2023 Volunteer of the Year Award

2023 Volunteer of the Year Award

BCLSS Director Eric Bonham (right), presenting Paul Gowland (left) with the 2023 Outstanding Volunteer Award at the Cowichan Stewardship Roundtable on March 19th at the Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC, Eco-Centre in Duncan


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 recipient of the 2023 award is Paul Gowland!

Read below for a statement from BCLSS Director Eric Bonham.

At the BCLSS 2023 annual conference we met Paul Gowland, who in partnership with Gina Hoar, presented an excellent paper on the topic : Effects of Eutrophication and Invasive Aquatic Species (Parrot Feather) on Salmonid Populations in the Somenos Watershed. A thoughtful case study on the conference theme.

The challenges in Somenos watershed are significant, including run-off from agricultural activities, septic fields, urban settlement and chemical contamination from automobile tire products.  Lakes cannot be considered in isolation, a sick lake often means trouble in the watershed and in that regard, recent experience would indicate that forest fires are now having an impact on lake water quality.

Given the current challenges within the Somenos watershed, Paul and his team have identified some of the more complex and longer term concerns, such as:

  • Can nutrient flows entering lakes such as the case at Somenos Lake ever be controlled in BC?
  • Is there the political will in the provincial or federal government to address eutrophication in lakes?
  • Can salmon survive in eutrophic lakes?
  • Is there merit in sharing the experiences and data gathered by the Somenos Marsh Wildlife Society?

Paul has been an outstanding volunteer for some 8 years in the Somenos watershed. As President of the Somenos Marsh Wildlife Society (SMWS) for the last 4 years, he has continuously demonstrated what I refer to as the 4 cs of leadership, namely:          

Courage, Commitment, Collaboration and Creativity

  • Courage: To attempt, what may seem overwhelming, yet not be daunted by the challenge.
  • Commitment: The tenacity to be in for the long haul, yet weather the setbacks along the way.
  • Collaboration: To inspire and engage others, and together, reach for the common goal.
  • Creativity: Blend vision with task that results in making a difference.

Paul’s leadership style reflects each of those values and his impressive volunteer efforts with the Somenos Marsh Wildlife Society has resulted in a very effective lake stewardship team. 

Paul leads by doing, and as a result has attracted volunteers and educational groups who have enthusiastically engaged in lake monitoring activities, and by so doing, enhanced the community’s commitment to the protection of the Somenos watershed for the benefit of fish, wildlife and people.

Paul’s  leadership speaks to the effectiveness of community stewardship.

As Margaret Mead observed:  “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world, indeed it’s the only thing that ever has.”

Thank you, Paul, for your effective leadership and commitment to the Somenos watershed.You are a worthy recipient indeed of the BC Lake Stewardship Society 2023 Volunteer Award.” – Eric Bonham, BCLSS Director

Paul’s dedication and hard work make a significant contribution to the BCLSS fundamental values – preservation, protection, and restoration of lakes throughout British Columbia. Thank you, Paul, for all that you do!





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