How We Got Started
Anthropologist Margaret Mead once said, “never doubt that a small group of thoughtful , committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has”. In 1994 a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens in Quesnel, BC made a choice to clean up Baker Creek. The ripple effects have been felt in the surrounding watersheds ever since. Today this group of citizens is known as The Baker Creek Enhancement Society (BCES).
In 1994, three local women and their families, who were members of the Quesnel Environmental Society, became concerned about the metal and concrete that lined the banks of Baker Creek. They wanted the creek to be returned to a useable condition for spawning salmon and they wanted their children to be able to safely swim and play in the creek. The creek had become polluted from 1930 onwards. Cars had been stacked along the creek bed and parts of the bank were paved in an attempt to stop bank-erosion. The cars and asphalt caused pollution to the creek that was not anticipated at the time, making the creek unsafe for people and unhealthy for fish.
This group of inspired volunteers contacted the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and toured them along the creek to ask how they could clean it up. Over 18 years ago, their first accomplishment was clearing 65 car bodies and 70 loads of asphalt and cement from Baker Creek. This day marked the beginning of one of the longest running environmental groups in Canada, Baker Creek Enhancement Society. By 1995, the children of Quesnel were swimming and playing in their local creek.
Every year since that historic Earth Day, BCES continues to do stream restoration, but carries out many other projects as well. Throughout the years, the society’s purpose has evolved to promote public awareness, stewardship and restoration of the local ecosystems. Over the past 2 decades, BCES has expanded their scope of ecological stewardship beyond local watersheds. BCES now provides curriculum-based environmental education. They are founding members in air quality and recycling initiatives in the City of Quesnel, and since 2004, they have operated the Nature Education and Resource Centre, located in West Fraser Timber Park.
In part, the mandate of BCES is to provide an educational component to the work they do. Skill building through hands-on learning has allowed for unique business and job opportunities for people involved in various projects. Further, BCES collaborates with industry, government, community organizations, as well as schools; which sets them apart from other stewardship groups.
With approximately 6000 visitors annually, the Nature Education and Resource Centre provides an ideal setting for children and adults alike to learn about ecology. A range of educational programs both inside and outside the classroom is leaving a legacy of teaching opportunities from BCES. Every year coordinators from the BCES organize The Salmonids in the Classroom program, Earth Day Celebrations, Clean Air Day, Rivers Day, Oceans Day and many other free community events.
Baker Creek is now an international symbol of what a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can accomplish if they roll up their sleeves and dig in. What started out as a clean-up project has turned into one of the most long-enduring environmental stewardship groups in Canada – and that is a legacy of change to be proud of!