Sarah Simpson, The Citizen, October 20, 2010
The 2010 edition of the Return of the Swans Festival begins at 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 23 with the masquerade fundraising dance at the Quw’utsun Cultural Centre.
"It is such an important fundraiser," the Somenos Marsh Society’s President Paul Fletcher said last week. "There’s room for 200 people, it’s a silent auction, and there’s live music and food."
A costume parade and prizes for the best costume are also part of the evening.
"There’s a lot happening that night," he said.
Fletcher said the annual Return of the Swans Festival is primarily about awareness of the importance of caring for the sensitive ecosystem around the Marsh but it also the highlights the need to raise money for such stewardship.
Tickets to the fundraising dance are $25 each and can be picked up at Volume One Books, Gallowglass Books, Next to Nature Trading at Whippletree Junction or at Peacock Photography.
If dances aren’t your thing, or if you still have a little energy left over, the following day, on Oct. 24, nature lovers can take to Somenos Marsh for a 9 a.m. or 2 p.m. tour.
The first event of the day is the Bring Your Own Boat lake tour, pushing off from Drinkwater dock about 9 a.m.
Meanwhile, on dry land Derrick Marven is hosting a Boardwalk Birding chat at the Open Air Classroom around the same time. Both are expected to wrap up about noon.
From 2-4 p.m. Genevieve Singleton is guiding the Somenos Garry Oaks nature walk.
Ongoing stewardship is part of the Marsh Society’s mandate and these days that means building a raised boardwalk for people to be able to connect with, but not disturb nature.
The goal is to protect the animals and wildlife that use the Marsh, Fletcher said.
"We always work under the concept that we’re trying to bring the wildlife to the people and leave the wildlife secure in the areas they want to be in."
Almost all of the money the group needs to complete the project is in hand.
"It looks like we’ve raised $170,000," he said. "It’ll get us very close to completing the project this winter.
But is a not a sure thing yet.
"We’re still waiting for the confirmation of a $55,000 grant that the government is looking at. But right now we’re working with the idea that we’re going to finish the boardwalk in the next two months."
Money left over, if any, will be put towards the Society’s next project, building a trail along the marsh from the Forest Discovery Centre to Duncan.
"It basically enhances all the attractions along the way," he said.
For more information about the Somenos Marsh Society or the Return of the Swans Festival call 250-732-0462 or email email@example.com or visit the Society’s website (www.somenosmarsh.com).
© Cowichan Valley Citizen 2010