Seasons come and go—communities shouldn't

You’ve heard it before: The BVRC is growing. In recent newsletters, we’ve updated you on growing into a new office, new staff members and new partnerships. That hasn’t changed—the centre continues to grow into new opportunities and possibilities.

But we’d like to think these changes reflect not just the boom-and-bust cycle typical of resource management, but a sustainable future for the centre, our research community and our region.

We give credit, firstly, to our relationships: After 10 years of operation, the BVRC has developed networks and partnerships that will continue to serve us into the future. The relationships we’ve built with First Nations and industrial proponents are generating aquatics and terrestrial research for the centre and we look forward to offering greater research opportunities to our members as these projects progress.

Our relationships also assist us as we grow into the role of linking diverse sectors. Being local and having a connection to the territory helps us provide the reliable, credible research that creates common ground for stakeholders such as First Nations and industry when it comes to informed decision-making. We think that’s pretty important.

We’re also in the process of launching two trusts that will ensure the long-term data management and sustainability of our local watershed, and we’re pleased that the Moore Foundation continues to support our efforts with generous donations to each.

We aren’t going into these changes blindly: The board is embarking on a strategic visioning session in mid-October to look at how to plan for this growth and use it to the centre’s best advantage. We also haven’t forgotten our most important relationship, which is with you, our members.

We hope you’ll enjoy our autumn newsletter. And we thank you for joining us on this exciting adventure.

Rick Budhwa
Research Program Manager

You're invited...

Who's new at the BVRC: Kala Hooker

As the BVRC’s role in northwest research expands, so have our workload and support personnel. With that growth comes the need to streamline roles, bring on extra help and, perhaps most importantly, find someone to keep us all organized. It’s for these reasons we welcome Kala Hooker.

Kala was born in Prince Rupert and lived many places across B.C., Alberta, Manitoba and the Yukon before settling in Telkwa five years ago. “I love it here. I call this my home,” says the mother of three.

Kala moved north when her husband, Wade Brunham, received a transfer with his work at ERM (formerly Rescan) from Vancouver to Smithers. While they came for the region’s beauty and lifestyle, they fell in love with the community and spend their time fishing, hunting and working on their small family farm. You may have also seen Kala working as the Bulkley Valley Farmers’ Market coordinator and operating her own stall, which sells specialty soaps and cut flowers.

Kala has a diploma in makeup artistry from Blanche MacDonald and worked for a short time in Vancouver’s film and theatre industries. Kala’s first son Sages was born in 2006. A year later she and husband Wade Brunham moved onto a sailboat. She completed a degree in anthropology from UBC shortly after her second son, Haven was born in 2008. Her third son, Medeas, was born in Smithers. She also has a 13-year-old stepdaughter, Eden.

As relations manager, Kala assists research program manager Rick Budhwa in liaising with clients and partners, as well as taking on internal relations. We welcome Kala to the BVRC!

BVRC baby boom

The research centre is growing in more ways than one—over the past several months, we’ve welcomed two offspring into the fold: Bergen Hilda Lilles and Grace Elsa George.

BVRC associate researcher Erica Lilles and husband Eerik welcomed Bergen on May 7, weighing 9 lbs, 7 oz. At four months, she is now over 18 pounds! Perhaps most excited to have Bergen in the family is five-year-old big sister Wynter.

Chrissy Melymick and partner Chris George welcomed Gracie on Aug. 19 at 11:29 a.m., weighing 8 lbs, 8oz and measuring 53 cm long. Both fish-fanatic parents agree that she’s their best catch yet.

And if that isn’t enough excitement around the BVRC, adjunct researcher Alana Clason announced recently that she and husband Mark Wong are expecting their first child on Dec. 20.

Congrats to everyone!

Member profile: Bob Westcott

Bob Westcott was raised in Osoyoos, B.C. and spent his working life in the environmental field, living throughout British Columbia with three years spent in Idaho attending university. He and his wife came to the Bulkley Valley in March 2012 for a job opportunity, to be closer to family and to explore the northwest.

This fall, Bob helps BVRC research program manager Rick Budhwa create a more formal health and safety program and will also assist operations director Don Morgan with project coordination while Chrissy Melymick is away on maternity leave.

“The original purpose of the centre, as explained to me, was to provide an anchor for researchers in the Bulkley Valley. This really speaks to me,” he says. “The public outreach, networking and collaboration the centre provides outside a major business centre is really positive.”

Bob has been working in the environmental field since the early 1980s in a wide range of disciplines, from park management to aquatic biology to waste management. After graduating from BCIT, he started in BC Parks operations and later switched to a fisheries technical role with Ministry of Environment, doing lake and stream inventory work, as well as habitat rehabilitation and population assessment work. 

In 1995, he began working for BC Hydro as a fish/aquatic biologist and then area environmental coordinator, which meant spending time in both the Peace and Columbia regions. Since 2008, he has worked with several consulting companies and is currently working independently. 

When he’s not working, Bob enjoys spending time outdoors and likes gardening, all sorts of winter activities, hiking and exploring different parts of the province.

2014 Irving Fox scholarship recipient

This year’s recipient of the Irving Fox Memorial Scholarship is Derek Forbes, who begins a Wildlife and Fisheries major with the University of Northern British Columbia’s Natural Resource Management program in January.

A self-proclaimed outdoor enthusiast, Derek recently completed the five-month Environmental Monitors Assistant Program through Northwest Community College and Smithers Secondary School and attributes the experience to his interest in working in natural resources. He also enjoys fishing, skiing, hiking, biking, swimming and photography.

Derek grew up in Smithers and hopes to one day be a wildlife and fisheries biologist in the Northwest. Best of luck on your studies, Derek!

BVRC hosts ML/ARD Field School

The Bulkley Valley Research Centre was pleased to host the Introduction to Metal Leaching and Acid Rock Drainage (ML/ARD) field school this past August. This course has occurred annually since 2000 and attracts professionals from all across the country every year. In 2014, there were registrants from as far away as the United States and Mexico.

Metal leaching and acid rock drainage are the major mining environmental issues facing industry, adjacent communities and governments. Mines around the Smithers area (GoldCorp’s Equity Silver mine, Imperial Metals’ Huckleberry mine, Noranda’s Bell mine and Silver Standard’s Duthie mine) offer participants the chance to see and learn about the wide variety of ML/ARD prediction and mitigation practices. An explanation for the continual appeal of the course is that the experience of mines in this area and course presenters is the basis for much of government and company best-practices guidelines in Canada and around the world for dealing with potential and historical ML/ARD problems.

The Introduction to Metal Leaching and Acid Rock Drainage course will run again August 24-28, 2015.

Skeena Knowledge Trust announced

The BVRC is facilitating the establishment of the Skeena Knowledge Trust, which was officially launched at our Adding On forum in April. The trust provides a collaborative approach to compiling information about the Skeena watershed and links a variety of stakeholders, their data and ongoing research.

“We’re adding meaning to raw data so that we can create a discussion around what’s out there,” BVRC vice president and operations manager Don Morgan said. “Through discussions at the forum, we moved closer to a knowledge trust for the Skeena watershed.”

The Skeena Knowledge Trust makes a common source of credible data available to everyone and separates value judgments from objective science in a way that’s legally enforceable, Smithers lawyer and BVRC board member Richard Overstall explained at the forum. Ivan Thompson, wild salmon ecosystems program officer with the Moore Foundation, which is funding the Skeena Knowledge Trust, said the trust is an important step in managing the watershed sustainably. 

“The Skeena Knowledge Trust is a powerful opportunity to inform people over time,” Thompson said. “It allows us to capture that knowledge and have it available in the service of the people that are going to ensure this place is here for our children, not just next year but for their entire lives.”

Seminar Series starting up

The BVRC’s noon-hour Seminar Series starts up again late October and continues throughout the winter, taking place every other Wednesday in room 125 at Northwest Community College. 

On Oct. 29, we host our local municipal council candidates for a forum leading up to the November election. Two weeks later, on Nov. 12, we invite you to join us for a conversation about the centre, what we’re up to and where we’re headed. 

This winter’s series is staggered with UNBC’s Northwest Region Fall 2014 Public Presentations, which run 12 to 1 p.m. every alternating Wednesday and can be streamed here.

Stay tuned as we confirm future lunchtime presenters. There is no charge for attending the Seminar Series—bring a lunch!

Whitebark update from Sybille Haeussler

This year was a milestone for the Bulkley Valley Research Centre’s whitebark pine ecosystem restoration program as we planted our first 800 locally grown seedlings.

The seeds were collected in 2011 from blister-rust-free parent trees near the Telkwa River and Kidprice Lake, grown at Telkwa’s Woodmere Nursery for two years, and planted at Nanika Falls, Atna Bay wildfires and Hudson Bay Mountain in early June. BC Parks, a crew from the Northwest Fire Centre, and local planter Michelle Yarham assisted with planting. Despite a record hot, dry summer, we appear to have about 80 percent seedling survival. 

In the meantime, trials planted in the wetter summers of 2011-2013 using UNBC-grown seedlings from across western North America have 95 percent survival and are beginning to put on impressive leader growth. Some of you encountered a few of those seedlings poking through the snow on Hudson Bay Mountain prairie this past winter—you’ll be pleased to hear that they have recovered well from the exposure.   

Thanks to UBC Earth and Environmental Science student Nata deLeeuw and UNBC grad student Laura Grant, all the whitebark planting and seed collection sites are now digitized and mapped and should soon be added to a provincial database to ensure their long-term protection.

From our 2013 bumper crop of seeds, 22 parent trees were chosen for breeding to select genotypes that are resistant to the deadly white pine blister rust and are now included in screening trials taking place across B.C. and the western US. We monitor all our planted seedlings for blister rust. None planted in northwest BC have yet contracted the disease, but we found one seedling at McBride Peak site that already has a canker after one year of growth on a heavily infected site.

Huge thanks to the nearly 100 individuals and organizations that have contributed their time, resources and funds to help us restore northern B.C.’s endangered whitebark pine ecosystems. It is truly exciting to see the momentum and interest grow since we first began our work in 2007.

Photo: Summer interns Nata, Ash and Christina pack whitebark pine seedlings at Woodmere Nursery. (credit Sybille Haeussler)

Photo contest!


photo Sybille Haeussler

The field season is wrapping up and we'd like to see your best photos! Submit photos of smiling researchers, lovely landscapes and happy BVRC members to before Dec. 1 for the chance to win a $25 Bulkley Valley Farmers' Market gift certficate. Your photo might appear in future BVRC advertising and newsletters! 

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