Somenos Marsh Wildlife Society
Stewards of the Somenos Marsh Conservation Area
Somenos Marsh is a wonderful wild area on southern Vancouver Island fringing both the Duncan and North Cowichan urban areas. In 1988 the BC Ministry of Environment identified Somenos as “one of the best places to view wildlife close to an urban centre”. In 2000 Somenos Marsh achieved a special designation when Bird Life International recognized Somenos Marsh as a ‘globally significant’ Important Bird Area (IBA).
Somenos Marsh has a long and colourful history. Waterfowl travelling the Pacific Flyway, as well as resident wildlife, have used Somenos for overwintering and food for time immemorial. Archaeological evidence within the Conservation Area prove that the Cowichan people have occupied the lands in and around Somenos Marsh for at least 4,000 years. The Cowichan people tell us that they have been here since time immemorial. The fertile lowland known locally as ‘Somenos Flats” has been drained and farmed since the earliest European settlers found their way to the Cowichan Valley.
The Somenos Marsh Wildlife Society originated in 1986 as a sub Committee of the Cowichan Valley Naturalists until incorporated as a charitable Society in the province of British Columbia in 1989. The SMWS played a lead role in establishing the Somenos Marsh Wildlife Refuge, which formally became the Somenos Marsh Conservation Area in 2000. The Society has achieved a long list of accomplishments over the last 25 years.
The Society has raised and expended approximately $500,000 over the past 19 years on land acquisition, habitat restoration,wildlife viewing infrastructure, studies and the preparation of a comprehensive management plan. All of these projects have assisted in taking the Society closer to its overall objectives, which as detailed in the 2001 Somenos Management Plan (SMP), is to position the marsh as an ecological jewel for the benefit of all future generations.