivers (Craig Wightman), estuary enhancement (Owen Croy), plus a 3:45 p.,m. panel discussion about how to fix the estuary.

An evening social happens at the Affinity Guesthouse before Sunday’s 9 a.m. field trip to the estuary.

CERCA envisions the estuary as a fully rehabilitated ecosystem, free of harmful industrial uses, zoned for biodiversity conservation, compatible recreation, and sustainable traditional use of renewable resources such as shellfish, herring and salmon — staples of local First Nations for centuries.

For details, visit cowichanestuary.com, or call CERCA at 250-748-4878.

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