2022 Volunteer of the Year Awards
The BCLSS Volunteer Award elevates the awareness and importance of how education, monitoring programs, restoration projects, and environmentally friendly living contribute to the health of BC lakes. Individuals and groups are recognized for their outstanding volunteer efforts that demonstrate our fundamental values – preservation, protection, and restoration of lakes throughout British Columbia.
We are pleased to announce that the recipients of the award this year are the Whistler Lakes Conservation Association and Bruce Kosugi.
Whistler Lakes Conservation Association
Whistler Lakes Conservation Association (WLCA) was established in 2020 and its mandate is to promote and practice conservation and environmental protection of the five Whistler lakes: Alta, Alpha, Nita, Green, and Lost. The WLCA’s efforts help protect the Whistler lakes environment and lake experience, enrich the livability of the region and the local economy, and, conversation by conversation, raise lake stewardship awareness among lake residents, users, and the public.
In recent years, residents and visitors have noticed changes in the environment of Whistler Lakes including noise, pollution, shoreline erosion, poor boating practices, improper dock construction, and the dumping of koi and goldfish. This prompted the WLCA to begin monitoring Whistler Lakes through the BC Lake Stewardship and Monitoring Program (BCLSMP) in 2021. All five lakes in Whistler have been monitored for the past two seasons thanks to many dedicated volunteers. The data collected at Whistler Lakes contributes to the long-term health and enjoyment of Whistler Lakes by allowing us to observe trends in water quality over time.
WLCA is run by a passionate team of directors and volunteers that include locals that live on the lakes, concerned citizens, and professionals. They are hoping to address issues relating to boating, barges and dock systems, water quality, and contamination for the five Whistler lakes. To date, this enthusiastic group of volunteers has taken on several projects that include supporting the fall “Lake Clean-up” program with volunteer divers that retrieve litter under and near the docks, participating in meetings with the Resort Municipality of Whistler Environment Stewardship Manager, and establishing the BCLSMP. As part of the BCLSMP program, dedicated volunteers collect surface temperature and water clarity, with the addition of vertical temperature and dissolved oxygen profiles at Alta, Alpha, and Lost lakes.
In the fall of 2022, BCLSS held a LakeKeepers workshop in Whistler in partnership with the WLCA. This 1.5 day course provided Whistler residents and WLCA volunteers with a greater understanding of lake ecology and health. The hands on training increased participants ability to monitor and steward their lakes.
The BCLSS is grateful to work with such an enthusiastic group of volunteers and we are excited to see what future initiatives WLCA takes on. Their dedication to the water monitoring program and to promoting sustainable practices around the Whistler lakes is inspiring and encouraging. To stay up to date on their activities, visit the Whistler Lakes Conservation Association website. Thank you to the WLCA board and volunteers for their initiative and continued lake stewardship!
Bruce loves the North, having lived in the BC Peace area for over 20 years. Originally from a big city in the east, he finds environmental awareness and concern is just as strong with northerners. Perhaps it is due to being truly blessed with clean air and water along with having nature at your back door.
Bruce’s interest in nature and science began as a youngster exploring ponds and streams. This influenced his choice of later obtaining a degree in chemistry. His career in the oil and gas industry helped him understand the vital responsibility for environmental stewardship in resource development.
Bruce is one of the founding members of the Charlie Lake Conservation Society (CLCS) and has remained active within the society since it was formed in 1996. The CLCS has played a leadership role in resource stewardship and education for the region and promotes the understanding of the protection and stewardship of all the ecological resources within the Charlie Lake watershed.
Bruce has served on the CLCS board multiple times and continues to be a leader for the organization. He has spearheaded many projects such as ice on and ice off observations, plant surveys, algae sampling, water monitoring, bat surveys, and educational workshops to name a few. His efforts have ensured that CLCS remains active in the community.
Recently, the CLCS finished a survey of blue-green algae in Charlie Lake that involved many volunteer hours colleting algae samples at multiple locations on the lake. Bruce presented the findings of the survey to the Peace River Regional District in March 2022 and recommended that an active monitoring program be considered to keep a close watch on the toxins that blooms are releasing into its waters.
In addition to monitoring algae, the CLCS also participated in the BCLSMP from 2003-2005 and 2016-2018. Bruce and many other volunteers regularly recorded temperature, Secchi depth, and dissolved oxygen profiles at Charlie Lake. They also collected water samples that were analyzed for phosphorus and chlorophyll a. The extensive dataset collected by CLCS volunteers provides a good understanding of what is going on in Charlie Lake and how water quality has changed over time. The BCLSS wrote a report in 2020 that summarizes the results of this data collection. The report can be read here.
The BCLSS is grateful to have such an accomplished individual on our Board of Directors. We are grateful for his volunteer efforts dedicated to stewarding Charlie Lake and keeping his community engaged. We look forward to seeing what projects Bruce and the CLCS take on in the future. You can visit the CLCS website to stay up to date on their activities.
Written by Marie McCallum