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Camp Slough Wildlife Area 



December 1994 to Spring 2018







November 2004 Vol. 9 Issue 4 

Headline  December, 1994  


In December of the year 1994 Mikhail Kournossoff finalized his gift of 22 acres to the Ministry of Environment and Nature Trust B, C. This land borders on the Hope Slough and is known as the Camp River Wildlife Area. The Chilliwack Field Naturalist Club agreed to steward, or oversee its maintenance and enhancement. On December 19th/1994, our club held a dedication ceremony at the Camp River Hall.

A bronze plaque was mounted on a cement structure inscribed as follows:

Mikhail Kournossoff
donated this property (8.7 hectare, 21.6 acre)
to the Nature Trust of BC on June, 1994
The property is dedicated to the memory
of His Mother Nina, Martyred in Russia
During Its Darkest Hour, and to Gwen,
His Wife of 36 Years.
The property is leased to
BC Environment and managed through
a stewardship agreement with Chilliwack
Field Naturalists.
Management objectives for the area are to enhance habitat
diversity, provide opportunities for wildlife viewing and appreciation
NINA - BORN 1880 / DIED 1937
GWEN - BORN 1904 / DIED 1964

Unfortunately, the plaque was vandalized; so a larger, heavy, white plastic replacement was purchased, inscribed in black lettering. This plaque doesn’t want to stay put. It seems we need to fix it more securely in order that it can withstand the pressures of the wind and the rain. (Note: Both plaques are housed with Lee and Denis at present.)

Looking after the Kournossoff property has turned out to be somewhat of a challenge. More of this story to come in the next issue of the Heron



February  2005 Vol. 10 Issue 1

Mikhail Kournossoff


We continue our story of the Camp River Wildlife area, which our club has agreed to steward (see the November issue of the Heron Herald). Mr. Kournossoff, the former owner of the property, has authored two books, both of which are in the Chilliwack library. Below I have taken a quote from his book From Purgatory to Paradise, chapter 30, page 219. Mikhail and his wife Gwen lived in their house across the road from the wildlife area. "Most of the 25 acres across the road were not cleared, and there was the problem of somehow removing the phenomenal growth of blackberries… This involved extremely hard work in which Gwen helped me whenever she could. There are times when one can become strained and even exhausted beyond endurance, and that was the condition in which we both were by August of 1946. The work involved in clearing the blackberries was particularly difficult and tedious, and there seemed no end to it. This brought us to the point of despair. I turned to Gwen and said "Darling, shall we consider selling it?" "Well, perhaps we should… I do believe it would make our lives a little easier" (she replied)." Since agreeing to care for the property in 1994, Denis (who was tasked with co-coordinating the project) together with club volunteers have done several plantings and erected bird boxes. In the past we have received a $500 grant from the FBCN as well as a generous $5000 from Frances Guinet to help us purchase plants, clear land etc.

Unfortunately, blackberries and thistles again, as in Mikhail’s time, have come to pose a serious problem. They threaten the entire project and they entirely block access to the attractive waterway. More in the next Heron Herald about future plans to develop the area and, hopefully, (with the help of the recently granted $2000 from the FBCN) deal with the blackberry/thistle scourge



April  2005 Vol. 10 Issue 2

Mikhail Kournossoff

Below is a map of the Camp River Wildlife Area showing the long-term goals for the site. It is described as "Denis’ dream plan". Some work has been done already, as described in the last Heron Herald issue and continues this spring. We had hoped that the pond would have been dug this winter; unfortunately, this project has had to be postponed. In early March, a party of seven planters – Denis, Lee, Debora Soutar, Marlene, Roy, Colleen and her husband (not including baby Logan, who was busy carrying empty pots back to the truck) spent several hours working at the site.  They planted about 110 larger (from 1 to 5 gallon) shrubs and trees, finishing in time for a hotdog lunch. The shrubs - black twinberry, Nootka rose, red osier dogwoods and native apples - were used to fill and add diversity to the willow forest that is growing well, close to the front of the property.  They also planted some native asters along the woodland edge.  A larger area adjacent to the willow forest was filled with vine maples, which will provide colour in the fall and a great foraging site for bees and warblers.  We also took along a number of rhododendrons to plant around the cairn; however, during the work of building the attractive wooden fence structure around the cairn, the soil had been excavated leaving a dip that will have to be filled in first.  Denis plans to see if we can get this done, so that bark mulch may be added around the rhodos to keep down the weeds. This will make a nice display around the cairn.



March 2006 

Wednesday, March 22, 2006  was a major tree planting event on the Kournossoff property at the Camp River Wildlife area. Only five club members turned up but the addition of 38 visiting Japanese students, their three teachers and one or two others helped make the event a great success. Five hundred trees were planted. It was a lot of work accomplished by many hands. But it wasn't all just work. There was some fun involved in the process of showing the students, most of whom spoke no English, how to use tools they seemed totally unfamiliar with.  I personally had fun teaching one young lady how to use a shovel in such a way as to make the work a little easier for her. Another young lady oohed and aahed when I showed her a way to smooth a bit of soil by turning the rake upside down and both pulling and pushing. Not all the benefits went to the property. New friendships were made. I understand Deana Knopp, age 20 has been thinking for some time about visiting Japan and now, after making good friendships with five 16 year old students, she has confirmed that she will go. Emails are apparently flying daily across the pacific. The students really enjoyed coffee, hot chocolate and doughnuts and many tears were shed as they loaded the bus to leave. It was a good day.

- Roy Luckow


A little good news about the Kournossoff Property 

September 2006

 The ministry has supplied a crew to work with weed eaters for 4 days at those pesky blackberries; moreover, we have received (from the Public Conservation Assistance Fund) a grant for $6500 to dig temporary ponds and feed volunteers during fall plantings. Our club certainly appreciates Lee's difficult and continuing work on grant applications.


A CAMP RIVER afternoon 

October 14,  2006

I decided to take some photos at the Kournossoff property this fall, having heard rumors of big changes . a couple of large .ponds. surrounded by new plantings; a bulldozed path right through the pesky blackberries alongside the slough; and some small rhododendrons in place behind the Cairn. Lee and Denis have been busy organizing and supervising these developments. Lee warned me that I would have to climb a fence to access the Kournossoff property, so I persuaded one of our hardy club members to accompany me (along with her kitchen stool). What's Next??


Camp River Coffee Cutters 

October 2006

Thanks for the support at the last planting at Camp River Wildlife Area. Since the planting we have had a mulching machine (they donated one full day) into the site removing the blackberries. Denis also spent a day with our tractor brushing blackberry patches in the field. The difference is amazing! The first Saturday of each month is ear marked for a one hour clean-up at Camp River from 9-10am. Today, the rain held off and we were able to work away at the blackberries nearest the cairn. We then strolled through the property and saw that the newly dug ponds are filling with water! We also saw several coyotes and bunnies dashing about and a northern shrike sitting on one of the bird boxes. Afterwards, it was a warm cup of coffee at Tim Horton's. Hope to see you armed with your clippers and shears again at 9am on December 2nd! -Lee Larkin



April 7, 2007

An hour or two of planting around the pond’s edge … then refreshments at Tim’s.


Kournossoff Property 

November 2007

The Camp River Wildlife Area is now benefiting from a large $7200 .Direct

Access Grant, as well as Frances Guinet's generous $500 gift. Lee and Denis have

wisely purchased equipment for the monthly Coffee Cutters use.


Here is the list:

long-handled pruners & hand pruners

3 brush cutters & lots of shovels & gloves

ear protectors & safety glasses

oil mix and gas cans & grease

brush cutter

This grant will also allow us to hire someone to cut blackberries and thistles in the field next year. Thanks for your commitment to the project Lee and Denis !!

And many thanks to our friend Frances Guinet for her $500 gift to the Kournossoff account. Lee tells me that it has been used to complete a reptile denning

area on the south side of the pond.


Coffee Cutters at Kournossoff 's 

Saturday, December 1, 2007

This December field trip didn’t really happen, although the four cutters (and the photographer) decided to walk the perimeter and search for the elusive coyote den. We found it, and also discovered an ideal spot for a summer CFN picnic. It was great to have a close look at the changing features of the Camp River Wildlife Area. There was some

snow on the ground – cool enough to cause us to hurry to the coffee shop.



1. Camp River Wildlife Area  

Public Conservation Assistance Fund

Grant Received $6500


-Pond construction

-Clay and rock -Compacting 

-Stakes for pond boundary

-Lunch for Volunteers

2.  Direct Access Grant

Gaming Account

Grant Received - $7200


-Cases, programs, warranty etc. for computer and camera

-Tools and equipment for work at Kournossoff property.

- Lee Larkin


Camp River Coffee Cutters, 

May 3rd  2008

Our regular monthly Cutters’ outing was quite an interesting day. The mission was to remove those nasty blackberries and clean nest boxes. As always, Lee came prepared with the materials required and we got right down to work. John was active cutting back blackberry with the weed eater, while Denis manned the tractor borrowed from our good friend Fritz Pratt. The Stephany family and their daughter Bridgette, along with our president and Lee were hand-cutting blackberry from around the trees. Greg and Eric were busy cleaning out nest boxes of both old nests and lethargic wasps on behalf of our swallow friends. The Wildlife Area’s resident, curious coyote, was on hand for the event, making sure we were doing a good job and showing himself to our guests. We were fortunate to have found (we believe) a river otter skull and pelt, along with a male black-tail deer skull and a dead coast mole. These discoveries gave much pleasure to our younger guests. As per tradition, we enjoyed coffee / hot chocolate Bridgette  Stephanie- a discovery! at Tim Horton’s and a rare front row seat to the Chilliwack Parade - these “after joys” making it a great day.



May 31 2008 

It’s time for a little report about the continuing work at the Kournossoff property, spear headed by Lee and Denis …. The monthly work parties are helping a lot – more folks are always welcome on the 1st Saturday of each month- rain or shine! The Coffee Cutters are alive and well and making progress with our on-site tools. - Lee Larkin


Coffee Cutters 

December 2009

Due to the economic slump, our club was turned down for a 2009 gaming grant to maintain the Camp River Wildlife area. Nonetheless members turn up monthly to cut blackberries. By careful financial management, we found money to hire a team to really work on those blackberries. Eco-Neutral, a tree company that provides carbon offset services, helped out in restoration by planting many evergreens, if not always in the manner our managers wished. (from Pres. Report by Janne Perrin)


January 2017 Heron Herald

The Nature Trust Conservation Youth Crew was at Camp Slough in November 2016 cleaning out the bird nesting boxes, taking notes on which boxes had been occupied and by whom. TNT crew GPS’d the location of each box and decided which ones needed to be repaired or replaced. Later they will be going back to Camp Slough to put up some new nesting boxes. TNTBC purchased 12 swallow nesting boxes and 8 chickadee. Samantha Penner is hopeful for some more funding to replace more boxes next year.


March 2017 Heron Herald

Camp Slough Wildlife Area Study  -

Be sure to attend April’s regular meeting.  Several BCIT students will report their findings on a small mammal & fish study done at the Camp Slough Wildlife Area.  The students completed the study as part of the requirements in the Fish, Wildlife, and Recreation program. For their yearlong project, the group performed baseline surveys and biophysical inventories at both Camp Slough and Wells Sanctuary as a means of assessing property size, restoration work, and possibly edge effects. 



May 2017 Heron Herald

Camp Slough Wildlife Area Study 

Lauryn Williams, Leila Riahi, Katie Piper, Stephanie Holmes and Amelia Mackowia are the BCIT students from the Fish, Wildlife & Recreation Program who presented at our April Meeting. Student Sasha Lavigne the 6th team member, sent regrets.


Fall 2017 Heron Herald

Camp-Hope Slough Paddle

Janne Perrin accompanied the local Watershed Watch Salmon Society on May 27 with a large flotilla of watercraft to tour the Hope Slough from Reeves Road to Corbould Park near Young Road. The flotilla stopped at the Camp Slough property to hear the history of the project.  The Society is intent on improving the state of this waterway.


Picnic Camp Slough June 20, 2017

With a beautiful June evening to entice members, a good number came & enjoyed a riot of flowering shrubs & singing birds at this 8-ha restored Wildlife Area. Four hardy members who stayed until dark were rewarded with flitting little brown myotis in the trees but none in the installed bat boxes. Thank you to stewards, Denis Knopp and Lee Larkin, for the tour.


Winter 2017 Heron Herald

Camp-Hope Slough Wildlife Area:

Lee has a grant application in to the Chilliwack Foundation for $2350 for Camp River Wildlife Area for a planting tentatively for April 7, 2018. CFN club provides lunch.  Eastern Fraser Valley Nature Kids plan to participate in the planting.


Spring 2018 Heron Herald

Camp-Hope Slough Wildlife Area:

With $ from the Chilliwack Foundation grant, we host a Camp River Wildlife Area wildflower-pollinator planting on April 7 2018.  Start time: 10:30 AM. Tools & gloves provided. Pizza Lunch on site follows. Bring your friends to help. All welcome.