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Profile by --Leah Macpherson
Volunteers in: Delta, B.C.
Category: Canada - Environment
Organization: Burns Bog Conservation Society
ABOUT THE CANDIDATE:
Leading the fight to save on of North America's largest peat lands.
As a child, Eliza Olson witnessed the destruction of a local pond. A family of ducks was displaced--a chilling experience that would one day lead to a passion to preserve the country's wetlands.
In 1988, Olson learned that part of the bog near her home, in British
Columbia's Lower Mainland, was slated for destruction to make way for a golf course. Horrified at the lack of concern about the eradication of the local peat lands, Olson created the Burns Bog Conservation Society as a forum for local residents to meet, discuss and strategize ways to preserve Burns Bog, the largest raised estuarine peat bog on the West Coast of North America--and the only bog of its kind.
The group successfully blocked plans for the golf course and has since been working to preserve the peat lands and educate people about the local ecosystems for more than two decades.
A retired teacher, Olson spends more than 40 hours a week at the Burns Bog Conservation Society. Carol LeVasseur, a fellow volunteer, notes: "Since 1987, Eliza has donated countless hours for the preservation of Burns Bog. Her degree in education has enabled her to skilfully educate others on the importance of saving the bog. At last count, the Burns Bog Conservation Society is the largest B.C. organization focusing on educating people about peat lands and one of the largest [of its kind] in Canada." Olson is passionate about the bog and its important role in offsetting global warming.
Over the last 22 years, she has overseen the construction of boardwalks that make the area more accessible, as well as the creation of internship programs, student programs and walking tours. The Burns Bog Conservation Society also partners with local scientists to research the peat lands and help develop preservation strategies.
Currently, the society is fighting to stop the South Fraser Perimeter Road from passing through a part of the bog that falls just outside the conservation area. Concerned that the road will block local endangered species, such as black-tailed deer, cranes and the southern red-backed vole, from accessing feeding grounds on Burns Bog, it hopes to either stop the road altogether or move it elsewhere.
Olson's long-term vision is to build a world-class education and interpretive centre, and to improve education and communication programs. "The goal is to have the building itself be something people would come to see, have a wide range of activities that are related to the bog and its wildlife, and to raise rare and endangered cranes. We want to be part of a worldwide movement to save peat lands."
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HOW YOU CAN HELP: FURTHER INFORMATION AND LINKS
Sign the petition to stop the South Fraser Perimeter Road online by visiting http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/stopsfpr/
Sign the petition to designate Burns Bog a UNESCO World Heritage Site by visiting http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/burnsbogunesco/
Donate quickly and securely online through CanadaHelps.org
For information about how you can help out, contact Katie at 604.572.0373 or email mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org
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