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Spring thoughts

I went for a walk on Easter Monday.

Actually it started out with a paddle in a canoe, which landed me on one of the Peace River Islands. After seeing wolves on the shore line there this winter, I had been itching to get over for a look. It was a lovely spring day and the river was busy. Numerous pairs of Canada geese noisily took flight, while common mergansers and goldeneyes whistled their way over the water’s surface. The wind was in my face, and two elk searching for greens along the bank were shocked into flight when a red canoe slipped around the corner. Three fishermen were making their way down to the river on the north bank, and were soon busy getting their rusty casting techniques back in shape. A number of river boats roared by, and the joy of being back on the river after a long winter was evident on the passengers faces.

I had never really explored the interior of this 1 km long island, but a well trodden game trail led right up the middle of it, and the deer sign was plentiful, leading me to think that maybe I found one of the winter refuges of the numerous whitetail that show up each spring on the hayfields along Hwy 29. In the midst of an old spruce stand I came upon an clearing, and on reflection realized that this was where a homesteader had cut the logs for his barn, and had skidded them across the ice with a team some 70-80 years ago, when the winter river became an ice highway in the pre Bennett Dam era. The stumps were still in evidence, and with some imagination you could follow the old skid trail out to the river. Working my way out to the old back channel, I noticed where a couple of moose had spent a few days trimming and breaking the tops off of the young aspen trees to reach the tender tops. The channel no longer floods, but provides a natural corridor for moose, deer and elk traffic, and sure enough, there was also some very recent wolf sign. Around the corner, harder evidence, the skull and vertebrate of a young cow elk, that recently had found itself too deep into wolf country! Alongside a big wolf track in the sand were pieces of river rounded coal, likely remnants of the upstream Gething mines now lost along with the dinosaur trackways behind the Peace Canyon dam. History, like the cow elk!

Back into the sun, on the south side of the island, I poked my way through the old camp at “Grayling Bay”, and one could almost see the pile of hunting and fishing lies that had been swapped around the campfire ashes. A familiar bird song, led to a search and on top of a big spruce, the first robin of the year, a definite harbinger of spring, and forerunner of the various warblers that will call these old growth forest home for the summer. And a bit further down in amongst the paper birch trees, a couple of butterflies, could they be fritillaries?, had warmed up enough to take flight on such a fine spring day. More wolf sign, in the form of a half chewed deer femur, and then an old den site. Not used this year, but I had a feeling that they probably weren’t too far away, dug into a sandy terrace and raising a new litter. A bald eagle was perching on a snag, on the south bank, not far from where its mate was minding a nest in the top of an old cottonwood, …he would know where the wolves were!

It was a good day to be out and about, and it got me wondering again about those that are promoting flooding this valley and its numerous islands within the so called Site C “Clean” Energy project. On April 20th, as a member of the Peace Valley Landowners Association, I will be sitting in a Vancouver court room as the lawyers argue the merits and justification of the Site C project process in front of a learned judge. Perhaps all would benefit, if they could just find some time to take a walk on Peace River Island on a spring day!. …….Ross Peck, Farrell Creek on the Peace River, April 7-2015

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