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.
* 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.
* 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!