"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"

Newsroom

Shelly Park Gets Some TLC

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Have you seen the  awesome signs that were just installed in Shelly Park? 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

Shelly Creek is Parksville’s last fish-bearing stream. The stretch of creek within Shelly Park, located at Hamilton Road, has received a lot of attention lately from MVIHES, local residents, and Vancouver Island University to conserve the  Cutthroat Trout that spend their entire lives in the park. This includes:

 Stream Flow Monitoring for Hydrology Data            Riparian Planting                                      Cutthroat Trout Study

flowtracker1JohnPhillipscutthroat

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

    Barb Riordan, Nov. 20, 2018                                         John Phllips, Mar, 3, 2019                                             Bradon Judson, Oct. 21, 2018

  

 The Park status, and the natural attractiveness of the area draws many local residents who walk the trail that follows the creek. In 2018, MVIHES volunteers who were monitoring stream flows within the park had many interactions with the park’s users – many of whom were unaware of the special ecological status of these Cutthroat Trout and their sensitive habitats. These public interactions  were mostly positive, with many expressions of concern and a willingness to help where they can. MVIHES viewed this as an opportunity to deliver an education program to heighten public awareness.

Upon seeing the fabulous sign installed by the Qualicum Beach Streamkeepers'  at the trailhead of Grandon Creek in the Town of Qualicum Beach,  MVIHES decided a series of signs that explain the presence of the Cutthroat Trout,  their life cycle and habitat, as well as the activities in the watershed that can have negative impacts, was a great way to increase public awareness. 

 Since the park is under the jurisdiction of the City of Parksville, Peter Law (MVIHES President) approached the City Parks Foreman, Warren Payne, about the proposal to install signs in the park. Warren supported the idea, especially since the City had begun installing these kind of "info signs" in some of the parks and thought Shelly Park was a good candidate. The City had hired a graphic artist to design the park signs, so Warren arranged for the artist to design the signs for Shelly Park using content and photos provided by MVIHES. Six signs were produced for Shelly Park, one of which is shown below.

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A real beauty, eh? The City not only produced the six signs but installed them in strategic locations selected by MVIHES.

bridgeBuilding on the knowledge of these Cutthroat Trout, the Parks Department has submitted a request to fund a 17 meter bridge to cross the creek, replacing the make-shift crossing currently in use by park users, seen in the photo to the right.  This will be a huge benefit to the fish that are spooked (stressed) every time someone (or their dog) pauses to look at the trout in the small shallow pool at the crossing.  It will also mean a more stable steam channel as riparian vegetation will no longer get trampled by trail users.

Many thanks go out to the City of Parksville for recognizing this small park’s ecological importance, both from a neighbourhood perspective and a regional (watershed) perspective. Good things happen when government and stewardship groups collaborate on projects. If you haven't seen them yet, check out the signs in Shelly Park and at Grandon Creek. 

Many thanks also go out to the countless volunteers and residents who have contributed to the conservation of Shelly Park.                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Shelley Goertzen, Feb, 27, 2019                                                         

Life's a Beach

The month of May was all about beaches for our volunteers. Check out our "Sharing Shorelines" brochure about conserving shorelines, not only for sustaining marine life (and beaches), but protecting real estate as well. Many thanks to Islands Trust who produced the original brochure and allowed us to modify it for Parksville. And MVIHES vounteer Ross Peterson who did the modifying and got it published. 

ForageFish6On May 29, Haley Tomlin from Vancouver Island University gave an excellent training session on surveying the spawning habitat of forage fish (Sand Lance and Surf Smelt) to the Qualicum Beach Streamkeepers. Of course, MVIHES just had to crash the party. You may remember, we were trained in forage fish surveys last year by Ramona de Graf using the State of Washington methodology. Haley, who is conducting these surveys on behalf of the Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Region Research Institute, has created a "Citizen Science" program that simplifies the State of Washington method. The data collected from this program will be stored  on the Pacific Salmon Foundation website which should make it possible to identify beaches that are important for forage fish spawning when an area is being considered for development.

 

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Haley is also lending us a fancy piece of equipment called a vortex (shown in photo) that is powered by a 12 volt car battery. The vortex separates fish eggs and embryos from our sand samples and replaces the manual "panning for eggs" method we have been using. Very cool. MVIHES will continue surveying local beaches for forage fish spawning habitat. If you haven't already been involved in our surveying and you would like to participate, just drop us a line at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

 

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On May 30, Dave Clough, our consulting Biologist for many years, lead us on another beach seining session at the Englishman River estuary. We were accompanied by Emily Vance, a reporter for PQB news. Emily wrote a great article that explains all about why we beach seine.

 

Photo by Emily Vance as seen in news article 

 

See you on the beach!

Welcome to the Shelly Creek Delicatessen

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You may remember Braden Judson, a biology student from Vancouver Island University (VIU), who did his undergraduate research project last year on the eating habits of the resident Cutthroat Trout population in Shelly Creek.  This project was the brainchild of Ross Peterson and Pete Law of MVIHES who approached VIU for a student to conduct the research. The MidIsland Castaways Fly Fishing Club provided a donation to fund Braden's travel expenses between Parksville and Nanaimo. The results of the study are in and are really interesting, if not surprising.

 

 

 

 

 

poleseiningWith the help of volunteers, a total of 83 Cutthroat Trout were captured with a net called a pole seine on three sampling occasions in August, September and October.  Each fish was weighed, measured and its adipose fin (tiny fin made of fat at base of tail) was clipped so we can distinguish these Cutthroat Trout from those that enter Shelly Creek via the Englishman River when we operate our smolt counting fence downstream each spring.

 

 

troutstomachpumpFollowing these procedures, Braden perfomed a gastric lavage on each fish. I know, it sounds like a menu item for French cuisine. It's actually a scientific term for stomach pumping. It takes quite a bit of skill to extract the stomach contents of a tiny fish without harming it. The stomach contents of each fish were collected, preserved and identified in a lab at VIU. Nice work, Braden! And yes, the fish were released back into the creek, perhaps a little perturbed at having lost their lunch.

 

 

mayflylarvaeBraden found that half of the items the trout had eaten were the ususal inhabitants of creeks: mayfly nymphs, stonefly nymphs, caddisfly larvae, fly larvae and water striders.

 

 

 

antintroutThe other half were critters that live on land: pill bugs (or wood bugs) ants, wasps, springtails, beetles and spiders. Wow, half the diet of these trout comes from land! This emphasizes the importance of vegetation along streambanks and tree canopy that hangs over creeks. These insects (and spiders) most likely fell off some foliage overhanging the water.  Good to know that the ferns and shrubs volunteers planted alongside Shelly Creek in March should help keep the trout fed.

 

Braden's research paper is available in our digital library and can also be accessed here. We wish Braden well with his studies and thank him for his diligence. Many thanks to VIU, the MidIsland Castaways, and our MVIHES volunteers for their support. And thanks to the City of Parksville Parks Dept for letting us conduct this work in Shelly Park.