Ron Taylor wins top conservation award
He’s been on the board of the Oceola Fish and Game Club for 50 consecutive years, but that’s not why he was presented with the Ted Barsby Conservationist of the Year award by the B.C. Wildlife Federation last weekend at the 56th annual general meeting.
Ron Taylor has spent a lifetime volunteering wherever his efforts will help in the conservation of fish and wildlife and their habitat in B.C., and he continues to today.
It all began when his family moved here from Saskatchewan in 1947, when Taylor was 12. He would go fishing and hunting with Max Day and his father, often just heading out onto Crown land from the Day orchard in Rutland to hunt, and fishing for brookies in Mission Creek.
It was later that he discovered the upland lakes, fly fishing and trout.
In 1960 he joined the Oceola club to meet others with similar interests, and by 1961, he was president.
Although he didn’t know anything about the BCWF when he joined, he soon learned about the importance of conserving habitat for fish and wildlife, and of lobbying for sensible provincial hunting and fishing regulations, amongst other things.
Taylor served for four years as president of the Okanagan Region, BCWF, which put him on the BCWF board.
The Okanagan Region hosted two provincial conventions, including fund-raising events, which made them realize they could make as much as $30,000 for conserving wildlife habitat with such events.
As a result, he and Mike Edall and John Holdstock started the Okanagan Region Wildlife Heritage Fund Society in 1985, organizing the events annually and putting the resulting funds into purchasing land they considered critical as fish or wildlife habitat.
Eventually, the fund-raisers became too big a job for the three of them, explains Taylor, but the society took on project administration work and continued its work conserving habitat.
“We were concerned about loss of habitat, particularly riparian areas,” commented Taylor.
He is still president of the ORWHFS, which has acquired and helped fund hundreds of projects, including Ginty’s Pond in Keremeos, Edwards Pond in Grand Forks, sheep lambing range on the east side of Skaha Lake, 100 acres at the north end of Christina Lake, Rose Valley Pond in West Kelowna, wetland at the end of Swan Lake, the Haase property on Mission Creek and lands along the Mission Creek Greenway.
He also spent more than seven years representing the BCWF on the Land and Resource Management Plan for the Okanagan Shuswap; six years on the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation, and was there while it was changed from a government fund to a foundation with control of the funds raised through surcharges on angling and hunting licenses.
During that time, he was instrumental in setting up a fund to permit groups to apply for up to $5,000 to hire the expertise needed to put together professional proposals for projects to be funded by the HCTF.
Today, failing eyesight has kept him from going hunting for a few years, although he’s taught the Conservation and Outdoor Education program for years, along with the federal Purchase and Acquisition License.
But, he can still go fishing if someone helps him tie on the flies.
And, every day, there are still issues to deal with, he says cheerfully.
Taylor taught in this district for 35 years, mostly at George Elliott Secondary, so for many years, his involvement with fish and wildlife conservation was in his spare time, but in recent years, it’s taken a lead role.
“I’d do it all again,” he says.