Elizabeth Bailey, program coordinator with the Somenos Marsh Wildlife Society, cuts back Himalayan blackberry bushes at an invasive species removal event last month at the Somenos Open Air Classroom.
Cowichan Valley

Newsletter: You care about the Cowichan Valley. I’m listening

Thanks for joining me as I report on environmental issues in the region
Jacqueline Ronson March 8, 2018

Welcome to my newsletter. Over the next several months I’ll be investigating environmental issues in the Cowichan Valley, B.C., and I’m so glad to have you with me on this journey.

I’m a journalist based in Honeymoon Bay, where I write mostly about science and the environment. I’ve been in the valley for three years, and before that I was a community newspaper reporter in Whitehorse, Yukon.

This newsletter is a space for dialogue as I travel through the reporting process. I’ll tell you what I’m working on and who I’m talking to, and that — I hope — will spur feedback and conversation that will inform my work.

As one of Discourse’s local news fellows, this will be my first major project reporting on the place I now call home. Like most of those who live here, I was attracted in part by the opportunities to work and play outside, surrounded by nature. I hope that my work will help inform a conversation about how this community can live on this land and benefit from all that it has to offer in a good way.

In the weeks since I started this project, I’ve been attending events and listening to people in the Cowichan Valley to make sure that my reporting will reflect what people really want to know about. I developed a short online survey, which I announced at last month’s meeting of the Cowichan Stewardship Roundtable, to get feedback. (If you haven’t yet, you can still fill it out here.)

I’ve received 17 responses so far, and here’s what I’m hearing:

  • You’re thinking about water levels on the Cowichan River, and wondering what’s going to happen with the proposal to raise the weir and increase water storage at Lake Cowichan.
  • You’re curious about floods, droughts, climate change and extreme events on the watershed, and what these will mean for the future of the river.
  • You’re concerned that over harvesting of timber is negatively impacting the environment.
  • You want to know how this community will plan for and manage population growth and new pressures on its resources.

My resources — like those of this watershed — are limited. Next week, my plan is to present three story ideas, and take a poll, disseminated to the community at large. I’ll investigate the issue that generates the most interest.

What do you think about how I’ve approached this project so far? Send me an email with your feedback. If you know of people who should be part of this conversation please pass along this newsletter and ask them to subscribe.

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