"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"


Volunteers on the Go....Again

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 JRiversedge2uly 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!

Friends of Shelly Creek Park Versus the Archangel

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


Lamiumremoval SueMVIHES 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!


Lamiumremoval HeidiandTaylor1



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.

Lamiumremoval HelenLamiumremoval DianeLamiumremoval Austin








Lamiumremoval seedling





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. 

 Lamiumremoval after2Lamiumremoval before2Lamiumremoval after2









Lamiumremoval after1 Lamiumremoval before1









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).

Many thanks to Sue Wilson, Warren Payne, Heidi and Taylor, and all the volunteers that came out to fight the Archangel. Work continues in the park to remove more of this invader. If you would like to help, you can send an email to  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.




Hangin' With the Salmon Fry in the Estuary

One fine day in May, MVIHES volunteer James Craig went snorkelling in the Englishman River Estuary to check up on the salmon fry.  He took some amazing photos of Chinook, Coho, and a few Chum Salmon fry hanging out in a variety of hoods (MVIHES slang for aquatic neighbourhoods). Some of his observations are below.



The left-hand photo shows Coho fry taking cover amongst rock and boulders, also called riprap.  The fry will remain in the river/estuary system for a year before migrating out to the ocean. 






frycoverLWDabove2 frycovernone







The above photos show eight Chinook fry lurking beneath an old tree that washed up into the estuary. Englishman River Chinook fry only hang around for about 90 days so will probably head out to the ocean by the end of June.


frycoverLWDabove frycoverLWD adjusted







Some of you may remember that in 2017, Nature Trust of BC removed a dyke that impeded the natural tidal flows in the western section of the estuary.  Restoration work included placing large woody debris (LWD) in the form of trees and logs in the foot print of the removed dyke. One such piece of LWD is in the above left-hand photo which was harbouring Chinook fry, as seen in the above right-hand photo.

Nature Trust also enhanced a channel in the estuary that branches off from the Englishman River to the west. James observed more than 500 Coho fry in this channel where deciduous forest lined the bank. Salmon fry were scarce where the channel became shallow and veered into open mudflats. 


frycoverundercut adjusted



 A marauding gang of Coho, Chinook, and Chum fry was observed taking cover below an undercut of the river bank. Such a popular spot!






frycovercrabappletreeabove adjusted frycovercrabappletree adjusted








But the most popular hood of all was a section overhung by Pacific Crab Apple trees (above left-hand photo) that were providing shade, and probably some tasty insects as they fell off the leaves, to at least 785 Coho, Chinook, and Chum fry. The above right-hand photo shows them enjoying the privacy offered by sea-lettuce and other aquatic plants. James has been checking up on the fry in the estuary since 2017 and has found the section under the crab apple trees harbours the highest densities of salmon fry. An important observation that demonstrates the importance of maintaining trees along shorelines, and aquatic vegetation in near-shore environments. 

Many thanks to James for sharing his photos and observations. We can't wait to see what he gets up to next.