"Committed to the restoration of wild Pacific salmon in mid Vancouver
Island watersheds through habitat restoration and community engagement"
"Committed to the restoration of wild Pacific salmon in mid Vancouver
Island watersheds through habitat restoration and community engagement"

2018 Salmon Counts





 Someone Needs a Coffee












Avengers Come to the Rescue

creosotedock3Last month MVIHES received a request from James Craig, MVIHES volunteer and retiree of the BC Conservation Foundation, for help in removing  the timbers of a dock that  washed up on the beach at the end of Arlette Road in San Pareil. The dock was pretty skookum, being made of thick beams soaked with creosote and held together with thick iron pins.

Creosote is no longer used in preserving wood and for good reason. During the lifetime of marine pilings and docks treated with creosote, weathering occurs from tides and water flow which slowly opens the oily outer coating and allows some of the hazardous compounds found in creosote to leach into the water. These compounds are ingested by organisms like mollusks and smaller crustaceans which bioaccumulate the compounds inside their bodies. The hazardous compounds are  transferred through the marine food chain when the organisms are eaten by fish and other animals. So you can see it was important to get the timbers off the beach as quickly as possible.  


On January 10, using their own tools and brawn, MVIHES volunteers James Craig, Eamon Stinson, Dick Dobler and Dick's pal Rick Walz from Qualicum Beach, cut through the iron pins, separated the beams with a steel bar, and cut up the timbers so they could be hauled by hand and piled in the parking lot on Arlette Road. The BCCF has graciously offered to haul the timbers away to the RDN dump, and the RDN is waiving the fees for the proper disposal of this contaminated material.

El Presidente Peter Law has sent this letter of thanks to all involved. 





The Avengers Team left to right:


James Craig (Captain Kelp) 

Dick Dobler (Sand Man) 

Rick Walz (Hulk) 

Eamon Stinson (Shore, you know, like Thor)                        






2018: A Quick Look Back at the Year that Was



“In my opinion, 2018 has been an extraordinary year for MVIHES and I wish all their members, families and friends a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year” 




 Oh, oh. How did that photo get in there? Wait a minute……here we go:





Like many of you, I thought the past year was a very good year for MVIHES, so I thought it would be appropriate to celebrate some of the highlights of what we accomplished in monitoring and protecting the Health of the Englishman River watershed and its estuary.





In the Winter of 2018, our Volunteers were active in a number of issues, such as:


  • Appearing as a delegation to Parksville City Council to present the findings of the Shelly Creek Water Balance Report that show the current Storm Water Management Plan for Parksville contains practices that are negatively impacting fish habitat in Shelly Creek.


  •  As a result of this presentation, we were asked by Council to provide comments on the 2018 City of Parksville Subdivision Servicing Standards Bylaw (focused on storm water in new developments) which was pending for adoption. Although our recommendations were not adopted, we have succeeded in raising the profile of this issue, and its impact to small streams. We successfully acquired funding from PSF, City of Parksville and the Regional District of Nanaimo to purchase and install “Sensitive Habitat” road marker signs for Shelly Creek. This past fall, the signs were posted by Mainroad Contracting at all the culverts at road crossings for Shelly Creek (in the RDN), highlighting the importance of Fish Habitat protection.




  • Installing a level-logger in the park at Hamilton Road to monitor water flows in Shelly Creek. The Ministry of Forest Lands and Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development have partnered with us to measure water flows throughout the year, by installing a weir in the creek this past summer and training our members in how to use a “Flow Tracker” device to accurately measure flow volumes.





  • Conducting a USHP fish habitat survey on Morison Creek, with Dave Clough leading and eight of our members assisting, to identify fish habitat rehabilitation opportunities in this important tributary to the river.





From the Spring though Fall of 2018, we had a number of projects that kept our members busy, including:


  • We conducted Water Sampling to assess the water quality of City of Parksville Stormwater outfalls that flow into the marine shoreline environment and the estuary. Working in partnership with the Nature Trust, we conducted additional sampling within the estuary, downstream of Outfalls.  We have received funding from PSF to continue this work over the coming winter months.




  •  In March, we installed the Smolt Trap on Shelly Creek (at Martindale Rd), with the goal of monitoring salmon and trout smolt migration downstream from the wetland at Shelly Creek. This was the sixth year of counting, and we saw a noticeable increase in the proportion of Rainbow and Cutthroat Trout in the daily catch from other years. We estimated a total 7363 Coho smolts and fry in the outmigration. We saw the highest number of  trout counted at the fence since the smolt count began in 2011: 296 of which 51 were identified as Cutthroat.





  • In partnership with VIU’s Biology Department and Castaways Flyfishers, we were able to fund a student to undertake a study on the Feeding Habits of Resident Cutthroat Trout in Shelly Creek. Several of our members assisted in the capture of seventy five Cutthroat Trout, whose stomachs were sampled (pumped) during three sample dates in the summer and fall (low flow time period). We look forward to seeing the final report.







  • Monitoring projects for Aquatic Health through the Summer and Fall months included:




  •  Sampling fish (and other critters) and water quality at the McMillian Blodel sidechannel on Nature Trust Property (new).









  • Beach seining in the estuary, in association with the dyke removal project by Nature Trust and DFO, to assess habitat changes and fish distribution resulting from restoration of  a natural estuarine environment (new).







  • Partnering with the RDN to assess nine sites in the Englishman River watershed for  long term surface water quality, as part of the Region - wide Community Watershed Network (ongoing).







  • Helping Ramona de Graaf, of the BC Shore Spawners Alliance, to organize and train our members in the method for surveying for Forage Fish spawning and mapping habitat on local marine beaches in San Pariel and Parksville Bay (new).








  • Following up on the training we received last fall in monitoring benthic invertebrates, we pilot-tested a Streamkeepers Module for monitoring aquatic insects in the watershed, which will be implemented in 2019 (new).




Activities where our members were involved:
* Members volunteered with the Parksville Beachfest Society as Gate Keepers for the Sand Sculptures Exhibit in July and August.
* The AGM was held on Sep 8 at the Parksville Civic Centre. 32 people attended. Ramona de Graaf gave a presentation on Forage Fish. Fayesmithpavilion
* MVIHES had a display at the Faye Smith Pavilion Dedication on Sept 23 which was World Rivers Day. 



* A Streamkeepers Course was held on Oct 13 and 14  at the Bayside Quality Inn. Dave Clough was the instructor and 19 people attended.


Fayememorial1* On September 20, a plaque was dedicated to Faye Smith on Centre Creek. The plaque was donated by Timber West in honour of her work in remediating fish habitat and protecting watersheds. Representatives from Timber West, Island Timberlands, MVIHES and other conservation groups attended.


* Coffee with MVIHES sessions were held in March and December at the Bayside Quality Inn to recruit new members and to inform current members of recent and future projects. They were well attended and members seemed to like the format.

Our Board is planning on a very active year ahead (2019), with the big event being our Joint hosting of the Symposium “Water Stewardship in a Changing Climate” on April 2nd, 3rd and 4th in Parksville at the Conference Center. Volunteers will be needed!!
Check out the website to read the stories of how each of the three days is introduced:

All the Best in the New Year!
Peter Law


Spoiler Alert: Sand Lance Found on Beach

sandlanceYou may recall that on June 22 and 23, a group of us met on San Pareil beach for a training session on mapping and documenting spawning grounds for forage fish species (surf smelt and sand lance). Our instructor was Ramona de Graaf, Independent Researcher and Co-ordinator of the Shore Spawner's Alliance, who walked us through the process of collecting samples from the top few centimetres of the beach sand and gravel, within the intertidal zone where forage fish typically spawn. We learned how to  isolate the finest sand particles, where the eggs and embryos are found, by running our samples through a series of sieves to remove the coarser materials. This was followed by "winnowing" the sand samples, a process similar to panning for gold,  to bring any eggs and embryos to the surface. The top layer of sand in the pan was collected with a spoon, placed in a jar and taken to our CSI (Crazy Scientists In-training) laboratory.  We placed small portions of the sand samples under microscopes to search for eggs and embryos. Unfortuately, we didn't find any in our samples.

Not to be discouraged, we decided that we just needed to hone our skills. On December 5, we descended upon San Pareil beach with equipment and data sheets in hand, determined to collect some eggs and embryos to prove to the world the beach is a forage fish spawning ground. And what did we find? Sand lance scattered across the beach, suggesting that sand lance had been spawning there the night before. Well that was easy. Who needs to go through the process of looking for tiny eggs and embryos in the sand when the fish are just going to throw themselves up on the beach for us to prove they were there. And just to make sure  the sand lance were there for the purpose of spawning, our CSI guy (Crazy Scientist In-charge), Pete Law, dissected 13  specimens. He found 3 females with ripe eggs, 1 female that was spawned out, and nine males with milt.(For those of you who enjoy that sort of thing, the morbid results of Pete's dissections are in the photo below.)

Why did some of the sand lance die on the beach? Our hypothesis at the moment is that we had  very cold temperatures the night before and the fish, being cold-blooded, sucuumbed to the unseasonable temperatures. We are checking with Ramona and other forage fish groups to determine if our hypothesis is correct and if anyone else has experienced this occurence. In the meantime, we will continue to sample the beaches in our area for evidence of forage fish spawning.


A Place of Honour for Faye Smith on Centre Creek


Nov. 2, 2018 was a significant day for Oceanside conservationists. They gathered at the mouth of Centre Creek, a salmon-bearing tributary of the Englishman River to dedicate a plaque in honor of Faye Smith. Faye, a long time conservationist, died in the spring of 2017, leaving a huge legacy. She was well known for the yellow boots she wore while working on local streams – boots that will be hard to fill.

Fayememorial2The memorial plaque was placed on a large boulder near the stream by TimberWest with whom Faye and the Mid Vancouver Island Habitat Enhancement Society (MVIHES) partnered on restoration projects to improve salmon production.

Faye’s friends from a number of organizations, including TimberWest, Island Timberlands, MVIHES, Qualicum Beach Streamkeepers, Friends of French Creek and others paid their respects and planted trees in Faye’s honor. Witnessing the event were coho salmon spawners, a bald eagle, a pair of kingfishers and a few dippers. As someone said: “Faye would be pleased with the appearance of some of the wildlife that she so passionately loved and respected”.

MVIHES wishes to thank TimberWest (particularly Molly Hudson), and Island Timberlands for this demonstration of appreciation and respect for a valued conservationist and friend.”

For more information, contact
Peter Law, President
Mid-Vancouver Island Habitat Enhancement Society
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