Lighthouse Park Preservation Society
In 1996, a group of West Vancouver residents met informally to discuss concerns about the state of the biological health of Lighthouse Park. Their passion and infectious enthusiasm supported the launching of the Lighthouse Park Preservation Society in 1998 and a wonderful, cooperative working relationship with the District of West Vancouver. Together the Society and the District have worked to improve the long-term health and biological integrity of this fabulous coastal old-growth forest park.
The Lighthouse Park Preservation Society was formally incorporated by the Province of British Columbia on June 29, 1998 and then recognized by Revenue Canada as a Charitable Organization on February 5, 1999.
After several constructive meetings between the West Vancouver Parks Department and Society board members, it was determined that a crucial first step in addressing their shared concerns should be an environmental assessment of Lighthouse Park. The District commissioned a study conducted by Entech Environmental Consultants. The flora and fauna were inventoried over several seasons and useful data were also collected on patterns of public usage and attitudes, commercial usages and the overall state of the park. The District developed the Lighthouse Park Management Plan using the Entech data and other information gathered during the planning process. The Management Plan includes a series of recommendations to address some of the concerns identified in the Entech Report. The Lighthouse Park Management Plan was approved by District Council in June of 2004.
As a result of the early meetings, the formal studies and reports, the Parks Department crews achieved many improvements to the Park's trail system: unofficial trails were closed; walk-ways, steps and small bridges were built where necessary; a second kiosk in the parking lot was constructed; new trail signs and maps were designed; and parking spaces were redefined.
To engage and educate the public, the Society began to offer a series of public natural history lectures and field walks and to publish a biannual newsletter. The creation of a travelling display depicting the natural history of the park's main features - the seaside, the forest, the wetlands as well as the environmental concerns about the loss of biodiversity - now makes its rounds to schools, community centers, and libraries.
To improve the biological integrity of the park, the Society, under the direction of the Parks Department, undertook significant restoration projects in the park. Native plants were replanted along the main path through the park - Beacon Trail - and protected by the installation of split-rail cedar fences. Non-native plants such as English ivy, holly and Scotch broom have been removed by volunteers several times per year.
The removal of invasive non-native plants and the replanting of native species now occurs in the other small parks which neighbour Lighthouse Park. These parks make up what is referred to by the Society as the Six-Park Network. The Lighthouse Park Preservation Society broadened its environmental stewardship activities to these parks under the direction and with the support of the Parks Department in 2006.
In 2005, after 7 years and thousands of volunteer hours, the Lighthouse Park Preservation Society was presented with a Heritage Award from the Corporation of the District of West Vancouver. Although our stewardship efforts now embrace several small neighbouring parks as well as Lighthouse Park, the award was in recognition of our continuing efforts to preserve the natural heritage and environmental values of Lighthouse Park.
The efforts and mandate of the Lighthouse Park Preservation Society could not have been accomplished without the ongoing and tireless efforts of many enthusiastic volunteers and members of the Society. Significant financial support has come from many community groups and companies, as well as via the generous donation of the proceeds from the sale of Elspeth Bradbury's book A View through the Trees. The Society has also been fortunate in attracting many board members with scientific backgrounds whose knowledge and expertise has been invaluable.
Achievements of the Society:
The Lighthouse Park Preservation Society working with the West Vancouver Parks Department has: ■improved the safety of official trails; installed directional signs on all main trails and closed some accessory unofficial trails;
■held regular work parties to remove invasive species such as ivy, broom and lamium and has initiated a pilot project for the control of knotweed;
■helped in the development of the Park Management Plan;
■initiated a plan for restoration of biologically important degraded sites;
■conducted a Public Education Program that includes an annual speakers' series, interpretive walks, monthly bird counts, a biannual newsletter, plant propagation, art exhibitions, and greeting cards to promote the biological heritage of Lighthouse Park;
■created the Six-Park Network by becoming the stewardship group for five smaller neighbouring parks
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