This time last year we had just completed Phase II of the Shelly Creek Fish Habitat Restoration project on a section of Shelly Creek that runs through the Shelly Farm located on Standford Ave in Parksville. Coho fry rearing habitat was restored along a 400 m section of creek which is not only supporting fry, but also supported around 25 Coho Salmon spawners last Fall. Woohoo!
This summer, fish habitat restoration work was completed on a 200 m section of Shelly Creek that flows downstream of Shelly Farm through private property (shown by the red line on the map below); a continuation of the work completed last year (shown by the blue line). The creek then flows through Martindale Pond (the site of restoration work in 2020) and under Martindale Road on its way to the Englishman River. The fish habitat restoration work was designed and supervised by our Biologist, Dave Clough. Funding was provided by the Pacific Salmon Foundation.
This section of creek had filled with sediment and was overgrown with mature red-osier dogwood and invasive reed canary grass and yellow iris, leaving little space for rearing Coho fry (left-hand photo).
Although there was no flow in this section, it contained some open water making it necessary for MVIHES volunteers to remove fish using minnow traps and transferring them to the Englishman River before work could begin. Volunteers installed a sediment fence, as seen in the right-hand photo, to contain sediment generated by the restoration work and prevent fish and amphibians from moving into the work area from other areas of the creek.
Sediment and vegetation were excavated from the creek bed by Parksville Heavy Equipment (PHE), as shown below in the left-hand photo. The middle photo shows that piles of sediment were placed a distance away from the creek and contoured to a smooth surface to prevent it from washing back into the water during heavy rainfall. The creek embankment was contoured to a shallow slope, as seen in the right-hand photo, to prevent erosion and maximize the volume of water that can be stored during storm events. Another awesome job by PHE.
Stumps, commonly referred to as woody debris, were supplied by the Snaw-naw-as and installed in two areas along the creek bank to provide cover for fry and habitat for other animal species. The stumps were secured to boulders with cables by Snaw-naw-as member Chris Bob.
Ten volunteers handseeded the newly restored creek bank with a fast-growing erosion control grass seed mix, donated by PHE, and covered it with a layer of hay. The hay will hold the seed in place until it germinates, hold moisture for the growing grass, and add organic matter to the soil, enhancing vegetation growth. The hay (40 bales!) was graciously donated by Walter and Donna Paravicini of Qualicum Beach and delivered to the site by Ryan Christie (PHE) and MIVIHES volunteer Dick Dobler.
Below are some photos of our volunteers in action, including Anne Bailey spreading grass seed in the left-hand photo, a gang of super spreaders in the middle photo, and Mark Hutchinson spreading hay in the right-hand photo.
Many thanks go out to:
Werner and Antje Trawoger who gave us authorization to conduct the work on their property;
Ryan Christie and Bob the excavator operator at Parksville Heavy Equipment;
Murray and Shelly Laplante, owners of the Shelly Farm who allowed us to cross their farm to access the creek on the Trawoger property;
Walter and Donna Paravicini who donated 40 hay bales
Andrew McNaughton and the Snaw-naw-as First Nation
Dave Clough (DR Clough Consulting): project design and "Notification for Changes in a Stream";
Laura Terry, Community Advisor for Department of Fisheries and Oceans: supported project and submitted "Notification for Changes in a Stream".
and MVIHES Volunteers: Carl Rathburn, Shelley Goertzen, Dick Dobler, Rick Walz, Randy Walz, Anne Bailey, Al McLean (Mid Island Castaways Fly Fishing Club), Bob Williams, Brian Lea, Doug Herchmer, Jo McIlveen, Mark Hutchinson, Terry Baum, and Barb Riordan
Welcome to another in our series Volunteers on the Go. In this episode you'll see our awesome volunteers tree planting along Shelly Creek, showing off our skills at Beach Day, and handing out yellow fish at the Rivers Edge Neighbourhood Information Session.
They Must Be Crazy
You wouldn't be wrong in asking why we were planting Western Red Cedars along Shelly Creek in late June when cedars have been dying from the droughts and heat domes we've been experiencing these past years. The answer is we have a secret weapon in a new volunteer and board member, Austin Peterson. Austin is an arborist.
Although the section of Shelly Creek between Wildgreen Way in Parksville and Hwy 19 is undeveloped, it has been impacted by erosional flows caused by development upstream, as well as mountain bike ramps and trails built on the creek banks (left-hand photo). One of our goals is not to kick the bikers out of the area, but to work with them to minimize their impact to the creek. The other goal is to provide natural stabilization to the creek banks with more trees in the riparian zone.
The BC Ministry of Land, Water and Resource Stewardship (formerly Forests, Lands, Resource Operations and Rural Development) in Port Alberni gave us 500 Western Red Cedar seedlings that were left over from their planting program. Austin, along with volunteer Pete Law, walked through the creek section, carefully selecting and flagging spots along the banks where soil was still moist and expected to remain so for most of the year. This section of creek is in a shaded ravine so more conducive to retaining soil moisture.
On June 29, ten volunteers planted the 500 seedlings. Charna Macfie is seen in the left-hand photo, and in the far left photo are Sue Wilson (left), Pete Law (centre), and Barbara Wildman-Spencer (right). The other volunteers included Austin Peterson, Barb Riordan, Dick Dobler, Jo McIlveen, Rick Walz, and Shelley Goertzen.
It will be interesting to see what our monitoring of the seedlings reveals about our planting strategy.
Photos by Austin Peterson.
Beach Day a Roaring Success
July 17 was the first Beach Day (Qualicum Beach) in two years and what a great time we had! Not only were there skydivers landing on the beach with impressive precision, and a seine netting session by our favourite biologist, Dave Clough, scores of stewardship groups were there with interactive displays demonstrating the wonders of nature. The organizers of Beach Day estimate 3,000 people went through the displays.
MVIHES had three interactive displays (left-hand photo). Ross Peterson was showing off his CSI skills by dissecting Dogfish Sharks and explaining their anatomy. He was swarmed by on-lookers for four hours making it impossible to get photos of him in action.
In the right-hand photo, Bruce Murray (you may remember him as our Lord of the Flies), was running the Pond Critters display and helping people catch and identify the aquatic bugs from the sample of pond water supplied by Peter Drummond.
Austin Peterson and Barb Riordan (left-hand photo) were explaining the importance of Forage Fish and how their spawning grounds are found and monitored, along with a microsope for viewing a sample of tiny Pacific Sandlance eggs.
The vortex (right-hand photo) which separates the tiny sand grains containing Sandlance eggs from sand samples really drew in the crowds.
All in all it was a very successful day. Hopefully Ross' fame doesn't go to his head. Photos by Austin Peterson again (which why he isn't in any).
Rivers Edge Neighbourhood Info Session
The Rivers Edge neighbourhood, located south of Parksville and on the south side of the Englishman River, gets its drinkingwater from a series of groundwater wells operated by the Englishman River Community Water Service (ERCWS) under the Regional District of Nanaimo (RDN). This is a separate entity from the Englishman River Water Service (ERWS) operated by the City of Parksville which supplies water pumped from the river to the city.
On July 21, the RDN held an information session for the neighbourhood for addressing issues with their water supply. Staff from the ERCWS were in attendance as were staff from the Emergency Preparedness department and Team WaterSmart. MVIHES was asked to attend with our yellow fish signs that promote Salmon Friendly Lawns though water conservation (left-hand photo). Residents who pledge to leave more water in the creeks and rivers for the salmon by not watering their lawns, and not use chemical pesticides and herbicides, get a groovy yellow fish sign to put on their lawn that states "brown is the new green". Of course, "brown is the new green" refers to creating a trend where brown lawns are way cooler than green lawns.
Barb Riordan (right) and residents Don McConnell (background) and Melissa Tomlinson (foreground) of Team WaterSmart
We signed up 12 households with yellow fish signs which we think is way cool. Many thanks to the RDN for inviting us!
A green invader is threatening the ecology of Shelly Creek Park!
Lamium, also called Yellow Archangel, is taking over a large section of ground in the park and swallowing up Douglas Fir seedlings planted last year by City of Parksville employees, as well as Large-leaf Maple seedlings. Lamium is a common plant used in planters and flower beds and has been introduced by residents dumping garden waste in the park.
Lamium Infestation in Shelly Creek Park
Lamium is an invasive species found in shaded to partially shaded habitat including wooded areas. It can easily out compete natural ground covers. If it were to make it to where Shelly Creek flows through the park, it could out-compete the natural riparian vegetation needed for streambank stability and shade for the resident Cutthroat Trout.
MVIHES volunteer and Arrowsmith Naturalist, Sue Wilson, lives beside the park and contacted Warren Payne, City Parks Supervisor, about the Lamium during the City of Parksville Open House down at the Community Beach. Warren already had the Lamium on his radar and was consulting with the Coastal Invasive Species Committee (Coastal ISC) to have it erradicated. If enough volunteers could be rounded up for pulling the Lamium, the use of an herbicide could be avoided. Sue succeeded in rounding up over 20 nearby residents and formed the Friends of Shelly Creek Park for a Lamium-pulling party. Fortunately, Lamium is easy to pull out and large open areas can be covered in cardboard to kill it and prevent it from spreading. The right-hand photo shows Sue breaking down donated cardboard boxes for covering some of the Lamium. She also baked dozens of delicious cookies for the volunteers. What an awesome lady!
Between June 20 and 23rd, a total of 26 volunteers from Friends of Shelly Creek Park, Arrowsmith Naturalists, and MVIHES were led by Heidi Grant (Project Director) and Taylor Koel (Summer Environmental Technician) of Coastal ISC in removing approximately 90 bags of Lamium and laying down cardboard, for a total of 104 hours of volunteer labour. The first 60 bags were taken to the Waste Transfer station in a U-Haul rented by Heidi and Taylor, and the rest were taken by car.
Taylor Koel (left), Heidi Grant (right)
The photos below show some volunteers in action. On the left is Helen Davidson of Arrowsmith Naturalists who's probably thinking "This ain't no Field of Dreams". In the middle is strata member Diana Matsuda, and to the right is MVIHES volunteer Austin Peterson.
Here is one of many Douglas Fir seedlings that were buried by the Lamium. Poor little tyke. You can see how a natural wooded area like Shelly Creek Park could be degraded by a carpet of Lamium.
And now for some dramatic Before and After shots.
Yes, the cardboard is unsighty but it's a great reminder of why we shouldn't dump our garden waste into natural areas. Also, when removing invasive species, either from your yard or a natural area, they must be placed in garbage bags and taken to the landfill section of the Waste Transfer Station where they will be buried deep so they can't return. Never compost or include invasive species in garden waste (unless you are using a composting service where vegetation is heated to temperatures that kill seeds and rhizomes, eg. Community Composting).