Welcome to Our New Chair, Ed Paleczny
We are pleased to announce that Ed Paleczny has taken on the role of Environment Council Chair. Ed recently retired from a 33-year career which included time as Manager of Resource Conservation at Pacific Rim National Park, Science Policy Advisor with Department of Fisheries and Oceans and Senior Fish Habitat Biologist, Species at Risk/Invasive Species Biologist and Great Lakes Restoration Coordinator and Science Operations Supervisor with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry.
Ed has extensive experience designing and implementing ecosystem monitoring programs that are used to report on the state of ecological integrity and enhance science-based decision making. He sees a great opportunity for the EC to collaborate with First Nations, colleges and universities and local, provincial and federal governments to design and implement an ecosystem-based monitoring program for Ston(e)y, Clear and White Lakes. He looks forward to building on the EC's legacy. Welcome, Ed!
Introducing Our New Vice Chair
We are also pleased to announce that John Huycke has taken on the role of Vice Chair. As the Environment Director for the Association of Stoney Lake Cottagers (ASLC) and an Executive member of the Environment Council for the past few years, John has been actively engaged in a variety of environmental topics in the community including organizing last summer's Sustainable Cottaging Day at Juniper Island, raising awareness regarding Starry Stonewort, and representing ASLC at the OMB in the battle to protect the Fraser wetlands. John brings considerable leadership experience from the private sector in healthcare combined with international nonprofit experience in a variety of settings and countries. John is particularly interested in engaging youth on our lakes into Environment Council activities and building stewardship opportunities to ensure the future health of our lakes are in good hands for the next generation.
COVID-19 has brought many new challenges and some realization about what is really important to us as individuals and as a community. For the EC, it reinforces the connection between the state of our ecosystems and how they function (ecological integrity) and the indispensable role they play in maintaining and protecting human health. Climate change and the introduction of many new invasive species throughout the world leads to loss of biodiversity, less resilience in ecosystem functions and higher incidence of disease that can impact many native species of fish and wildlife, as well as, humans. We have seen how the introduction of zebra mussels has increased water clarity which has led to increasing occurrence of toxic blue-green aglae blooms. On the positive side of COVID-19, we saw many good news stories about how wildlife are rebounding in their natural habitats, including large hatches of Ridley's Turtles on the deserted beaches in India. We have also seen large reductions in our greenhouse gas impacts on the planet.
As kids we all had opportunities to catch frogs or turtles, turn over a log to find a salamander, hear the endless call of the whip-or-will at night or catch a fish. These small but simple experiences are becoming less common since many of these once common species of birds, turtles and frogs are declining and threatened or in danger of extinction.
A GROWING MOVEMENT
Climate change, invasive species, development and loss of habitat are all impacting the survival of native species and healthy functioning ecosystems.
Now more than ever, it is important for all of us to work together to continue on a new trajectory post COVID-19 of protecting biodiversity and healthy ecosystems. We have been inspired by the dedication and hard work of so many people over the years that have done so much including the Friends of the Fraser Wetlands, the many lake associations, lake stewards and those involved in the Environment Council. We feel fortunate to be part of a growing movement of people. As we move forward, we will be looking to recruit youth, build EC capacity and inspire the entire lake community to get involved. We challenge everyone who has the privilege of enjoying these beautiful lakes to think about what you can do (for example, rehabilitating a natural shoreline, planting native species, donating funds or volunteering to support EC projects) and to act now!
Chair, Environment Council