Mosquitoes aside, beach management is vital

Tsawout First Nation Chief responds to reaction about Island View management plan

Re: Island View plan worries neighbours (News, June 1)

Recent news items on management plans at Island View Beach do not present a balanced picture. As chief of Tsawout First Nation, the largest land owner in the Cordova Shore landscape, I would like to correct that.

It is important the public understand the value of joint efforts being put into developing and potentially implementing elements of the Cordova Shore Conservation Strategy.

The strategy is a collaborative effort of local, regional, provincial and national agencies and stakeholders to protect this unique, culturally rich coastal landscape. This is composed of important intertidal and subtidal marine areas, a rare sand spit, dune ecosystem, eroding bluffs, coastal wetlands and rock outcrops.

Tsawout people are proud to be a major partner and leader in co-operative efforts to conserve this important part of British Columbia’s natural and cultural heritage. It is our desire to restore and protect both the traditional plant and animal life and our traditional foods, such as medicinal plants, shellfish, herring, salmon and waterfowl.

Tsawout and other Saanich First Nations currently practise our treaty hunting and fishing rights in this area for our sustenance.

Tsawout First Nation and CRD, assisted and supported by Central Saanich, B.C. ministries, Canadian Wildlife Service, Parks Canada, UVic and other agencies, collaborated over more than five years to prepare the conservation strategy. The strategy is a blueprint which describes the current state of the ecological and cultural landscape and identifies a variety of options which might be acted upon to more effectively secure, protect and reclaim the natural values of the shore.

Tsawout and other partners appreciate that local residents, including Tsawout members, can be tormented by mosquitoes from the salt marsh and wetlands of the shore. In detailed management planning for the shore, agencies are committed to involving local residents and taking steps to mitigate these nuisance factors.

For example, re-establishing purple martin colonies and predatory aquatic insects in the wetlands could help reduce the numbers of mosquitoes.

My staff and I would be pleased to explore the various options identified in the Cordova Shore Conservation Strategy.

Please feel free to contact myself or the lands department at our office at 250-652-9101.

Harvey Underwood

Chief, Tsawout First Nation