New trail signs to honour value of old-growth forest and shíshálh heritage

I am delighted to have worked as an editor on a new series of interpretive signs for the Community Health Trail on Mt. Elphinstone on British Columbia’s Sunshine Coast. As part of an initiative by Elphinstone Logging Focus (ELF), the signs highlight the importance of old-growth forests and their flora and fauna. With himus (Calvin Craigan), a shíshálh Nation knowledge-keeper as consultant, we included shíshálh words on each sign and the First Nations medicinal use of various plants and trees.

I learned a lot on this project, which reinforced how the shíshálh Nation, for many centuries, has lived in harmony with these forests, making full use of bark, berries, trees, and plants to sustain their lives and culture, while today’s non-Indigenous industries seem bent on destroying these lands.

This four-kilometre stretch of trail, designated by ELF, traverses a low-elevation, emerging old-growth forest on the slopes of Mt. Elphinstone. It connects two isolated parcels of Mt. Elphinstone Provincial Park and ELF hopes that the park will expand around it. These small areas face possible destruction by adjacent development and logging.

The Making of Tetrahedron Park: how the conservation movement started on British Columbia’s Sunshine Coast

Raincoast Chronicles cover
“The Making of Tetrahedron Park” (my 3,000-word feature, with photos): A group of dedicated volunteers lobbied hard to save 6,000 hectares on B.C.’s Sunshine Coast, protecting old-growth forest and habitat for diverse species. This helped launch the conservation movement on the Sunshine Coast.

In the summer and fall of 1987, 240 volunteers built four wilderness cabins in the Tetrahedron region, named after Tet Peak (1,737 metres) . . .

The complete story, with historic photos, appears in Raincoast Chronicles 22, published by Harbour Publishing in the fall of 2013.

“A New Way”: new DVD highlights role of glacial rock dust in First Nations organic garden

(21.5 min.)
A New Way: An Organic Garden Saves Lives
written, directed, and produced by Heather Conn
cinematographer and editor: Ivy Miller

Story summary: A farmer, miner, and First Nations CEO create an organic demonstration garden using mined land, a “secret” ingredient, and a business/education model unique in Canada.

A new Way DVD cover low-res


A New Way: An Organic Garden Saves Lives

Whoever thought that North America’s largest gravel pit could help rebuild nature and produce food?

A New Way reveals how a special ingredient in organic gardening—glacial rock dust—is transforming a First Nations community in Sechelt, BC. Discover how a demonstration garden and new form of “black gold” (not petroleum) on Canada’s west coast has helped launch a First Nations business and education model unique in North America.

 You’ll meet a trio of innovators who reclaimed old mining land to create an award-winning project. They’re part of a visionary team that’s feeding people and teaching healthier ways to grow food. A New Way shares a success story of local action, collaboration, and building sustainability from the ground up—literally.

Two newspaper features address logging on BC’s Sunshine Coast

Jack Stein photo

Dozens of concerned residents on British Columbia’s Sunshine Coast have rallied to help save species-diverse forest in Wilson Creek.

My news feature “Forest giants worth saving,” which outlined related community activities, appeared in The Local, a Sunshine Coast weekly, on Nov. 15, 2012.

Click this Saving forest giants link to read the published article.

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My feature “Sunshine Coast activists demand public consultation on Wilson Creek logging,” with photos, appeared in the Vancouver Observer on Dec. 6, 2012.

Click here to read the published article.

Aquifer conservation emphasized in Gibsons, BC

While a contract writer for the Town of Gibsons, I worked with chief administrative officer Emmanuel Machado in 2012/13 to produce news and press releases in local media.

Conservation issues were a key theme. My article “Gibsons moves to protect ‘world’s greatest water,'” which appeared in the Nov. 9, 2012 issue of the Coast Reporter, is one example.

Click on this Gibsons water link to read the article.

Almost three decades of eco-coverage

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In the late 1980s, I served as publicist for an eco-tour hosted by the Quebec-Labrador Foundation/Atlantic Center for the Environment, based in Ipswich, MA.  The Center retraced the steps of naturalist John James Audubon on the Quebec North Shore.

I also took photographs and wrote about community-based educational projects to introduce children to Atlantic puffins.

Although  puffins are protected in eastern Canada, a tradition of serving them as a special meal at home still remains. In an attempt to stop this practice, the Atlantic Center for the Environment has brought children’s groups to see the puffins at bird sanctuaries; the hope is that the kids will then encourage their parents not to shoot these birds.

“We Envision”: SCRD unveils new Draft Sustainability Plan

From a proposed car co-op to protecting a watershed, the Sunshine Coast Regional District’s Draft Sustainability Plan provides an inclusive view of how to maintain the area’s tremendous quality of life.

As part of a community-wide team of consultants, I worked as writer and editor on this valuable report, released in the spring of 2011.

The plan is available in PDF format for review and public feedback.

STV and Pacific Wild: Two B.C. clients doing stellar environmental work

I have written, edited, and consulted for Sustainability Television, an exciting environmental web portal in Vancouver, BC that creates and streams videos that promote sustainability. This Internet-based company strives to build online commmunities where like-minded people can connect to address issues from pesticide use to racism.

I have also done web editing and communications consulting for the B.C. conservation group Pacific Wild. Co-founder Ian McAllister won Time Magazine’s Leader for the 21st Century Award. He has received numerous awards for his photography and notable books such as The Great Bear Rainforest.


I’m passionate about wildlife conservation, sustainability, and combating global warming. I support lifestyles and businesses that promote simplicity, natural and organic foods, and produce a small carbon footprint.

I’m based in Vancouver, BC and the Sunshine Coast on Canada’s west coast.

Click here to read more environmental features, news, and photos  on my blog.

“Heather was called upon under short notice to act as reporter and photojournalist for one of our biggest, most sensitive projects. . .Gaining the local people’s confidence was paramount to the project’s success, and this was one of Heather’s strongest features. Heather is utterly conscientious, reliable, and thorough in detail.”

— Kathleen Blanchard, former director of research and natural history, Atlantic Center for the Environment in Ipswich, Mass.