Another season has come to an end for the Robson Bight Warden Program. Not only was it a very successful and exciting season on the water, but it was off the water as well…the Warden Camp got a makeover!! It’s not quite a 5-star camp but its on its way!
Here is a brief summary of the Boat Bay upgrades:
Within the Qwiquallaaq/Boat Bay Conservancy, a rustic Warden Camp at Boat Bay acts as a base for the Robson Bight Marine Warden Program. The camp was developed in the 1970’s, when researchers and filmmakers were learning more about killer whales on the B.C. Coast. Since that time the camp has been used by various groups in various forms and the warden program, operated by Cetus Society, conducts 4 months of research and conservation work from this camp every year.
Tent pads, bridges and stairs, which were originally built in the 1970s, have been maintained over the years, primarily using wood that washes ashore. Understandably, many of them became rotten and unsafe over time. The Warden Camp was in desperate need of repair; luckily, this season we were able to complete some necessary upgrades, as we received a Community Legacy Grant. BC Parks is celebrating their 100th birthday this year and therefore wants to leave a lasting legacy in parks around BC. The Warden Camp was chosen as a park to upgrade because the Qwiquallaaq/Boat Bay Conservancy provides amazing opportunities to view passing whales from shore, thus allowing visitors to have a fantastic viewing experience, while having little if any impact on the marine life they are viewing. Having the Warden Camp within the Qwiquallaaq/Boat Bay Conservancy that can be used by campers, boaters, fishers and others provides a positive lasting legacy to the Parks Systems within BC.
As soon as we received word about the Community Legacy grant, the much-needed upgrades commenced. They included replacing existing tent pads, bridges, stairway/ladders, as well as installing windows and solid flooring to the existing Warden Station. These upgrades have not only increased safety but have also provided comfort and accessibility to all users of the park.
Of course the Warden Camp upgrades could not have been SO successful without all the wonderful staff and volunteers that helped out!! First and foremost we had to get all the lumber out to the Warden Camp at Boat Bay. Jim Borrowman, from Orcella Expeditions, offered his assistant during this essential task. We loaded all the lumber (it must have been at least a ton!) onto the M/V Gikumi and transported it to Boat Bay, where we had 10 amazing volunteers help us unload and pack it into camp. Not an easy feat but a great workout…we nicknamed it Boat Bay Boot Camp!
The second step was finding the right person for the job, that’s where Scott Harris fit in perfectly. Scott works for the Land Conservancy in Victoria and is very knowledgeable about completing construction projects in remote locations. Last year, Nitya, Scott’s wife, and himself volunteered with the wardens and fell in love with the place, but it wasn’t long before Scott was aching to fix many of the old and rotten structures around camp. He did what he could with the supplies we had, which wasn’t much…he barely put a dent in everything that was in need of an upgrade. Therefore Scott was very excited to hear when we received the grant and wanted him to come back to Boat Bay!
The third step was to find as many hands as possible to get the job done. Scott and Nitya recruited 2 of their keen friends Lori and Jack and they came out to Boat Bay for 10 days to work, work and work. The wardens, Doug, Robyn & Stacey, and volunteers, Erin & Emily, also helped out. Doug was especially handy to have around as he has some great carpentry skills. Everyone was exhausted after 10 days of non-stop labour intensive work but it was all worth it in the end, the Warden Camp looks INCREDIBLE!!!
Thanks again to all the amazing volunteers & staff who helped out, we couldn’t have done it without you!!! The list includes: Scott Harris, Nitya Harris, Lori Garcia-Meredith, Jack Meredith, Nic Dedeluk, Jim Borrowman, Christie McMillan, Leah Robinson, Megan Baker, Judy Cadrin, Robin Quirk, Erin Parsons, Stacey Hrushowy, Ernest Alfred, Robyn Hutchings, Doug Gow, Linda McGrew and Emily Franke. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!
We can’t wait to get back out there next season and enjoy the fantastic new Warden Camp!
Photo credit: Lori Garcia-Meredith and Robin Quirk.