Bob Maxwell

Eve Flager
Retired from BC Ministry of Environment Wildlife Branch; Currently working as private consultant.
Education: BSc. University of Victoria

What did you like most about your work?

The most enjoyable part of soil science, as a career soil surveyor was meeting and working with a wide diversity of earth and ecological scientists. This coupled to the wide diversity of fascinating ecosystems and landscapes across BC made my life full of nature and – so many times I just couldn’t believe I was associated with this wonder. I am most grateful to the UBC soil professors and the BC soil scientists for their wisdom, their sharing and leadership they are such good souls and such caring people.

Why do you think it is important to study soil?

The study of soils in my career included initially, The Canada Land Inventory where we mapped, classified and prepared soil interpretations for forestry, agriculture, wildlife, parks and urban suitability. Further detailed mapping and interpretations of these and other themes such as on-site projects for crop suitability greatly depended upon examining soil features. Soil proved to be one of the main bases for determining plant growth, wildlife and human use of the land and predicting the sustainability of so many parts of the earth. Without knowing the nature of the soil and the site and its benefits and limitations, man cannot evaluate the natural systems and carrying capacities of the earth.

What is your favourite memory of working with soil?

The favourite memory, and there are many, was working in a team on the South Okanagan Critical Areas Project (SOCAP). Here we mapped the soils and vegetation to form habitat maps. As we surveyed in the field on beautiful spring and summer days, we worked with biologists who studied birds, bats, amphibians, herptiles and mammals. It was through the integration of many sciences that we came to understand what species used various sites and why. For example the female gopher snake liked the southern edges of lacustrine escarpments where the soil was soft (bigger gopher holes) and warm for her eggs. And the extirpated (lost), Short Horned Lizard was last seem on the lower elevation south facing eolian soil deposits – we could then map this habitat where reintroductions may have the most promise.