A self-portrait of Randy Sulyma captures his personality

A fitting legacy

Sulyma lichen-naming campaign in the final stretch

Naming a lichen after someone might not sound like a normal tribute, but as the saying goes, if the shoe fits.

When Randy Sulyma’s aunt saw an article in the Vancouver Sun about the opportunity to bid on naming a newly discovered lichen, with the proceeds going to habitat preservation in the Clearwater area, she brought the article to dinner.

It was then shared at a Sulyma family dinner, and a campaign began to raise funds to bid on naming a newly-discovered lichen after Randy Sulyma.

A resident of Fort St. James, Randy Sulyma died in a car accident in January at 43 years old. His loss was felt across the community, as he was an active coach in the community and helped to start up Fort St. James Youth Soccer and was a member of the executive until his death. He also coached speed skating after his son Joel joined the sport and he worked to foster coaching throughout the region.

Professionally, he was a forester with a master’s degree in biology, who also happened to study lichens.

The honour of naming the lichen after Randy is a fitting tribute for a number of reasons, according to his wife Sandra.

“He spent a lot of his career looking at how lichen grows … and how it is affected by forestry practices,” explained Sandra. “It just seemed to be a good link.”

Not only did Randy study terrestrial lichens which were a food source for northern caribou, but he had also spent time in the area where the newly discovered lichen is located.

The Clearwater Valley and Wells Grey Park was an area Randy, his wife Sandra and their children Joel and Emily had spent a number of family vacations, canoing Murtle Lake, hiking Trophy Meadows, as well as other hiking trips in the area. Sandra said he had a passion for the area.

The campaign began in July, and while it was slow initially, after increases in publicity, including an interview on CBC Radio, things have picked up.

“There seems to be momentum building, so it’s really good,” said Sandra.

The deadline for bids was October 2, but it was then postponed a couple of times and the new deadline is mid-December.

“We were initially a little frustrated with that, but it’s actually allowed us to spread the word more and get more knowledge of the campaign out,” said Sandra.

So far, the campaign has raised over $6,000, but their goal is to raise as much as $10,000 to win the chance to name the lichen.

The unique opportunity arrose because the researcher who discovered the lichen, Trevor Goward, decided to offer up the naming of the new species to raise funds to the Clearwater Wetlands and Wildlife Corridor Campaign.

Normally, when a new species is described, the person or researcher who discovered it gets the honour of naming it, however, Goward wanted The Land Conservancy to have the chance to use the naming to raise funds for the campaign in the area of the Upper Clearwater to protect over 130 acres.

Anyone interested in donating towards the campaign can do so by emailing randysmemorial@gmail.com and payment can also be mailed or done online via a PayPal link.  For more information call Kandace Kerr at 996-0194. Donations must be made by Dec. 9 by mail and online by Dec. 13 so the funds can be tallied for the final bid.

The campaign is being sponsored in part by The Caledonia Courier.