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Whistler Naturalists host three day mountain festival

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The Whistler Naturalists have organized three days of seminars, guided tours and exhibitions from Sept. 20 to 22 to accompany the Federation of B.C. Naturalists annual fall meeting.

All of the events are open to the public as well as the FBCN participants, and cover a wide range of topics from alpine ecosystems to birding to herbology to glaciation.

"We’re opening the meeting up to the public because we think we have created something that’s going to be of interest to people," says Bob Brett, president of the Whistler Naturalists.

"We want to involve visitors and locals is a lot of different ways. There are events indoors, outdoors, in the high alpine and on the valley bottom. The big emphasis is to get as many people to attend at least one event as possible, just to get them involved. I think they’re going to enjoy what they see."

The three-day festival is called "Peak to Valley – The Ups and Downs of Life in a Mountain Environment," and includes more than 20 events as well as local and provincial experts on various naturalist topics.

While some of the seminars are more in depth than others, Brett expects several of the events to sell out. One of those events is the Mountain Nature Photo Exhibition and Social featuring four local nature photographers: Nancy Ricker, Leanna Rathkelly, Bonnie Makarewicz, and Dean Coté. Two surprise exhibitors have yet to be confirmed.

"We’re hoping that this is one event we could hold every year, because people in this town just love photography exhibits, and we have some amazing talent here," says Brett.

Ricker will give a short talk on the physical and technical demands of nature photography, and each photographer will give a 10 minute slideshow of their work. The suggested minimum donation is $5.

Another popular event is the Traditional Plant Use Herbology Walk with Morgan Wells of Mt. Currie.

"The last time we booked Morgan for a herb walk was more than two years ago, and it was very popular," Brett says. "He was originally just doing a morning walk, but we decided to add another afternoon walk so locals could get a chance to take part. This event will sell out fast."

The cost of the herbology walk is $25. The morning group is limited to 15 members of the FBCN meeting, and the afternoon is limited to 15 locals.

Other popular events include Naturalist bird walks, field trips to the Whistler Interpretive Forest and Wetlands, a hike to Wedgemount Glacier, and guided nature field trips around the Whistler Mountain alpine.

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