Our History

The Great Oak by Paul Fletcher

The Great Oak by Paul Fletcher


It all started in 1986…

The Somenos Marsh Wildlife Society originated in 1986 as a sub Committee of the Cowichan Valley Naturalists until incorporated as a charitable Society in the province of British Columbia in 1989. The SMWS played a lead role in establishing the Somenos Marsh Wildlife Refuge, which formally became the Somenos Marsh Conservation Area in 2000. In 2018 Cowichan Tribes gave permission for the Conservation Area to be referred to as the S-amuna’/Somenos Conservation Area incorporating the Hul’q’umi’num word for the area.

The Society has achieved a long list of accomplishments over the last 25 years. Arguably the three most impressive accomplishments are:

  • The Society has seen itself in a key role of public education and garnering support for preserving the marsh and stopping ongoing development that erodes and threatens the sensitive ecosystem.

  • Building a coalition of partners and stakeholders, the Society has been very successful in partnership building, bringing together a broad coalition of stakeholder groups including NGO’s, government agencies, First Nations and property owners.

  • Building wildlife-viewing facilities that provide public access for all levels of abilities to the natural experience that the SMCA provides.

The Society has raised and expended approximately $1,000,000 over the past three decades on land acquisition, habitat restoration, wildlife viewing infrastructure, studies and the preparation of a comprehensive management plan. All of these projects have assisted in taking the Society closer to its overall objectives, which as detailed in the 2001 Somenos Management Plan (SMP), is to position the marsh as an ecological jewel for the benefit of all future generations.