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A History of the Richmond Nature Park


It all started in 1962, when the Corporation of the Township of Richmond considered acquiring 217 acres of land from the Federal Ministry of Transport to be allocated for Park purposes.
It wasn't until1968 however, when Will Paulik, Secretary of the Richmond Rod & Gun Club, co-authored and submitted a proposal for the use of the land, that plans finally started to take shape.
His proposal was that there should be a Nature Centre and outdoor activity park on the parcel of land and a home for the Richmond Rod & Gun Club.


The 1970s was a decade of great progress for the Nature Park. In 1971, The Richmond Kinsmen built the Pavilion on the site and on the 25th of November, the first meeting of the Richmond Nature Park Committee took place.
In 1972, a temporary Nature Display Building was donated by a local construction company. The Richmond Nature Park was also officially named and the committee was awarded Local Initiative Grants for a number of projects including developing trails and researching the Park's flora and fauna.
1972 also saw the completion of the duck pond.
A fire in 1974 opened up an area of mixed pine and birch next to the railway line that runs along the edge of Shell Road. In 1975 however, 2 acres of park land was lost during the construction of the road connecting Highway 499 to Westminster Highway.
1975 also saw a financial commitment to the building of a Nature Interpretation Centre, and on 14th November 1976, the Nature House was opened to the public. The following year, the Committee changed its name officially to the Richmond Nature Park Society.


The 1980s saw consolidation and expansion. In 1982, a development plan for the next five years was drawn up. A boardwalk was constructed to give disabled access to the trail around the pond. Nature house exhibits, and displays were updated.
In 1984, a ‘Bog Ecology Protection Zone’ was established, the Time Trail was constructed and trail guides were produced.
A Habitat Conservation Grant provided funds for a three-year study of the water table and the RNPS hosted an art auction which raised $10,000 for Park expansion and development.
The construction of the Richmond Auto Mall in that year prompted an Environmental Impact Assessment to be undertaken.
In 1985, a threat to native plants by domestic rabbits was identified and ‘Rabbitat’ was built to control population expansion.
1986was a landmark year for the school programs, as for the first time, the RNPS hired a part-time co-ordinator.
1987was a busy year for the Nature Park. The duck-feeding program was discontinued because nutrients added to groundwater were having an adverse effect on the bog and by mid-summer, the pond had dried out.
Along the northern perimeter of the Park, major highway construction was underway and a Plant Phenology Scheme was implemented to record vegetation changes
It was also in 1987 that the Nature House had its first computer installed.
To deal with two of these issues, in 1988, the perimeter ditches were blocked with temporary and clay dams. This would help to retain groundwater. Conifers were planted to screen the northern boundary of the Nature Park from the highway.
In 1989,the Richmond Nature Park Society purchased a computer, video camera and microscope to support office and research work and for the Nature House display.
Permanent water control structures were installed in park drainage ditches to further aid the preservation of the bog habitat.


The “Rabbitat” area was dismantled in 1990 as public education had significantly reduced the number of pets being abandoned at the Park. The site was used to create an open play area.
Cranberry Harvest Festival was celebrated for the first time at Richmond Nature Park.
1991 marked the 15th anniversary of the Nature House and Ed Sparrow, an Elder of the Musqeam Band, which had traditionally harvested blueberries on Lulu Island, honoured the Nature House with the new name of “Mul Sum La Lum” – The Blueberry House at a rededication ceremony.
In 1992, the position of School Program Co-Ordinator became permanent and full-time.
Also in that year, Wildlife Garden Project was initiated.
1993brought structural improvements to the Nature House, which was renovated; the back porch was enclosed, creating offices, a reception/work station was built in the gallery, a staff washroom and AV closet was added, and skylights were installed.
Outside, a play structure was installed adjacent to the picnic area.
In 1995 the “Wilderness on Wheels” winter outreach program was piloted to schools.
A path was built by the East Richmond Environment Youth Group to connect the Time Trail to No. Five Road.
The ‘Forest Insect and Disease Survey’ was set up by Natural Resources Canada to determine the presence of invasive insects and in 1996, the Canadian Forest Service commenced the survey. Four beetle traps were placed in the Park to determine whether further investigation was warranted. It was judged that further sampling was justified.
Inside the Nature House, a new Bee and Insect Exhibit was installed.
A portable unit for storage was installed at the east end of the parking lot and a new bridge was built on the west side of the Nature Park, replacing the old bridge over the pond.
1997 was the 25th anniversary of the creation of the Park. During this year, a fibreglass “Wildlife Tree” was contracted and installed and the “Bogline" name and format was established for the Richmond Nature Park Society Newsletter.
Displays in the Nature House were expanded in 1998 with new aquarium stands and backdrops for the Wildlife Tree. The school programs “Nature Indoors” was piloted as a replacement to “Wilderness on Wheels”.
1999 was the first year of the annual “Nature Comes to Light” event, a Christmas lightshow sponsored by the City of Richmond, the Kinsmen Club, the Richmond Fire Fighters Society and the Richmond Nature Park Society.


The New Millennium ushered in refurbishments. In the year 2000 the “Wildlife Tree” graphics were contracted and installed. A new bridge was built in the east side of the Park, a collaboration between the City of Richmond and the EI Job Creation program.
Richmond Nature Park Society publications were revised, reformatted and re-released.
A Public Herbarium project was started.
In 2001, the Park’s Computers were networked to City Hall to provide standard capabilities in all community facilities.
A covered picnic shelter was installed behind the Nature House in 2002, this was intended to be dedicated to those who were instrumental in founding the park.
This year was the official Thirtieth Anniversary of the City of Richmond appointing the land as the “ Richmond Nature Park”.
Planning and co-ordination began, to conduct an extensive bio-inventory of the Richmond Nature Park and remaining boglands in Richmond work was done by the Richmond Nature Park Ecology Committee. Preliminary work on mammals and fish, was done through an HRDC Job Skills project to employ field workers. Detailed and final work was undertaken by various experts in the fields of entomology, botany and geography.
Concerns were raised in 2003 as a result of the dying off of Birch trees. It was determined that this was caused by the maturity of the trees and by beetle infestation. Windfall reached significant levels necessitating ongoing removal of trees throughout public areas.
In 2004, construction began on new outside washrooms and a City of Richmond Grant was received for interpretative signage. Three handicapped accessible washrooms were opened in 2005. Behind the washrooms was a new, covered interpretative area. A graphic designer was retained to produce the signs.
Richmond Nature House was 30 years old in 2006. The insect trapping program was now into its 10th year, although now there were 100 traps throughout the bog.
The most recent revitalisation started in 2007, with wind-damaged birches behind the Nature House being cut down to form a new wildlife area.

2009 is history in the making, and you can follow this by reading our blog.

Thursday, October 18, 2020
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