Lab Blogs

Field dreams

2018 Kitasoo/Xai’xais biocultural survey crew including Vern Brown, Santana Edgar, Stephen Neasloss, Sarein Basi-Primeau, Chantal Pronteau, Rosie Child, Sam Harrison, Mitch Robinson, Johnny May and Andra Forney

Above image: 2018 Kitasoo/Xai’xais biocultural survey crew including Vern Brown, Santana Edgar, Stephen Neasloss, Sarein Basi-Primeau, Chantal Pronteau, Rosie Child, Sam Harrison, Mitch Robinson, Johnny May, Christina Service, and Andra Forney

Maybe it’s the short days and cold weather, but I am missing the field season. Especially all of the people we are fortunate to work alongside with and the places in which we are privileged to spend time.

The highlight of every year as a grad student in the ACS lab is fieldwork. Summers are packed full of days spent working outside with teams of people from survey leads, technicians, boat operators, pilots, Guardian Watchmen, Spirit Bear Lodge staff and lands managers.  Spending time on the land and water with these people is what it is all about.

The crew this year for the Kitasoo/Xai’xais biocultural inventory project was quite large (many pictured above). We needed a big team of people to carry out the task of conducting territory-wide surveys for ecological and cultural values (e.g. rare species, medicinal and food plants as well as archaeological features). We spent two weeks learning from experts in botany, cultural feature surveys and archaeology before heading out into the Territory on our own. Often we would send two teams (of 3 people) out every day over the course of a month and half. With a large crew we were able to rotate through surveyors to keep everyone’s legs and eyes fresh as well as minimize risk of injury from fatigue. Our surveys were often over 2 kilometers long and required bushwhacking through every kind of terrain imaginable, typically taking between 6 and 8 hours.

Stephen Neasloss and Santana Edgar measuring a monumental cedar in Kitasoo/Xai’xais Territory
Stephen Neasloss and Santana Edgar measuring a monumental cedar in Kitasoo/Xai’xais Territory

It is so inspiring to work with so many different people from different backgrounds who are all working towards a common stewardship goal. Conservation can feel like a team sport. Without this team, and the many other teams of wonderful people the ACS lab and Raincoast partner with up and down the coast, none of our research or projects would be possible. For these relationships and the dedication of those individuals, we are all eternally grateful.

On the flip side, fall and winter are for thinking, writing and analysing. Days are filled with reading, coding or writing.  In the depths of winter I cling to memories of the field season and am motivated to push on through countless hours at the computer screen by the prospect of seeing these team members again (as well as new faces), and spending time outdoors with them. It is the light at the end of the tunnel!

By Bryant DeRoy, MSc Student