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Thanks, Kent!

Note: the following tribute to Kent Goodwin, past president of the Kimberley Nature Park Society, was presented at the society's Annual General Meeting Nov. 28 by Laura Duncan, a long-time KNPS supporter and incoming board member, who over the years also took these photos.

A Thanks to Kent

I think I can safely say that everyone here enjoys using the Kimberley Nature Park. Whether that be enjoying its trails, its diversity, or its special places or whether it’s walking, running, biking, skiing, snowshoeing, observing or just knowing that it’s there, we all value this land of wonder at our backdoors. Well, the Nature Park and the Nature Park Society is here in its present form largely due to the dedication of Kent Goodwin. Kent has been the president of the Nature Park Society for a really long time. Tonight, he’s stepping down from that role BUT that doesn’t mean he’s going to stop his explorations and learnings from it.

Kent totally loves the Nature Park. We see that through the years and years of time devoted to creating and conserving the Park. Through the hours he spends virtually every day in the Park. Through the time spent at tables negotiating with corporations or local government over one issue or another. Through the leadership in developing a strong organization that continues caring for this piece of land.

Kent has been a constant right from the beginning in the early 80’s when the idea of a Wildlife Sanctum within City boundaries was a glimmer in the eye of Jim Patison. A small group of us used to meet in Jim’s living room to plot strategies on how to conserve this special place. Old-timers like Grennie Musser, Dick Shannon. Roy Moe, Frank & Mary Scriber established the first trails that gave easy access into the area, but with ownership split between three parties, the area was in a precarious position. It was a long, hard battle to secure some protection for the Nature Park.

It takes a lot of people working many hours to build a strong, vibrant organization like the KNPS. There have been many, many people who have built and maintained trails, pulled weeds, led guided walks, written reports, worked with the City and other government bodies, developed maps, websites, blogs and newsletters, written funding applications, kept minutes of meetings and managed the finances of the Society. One of Kent’s skills is his ability to harness the talents and efforts of a variety of people. He’s used that skill to build a team of talented folks that carry on the multitude of tasks needed to keep things going. And when, on occasion, someone is unable to fulfill a task, Kent always steps in to make sure it’s carried out.

Two of the more contentious issues to arise around the Nature Park were the creation of the Trickle Creek Golf Course and Forest Crowne. Both of these developments were hard to swallow as precious places like Cedar Glen, Scriber’s Pass, First and Second Sloughs, Franks’ Flats and others were transformed into unrecognizable sites. Kent was in the forefront through these times that resulted in some pretty strained relationships between the City and the Nature Park Society. There were some pretty bitter exchanges during that time, putting Kent on Mayor Jim Olgivie’s ‘Most Unwanted List’.

But, out of those difficult times came a complex land exchange between the City, Cominco and the Province of BC. A Memorandum of Understanding between the City and the Society was drafted, giving the responsibility of management of the current Nature Park lands to the Society. So, while some precious pieces of land were lost, what remained gained some modicum of protection. But we must always remember that the agreement is periodically reviewed so we must continue to be good stewards in order to keep the KNP protected.

With the agreement came a whole new set of tasks and responsibilities. Kent and the committees have developed the Park Management Plan, built administrative structures, created ways to use social media, pulled invasive weeds, built trails & bridges, led walks, put out newsletters, harvested fire-wood and negotiated forestry plans that meet the goals of both ecosystem restoration and wildfire protection. I’ve seen Kent being part of all these things. He swings a hammer as well as he talks forestry plans.

One of Kent’s keen interests is natural history. He’s particularly interested in little things which leads to the need to pay attention and NOTICE. For instance, his keen interest in lichens has led him to becoming a bit of an authority on these tiny, complex organisms. On our Natural History outings, Kent is usually seen striding far ahead of the rest of us – that is, until some unusual lichen catches his eye Then he’s dashing off into the bush getting a magnifying glass out to get a closer look at the arresting plant that’s either hanging from a tree or plastered on rock. Kent’s interest has opened our eyes to an amazing diversity and to the unique biology of lichens found in the Park. His keen eye also discovered the presence of a small, brownish-grey snake called the rubber boa. Yes, it’s related to the boa constrictor – but at their small size they don’t pose much of a threat to humans. He and Ruth also discovered the Williamson’s Sapsucker in the Park. At the time, the only known location in the East Kootenay. Snow fleas were another thing that caught Kent’s eye. Those small black spots that look like bits of coal dust on the surface of snow as the temperatures warm up are called snow fleas or springtails. If you take the time to look very closely at these creatures, you’ll notice those black spots hopping all over the snow, using their curled-up tails as springboards to launch them into the air. Kent took the time to not only notice them hopping about, he also noticed that some were smaller than others. This resulted in experts confirming there are two distinct species of snow fleas in the Park. Who knew there were more than one species of snow flea???

The Nature Park has undergone enormous changes in the years since it was established. The type of use has changed – witness the mountain bikes, fat-tire bikes, skiers, snowshoers and the competitive running/biking events using the trails! The number of people in the park has increased dramatically, the number of trails has increased and many of them have been beefed-up to withstand the increased usage. Witness the Fifth Edition of the trail map, the slick website, the blogs, the Natural History checklists, the increased guided walks, the weed pulls, the harvesting of firewood, the interface fire protection work and the solid financial footing of the organization. These are complex issues and while many hands and heads have been at play coping with these things, Kent’s guidance in responding to issues has been key to the vibrancy of both the Kimberley Nature Park and the Society.

Now, don’t worry, we aren’t going to go cold-turkey with Kent disappearing after tonight. He’s going to continue to play a role in the Nature Park and I’m sure will work with the Board as Past-President. But he’s NOT going to be the face of the Nature Park nor be the lead in guiding the decisions of the Board. Hopefully, that will mean he’ll be able to spend even MORE time in the Park, simply enjoying the fruits of his efforts.

Please join me in raising a glass in thanks to Kent and to the thousands of hours he has given to this jewel of our community!

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