Nicola Naturalist Society – Winter & Spring events 2019

Evening meetings of the Nicola Naturalist Society are held at 7PM, usually on the third Thursday of the month, in the Lecture Theatre of NVIT (Nicola Valley Institute of Technology) on Belshaw Road, Merritt. Our evening meetings are free for members. We have awesome raffles.

Scroll down to see what is coming up from January through May 2019

For insurance reasons, our field outings are restricted to our members (visitors can join membership-for-a-day). To join the Nicola Naturalist Society click here: Membership Page

Thursday January 17th, 7 PM at NVIT Lecture Theatre: Richard Chavez –  Silviculture: More than Just Planting Trees.

Silviculture, the science of trees in the treatment of a forest, is highly relevant to our local forestry-based economy and ecology. Human population increase and changing climate has put pressure on forest resources. Has our understanding and application of silviculture kept pace with these changes? Are our forestry practices keeping up with modern demands? This talk reviews current practices and other factors that challenge foresters, and possible ways to improve forest management. Richard Chavez is an Registered Professional Forester with Aspen Planers. He has a degree in Forest Engineering and a Master of Forestry degree from Yale University. Richard has extensive experience in silviculture, ecology and forest planning in tropical and temperate forests.

Regenerating forest. Photo: ©Jenn Reid

Tuesday February 19th, 6 PM at Merritt Libary  Budding Birders – launch of the birding kits sponsored by Bird Studies Canada and the Thompson Regional Library.

Bird Studies Canada, in collaboration with the Thomson Regional Library, is providing birding kits for budding birders. Anyone interested in trying out birding can check out a birding kit from the Merritt Library. Each kit contains a bird guide, checklists and binoculars. Nicola Naturalist president Dr. Alan Burger, a professional ornithologist and keen birder, will give a presentation featuring local birds to launch this exciting new birding venture at the Merritt Library.

Thursday February 21st, 7 PM at NVIT Lecture Theatre: Frances Iredale –  Grizzly Bears and Whitebark Pine in the South Chilcotins

Francis Iredale doing research on Grizzly Bears in the South Chilcotin. Photo courtesy Francis Iredale.

Everyone loves hearing about Grizzly Bears and the presentation by Francis Iredale is especially worth attending. Since 2008 Francis has worked for the Province to conserve and manage species at risk and big game animals in the Thompson Region. He enjoys collaborating with indigenous communities and non-government organizations towards the long-term conservation of local wildlife populations. For several years Francis has been studying the special relationship that Grizzly Bears in the dry mountains of the Chilcotin have with Whitebark Pine in the fall. Understanding the resource use of these bears is essential to build up their diminished population. At the same time, the selection of Whitebark Pine needs to be understood for the conservation of this endangered tree species. Not to be missed!

Thursday March 21st, 7 PM at NVIT Lecture Theatre: Stephanie Winton – Impacts of Roadkill on the Western Rattlesnake in British Columbia

Stephanie Winton is a conservation researcher with Thompson Rivers University and Environment Canada. She recently completed her Master of Science degree assessing the impacts of roadkill on the population of Western Rattlesnakes in the White Lake Basin. Roadkill is a major and worldwide threat to wildlife, particularly for species-at-risk like rattlesnakes that face existing natural constraints. Stephanie’s research highlights the severity of this issue for rattlesnakes and led to the installation of ecopassages for snakes. Her study has important conservation applications with the burgeoning human development in BC’s interior valleys. Excellent research on an enigmatic species.

Thursday April 18th, 7 PM at NVIT Lecture Theatre Dr. Lauchlan Fraser and Rachel Whitehouse – New grassland studies in the Merritt area (details to come).

The Merritt-based Nicola Watershed Community Round Table has a new partnership with the Grasslands Conservation Council of BC, promoting education and research at the Laurie Guichon Memorial Grasslands Interpretive Site near Merrit. Thompson University Professor Lauchlan Fraser and FLNRO ecologist Rachel Whitehouse are leading this work and will give a joint presentation on the project. Controlling invasive weeds, like knapweed, is a huge problem across the grasslands of southern BC and this project is testing some innovative methods to maintain healthy grasslands. Exciting work happening right on our doorstep.

Grasslands of the Lundbom Commonage – location of the joint research and education project of the Grasslands Conservation Council and the Nicola Valley Community Round Table. Photo: Alan Burger

Thursday May 16th 2019, 7 PM at NVIT Lecture Theatre: Frances Backhouse –  “Once they were hats” The biology of beavers and their role in Canada’s history.   

[This presentation was postponed in 2017 due to weather – rescheduled by popular demand]

Biologist and author Frances Backhouse has published books on a wide range of nature topics, including owls and woodpeckers, and also on historical topics such as the women in the Klondike gold rush. Her latest book examines humanity’s 15,000-year relationship with Castor canadensis, and the beaver’s even older relationship with North American landscapes and ecosystems. This will be a fascinating presentation blending biology and history. Some of you have heard Frances’s recent CBC Radio Ideas program on beavers.

Frances Backhouse brings a huge amount of knowledge and an infectious enthusiasm for Canada’s iconic emblem – the beaver. Photos courtesy Frances Backhouse.


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