The 100 Mile Marsh is going to the birds.
Over the past few months, the District of 100 Mile House has been working to complete an Interpretive Marsh Walk and Beautification Project at the South Cariboo Visitor Centre. The work has included felling several overgrown trees, putting in a new lawn, planting new saplings and installing a picnic table and several new bird information markers.
Joanne Doddridge, the district’s director of economic planning and development, said she is particularly excited about the new markers that highlight common birds found in the marsh. There are around 250 different kinds of species in the marsh but she recruited local bird watcher Lydia DeGroot to select the top 27.
“Birds are everywhere and it’s very easy for people to watch them,” said DeGroot, a Bridge Lake resident and avid amateur birder.
To make the markers, DeGroot called up a few of her fellow birdwatchers to help pare down the list. She then reached out to local photographers for photos and combined them with information and a QR code to create the marker plaques. DeGroot said her son helped her out with the QR codes, which links to a site with more information on each species.
“Birdwatching is something that takes very little equipment. A good pair of binoculars is helpful but a lot of the birds you can just see them with your naked eye and having those markers there makes it easier for people to identify what they’re seeing,” DeGroot said. “By knowing the name of the bird, it enhances the birdwatching experience.”
Doddridge said the project is part of an overall facelift for the South Cariboo Visitor Centre, funded by the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast Tourism Association (CCCTA). Canada’s Log People also donated a substantial amount of time and resources to restain and paint the centre’s log exterior and signage.
“It was just time to upgrade that front portion of the visitors centre and make it a little more welcoming,” she said. “That area seems to always be in use sitting at the picnic table. People really enjoy the pleasant atmosphere.”
Julie Gilmore, manager of the visitor centre, said despite COVID-19 travel restrictions and the current wildfires, she’s seen more people coming into the centre this year. She attributes that to the beautification of the front area and the new coat of paint the building received.
“(This upgrade) has been very well received. Surprisingly the hottest spot to sit in the visitors’ centre is the new picnic table,” Gilmore said. “It makes me feel good inside that people are enjoying the nice clean grounds and the beauty that surrounds them.”
Locals Murray Casey and Elsie Urquhart have taken to having dinner at the picnic table once in a while. Urquhart noted its concrete construction is a lot easier to clean than the old wooden tables.
“I like it because it’s right here close to the highway and we can enjoy the green space. It’s peaceful, relaxing and a nice place to sit down and have a meal here,” Casey said. “Even when I’m out for my walks in the evening I always love to just sit out here, watch the sky and take it easy.”
Mayor Mitch Campsall said in a media release that he was grateful for the continued financial support from the CCCTA to help promote tourism across the South Cariboo.
“This project is a great example of a partnership that brings together tourism leaders, industry, local business, volunteers, and the community,” Campsall said.
Amy Thacker, CEO of the CCCTA, said the collaborative investment is essential to the continued well-being of rural businesses and communities.
“The improvements to the 100 Mile Marsh Walk and Visitor Center encourage existing guests to stay longer and spend more when visiting the community, supporting recovery and sustainable growth.”
Doddridge said the next phase of the project, funded by the Tourism Dependent Communities, will include the installation of outdoor public washrooms behind the centre.