Cowichan River (@amber.travels/Instagram)

Another slice of Vancouver Island’s natural beauty has come under protection according to a Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development announcement on Tuesday.

The wildlife habitat is called the Somenos wetlands, and sits just north of Duncan in the Cowichan Valley.

According to the province the unique wetland and rare Garry Oak ecosystem is internationally recognized as a prime space for wildlife viewing.

Over 200 species of birds make their way to the habitat, including the second-largest population of over-wintering trumpeter swans on the island, and year-round great blue herons.

For visitors to the area, the Somenos Marsh Wildlife Society has created elevated boardwalk trails, nature interpretive and information signs, and viewpoints to provide year-round wildlife viewing opportunities.

“We want to protect these kinds of areas for generations to come,” said Doug Donaldson, Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development in the announcement.

History

The wetland is adding to the S’amunu wildlife management area (WMA), which contains roughly 155 hectares of protected natural habitats.

The S’amunu WMA lies in the heart of the Cowichan Tribes (Mustimuhw) traditional territory, and includes a highly productive lake, seasonally flooded wetlands, and riparian ecosystems.

The Somenos creek, located near the newly protected Somenos wetlands, was a major travel corridor for the Cowichan people from their traditional village site adjacent to Somenos Lake to the Cowichan River.

“We are happy to see this work take place and, going forward, work together to restore and preserve the land back to its natural state,” said Chief William Seymour of Cowichan Tribes.

“It is important for us to keep its ecological value intact. It will be a great gathering space where the community can come and be educated on the history of this area, including our villages Kwa’mutsun and S’amunu that used to inhabit this land, as well as learn about the vegetation and wildlife that thrive at Somenos Marsh.”

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