It’s exciting news that the recreational stretches of the Columbia Wetlands are being outfitted with amenities that will bolster the overall paddling experiences our region offers. An official takeout/launch point in Radium combined with sanitary facilities from Invermere to Golden will cement river floats as a must-do activity in the Columbia Valley during the summer months, and the spin-off is not only more business for water-based operators and the local economy overall, but increased awareness around the importance of wetlands — locally as well as worldwide.
According to the World Wildlife Fund, half of the world’s wetlands have disappeared since 1900. Mainstream culture has conveyed them as swampy, insect-filled and undesirable places to go (think swamp creatures and monsters, or an exiled Yoda finding refuge in the swampy world of Dagobah); areas that historically have been considered useless and, hence, have been drained and filled in to make way for commercial, residential and industrial developments. While there continue to be major threats to the world’s wetlands with ongoing pollution, waste, dams, etc., there is thankfully an ever-growing understanding that the “wet” in wetlands is crucial to the health of our planet as well as humans and countless other species. As recently reported on in The Pioneer, two-thirds of North America’s bird species are considered at risk and preservation of wetlands is the number one call to action. By making conservation-minded wetlands excursions more inviting to the public, the Columbia Wetlands Stewardship Partners and local communities are definitely doing their part, and everyone — whether it’s tourists, local businesses or our fragile and beautiful bird and wildlife populations — will reap the benefits.