Posts Tagged energy conservation

Mountain Maintenance

July, 2014

by April Bencze

The boat engine roars to life as Diana and I untie from the dock this misty morning. Clay the dog is curled up in the only wind-free spot on the boat as we make the short passage to Bella Bella from Denny Island. Leandrea, a Pacific Wild intern, greets us at the dock on the other side. With tool kits in hand and gumboots on foot, we climb in the truck and head up the mountain to perform some electrical maintenance to keep the hydrophones and remote cameras operating smoothly.

Steadily the truck climbs the inclining path, peeling apart the overgrown branches on either side of the road as we pass by. It is a soggy morning atop the mountain. Although we cannot see it, we know a spectacular view must sit beneath the blankets of thick mist hanging over the surrounding islands and waterways below.

We arrive at the relay station where solar panels face the sky, a wind turbine spins and satellite dishes high atop a mast connect with the cameras and hydrophones dotted around the coast. Diana unlocks the control boxes containing batteries and wiring, and the team gets to work replacing temporary switches and improving the flow of wires.

The mist begins to lift, slowly uncovering the spattering of islands surrounded by the Pacific Ocean. Once finished with the maintenance, Diana and Leandrea pull out the netbook to test the improved system. After flicking the switch back on, lights illuminate and Diana sounds pleasantly surprised as she informs us that everything is working smoothly, on the first try! The bugs who kept close company, borrowing some blood as we worked, must have been a motivating factor to do it right initially. So we label the reconfigured wires in the electrical box, top up the water in the batteries and close up the relay station for the day. Down the mountain we go, stopping for deer on the overgrown roadway. The boat ride back to Pacific Wild headquarters is a dry one as the soggy morning begins to evaporate.

After lunch we attend an Enbridge Opposition strategy meeting put on by the Heiltsuk Nation at the Community Hall in Bella Bella. We brainstorm ideas to halt the pipeline project in its oily tracks. The sense of community and connection with the land and ocean is alive in the hall as we put pen to paper, letting ideas flow to protect British Columbia’s natural coastline from pipeline and tanker threats.

We are now in the floatlab for the rest of the afternoon, Diana and the interns closely monitor the hydrophones as orcas sing into the microphones, and porpoises surface outside the window of the lab. One of the remote cameras is trained on the sea lion haul-out on the outer coast as they enjoy an afternoon nap. It is another great day at Pacific Wild headquarters.

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GreatBearLIVE – View sea birds and marine mammal interactions on this sea lion haul out on the Great Bear’s rugged outer coast. Press play to view the underwater camera in the seal garden – a nearby kelp forest and eelgrass bed. Sign up for Great Bear LIVE Alerts to stay up-to-date on the latest action and watch highlights here.

April

 

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The Great Bear Rainforest – Taking the Inside – OUT!

Spring, Summer and Autumn are busy, exciting and often hectic times for ‘happenings’ not only in the field, but also further afield from our base in the Great Bear Rainforest of British Columbia. While my colleagues install hydrophones and field cameras in even more remote locations to monitor cetacean life and capture rare camera footage of wildlife in the wilderness, and work closely with First Nations communities on the No Tankers campaign, I am busy on the outreach side of Pacific Wild.  I firmly believe by using these visual and auditory techniques, we can raise public awareness to pipeline/tanker issues and further threats from industrial logging, LNG, trophy hunting and open net-cage fish farms. This beautiful short video was just released which illustrates the wildlife, underwater ecosystems, and temperate rainforest we are dedicated to protecting.

The spring started off in spectacular fashion at the Solidarity for Salmon event on March 31st in Victoria. Along with 7 other people, including a life-long supporter and great friend of Pacific Wild, Mary Vickers, we proudly pushed M’ia, a 27 foot spawning sockeye salmon puppet, through the streets of Victoria, B.C. to the Legislature buildings. M’ia is a symbol of what films like the insightful yet disturbing Salmon Confidential are opening the general public’s awareness up to.

We got even more ‘hands on’ at the Creatively United Festival in Victoria on April 19-21.  Filling an aquarium with various kinds of kelp and other ocean matter, we dropped in a portable hydrophone to invoke listening to the ‘depths’ off of recordings from the Pacific Wild hydrophone network in the Great Bear Sea. Sharing our tent at the festival was one of my personal heroes, Charlie Russell, the Grizzly Bear Legend. He is a gentleman that I am most in awe of for his life work on bear behaviour and their emotional and physical relationship with humans and human interaction. He is truly a legend. I thank him dearly for watching Pacific Wild remote field camera footage with us and treasure his insight into coastal bear behaviour.

June saw the release of STAND. Without a doubt, the absolute highlight so far of the summer was to be at the screening of STAND in Bella Bella with the young adults from Bella Bella Community School. Featured in the film, these students put such heart, soul, and effort into building their personal paddleboards. Their voices are eloquent and strong in voicing their opinion for an oil-free coast. This award-winning film is a ‘must see’, and is currently being screened across North America.

Throughout the summer, various kids camps have been implementing and incorporating lessons, ideas and learning from The Salmon Bears and The Sea Wolves, books by Ian McAllister and Nicolas Read. It has been a joy to work with children and the instructors in watching remote field camera footage, listening to hydrophones, recreating the GBR in camp forests.  Being involved in youth education and nature outreach programs is a passion of mine. If you, your child’s school, or educational facility would be interested to learn how to incorporate the nature of the Great Bear Rainforest into your classroom, please contact me – colette@pacificwld.org

We would love to see you at upcoming events….

July 31The Fortune Wild premiere at The Imperial (319 Main St. Vancouver). Doors open at 8pm.This event is a fundraiser for Pacific Wild and Haida Gwaii CoAST (Communities Against Super Tankers), featuring live music, an exhibit and silent auction of Ian McAllister’s stunning photography and of course, the first ever public screening of Fortune Wild!

August 23+24 – Join an amazing line-up of musicians, bands, and artists at the first annual Otalith Music Festival in beautiful Ucluelet, B.C. Feauturing Current Swell, The Cave Singers, Jon and Roy, White Buffalo and so much more. Otalith are looking for volunteers!

September – Release of The Great Bear Sea – Exploring the Marine Life of a Pacific Paradise. This new book by Ian McAllister and Nicholas Read explores the intricate relationship between this mysterious underwater ecosystem and the life it supports. Watch an interview with Ian McAllister discussing the book on Global News, July 31, 2013. The book is available to purchase on the website.

September 14 – Salmon Festival – If you find yourself in the Great Bear Rainforest, namely in Bella Bella on this day, join us for this community event – The Wild Gourmet Salmon Cook-Off – Masterchef Style in the great outdoors!

Mark November 21st in your calendars for a Gala night at The Garth Homer Society in Victoria. Featuring a presentation and slideshow by Ian McAllister on underwater photography as well as a gallery opening of themes from the Great Bear Rainforest created by incredibly talented Garth Homer clients.  More details to come on this event.

As you can tell, I love my “Jill-of-all-Trades’ work at Pacific Wild. We are a very close team, and I am motivated by them everyday. Who wouldn’t be? Check out blog posts by staff on their activities in the field. Most recently the sail training internship with SEAS (Supporting Emerging Aboriginal Stewardships) Initiative.

Huge thank you to all the volunteers who help myself, and the Pacific Wild team in making these outreach programs, events and festivals come together. Please contact me at colette@pacificwild.org if you are interested in volunteering, hosting a film event, want to know ways to take action, want to bring the life and nature of the Great Bear Rainforest into your classroom, or just to say hello!

Hope to see you around!

Colette

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Setting Up the Herring Cam

By Claire Hume, Pacific Wild Intern

Photo by Max Bakken

Photo by Max Bakken

En route to set up the remote camera for the herring spawn, I quickly forgot about my cold fingers and toes when Max spotted a dolphin porpoising nearby. I struggled to count the fins as they briefly broke the surface. “Seven!” I shouted, there were at least seven. Starting my count again I adjusted that estimate to twenty-five. Then fifty. And, upon realizing the pod of dolphins had us surrounded, my excitement reached an all time manic high and I abandoned the count altogether. Max, who had remained calm and collected, later informed me there were at least a hundred and fifty white-sided dolphins in the group, probably more.

As the dolphins cut gracefully through our waves, there was one who was much smaller than all the rest, who flung himself clear out of the water in a spectacular jump. I could practically hear him saying “weeeeeeeee!” as he flew through the air. Eventually the dolphins headed on their way, off to search for herring I suppose, and we carried on ours – off to install a camera that would monitor the behaviour of animals feeding on the herring spawn.

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Photo by Max Bakken

After scouting for the perfect camera spot on various beaches and points, we found one that we thought might work. The criteria, though simple, were proving quite difficult to fulfill. The camera needed to be mounted in a stable location, such as up a tree, that gave an unobstructed view of the beach and intertidal zone while receiving transmission signal that would allow us to send the video back to Pacific Wild headquarters via our mountaintop relay site. Max clambered up countless trees, reporting spectacular views from each, but none of them were receiving strong enough signals from our radio tower to justify its use.

Eventually we found a spot that seemed to work and Max and Diana unloaded the boat – a feat in itself as we were anchored on a patch of steep and seaweed-covered rocks. The rest of the afternoon was spent installing the camera and wiring it to send its footage in the right direction. We’re hoping the camera will allow us to watch wolves, bears, whales, and birds as they feast on herring and their eggs. We are streaming this footage live into the local school to help give youth a view into their surrounding environment. If all goes well, everyone will be able to watch the herring spawn excitement from miles away! For now, it’s a waiting game to see if the herring will decide to spawn in this location – which was teeming with life last year – again this season.

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Band Together BC is complete!

Congratulations to the wonderful Kim Slater who ran then length of the pipeline and visited communities across Northern BC to discuss our energy future.  A marathon a day for 47 days is an incredible achievement!  Thank you Kim for your dedication, support and enthusiasm!  Read more from Kim below. 

Dear Friends,
I’ve just returned from my journey- 47 days and 1177 km across BC connecting with people about pipeline alternatives and clean energy. Along the way, I met with individuals and community groups that had a lot of great ideas for how we can collectively lessen our dependency on fossil fuels and avoid the inevitable disaster that will follow piping raw bitumen across the province and along our coast. Much of this dialogue centred around what can be done locally, and each community expressed values related to their health, security, community, First Nations cultures and ways of life, and the land, water and fish. These values were conveyed in soft and passionate tones, over the dinner table, at gatherings, and at the JRP hearing I attended. Many of the ideas for protecting these values focused on building community resiliency. This resiliency would come from community members building strong bonds with one another, diversification of the local economy, local food production, and investment in renewable technology and low carbon transportation options and it would make the Northern Gateway pipeline a lot less attractive for those that would be swayed by the (empty) promise of jobs. It would also build capacity in communities for defining their own futures. Transition Town provides an excellent model for how this transition can be initialized and I was grateful for learning a bit about if from Transition groups in Williams Lake and Prince Rupert.
I also shared Tides Canada’s recommendations for making this transition contained in their fantastic report A New Energy Vision for Canada (http://tidescanada.org/energy/newenergy/). I was delighted when Quesnel, Terrace and the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako endorsed this vision.
If there is a single message that I can share about my time in the North it is that people there love their home and will do whatever it takes to protect it. It is this love that is fuelling the resistance to the Enbridge project and it is powerful. It deserves to be respected and celebrated. It is the heart of a grassroots movement that I hope will swell and become the foundation for the positive change that we so desperately need. My experience has made me more convinced than ever that we have the capacity to both adapt and to change our world- for good. We must work together and it will take courage, but we can do it. It is already happening.
I find myself now in a time of personal transition. I am reflecting on my journey and envisioning the next chapter. I’m looking for ways of best communicating my experience and the stories I heard along the way, for growing the network of people interested in making the transition to a clean energy future and for pressuring our government to adopt a national energy strategy that provides prosperity and energy security while addressing climate change and our environment. Have ideas? Let me know!
In the coming weeks I will be uploading photos onto my Flickr account (link will be on the website) and compiling the video interviews into a video essay. I am happy to say the blog is complete. Please check it out: www.bandtogetherbc.com
I’m also really excited to announce that Band Together t-shirts that read: “Spill Compassion Instead” are available for sale at: http://www.niceshirt.org/shop/index.php/?___store=bandtogether.
The Delica is also for sale. It was a great vehicle that carried me safely across the province and home. The engine was rebuilt before I left and it was converted to run on waste veggie oil (also runs on regular diesel), so I’m asking $11,000. Please let me know if you or someone you know are interested! Once the van is sold, I will be able to donate to Pacific Wild- so please help!
As for how I am doing, I am well. My body held up remarkably well, with only a bit of swelling in my foot and minor shin splint in the end. I think having the support of so many people before and during the campaign really kept my spirits high and body strong. Thank you to the hundreds of people that donated and to Fruv for sponsoring me. I carried you all with me- both on the Delica (I made a thank you sign for the window) and in my heart (I meditated on everyone during my run as was promised in the “perks”). Thanks to all of the people and groups that organized gatherings, promoted them, and for the donations of food and supplies. Thanks to the kind people that opened their homes to us. Thanks to all of the donations of waste veggie oil. And especially thank you to my incredible support team (drivers, massage therapists, cooks, filmers and photographers)- at home and on the road. A big thanks to Nate and my family for their support too!
If you have Skype yoga coming, please give me a shout to arrange a time: 604-698-7697. I am moving to Pemberton and will have space there and am also happy to do private classes in Whistler, Squamish and Vancouver.
Much love,
Kim

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