"Committed to the recovery 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"

General - News

The Parksville Rain Garden

parksvilleraingardengroupBack in 2012, MVIHES and the City of Parksville built a rain garden in front of the newly expanded fire hall. The project was funded with grants from The Nature Trust of BC and Pacific Salmon Foundation. The purpose of the rain garden is to collect the rain running off the fire hall parking lot and, like nature, hold some of it in the soil to water the plants while the rest filters through sand where it slowly percolates into the ground. From there, the water recharges groundwater aquifers and contributes to stream flow in dry periods.The captured runoff can contain dirt, fertilizer, chemicals, oil and other pollutants which are filtered out in the rain garden. Representatives of the city and MVIHES attended the ceremonial opening of the new rain garden in front of the Parksville Fire Hall, as seen in the above photo.                 

Faye Smith who was the MVIHES Coordinator at the time (wearing a pink sweater in the above photo) commented that “Rainwater pouring into storm drains from our streets, parking lots and other hard surfaces has a devastating effect on our streams and shorelines. Not only does the pollution in the water harm fish and other aquatic life, the volume of water that flows through the pipes during a heavy rainfall causes erosion and destroys critical habitat.” Faye was a strong supporter of rain gardens and hoped Parksville would become a city of rain gardens.

The garden includes local native vegetation and was meant to grow into a natural looking, manicured green area. The key word being "manicured". In 2020, our Vice President, Peter Law, realized the rain garden had grown into a impenetrable jungle and was far from attractive. You could lose your dog in there.







                                                         2012                                                                          2020

Pete sought the advice of Master Gardeners John and June Densienger from Bowser (volunteers at Milner Gardens) for pruning the tangled, overgrown assortment of red-osier dogwood, baldhip rose, red currant, Indian plum, kinnickinnick, juniper, soft-stemmed bulrush, and sword ferms, while removing invasive species like reed canary grass, ivy, and that dreaded Himalayan blackberry.

On March 17, 2021 a team of volunteers working under Covid-19 protocols gathered at the Fire Hall with pruners, shovels, and rakes to give the rain garden a good manicure. Thank goodness someone thought to bring a machete. Photos of volunteers in action are below.


 Ifoundasign  thesign









Volunteers Jo McIlveen and her husband Doug Herchmer provided a truck and trailer for hauling the cuttings to a friend's farm in French Creek. Four truck and trailer loads were hauled away over the course of two days, plus a load in Pete's truck. See photos below for examples of a load.











The photo to the right shows much improvement but the rain garden needs another day's work. Due to the additional Public Health recommendations recently implemented for Covid-19, further work on the rain garden has been postponed for now. In the meantime, many thanks to our volunteers: Pat Ashton, Dick Dobler (Machete Man), Shelley Goertzen, Doug Herchmer, Mike Jessen, Pete Law, Jo McIlveen, Barb Riordan, Catherine Watson and Sue Wilson.  See ya next time!

Return of the Yellow Fish

Several years ago, MVIHES ran a Salmon Friendly Lawn Program that included handing out yellow fish lawn signs, like the one in the left-hand photo. To receive a yellow fish sign, the homeowner pledged not to use pesticides in their yard or water their lawn from the tap. The goal of the Salmon Friendly Lawn Program was to leave more water in the creeks and rivers for fish during the summer drought and prevent pesticides which harm fish from entering water systems, either through stormdrains or directly off the land.

We are bringing back the yellow fish sign program in partnership with Qualicum Beach Streamkeepers, and expanding its scope. Education on methods to manage rainwater on residential properties that benefit fish will be included. Rainwater from roofs and hard surfaces typically runs into a drainage system that sends it straight into a creek or river, often overwhelming the water channels and causing erosion. In a natural setting, a lot of the rainwater seeps into the ground where it slowly moves towards river and creeks, reducing the severity of floods and providing water to creeks and rivers during the summer drought. Residents that utililze methods for good rainwater management will receive a yellow fish sign to display on their lawn. The signs are a committment strategy that reinforce the homeowner's efforts. And these signs are going to be fancy schmancy, believe me.



We received some funding from the Public Conservation Assistance Fund to buy the materials to make and paint the fish signs, and for a decal to go on each sign identifying the program. We had been searching for a long, long, long time for a skilled woodworker to make the signs, until Chris Smith, our newest Board member, used his connection with Island Artisans to find Kees Luchs (right-hand photo), a professional wood artisan. Kees volunteered his time and machinery to make 96 fish signs for us from the cedar we supplied. Yay Kees! Many thanks!


woodenfishAnd aren't they beeyootiful! We could not be more pleased with the excellent quality of work he has provided us free of charge.  

The challenge now is for our team of volunteers to find more woodworkers to make signs; develop a marketing campaign to educate the Parksville and Qualicum Beach homeowners of the initiative; and encourage those who want to help us to get involved.

  • We are  really looking forward to the end of COVID (aren't we all) so we can meet and greet homeowners face to face, and get the message out to “conserve water”.



Many Thanks To Our Sponsor 






Shelly Creek Fish Habitat Restoration - Phase II

We recently learned that the Pacific Salmon Foundation (PSF) has approved our grant application for $22,200 to restore Coho Salmon rearing habitat in Shelly Creek upstream of Martindale Pond (the site of last year's restoration project). Woohoo!

Shelly Creek flows through the Shelly Farm (located at Stanford Avenue in Parksville) before flowing into Martindale Pond and under Martindale Road on its way to the Englishman River.


Hundreds of Coho fry are observed annually in the section of creek that runs northeast through the farm below the culverts identified in the above image. Unlike Martindale Pond where Coho fry from the Englishman River move in to overwinter and return to the river in the spring after they have smolted, it is believed the fry on Shelly Farm are the offspring of Coho Salmon seen spawning in the farm section of creek below the culverts. The fry remain on the farm all year until they smolt and migrate through Martindale Pond to the Englishman River the following spring.

ShellyFarmculvertThe two metal culverts overhang a ridge approximately 5 m high and have created a waterfall, as seen in the drone photo to the left. The falling water has created a large erosion gulley in the stream channel. The owners of Shelly Farm have seen the downstream section of the creek fill with sediment over the decades. Sediment comes from sources upstream of the farm in addition to that from the erosion gully, and has buried the natural stream bed.                                                                                                                                                                                        Photo by Robert Roycroft




The sediment has resulted in the creek becoming overgrown and clogged with mud and invasive species including Reed Canary Grass and Himamlayan Blackberry (see right-hand photo). The result is a loss of Coho fry rearing habitat and very low or no water flow in the summer, trapping fry in small pools that eventually dry up. 



The PSF grant is for the excavation of the creek by Parksville Heavy Equipment to remove the sediment and invasive species, and restore rearing habitat along with native riparian vegetation. Sediment collection ponds will be constructed to trap sediment and prevent more sedimentation of the creek. Our Biologist, Dave Clough, provided the design and workplan for the excavation and restoration work.

The plan is to conduct the work in late August when water flow is at its lowest in the creek. It will require moving fry downstream of the work area plus an Environmental Management Plan to minimize sedimentation of Shelly Creek from the excavator work.  We are very excited about this next phase of the restoration work on Shelly Creek. Stay Tuned