Rhonda L. Millikin

I retired to Whistler in 2019 from a 35-year career as an Ecologist with the Federal Government, where I managed teams of 20-40 staff, responsible for the delivery of wildlife and habitat programs across BC and the Yukon. The programs included monitoring, regulations, permitting, enforcement, emergencies, and data management. After my career in government, I went back to UBC and received an ITC level 2 for Landscape Horticulture. I have a PhD in Environmental Studies and an MSc in Applied Ecology.

I am an adjunct professor at SFU, and have graduated a PhD and 3 master’s students, all studying the conservation of endangered species and their habitats – one from Stellenbosch University in South Africa.

In 2003, I incorporated EchoTrack Inc., to apply the remote sensing technology I developed in my PhD, to the conservation of habitat for birds and bats. Last year, I formed Nativus under EchoTrack, to combine the principles of landscape horticulture with ecology, to restore native plant communities for wildlife that provide the ecosystem services essential for sustainable agriculture.

I have significant experience in proposal writing, project management, hiring and training of staff, science-based research and education, statistical analysis, and reporting. I have delivered on 68 projects globally totalling $1.9 M for EchoTrack, provided reports (progress, performance, financial and final reports) for each of these projects, and have 16 journal publications from research teams I have led.

I am passionate about wildlands and guiding people to prioritize the protection of “specialist” plant and animal species, that truly need our care. I am now working with vineyards in the Okanagan to encourage them to re-introduce native plants as cover crops and hedgerows, because these plants are resilient to climate change and function as substrates for native wildlife which in turn provide nutrient cycling and pest management services back to the vineyard.

I believe citizen science, with the proper leadership on experimental design, statistics, and reporting, motivates the community to embrace the importance of ecosystem processes and the need to move beyond business sustainability to ecosystem sustainability. This is our avenue to climate change adaptability, including fire management.

In Whistler, this is my 3 rd year as a member of the RMOW Forest and Wildlands Advisory Committee. Becoming concerned about the unintended impacts of fire-thinning in Whistler’s Forest, I led a team of volunteers to research the impact of this approach to fire management on the forest microclimate. We showed the approach is increasing fire risk and are in the process of publishing this in an international journal on Fire.

With AWARE, I hope to work with others on the board to develop government-funded community science projects, that connect people and nature, through curiosity and careful observation. I believe we can do better in Whistler in the way we manage climate change, fire risk, housing development and recreation. I would like to realize that vision as a member of AWARE.