Each year, the GCC organizes a Day in the Grass (field tour) to focus on a particular, pressing challenge facing grasslands and land-use managers across British Columbia. The event is held at a different venue each year to enable "grasslanders" from the various regions of the province to attend these solution-oriented forums.
Day in the Grass 2012
Saturday, June 16, 2012
Field Tour, 9:00 a.m. to 7 p.m., Lac du Bois Grasslands Park
The Grasslands Conservation Council of BC (GCC) would like to take this opportunity to invite you to our Annual General Meeting (AGM) and field tour on Friday, June 15 and Saturday, June 16, 2012, in Kamloops, BC. The meeting is an opportunity for all members and supporters of the GCC to celebrate the successes and review the challenges the GCC has faced in the last year and to help shape our direction for the next year. The AGM is also a chance for you, as a valued GCC member, to make suggestions about more effective communication and service to members.
A wine and cheese gathering will be held following the AGM and board meeting on the evening of Friday, June 15, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Researchers from the Thompson Rivers University (TRU) will be presenting posters on their cutting edge grasslands research.
On Saturday, June 16, don't miss the annual grasslands field tour and grasslands dinner. Last year, it was enthusiastically enjoyed by all. The dinner, followed by an interview with Connie Philip, who came to teach at Long Lake in 1948 and never left, was an absolute highlight.
This year, our field tour will focus on Grasslands and Climate Change. We are planning three stops in the Lac du Bois grasslands, highlighting topics such as:
the changes to the grassland plant communities with increasing elevation - Lac du Bois is one of the few areas where it is easy to experience the transition from the lower to the upper grasslands.
research underway relative to carbon sequestration in the grasslands - it's not just trees that store carbon
the value of grasslands for grazing, and how to keep them healthy and productive, and meet the needs of biodiversity
cows produce methane...but how does that balance with carbon and climate and human health?
weeds, graders, people, garbage and wheels - or why Parks managers lose their hair - but often have cause to celebrate.
At 4 p.m., we plan to have a chuckwagon supper on the edge of Lac du Bois, with interviews from some that have known the grasslands for a long time. At 6 p.m., as the evening falls, there will be an opportunity to participate in one of several grassland walks to further discuss the topics from the day and take some wonderful pictures.
Please be sure to bring your own lunch, a lawn chair, a hat, and some sunscreen and a rain jacket.
A registration form for both events is attached for your convenience--click here to access it.
Day in the Grass 2011
Saturday, June 25
The tour, attended by 45 people on the following morning of June 25, started with a time of visiting and connecting, then moved onto a look at part of the impact of the proposed Ajax Mine adjacent to the city, as well as views of subdivision of grasslands. It was a sobering recognition of the importance of the work of the Grasslands Conservation Council. The remainder of the day reviewed, at the beginner's level, the history, ecology and management of grasslands. A walking tour of Don and Maureen Bennett's grassland was a highlight, and provided the opportunity to be on the land. It also gave this tour a very small carbon footprint, as we drove very little. Throughout the day there was a lot of connection and discussion.
In the afternoon, Jake the border collie shared what it's like to move cattle to manage grazing on the grasslands. After a good dinner around a camp fire, Connie Philip, early rancher (87?), wrapped up life in the grasslands since 1948, when she came to teach school, and stayed to marry her late husband, Warner. She noted that in the early years, roads up to the ranch were ploughed only twice over the course of the winter: once for Christmas, and once for the Bull Sale. She and her family have created a conservation covenant on 640 acres of grasslands, with a sweeping grasslands view from Brigade Hill, in memory of Warner.
Day in the Grass 2009
Indian Garden Ranch, Savona, BC
Saturday, June 13, 2009
As the large outreach event in 2009 is to be the GCC's 10th Anniversary Grasslands Celebration on October 3rd, the spring event was kept small with an informal field tour.
The area of the tour, on leased lands of the Indian Garden Ranch near Walachin in the Thompson Valley west of Kamloops, is fascinating from historical, cultural, geological and biological perspectives. The very dryness has meant that plants, animals and humans have adapted in unique ways to the region.
In addition to learning of the area itself, we were also introduced to concepts that have applications elsewhere in the province: range management principles and leased land management. The GCC was also able to launch its new and valuable Grasslands Monitoring Manual for BC: A Tool for Ranchers and explain in some detail the analysis of grasslands of high ecological value.
Northern Day in the Grass 2008:
Threats and Challenges to Grasslands in the Peace
Dawson Creek, BC
June 6 to 8, 2008
Our Annual General Meeting was held on Friday, June 6, followed by an evening banquest and a full-day field tour on Saturday, June 7, with a half-day tour on the morning of Sunday, June 8.
Over fifty people from around the province converged in Dawson Creek to discover the beautiful grasslands of the Peace Region of British Columbia.
Many people associate grasslands with the south Okanagan area or the Cariboo Chilcotin, but the Peace, too, has some amazing pockets of grasslands. While most native grasslands have long been converted into agricultural crops or developed, there are some remaining pockets in the region. As many people discovered this weekend, the Peace grasslands are a treasure, and are extremely important for wildlife, cattle and horses.
The Grasslands Conservation Council of BC (GCC), a non-profit organization based in Kamloops, held its annual general meeting and workshop in the Peace, raising the profile of both the organization and the grasslands in the Peace area. The Friday AGM and banquet was well attended by local producers, agrologists, foresters and many others from out of the area. Guests were treated to presentations on grasslands of the Peace, management of grasslands in the north and the role of grasslands in carbon sequestration, which is a growing concern with the impending impacts of climate change. As well, experts provided spectacular poster displays on the threats of invasive plants to area grasslands and on native plants as traditional foods by First Nations people.
At the banquet, GCC chair David Zirnhelt introduced participants to the work the GCC is doing throughout the province to protect our threatened and endangered grasslands. Grasslands cover less than 1% of the land but are crucial to more than 30% of our species at risk. They are also a vital component to BC’s ranching industry, providing a natural forage base for many ranches.
Saturday, the keen participants headed out on a field tour that took them to view the grassland benchlands in the Peace Valley near Taylor. There, they learnt about the geology of and human history on the grasslands, heard about oil and gas impacts in the area and had a chance to view the Peace Valley at the proposed Site C reservoir area while discussing the impacts of the proposed dam. Speakers on various topics, such as ungulate habitat, sharp tailed grouse, invasive plants and the association of wetlands to grasslands, made for an informative day. Later in the day, the GCC tour joined up with the Peace River Forage Association, which was also having a tour through the Peace. The tour wrapped up on some beautiful, south facing grassland slopes discussing producer issues and range management in the Peace. From there, both tours enjoyed a barbeque generously hosted by the Forage Association at Arnold and Nelda Bennett’s Farm.
Sunday, the group convened again to view some grasslands northeast of Dawson Creek. Our first stop was east of Rolla to view some pockets of grassland adjacent to agricultural fields and discuss various seeding methods. The group then visited the beautiful grasslands ecological reserve near Clayhurst, where they were treated to a rare pocket of western bunchgrass grassland and a pristine pocket of native grassland, as well as to a discussion on the geographical features of the land.
The GCC was thrilled to see the number of interested individuals from around the province, but particularly those from the Peace area. For the 2008 workshop to be as successful as it was, a great number of people were involved in its preparation and delivery. So, we give very special thanks to Sonja Leverkus and Richard Kabzems, without whom the workshop would not have been. Also, thank you to our wonderful speakers: Richard Kabzems, Nolan Steinwand, Keith Carroll, Alicia Goddard, Matthew Braun, Murray Clarke, Larry Peterson, Ross Peck, Marten Geertsema, Linda Wilson, John Miller and Walter, who greatly increased the knowledge of all the participants. For those who engaged us with their invasive plant displays—Dennis Meier, Theresa Fincaryk, Bob Drinkwater, Kerry Clark, and Linda Wilson—thank you also for your on-going contributions to the discussions throughout the tour. Thank you, too, to Julie Robinson and the Forage Association, for including us in their tour and BBQ. There are always last minute items to organize; for so ably helping us with these, we’d also like Gäetane Carigan, Kim McNalley and Shawna LaRade. Finally, our sponsors were both generous and supportive and deserve a special thank you, as well: Pengrowth Corporation; the Peace River Regional District; BC Hydro; BC’ Ministry of Agriculture and Lands, Ministry of Environment and Ministry of Forests and Range; the Peace River Forage Association and Safeway.
With such interest, participation and support, GCC’s 2008 workshop was a resounding success on many levels. The GCC looks forward to continuing its work in the Peace.