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General · 11th September 2012
Lannie Keller
Judy Leicester (March 26, 1947 – September 8, 2012) will be forever appreciated by everyone who enjoys the beauty of Quadra’s wilderness parks. Her untimely passing leaves islanders mourning, but also remembering Judy’s amazing presence and her legacy of community service and conservation achievements. Our hearts go out to her husband Richard, and to all her family and friends who are grieving.

Judy was an amazing, committed and creative person with unparalleled dedication to conserving and sharing Quadra’s natural places. She was a founding member in 1989 of the Village Bay Lakes Park Committee, a small group that endeavoured more than 7 years to achieve protection of 5000 hectares of Class A provincial parks on Quadra and Read Island in 1996. Judy would be the first to say teamwork created these incredible parks, and she’s right. But it was Judy who later navigated the steady course through a maze of political obstacles necessary to procure many of the privately owned “inholdings” within these parks.

Judy appreciated wilderness everywhere and put her values to work at home. In the 1980s and '90s she was a member of the Quadra Island Forest Resources Committee, a group made up of environmentalists, loggers and the Ministry of Forests officials, aiming for consensus on an ecologically responsible way to use Quadra's forestland. When the QIFRC dissolved and BC’s Forest Act was changed to make direct supervision of logging practices more difficult, Judy continued to represent Quadra Island conservation interests through ForestWatch BC and to liaison with the local forest industry.

Along with Richard, Judy was a longtime member of the Quadra Island Trails Committee, and she worked tirelessly on identifying, planning, building and maintaining about 250 km of recreational trails for public enjoyment. She and Richard hosted the trail committee meetings at their house and Judy always provided one of her delicious desserts to go with the tea and coffee. She was the main organizer of the work parties, often the crew boss, and certainly the quality control officer — she made sure those pesky salal branches were trimmed low and tossed completely off the trail! Judy was justifiably proud of Quadra’s beautiful trails and glad that trails and parks serve the local economy.

Judy was a founding member of Sierra Quadra and served as the Conservation Chair. Her efforts have been diligent and determined. Judy was instrumental in organizing many local events, including Sierra Quadra presentations and the annual Quadra Island Beach Clean-up. One of Judy’s many strengths was her ability to deal with government officials and industry workers. She was always on the phone to them: getting materials for the trails, coordinating work with TimberWest, getting Parks rangers to actually visit our parks. She was a fearless, persistent and effective advocate for Quadra Island.

The project that most exemplifies Judy's endeavours is “Save the Heart of Quadra Parks”, a final, concerted effort to acquire 395 hectares of the historic portage route and forested trail to Newton Lake so as to connect and complete the two existing provincial parks at Small Inlet and Wyatt Bay. Over the last 16 years, even when almost everyone else had given up, she kept up the pressure on both the government and the land owner to come to an agreement on the private lands within the original park boundaries. She never lost hope and today it seems likely we are finally going to see the completion of her dream. It is truly sad to think that Judy will not be here to celebrate a victory for which she, more than anyone else, deserves the credit.

Judy was Quadra’s most informed and politically savvy environmentalist. Her gentle persistence, quiet passion, calm demeanour and kindness will be sorely missed by all who had the pleasure of knowing her. Others will only know that someone very special helped preserve a beautiful part of the world for everyone else to love.