Harvest time bear awareness

With the summer-ready fruit we love bursting with flavour, there is no doubt it will be attracting wildlife as well. In this season of harvest in Lynn Valley’s forests and yards becoming more bear aware will help you and our furry neighbours. 


Preventing backyard bears


The North Shore Black Bear Society has some tips to make your yard less attractive to bears and other wildlife.

  • Pick fruit promptly
  • Clean fallen fruit from the ground
  • Ask for help if can’t tackle the fruit yourself

“If residents are unable to pick the fruit on their property for some reason – being away at the time the fruit matures or being unable to climb a ladder, or other reasons –   the fruit can be picked by a volunteer organization called the Fruit Tree Project and donated to those in need,” said Christine Miller of the North Shore Black Bear Society. “The resident can keep up to 25 percent of the fruit that volunteers pick.”

Some of the agencies that will receive the donated fruit are the North Shore Harvest Project, North Vancouver Salvation Army and Sage Transition House.

To arrange for fruit to be picked and donated, the North Shore Fruit Tree Project can be contacted at northshorefruittreeproject.ca or 604-983-6444 (ext 640).


Bear encounters


The North Shore Black Bear Society is at the forefront of human-animal interaction education. They partner with government organizations at all levels to improve our cohabitation with bears. It will also place Bear-in-Area signs, answer questions, make home visits, and canvass areas where bears are reported.

“If you see a bear in your backyard, remember that it is in your territory so do what you can to safely discourage the bear,” said Miller.

Here are some ideas:

  • Give the bear lots of space, and go inside with your pets.
  • If the bear is eating  let it finish as eating is its number one priority.
  • From a safe vantage point, shout loudly, bang pots or throw water balloons and wave your arms to let the bear know it is not welcome. Remember to accompany the unwelcoming experience with your voice.
  • When the bear has left, remove all attractants from yard. Keep in mind that it will likely return several times to check for the same source of food that it found before.
  • Let your neighbours know about the bear and tell them to remove attractants.
  • Report your sighting.

“If you see a bear up a tree, give it some space by leaving the area or going inside if you are at home,” said Miller. “A black bear will climb a tree because it is anxious and stressed. Let the bear come down in its own time. It may wait until nightfall. Do not bring extra attention to the bear by inviting friends and neighbours.”

NSBBS recommends if you see a bear leaving a tree, from inside your home shout, make loud noises or use noisemakers to reinforce that it is not welcome.

Bear and attractant sightings can be reported to the North Shore Black Bear Society at:

If you personally encounter a bear in your yard or on a trail, these are the NSBBS’s tips on how to handle the situation:  

Remember the four S’s:

  • Stay calm
  • Stand still – Do Not Run!
  • Speak calmly  
  • Slowly back away

New green and garbage carts


This is the first season full summer season all of Lynn Valley has had the new locking garbage and green carts. The NSBBS has been working with the District of North Vancouver to help establish best practices to ensure our neighbourhoods are not attractive to bears and other wildlife.

“The lockable carts are bear-resistant, not bear-proof,” said Miller. “Therefore, people who store their carts outside should not have odorous food scraps in their carts. The odours attract wildlife and can lead to property damage.”

The DNV and the NSBBS recommend that:

  • odorous food scraps (especially meat and fish scraps) be kept frozen until the morning of collection
  • other food scraps should be wrapped in newspaper to reduce odour and mess and layered with yard trimmings
  • carts should be washed out periodically to keep them clean and as odour-free as possible
  • No carts, including those containing only yard trimmings, should be placed at curbside before 5:30 a.m. on the designated collection day.

Questions about household waste storage and collection can be forwarded to District staff at 604.990.2311. Information is also available at DNV.org/bear-aware or from the North Shore Black Bear Society.

 

(Most images courtesy of North Shore Black Bear Society)

Helping hands sought for Princess Park project

Can you help revitalize part of Princess Park on April 28? Many hands make light work. Here is the press release sent to us with all the news you need to know:

The Lynn Valley Community Association and the Lynn Valley Seniors Association are working together on the 2018 Lynn Valley Annual Park Project.

The location this year is an area of Princess Park near the bridge and dog play area. Park in the parking lot off Princess Avenue. Meet at the Lynn Valley LINK Kiosk which is a short walk down the main paved trail in to the park.

The Park Project will take place on Saturday, April 28, 2018, from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm (come for all or part).

The focus of this community event will be on restoring a section of the park just west of the bridge. District crews will do some preliminary work ahead of time leaving us to restore the natural vegetation and lay down mulch. We will be doing basic gardening work, removing invasive plants, planting natural vegetation, cleaning litter and anything else that needs to be done with the direction and support of the DNV Parks Department.

Do join us for this fun and productive day. We have work for every level of physical ability but we won’t let anyone overdo it. Dress for the weather, as this is a rain-or- shine event! Sturdy boots or shoes, working clothes and gloves are recommended, as it could be muddy! Coffee and snacks will be provided but please bring your own water bottle.

For more information email: info@lvca.ca

Out of the school yard and up to ‘Big House’

Suddenly there is quiet – 50 formerly noisy, energetic Grade 3 students have just stepped into the forest. Since they started school, the students have been told they would go to the Big House, now known as the longhouse. For months, they have been working with their teachers and special Aboriginal instructors to gain a base of knowledge they hope will transform into appreciation. The moment they begin their time at  Cheakamus Centre, it is clear this not a typical school day.

For decades, parents in the North Vancouver School District have been sending their children to Paradise Valley – first on trains; now in school buses for the unique programs offered at Cheakamus Centre – remembered by many as the North Vancouver Outdoor School. But unless you check out the Centre’s Open House, only a few lucky parents get to experience this themselves. Thus it was that LynnValleyLife tagged along with Lynn Valley Elementary on a recent visit to see firsthand what this Indigenous Cultural Program is about.


The Forest


Dusted with snow, the forest glowed as the sun shone through a light fog as students were divided into groups for an interpretive walk. Indigenous Cultural Program Coordinator Sarah Davidson-James and Indigenous Cultural Program Staff Member Mathew Siýámken Williams took the groups along the Ch’iyákmesh (Cheakamus) River. It was clear which children frequently visit the forest and for which this was a rare experience – some walked tentatively on the uneven icy ground while other bounded through the snow. Every couple of minutes Mathew would gather the group to share some ecological or cultural knowledge. Students were encouraged to pick up fallen materials – like moss, lichen or horsetails – to feel or use them as Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish) people did.

750-year-old cedar

We learned what plants made what pigments for art or ceremonial purposes. Quickly there were 20 children sputtering into horsetails after Mathew shared they were used as whistles. As the walk continued to a 750-year-old cedar tree, a few clear notes rang through the forest.

The trees in this area are stunning, but the second growth looks nothing like the ancient stumps that dot the forest or one of the few remaining ancient cedars. It took about 17 students to encircle the base of towering tree.

The walk emphasized how First Nations people used and respected the forest. The students were keenly interested in how the Skwxwú7mesh people chose to use cedar trees based on their gender. Women would use female trees and men would use male trees. Another fact that resonated with the students was how Skwxwú7mesh children are taught to harvest cedar bark – people were taught to harvest a strip of bark only as wide as their two hands. If children were gathering, their strips were obviously smaller. The students could identify trees that had been harvested by Sḵwx̱wú7mesh people about their age. Experiential moments like this throughout the day seemed to foster connection – students were relating to information in a much different way than what they learn in a classroom.


The Programs


Skw’une-was (the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh word for partnership), the overnight Grade 3 program is a provincially recognized program tied to the BC Curriculum, said Sepideh Tazzman, communications and marketing manager for the Cheakamus Centre. It began after a conference in 1985 of Sḵwx̱wú7mesh people, North Vancouver District educators, and a few non-First Nations guests knowledgeable in Northwest Coast First Nations culture.

“During the conference that was the impetus for the program, participants listened to the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh people speak of their values, attitudes and ways of life as well as traditional family roles and structures, and the approach to educating by example. It also included discussions about religious beliefs and language, as well as sharing experiences of the past and hopes for the future of the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh people,” said Sepideh. “Both First Nations and non-First Nations came away from the conference with a heightened understanding of and respect for one another. The sharing that had taken place developed into the longhouse curriculum and embodies the same sense of partnership between cultures.”

Within the halls of NVSD schools the program is known as Skw’unw-was and a much anticipated highlight of the year. The program is based on three major ideas that underlie the activities at the longhouse: respect, sharing, and seasonality, said Sepideh.

Those themes ran throughout the experience, from respecting the elders by serving them their food first, to respecting the forest by leaving any souvenirs that students had gathered; sharing of knowledge and cooperating to make lunch; to discussing the changing forest and work needed to survive there throughout the year.

A big takeaway for all the students was how Sḵwx̱wú7mesh people had to be patient and plan – nothing was instant like today’s culture. If you wanted a blanket it took five years to gather the wool and another year to weave, according to Mathew. If you wanted to weave hats or mats the cedar had to be harvested and dried for a year before you could get to work.


The Longhouse


The whispers begin even before the field trip forms go home. They have heard from older students…. The smoke…. The fire….The longhouse. In a day of many memories, the longhouse at Cheakamus Centre leaves the most lasting impression. The imposing – yet cozy – structure is the centerpiece of the program.

The students were greeted by Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Elder Henry Khapquolanogh Williams at the bridge leading to the longhouse. Students announced their arrival and he welcomed them to the longhouse and invited them in. The dark, open room was hazy from smoke and warm from fire.

Inside Mathew explains the history, some basic building techniques, the core ideas of communal living, the astounding fact that longhouses were moved – sometimes on canoes – to different parts of Howe Sound and Burrard Inlet seasonally. Students were given an overview of Sḵwx̱wú7mesh life, beginning with food.

Cooking box

If you ask the kids, the most exciting moment of the program was seeing parent volunteers pull glowing rocks from the fire. Students carefully wiped ashes from the stones with cedar bows, before they were placed inside a pot with water and vegetables. Within a cooking box the veggies boiled and cooked while the children roasted bannock over the fire.

Inside and outside the longhouse students cooked their bannock while Mathew explained Sḵwx̱wú7mesh people originally made bread from a flour made from the alder tree and a lichen commonly called old man’s beard. The memorable meal was topped off with salmon prepared by Cheakamus Centre staff.


The Work


Another key piece of the program is experiencing the traditional day-to-day tasks of the Coast Salish people. Groups of students were able to participate in two experiences, choosing from Plant Gatherers, Wood Workers, Cedar Bark Workers, Wool Weavers, or Hunters/Fishers.

Mathew took the Hunters/Fishers down to the river. It was a humbling moment to learn Sḵwx̱wú7mesh means “People of the Fish Weir” while learning about how they would traditionally fish. The students were awed seeing Mathew pull an obsidian arrowhead from his pocket. They scoured the beach looking for basalt, that flakes in a similar way, and a rock to make their own. After seeing an American Dipper fish on the river it was time to head back and try their hand at weaving.

Alongside the longhouse and the outdoor cooking fire, students settled into patiently weaving cedar strips. The slow practice was carefully guide by Elder Henry. He shared photos of elaborate projects inspiring the students to focus harder on their works.


The End


Time at the longhouse flies by. Students, parents, teachers and cultural staff gathered around the longhouse fire one more time to share thoughts of the experience. The take-away from the program is that it fosters an appreciation and understanding of First Nations. The personal stories and anecdotes from indigenous cultural staff and elders help students understand that while they are experiencing a portion of history, they are still learning about issues relevant today – jaws dropped across the fire when Mathew shared there are only seven fluent Sḵwx̱wú7mesh language speakers left. These experiences push some kids out of their comfort zones and invigorate others with a deeper understanding of the forest they love.

With hair scented with wood smoke students filed back on to the bus with exclamations of this being the “best trip ever.”  Osieum (“Oh-see-em”) to Cheakamus Centre and NVSD for sharing it.

The 49th Annual Cheakamus Centre Open House is on Sunday, May 6th, 2018 from 10:30 a.m. -3:30 p.m..

Hatching a new bylaw means more backyard hens in LV

Last September the District of North Vancouver adopted a bylaw allowing for the raising of chickens in single residential homes (RS) zone. You or your neighbours can raised between four to six chickens, given the right enclosure, an electric fence and a animal permit from the district.

While the bylaw maybe new – chickens in Lynn Valley are not. It is estimated there are between 50 and 100 chickens roosting here. For now those chickens are running a-fowl the bylaw, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t thriving in our mountain community.


Happy Hens, Happy Kids


lynn Valley Chickens“Lynn Valley is a pretty cool place,” says Mike, a local chicken owner. “The neighbours have been quite excited about the chickens. They come visit them. When we go away the neighbours’ kids look after the chickens – they get to collect the eggs. It is quite fun.”

For about four years chickens have been a part of their home after his children won over thier parents with some hard fought lobbying and Mike completed some research.

“My wife’s cousins are ranchers and they have 30-40 chickens,” he said. “When the kids were little we would go visit them a lot. And they would play with the chickens. There were dogs, and cattle and haystacks but they would play with the chickens. Eventually they decided they wanted chickens here.

“The ranch up in Cariboo is surrounded by wolves and caribou and all sorts of critters – so we did a lot homework about who was going after urban chickens. We talked to people and heard we needed to keep the ‘coons and the skunks out.”


Keeping ‘coons out of the coop


Between the family dog and the wildlife, using the children’s old playhouse and plenty of chicken wire, Mike got to work.

“We started down this road with a huge amount of chicken security – it was basically a high security prison,” he said. “There was a double-fence system, so if something broke through one, they’d have to break through another. Since we have socialized the dog I have rebuilt everything and made it much more friendly – a minimum security prison for the chickens.”

For his family, the biggest knock against getting chickens was their dog.

“I had family members with dog – and I thought dogs and chickens didn’t necessarily mix,” said Mike. “I have since learned that dogs can be trained to not eat chickens. We worked at it and got the dog to understand it couldn’t eat a chicken.”

In fact the dog is helpful, keeping large birds like eagles and other predators away.

The DNV bylaw requires an electric fence to protect household chickens from wildlife. The District has been working with Wild Safe BC to create a framework for urban chickens that doesn’t habituate wild animals to an easy food source. The District has also been working with CLUCK (Canadian Liberated Urban Chicken Klub).  CLUCK North Vancouver is quite active online with local events, get togethers and its website has a wealth of links including info on a veterinarian in Westview who helps exotic pets including chickens.


Everyone has a job


Back at Mike’s, Hipster and Flopsy a more than just farm animals and more than just pets.

“On a farm they don’t necessarily draw the distinction that urban pet owners do,” says Mike. “Farmers care about every animal in their herd – they will go out in the middle of the night, they will bring them into their home if they need to. To me our chickens are like an animal on a farm but they are also a pet where there is relationship with them. They do work – they produce eggs and they have other jobs.”

While there is work in caring for the chickens, they work they do makes up for the effort, he says. In addition to eggs they eat food scraps, eat weeds, gobble up chafer beetles and dig and fluff the lawn creating healthier grass.

“They produce an egg a day – that is one tenth of their body weight,” says Mike. “They eat a lot and make an egg a day – if you think about that it is like giving birth to a kid everyday. So I have a lot of respect for them.”


The fowl-side of hens


Caring for chickens isn’t all meringues and the best quiche you’ve ever had.

Lynn Valley Chickens“The biggest challenge is they are rather indiscriminate with bathroom habits,” said Mike. “If they are eating that much to make eggs, they have a lot of by products and that is good – we compost it. You have to compost it for a year to get really good garden fertilizer. They wander across the patio and leave little things there and have even escaped into the house on occasion.”

Other challenges include protecting the birds from rats. Apparently rats are common in Lynn Valley compost piles. Mike has taken care to – and the bylaw requires – make the coop inaccessible to rats and to make sure rats don’t partake in the chicken feed.

Another challenge stems from chickens being a bit bird-brained.

“Because we have a dog we don’t leave gates open very often, but the chickens do wander around in the yard and they know where their coop is so they don’t go very far,” says Mike. “But they do disappear and we have chicken panics. There is a lot of things that could happen in the real world. They are not smart enough to not run out in front of a car. They are pretty dumb.”

The most common question the family gets and the number one concern of chicken opponents is noise.

“The chickens make a noise – they don’t do it that often and it’s not an unpleasant noise,” says Mike. “It’s way better than a rock band practicing badly or a diesel [truck] warming up in the morning, or kids screaming or dogs barking or a whole bunch of other things you hear in a human neighbourhood. We were worried about… it’s just part of the background and none of the neighbours seem to care – and I’d hope they would come talk to us if they did.”

The other thing to be aware of, says Mike, is that chickens are fragile – they have been bred to do one thing.

“We made the mistake of getting farm chickens, not ones bred to be pets. The first ones we had were quite weak – one died of an infection and one died of leukemia. We have two now.”

With several years as a chicken owner, Mike insists he doesn’t love them – but he does speak about them with a lot of affection.

“I’m still rather indifferent to them – but my kids would have a different answer. They are entertaining,” says Mike. “There is nothing like a fresh egg – let me tell you. An egg that is made by a chicken that is eating bugs and wandering around eating plants is a completely different thing than what you get in a store.”

Rules on raising hens in Lynn Valley can be found on the DNV website.

Lynn Valley-made Spring Break Solutions: Nature

With March Break fast approaching there is always a bit of panic: how will the kids keep busy when you are at work? LynnValleyLife is looking at three made-in-LV solutions to engage and challenge children and provide some experiences far different than the classroom. 


Nature School


For nine years Soaring Eagle Nature School has been taking kids out of the traditional classroom into the forest.

“We are  a nature-based school that has an emphasis on naturalist skills as well as survival skills,” said Jenna Rudolph, co-founder, director and lead instructor of Soaring Eagle Nature School. “We are based completely outside – we don’t have any indoor space. We go out to the forest get the kids really comfortable being outside and learning skills that go hand in hand with being outside.” 

Based in Lynn Valley, Soaring Eagle offers weekly and monthly programs throughout the school year as well as camps during the spring and summer breaks. The growing interest in forest schools has helped the school expand from the Lower Seymour Conservation Area to Pacific Spirit Park in Vancouver and Minnekhada Park in Coquitlam.


What is forest school?


For the uninitiated, forest school, defined by the Forest School Association, “is an inspirational process, that offers ALL learners regular opportunities to achieve and develop confidence and self-esteem through hands-on learning experiences in a woodland or natural environment with trees.” One report concluded that children, especially, acquire knowledge experientially, through play, experimentation, exploration and discovery. Research shows that many of the fundamental tasks that children must achieve, such as exploring, risk-taking, fine and gross motor development and the absorption of vast amounts of basic knowledge can be most effectively learned through outdoor play.


What kids learn


More than anything, in my family’s experience, forest school is fun. Where else do adults encourage kids to run endlessly, coat themselves entirely in mud or make them pause to listen to the forest? They learn about things like plants and seasons, erosion and weather, insects and animals. Moreover through play they conquer intangibles like compromise, creativity and social development.

Rudolph echoes that some impacts are obvious – others less so.

“I think the rewards are that they can bond and connect with something that is real which can help them learn more about themselves,” she said. “I think they get a lived experience of what it means to take care of yourself. Today was the wettest day we have had all year and the four-year-olds I was with learned that if they are not prepared that will impact their experience and their fun in the forest. I think that lived experience shows the reality of caring for oneself and for others.”

Children will also grow and develop physically be being part of such a program.

“Kids learn to use their bodies in different ways – we have to climb over logs, avoid puddles. We have to climb under branches,” said Rudolph. “The change in body movement is pretty huge. We have to look at solving problems in a different way. If it’s wet – where might we go to find cover or different situations come up where we have to work together to figure things out. It’s different than being in a classroom because it is happening right there, and it needs to be dealt with in real time.”


Spring Break adventure


For Spring Break, Soaring Eagle is offering a number of camps. Like most of its programs, the camps fill up quickly.

“It will be full of nature-based games, cool nature discoveries and adventure in the forest,” said Rudolph. “Basically exploring whatever the forest is doing. Spring is an incredible time. There are many of plants coming up and growing, a lot of birds returning so there is definitely a lot to explore, to learn what’s new and to see what is changing.”

There will be plenty of activity to keep warm and explore the forest, but facilitators will also take time with the children to slow down.

“Kids often want to be really loud and excited in the forest but a lot of the games and activities require the kids to be quiet and sneaky,” said Rudolph. “It’s those games where we have some really special moments. Hiding in a bush, we might see a spider or insect crawling by that we might not have noticed otherwise.

“Being quiet and moving slowly allows us to get closer to wildlife than we would have otherwise and I think that brings a deeper sense of reverence for the forest when we are fully aware of where we are and realizing we are in some other creatures space. That is when the really magical things start to happen – in the quiet and still.”

Like any outdoor adventure on the North Shore, both children and staff need to ready for just about anything.

“Be prepared for any kind of weather: having lots of warm clothing, having some extra layers, having good rain gear and boots,” explained Rudolph. “Be prepared for the newness of being outdoors for a long period of time. Being aware of your safety and others safety – keeping warm. We make sure that each child is dressed appropriately or has what they need in their backpacks. As staff we always have extra gear in our packs for kids if they need it. Often on cold days we have stoves and water to make tea. We always have tarps with us.”

With time and space to explore and grow in the forest Rudolph hopes participants walk away a little bit changed.

“Expect that after just a few hours in the forest it feels like the you have known the people you are with for a very long time,” she said. “You can expect new and different experiences that other people don’t get to have.”

To learn more or to register for any of Soaring Eagles’ programs visit its website.

Are you or your organization offering spring break nature activities in Lynn Valley? Feel free to let the neighbourhood know by posting directly onto our Facebook page!

Hopes and Reflections: Seymour Salmonid Society

It has been a busy year – for us all. We don’t always get a chance to keep up with all the goings on in our community or to know what happens behind the scenes. LynnValleyLife reached out to pretty much every local group we could track down and ask them to share their how the year went, what their hopes are for 2018 and how the Lynn Valley community can help them succeed. A few shared their thoughts. We have three posts coming up featuring the diversity of our community. We hope you enjoy this series of hopes and reflections.

 

Our local Seymour Salmonid Society marked its 30th year working to protect our salmon

 

2017 Highlights

  • 14 weeks of drilling and rock breaking that was completed on the Seymour River Rockslide Mitigation Project. This was a big move toward re-establishing migration for species on the river currently blocked by slide debris.
  • The monitoring program of outgoing coho smolts that showed a high survival rate for out-migrating juveniles salmon past the rock slide debris.
  • We had a very successful spring education program (Gently Down the Seymour) that ran 50 full-day field trips between March and June.
  • Due to the success of the spring we extended the program in a Fall pilot, providing 20 additional spaces for Grade 2 – 6 students.
  • We hosted three community events: Family Fishing Day, Open House and Rivers Day Estuary Clean Up. All three were well attended.
  • We spawned more Seymour pink salmon than ever before (100 pair)
  • We spawned more Seymour chum salmon than ever before (32 pair)

2017 Challenges

The challenge we faced was fundraising for major projects and education programs. Although we were successful it took a lot of time from limited staff that have many other duties. Another challenge was that our fish fence was washed out in high flows in a storm this past fall. We are looking to repair it in the early part of next year.

2018 Goals

In the year  our goals are to continue to make progress on the Seymour River rockslide, we have fundraised over $300,000 for the work in 2018.

We would like to offer 70 field trip days to elementary-aged children next spring and fall, educating youth on the importance of salmon and a healthy watershed.

Finally, our main goal is to continue to enhance coho, pink and chum salmon and steelhead trout on the Seymour River to ensure they’re long term survival.

Hopes for Lynn Valley

We would like to see Lynn Valley stay the pristine natural place that is wonderful to hike and spend time outdoors.  

How can Lynn Valley help the Seymour Salmonid Society?

The community has been an incredible support in the past and we hope that they would continue to support the Society. A couple important way to help are by becoming a volunteer or by becoming a paid member (only $10 annually). Another great way the community can show its support is by coming and participating in our annual events like, Family Fishing Day on June 17th, Seymour Hatchery Open House on September 16th and Rivers Day on September 30th.

To keep up with the Society all year round follow their Instagram or Facebook.