By Whistler2020 Youth Task Force
Next time you visit the Fitzsimmons Fan check out the new split cedar rail fence recently installed there. Despite some recent assumptions to the contrary, it is not firewood.
The fence is a reminder of, and protection for, the bird species who use the Fitz Fan, the sandy delta created by Fitzsimmons Creek flowing into Green Lake. It is designed to separate the human and canine users of the fan from ground nesting birds. Some "camping" folks recently decided it looked more like firewood than public property. Well, camping and campfires are not permitted at the Fitz Fan and vandalism is intolerable and unacceptable.
Most Whistler residents work hard to live their lives in harmony with the nature that surrounds this place. Sometimes that is not possible. This is case in the Fitz Fan where rampant off-leash dog use has damaged the habitat of a number of endangered and rare birds who nest, raise their young and spend time on the fan. This conflict in use has devastated bird nests and ground-based habitat, challenging Whistler's commitment to biodiversity - the variety of life on earth.
The fan is one of the most important resting and rearing places for migratory birds in all of Sea to Sky Country. Please respect this area and keep it human and dog free. To assist with understanding the importance of the fan, here's some perspective from the amazing creatures who live, breed and love, in the Fitzsimmons Fan, as interpreted by humans from the Whistler2020 Youth Task Force.
Spotted Sandpiper (a.k.a. Ali Calladine)
It's a calm evening on an early summer's day. I peer over the beach and I see the nests of other Spotted Sandpipers. By this time of year our nests have been made, eggs have been hatched and our lovely mates have taken on the responsibility of parenting. I've missed strolling the lakeside, slowly looking for food and interesting creatures. This is a beautiful place. The lake is very cold and has a slight green tinge to it. Humans in ridiculous removable skins can glide across the water here behind loud, water breaking machines. A fence exists near our nests and the dogs we have seen stay on the other side. Which is a relief. The terror of last year's scrambling is a scary story amongst us Sandpipers. My feathered friends tell of a horrific event in which dogs and humans alike ran over our nests and disrupted all the Spotted Sandpiper families; many eggs and nests were destroyed and they were saying it would get worse as more and more people and dogs showed up oblivious to the carnage they were creating. This year the fence has changed all that and I am relieved. Now I can hop along the ground and sing my songs in peace. Tootawee peet-peet!
Green Heron (a.k.a. Cole Schmidt)
I peer over the cold waters of Green Lake, searching for prey, ruffling my feathers to keep my blood moving. Shivering a bit, it's still too cold to mate but I'm not here for the girls, it's the abundant amount of food I want. Perched on the high roots of an overturned log in the Fitzsimmons Fan, continuing my daily routine of eating, sleeping, and just looking pretty. There's a wiggle in the water ten or so meters away! I love fish, so I unfold my wings and get ready to fly. Suddenly a dog bursts from the brush! It's barking and flailing at me, an untold creature that looks like an oversized chew toy. I quickly jump off and fly away from the little beast, that's now splashing and playing fetch with its owner. That dang dog wasted my chance for a tasty meal! He'll probably scare all the fish away too!
The Fitzsimmons Fan is a very important place for the biological diversity and ecology of our Whistler Valley. These birds provide just a few examples of the number of species we need to work together to keep safe. We can all do our part and not intrude on this protected area, and give our feathered friends a helping hand!
To learn more about other actions that are moving our community toward Whistler2020 or to get involved, visit www.whistler2020.ca .