BioBlitz! 2018 & our new Camp Skills Workshop

BioBlitz! 2018… May 4, 5 & 6
Camp Skills Workshop… April 20

In preparation for our Community Campout at Carrington Bay Park campsite, base camp for BioBlitz! 2018, a Camp Skills Workshop will be offered on Friday, April 20 from 3:30 pm to 5:30 pm at the Linnaea Education Center.

Join Ryan Harvey, Bill Wheeler and Richard Andrews to learn how to hone your camp skills! Bring personal gear that you would like to test out, or just come along to take in the demonstrations on site. We’re working to keep our BioBlitz campers… happy campers EVERYONE WELCOME!

A BioBlitz is a 24 hour intensive survey of a delineated area or place, to assess its biological diversity. BioBlitz! 2018 will be our third BioBlitz in the Children’s Forest and we are planning it as an annual event. BioBlitz brings the Cortes community together every spring to look, see and wonder over the beauty of these forest lands. Every year we discover something new to us and new to the comprehensive inventory of fauna and flora that we are compiling.

The goal of the Forest Trust for the Children of Cortes Island Society (FTCCIS), is to purchase the Children’s Forest and gift it to the children of Cortes Island in perpetuity! A strong inventory of fauna and flora strengthens our case for long-term protection of these ecologically significant forest lands.

Registration details for families with youth interested in participating are forthcoming from FTCCIS on Tideline. This is a free community event and everyone is invited! All youth under 18 years of age are required to register; parental consent and supervision required.

BioBlitz! 2018 and the Camp Skills Workshop are sponsored by the Forest Trust for the Children of Cortes Island Society.

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April 1st Nature Study Day… No Fooling!!!

Another EPIC walk, this time from Carrington Bay campsite the back way onto Blitz Bluff!!! Only for the hardiest of heart; this bush whacking was serious!!!

We found previously undiscovered bluffs bursting with arbutus and manzanita; home to alligator lizards! Streams rushing to reach Carrington Lagoon with spectacular maple trees towering overhead!!

You just never know what you might discover off the trails and into the heart of the Children’s Forest!!!

Nature Study Days, the first Sunday of every month; don’t miss out!


sustenance mysterious scat carrington logjam bluff buzz2 bluff buzz1

Who ate what?

rose & lara from minnesota!


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February Nature Study Day in Photos!

FTCCIS Nature Study Days in the Children’s Forest continued this month with an epic hike up Blitz Bluff and north around the east side of the Carrington Lagoon!


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Nature Study Days in the Children’s Forest

Place-based, experiential education; AKA, good fun!

Alan Gussow, artist and environmental activist defined place as “a part of the whole environment that we claim with feelings.”

The Children’s Forest on Cortes Island is a place claimed with the heartfelt feelings of many who head out the first Sunday of every month of the year to experience this wild place. These Nature Study Days are sponsored by the Forest Trust for the Children of Cortes Island Society (FTCCIS). FTCCIS has a constitutional mandate to deliver place-based, experiential education; Nature Study Days deliver this, in spades!!!

In developing a relationship with a place, the first thing you need to do is spend time in that place; get to know it in all its seasons, weathers and moods. On today’s January 7 Nature Study Day, our first of the new year 2018, we discovered wolf tracks in the snow, spotted a scurrying white-footed mouse and flushed a red-tailed hawk! We sloshed through melting snow, rushing streams and fabulous mud puddles! The filtered light brought out the tapestry of greens in the forest, more vibrantly that at any other time of the year. This is January in the Children’s Forest; the place… the experiences.

February will be completely different; so why don’t you join us and delight in the experiences this place shares with us each and every time we venture out into her wild space! February 4 is the first Sunday in February; we’ll look for you at the Carrington Bay Trailhead at 10:00.

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Children’s Forest Fairy Tea Party

Youth Improv at the Children's Forest Fairy Tea PartyThe Children’s Forest tea party was a delightful afternoon of youth improv theatre and delectable treats. Huge thanks to the youth for their shining, witty, inspiring improv theatre that brought laughter & joy to the audience. And what an eager, helpful, and somewhat wild troupe of servers, offering tea and goodies to guests.

There are many to thank for the success of our fundraiser: Connie, for your passionate direction with improv theatre and Ashe, for your deep energy holding the youth; Sujon, for your vision of the tea party, and your amazing energy in the kitchen and the most delicious finger food delicacies; Lovena, for rocking the silent auction; parents, for your camaraderie and teamwork!

Many thanks to all who bought tickets, attended, and helped push auction prices up. We are still waiting final word on the funds that were raised towards our spring theatre tour, but we exceeded our hopes.

And thank you to those who contributed items for the silent auction, just another example of how generous the Cortes community is: Tamara, Kirsten, Naamchi Jeramie, Lovena, Ryan & Tosh, Manda, Kate, Stephen, Leslie, Yori, Isabelle & Noah, Henry Vershuur, Floathouse Restaurant, and Hollyhock

Happy Solstice to all!

Forest Trust for the Children of Cortes Island Society


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Asha’s Letter to the SVI

The Social Venture Institute is an annual gathering at Hollyhock, Cortes Island, to share goals, challenges and successes amongst leaders of established small business and non-profit enterprises. Asha is a passionate thirteen-year-old on Cortes who has been advocating for the Children’s Forest for several years.

Asha’s mother has been attending the SVI event for several years, and has become a part of its growing network. Ashe wrote this letter before her 13th birthday, and her mother forwarded it on Asha’s  birthday to participants of the SVI, asking for support.

October 24, 2017

Dear SVI community,

My name is Asha Harvey and I live on Cortes Island. The children here have a dream, of buying 600 acres of forest land in the heart of the island, surrounding Carrington lagoon, that contains many species at risk and Old Growth trees and is the most beautiful place that I know. I am part of a group of kids who have been trying to raise money to buy this land, which we have named The Children’s Forest. This Forest would be owned by the children of Cortes Island forever, passed down generation to generation. It is our dream that our children and grandchildren can experience this forest as we have.

Island Timberlands (I.T) owns this land and would like to come and cut it.  When I was five years old I went to a successful protest and at the end of that rainy day, I felt hope and vowed to protect the forest for my whole life. Now 8 years later, the Cortes Children’s Forest Trust, has become a registered charity. I.T. still owns the land, but we created an agreement with them about buying the Children’s Forest. So we are still hard at work, walking in the forest together on the first Sunday of each month, and each spring participating in a two day biological inventory, bringing in biologists to teach us and identify red listed and endangered species. We’ve also formed a Children’s Forest Theatre troupe, producing plays such as Shades of Green, The Lorax and Without One, None. We perform for the public and at schools (if you’d like us to perform, please let me know!)

We may be a small group of kids, but our hearts are big and we know our voices can change the world. Help us take the first step of this journey. If you’d like to learn more, make a pledge or a donation, please go to our webpage:  If you have any ideas about how we can raise funds or if you can help in some way, please email me:

Thank you for listening,

“Only if someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better… its not.” Dr. Seuss, The Lorax.


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AGM Reports — BioBlitz, Youth Activities, Streamkeepers and more

These reports were presented at the Forest Trust for the Children of Cortes Island Society’s 2017 AGM. Enjoy!

2017 Chair’s Report by Chris Dragseth

2017 BioBlitz Report by Sabina Leader Mense

2017 Streamkeepers Report by Christine Robinson

2017 Youth Director Report by Ashe Biela

2017 Fish Counting Report by Tosh Harvey

2017 Youth Streamkeeper Report by Sofia Nybida

2017 BioBlitz Youth Streamkeepers Report by Sofia Nybida

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Children’s Forest AGM Update

The Forest Trust for the Children of Cortes Island Society had our Annual General Meeting on November 23, 2017. We would like to provide you a summary of our meeting, which outlines the past year and where our focus will be in the coming year.

The Board for the Forest Trust for the Children of Cortes Island Society is: Chris Dragseth – Chair, Christine Robinson – Secretary, Andrew Smyth – Treasurer, Ashe Biela – Youth Director, Andy Ellingsen, Sabina Leader-Mense, Adam McKenty, Connie Brill and Norlene Lillico.

We also have the following Honorary Directors: Anne Mortifee and Donna Bracewell.

The Forest Trust for the Children of Cortes Island Society was formed in 2012 to raise funds to purchase and steward the Children’s Forest, and to undertake place-based experiential education. In 2013 the FTCCIS directors initiated discussions with Island Timberlands, the current landowner and have been in ongoing communication since then. The organization received CRA charitable status in May 2014, and is actively moving forward with fundraising for the land purchase.

Our activities since the 2016 AGM can be captured under two broad categories:

• growth of youth programming and
• moving towards the purchase of the Children’s Forest.

We continue the work on expanding the Youth programming. 2017 was a particularly strong year. The monthly walks in the Children’s forest continued. There were some very significant events over the past year worth noting.

The annual Bioblitz took place from April 28-30 with seven entomologists from Vancouver Island participating. In support of the Bioblitz, a fund raising supper took place on March 11. These funds supported the travel expenses for the entomologists. At the Bioblitz, we had 33 children and 28 adults supporting our weekend. The weather was a bit of challenge, but everyone seemed to have fun while learning a lot about “bugs and insects”. Several community mentors provided valuable mentorship to designated youth during this weekend. There were many lessons learned from this year’s event. One specific item that emerged was the support by parents to fully organize meals and camp management.

The Board sponsors a Friday youth program at Linnaea which was well attended with over twenty children regularly participating. Again a theatre program was offered. The group participated in the CKTZ Lipsynch show on February 18, which was well received. Additionally, the Theatre group visited schools to spread the message about the Children’s Forest. Two presentations took place at Quadra and Campbell River schools on May 30. The presentation was entitled ‘Without One, None’ a murder mystery (loosely based on Agatha Christie’s ‘And Then There Were None’ ) set at a BioBlitz in the Children’s Forest.

The Stream Keeper program “Gently Down the Creek” was offered to the children on May 12. The Forest Trust Board and the Friends of Cortes Island jointly sponsored this initiative.

Under the leadership of Krista Smith, the children participated in art classes, which lead to an impressive art showing at the TOSH on July 28-30 and August 4-6. There was significant community support with many pieces of art purchased in support of the Children’s Forest.

The Board took a significant step this past year towards negotiations with Island Timberlands. The Board sought and received permission from IT to conduct assessment work in the Children’s Forest. The first piece of work was obtaining a land valuation. The Board engaged the services of Francis Guthrie to obtain this information. The second piece of work was to contract the services of Econ Consulting to provide a timber valuation. These two pieces of information provided the Board with needed benchmark values that will influence our negotiations with IT. To this end, the Board created a Negotiating Committee (Andy, Andrew and Chris). A meeting of the Negotiations Committee and IT took place on May 17. Ongoing negotiations continue with Island Timberlands. The Board will provide the Community updates as progress occurs.

The Board continues to approach individuals for donations. The main challenge continues to be the lack of a negotiated sale price with IT. We anticipate that a successful outcome in negotiations will improve the climate for donors. In the interim, the ongoing program needs still require support through donations.

As the Cortes Community is aware, the Community Forest General Partnership is proposing to move their operations into the Carrington Bay area. Our Board has approached the Partnership to emphasize the importance of James Creek to the Children’s Forest. We will be pursuing discussions directly with the Partnership to clarify our interests and seek their support.

The Cortes Museum is establishing a permanent exhibit, ‘Wild Cortes – Woods, Wetlands & Waters’ at the Linnaea Education Centre, and are looking for partners to support this work. The Board has agreed to support this work and work with the Museum.
The Board will also be looking at opportunities to engage with other Land Trusts. To this end, Sabina recently attended the Land Trust Alliance of British Columbia meeting. Possible partnership opportunities may emerge for our Board to pursue.

Finally, the negotiations with IT will continue and hopefully result in success.

Thank you for your support!

Chris Dragseth, Chair
Forest Trust for the Children of Cortes Island

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Art Show: Imagine a Forest in Trust to the Children

By Krista Smith

The Forest Trust for the Children of Cortes Island Society (FTCCIS) installed an art exhibition at The Old Schoolhouse (TOSH) Gallery in July 2017 titled Imagine A Forest in Trust to the Children.   The exhibition featured art created by the Children’s Forest Youth and professional artists from Cortes Island and beyond.

The exhibition was dedicated as a prayer for the purchase of Island Timberland forest land holdings immediately adjacent to Carrington Bay Park on Cortes Island. These forest lands will be purchased and held in trust for all children in perpetuity. They will offer educational, recreational, cultural and spiritual value for all children.  These lands will provide the opportunity for our youth to embrace and practice stewardship of forests and watersheds.

Working with the Children’s Forest Youth has blown my heart wide open.  To see a forest I love so much through these amazing children’s eyes, and creating art with them that is inspired by this magical forest whose spirit has imprinted itself upon our souls has been a profound gift” says curator Krista Smith.

Upon seeing the artwork that the youth have presented, the public not only saw the beauty of the forest through the artists’ eyes, and their love of the plants and animals that fill this ancient land, but also an important message that persisted throughout the exhibition.  It is a statement that cannot be ignored, and their message was clear:

 “We love this Forest and we will never give up.”

All proceeds from sales of this exhibition went to support the Forest Trust for the Children of Cortes Island Society (FTCCIS) and The Old School House Gallery on Cortes Island, BC.

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Children’s Forest Youth Update Summer 2017

As the youth programming for The Children’s Forest slows down for the summer, I want to offer the community an update. It has been a fast paced, fun filled, deeply educational and rewarding year. We have had 20 plus youth participating weekly, and over 30 youth involved. The Youth Program is a completely volunteer run program offered to all youth, free of charge. This year we added a 2nd hour to the Friday gatherings which allowed us to include the younger youth.

The monthly walk into the Children’s Forest is a real highlight. Our youth learn so much from being in the forest – deep ecology; biology; Latin names of plant and animal species; counting rings on old growth trees; documenting their finds; the art of haikus; use of a compass; and a sense of community created by the togetherness of being in a forest. The youth are hardcore and swim every month, even in January when they had to crack the ice first!

The Bio-Blitz in April was amazingly attended. With many mentors, our youth learned heaps while camping out. Big thanks to Sabina Mense for organizing this special event!

From October, 2016 – June 2017 Connie Brill, Christine Robinson, Krista Smyth, Norleen Lillico and Ashe Biela have held down the weekly theatre and arts program. Projects over this period included: making endangered species prayer flags to sell at the Christmas market; staging and performing a music collage for Lip Sync; a sleep-over pizza party/workshop; writing, rehearsing and performing a play; lots of cool art with some slated for exhibition at the Schoolhouse Art Gallery;   playing and learning new leadership and interactive games.  It’s become a real leadership program centering around environment, biology, arts, and supporting one another. In many ways we just stand back and hold the space for the youth to find their strengths and shine.

And what a shiny group they are. Since early January we have been working on the play Without One – None, a murder mystery centred around the disappearance of an eco-system. In May, the troupe of 22 youth performed Without One – None at schools on Quadra Island and Campbell River. The feedback received was how confident, strong, and engaged our youth are. And it’s true.  With the many mentors who step in and offer their time, and with the loving encouragement from the community, our youth really are raised by the village. It feels like an honor to send out into the world such passionate, intelligent young people.

There have been so many people who have stepped up to help support the program this year, to name a few…..Thanks to Connie Brill, Christine Robinson, Sabina Mense, and Krista Smith who hold down the vision and continue to volunteer hundreds of hours out of love for the forest and the youth. Shout out to Dan Peters who always comes to our rescue last minute, to everyone out at Linnaea Farm who rents us the space at a very generous rate and who are flexible with the (often times) chaos of this project (herding 22 kids!), thanks to the WCC board for allowing us use of the Gorge hall, Colin Funk for your background support, the Children’s Forest Board members who are working so diligently in the background to protect this special place, thanks to all the parents who commit to getting their kids to us on time, and the biggest thanks goes to all the youth who stand tall, who have bravely pushed themselves to their limits, who have worked so hard and show such passion for our future and for all that lives but has no voice. I feel so hopeful knowing what leaders and beauties we are sending out into the world!

The weekly theater and arts programming takes a break for the summer, but we plan to re-group next fall. All youth are invited to join and to bring ideas of what they would like to do in the next year. We are open to facilitating just about anything (as long as it fits into our mission statement of buying and protecting The Children’s Forest!) Current ideas circulating are: touring Vancouver Island with Without One – None; making a documentary; more hands on biology stuff; more art.

And finally, I would like to invite one and all to see our show Imagine, A Forest in Trust to the Children located at the Old Schoolhouse Gallery July 28- August 6. Krista Smith is coordinating this show and has put in lots of energy working alongside the youth for this project.  We hope to see you then.

In Trust to the Children and the Forest,
Ashe Biela
(youth director for The Forest Trust for the Children of Cortes Island)

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