Submitted by: Rebecca Peters
“If Obama could raise $500 million via social media for his presidential campaign then I figured why couldn’t we try and raise $5 million to Save Mary Lake” says Bob McMinn, one of the small group of residents from Vancouver Island, Canada, that are attempting to raise this ambitious sum of money to save a rare ecosystem from development.
The dry Coastal Douglas fir ecosystem is one of the most endangered ecosystems in Canada. Large Douglas-firs dominate the land, along with Arbutus, Western Red-cedar, Garry oak, Aspen and Grand fir.
While they may not have the president of the US on board just yet, Elizabeth May, the leader of the national political party Green Party Canada has bought square metres and environmental legend David Suzuki has picked them as one of his favourite pages to support on Facebook.
86-year-old McMinn has been a resident of the District of Highlands (the region encompassing Mary Lake) for 57 years. He’s a true advocate of conservation, and as the first mayor of the region, he has been a tireless crusader to save land from development, and has been instrumental in helping the region maintain 40% parkland.
McMinn believes that it is the ‘wow’ factor that is inspiring people from close by, and as far away as Japan, Denmark and Australia to support Save Mary Lake. “When I first saw Mary Lake, I couldn’t help but exclaim ‘wow’” says McMinn. “I delight in taking people to see the land, and every time their reaction to the astounding beauty mimics my first reaction.”
Water trickles through the streamside riparian habitat. More than 80% of this region’s riparian ecosystems have been lost to development, the same risk that faces Mary Lake today.
Launching just over a month ago, the Save Mary Lake campaign has already connected with an international environmental audience to help save this valuable piece of ecological property. The Save Mary Lake group created a website www.savemarylake.com
where people can choose square metres to buy on a digital map of Mary Lake, essentially saving those squares, and leaving their environmental name-stamp for all to see. To date over 12,000 square metres have been saved.
The 107-acre Mary Lake property is part of an imperiled dry coastal Douglas fir ecosystem that connects two already preserved pieces of parkland. It provides an important corridor between these pieces of parkland, especially for the many types of wildlife. The seven-acre lake on the property also provides refuge to wildlife including some that are endangered. Mary Lake also acts as a natural carbon sink removing CO2 from the atmosphere.
Save Mary Lake champion Bob McMinn enjoys the view at Mary Lake.
The group has taken to Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube to try and engage people but they still need help if they are to meet the first goal of their fundraising campaign, to sell 65,000 squares by the end of January 2011. Although the goal is lofty, the Save Mary Lake crew believes it is achievable. Bob looks forward to seeing who will share the squares beside him and hopes to one day shake the hand of the people whose digital squares border his. For now, a digital handshake in the form of a tweet will have to do-after all a trip to Japan may have to wait as this 86-year-old has a busier schedule than most people half his age as he continues the crusade to Save Mary Lake.
Rebecca Peters is a Vancouver resident, deeply committed to her community.
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