Thank you all for coming out tonight to our fifth annual general meeting. This is the time of the year when members have a chance to hear a review of our group's performance over the past year, have a chance to ask questions and to elect members to the board of directors. This year as well, we are proposing to amend our bylaws for the first time since our organization was formed. Copies of the proposed amendments were mailed out to all our members and there are some additional copies here tonight that you can look at. Members of our bylaw amendment committee, Eugene Reimer, Bob Joyce and John Neufeld have worked hard to improve our constitution and will present these amendments tonight for your ratification. The AGM is also a time when we have an interesting speaker. This year is no exception. We have Tim Swanson, a Manitoba Conservation forester in the Eastern region, to speak on forest management; a subject near and dear to a rare plant lover's heart. For those of you who are wondering what happened to Dr.Stewart, well he is one of those retired people who are busier now than when they were working and unfortunately he realized he had a prior commitment that he was unable to change.
At this time I want to say thank you to our hard working board members: Peggy Bainard Acheson, Bob Joyce, John Neufeld, Richard Reeves, Eugene Reimer and Alice Warren. This was a very busy year with many changes and each has done a tremendous amount of work and done it exceptionally well. Thanks also to all our members who volunteered to help us with meetings, displays and fieldtrips etc. We depend on you to help us when we phone you. Please let me know if you would like to become more involved. We are still looking for a volunteer coordinator. Please remember to renew your membership tonight if you have not already done so. A special thank you to all of you who made financial donations large and small, to our organization. Your generosity makes it possible for us to carry out projects and develop displays that would be impossible otherwise.
We are continuing with our ongoing projects. The Effect of Selective Cutting on the Understory in Sandilands Forest Reserve is in its last year and we will start working on it again later this month. This project is funded by the Province of Manitoba's Sustainable Development Fund. The total orchid count was down again last year. The summers have been short and wet in that area for the past two years and this seems to have had a profound effect on orchid growth. Our Survey of Timber Sales in the Southeast is in its final year. Federal government Habitat Stewardship Funding has run out and we will carry on with funding from the Sustainable Development Innovations Fund and our other partners. We have located many more areas with rare plants, in timber sales and elsewhere and we are preparing reports now. The status of the Brokenhead Wetlands remains the same. We are hoping this summer will prove to be the time that it finally gets the protection it deserves. We have begun a new project to write and publish a field guide on Manitoba orchids. The book committee is working hard planning this exciting project. We have sent in grant applications for funding and have prepared a brochure. Please pick one up by our display. Projected publication date is November 1, 2004.
Spring is coming fast and our fieldtrips not far behind. Dates and locations will be published in our next newsletter and on our website in the next few weeks. We have some new locations this year.
See you there.