As part of this year’s Keeping It Living Campaign Project Watershed is providing an opportunity to get up close and personal with the Estuary through an event held on the mudflats. Participants will delve into the intertidal world of critters with Biologist Michele Jones on Saturday May 25th at 1pm. The inter-tidal portion of the estuary will be explored through looking at tide pools, estuary plants, and learning about the mudflat ecosystem. Participants should be ready for a “gumboot” hike into a world that is usually hidden by water or mud.
The Keeping It Living Campaign is a yearly campaign Project Watershed runs to raise awareness and funds to protect and restore the K’omoks Estuary. It includes various events and a silent art auction and competition. Project Watershed will be hosting more events as part of Elevate the Estuary in conjunction with Elevate the Arts from the 4th to the 8th of June.
As part of the Keeping It Living Campaign Project Watershed held a bird walk Saturday the 4th of May. The walk was led by Art Martell, a well-known birder in the Comox Valley. He took the group to a hidden estuary habitat teaming with birdlife right in the middle of the day, a stone’s throw away from the hustle and bustle of the Dyke road!
Participants of all ages enjoyed the one and a half hour outing. Highlights included Great Blue Herons, Green-winged Teal, Red-winged blackbirds, Killdeer, Long-billed Dowitchers and Sandpipers. Many of the participants were surprised at the wealth of birdlife and quality of habitat they were shown.
While our Estuary has been degraded over the years, pockets of healthy habitat still exist. The slough and wild habitat the group visited is in an area established and protected by Ducks Unlimited and The Nature Trust of British Columbia. Supporting and expanding these areas through restoration, land acquisition and other protection measures will help return the abundance that was the namesake of the Comox Valley.
Project Watershed thanks Art Martell for sharing his knowledge and enthusiasm for Estuary habitats. Walks like these and the other work that has been going on in the Estuary highlights how various environmental groups are working together to educate about, protect and restore a natural system.
The next event in the Keeping It Living series is entitled Mudflats Mischief. It will take place at 1pm on Saturday May 25that the Courtenay Riverway Walk. You can find out more about this and sign up online at http://keepingitliving.ca/projects/event-sign-up.
The Keeping It Living Campaign also features a silent art auction and competition – to view the art, vote or bid visit www.keepingitliving.ca.
“We have a special AGM program that should interest all residents who acknowledge the estuary and rivers and streams feeding into the estuary as the most important natural features in the Valley”, says Paul Horgen, Board Chair. Updates on their Puntledge salmon enhancement projects will be shared and new projects in the estuary including eelgrass planting and Blue Carbon will be presented. “Our education and outreach efforts included the sighting of a bird never reported in the Comox Valley, a flotilla on the estuary, and ended with a highly successful carol walk during the holidays” reports Betty Donaldson, Vice Chair of the group.
After a short business meeting and a refreshment break at approximately 8:15 pm, Caila Holbrook, Mapping Centre coordinator, will briefly demonstrate and present to all Comox Valley residents the Walking the Watershed Map of the Comox Valley. These are GPS generated, printable maps of walking trails in the Valley. The AGM will end with a special preview presentation of an 18 min video featuring the archeological work on ancient fish traps of Valley residents Nancy Greene and David McGee with comments from First Nations and other valley residents. This wonderful video was produced by Michael Fountain of Blue Bamboo Productions. Project Watershed invites everyone and anyone to attend.
For further information, or to become a member of Project Watershed email email@example.com, call 250-703-2871 or visit our website at www.projectwatershed.ca/get-involved/.
Pictured at the agreement signing alongside the Courtenay River Estuary on Tuesday are, from the right, Vancouver Island University President Ralph Nilson, the chair of Comox Valley Project Watershed Society Paul Horgen, B.C. Environment Minister Terry Lake, and Comox Valley MLA Don McRae.
Research probing the potential of the Courtenay River Estuary to capture carbon dioxide from the atmosphere is to move forward with the help of a $30,000 provincial grant.
B.C. Environment Minister Terry Lake was at the estuary wildlife viewing area on Comox Road on Tuesday to sign a memorandum of agreement with the President of Vancouver Island University, Ralph Nilson, and the chair of Comox Valley Project Watershed, Paul Horgen.
The three-way partnership is intended to produce a better understanding of how coastal communities can combine action on climate change and improvements to coastal ecosystems while at the same time securing economic benefits from such activities.
So-called 'blue carbon' is the carbon dioxide naturally absorbed from the atmosphere and stored in the marine environment through plants like eelgrass, sediment and even shellfish.
Some people believe the marine potential for sequestration is even more significant that that known to exist through land-based plants and trees.
Horgen said eelgrass meadows were disappearing from coastal estuaries as a result of pollution, logging activities, habitat destruction and burial, and their disappearance represented a loss of an important carbon sink.
"Restoration efforts have economic and climate adaptation benefits and provide a key wildlife habitat – a hat trick for the environment," he suggested.
"We look forward to working with the Province and VIU to make the Comox Valley blue carbon project a local effort with international ramifications."
Nilson agreed, suggesting research and restoration efforts "will not only have a positive local impact but potential global application in mitigating climate change."
It was early days but, he suggested, the three partners could "collectively do some very exciting things."
And Minister Lake said there were hundreds of estuaries large and small in B.C. alone, and if the research produced positive results, tremendous opportunities could be opened up.
"The money today is relatively small, but the potential applications and benefits are huge," he commented.
Comox Valley MLA Don McRae added: "Blue carbon is the point where ecological restoration, greenhouse gas reduction and climate change adaptation converge."
He praised Horgen and regional district Area B director Jim Gillis for pursuing the issue and helping prepare the information that had enabled him to put the case for research funding to his government colleagues.
If you knew this editorial involved blue carbon or carbon sequestration, would you read on?
Nonetheless, we ask that you keep reading.
For the second time in four months, Environment Minister Terry Lake was in the Comox Valley last week to deal with the issue.
Just before Christmas, he was in MLA Don McRae’s office with several other people, including Project Watershed chair Paul Horgen, to discuss the topic.
Last week, Lake visited again to sign a memorandum of understanding with Project Watershed and Vancouver Island University.
At stake — the health of B.C.’s many estuaries and the future of the planet.
The B.C. Ministry of Environment is providing a modest $30,000 toward the first phase of scientific research planning for blue carbon projects in this region.
If successful, the partnership will lead to better understanding of climate change, improvements to coastal ecosystems and possibly provide economic benefits.
Blue carbon the carbon that is stored in the marine environment, shellfish, plants and sediment. According to Lake’s ministry, “healthy estuaries remove and store carbon dioxide, possibly even more effectively than plants on land.”
Removing CO2 from the atmosphere reduces global warming. Eelgrass, for example, naturally absorbs and stores carbon dioxide.
Horgen notes, however, that eelgrass meadows are disappearing from estuaries due to pollution and habitat destruction.
Horgen, an extremely bright and educated man with the ability to make complex things understandable, is leading a drive to restore the health of the Courtenay River estuary in particular.
While it’s complicated, doing so would increase the amount of eelgrass, which would raise the amount of CO2 taken from the air, which could lead to the sale of greenhouse gas offsets, which would bring money to the Comox Valley.
Horgen’s leadership in the Comox Valley could lead to better health in B.C.’s 422 estuaries.
Shaw TV in their new go!Island section has produced a video to help spread the word about the new streamkeepers group Project Watershed is helping get off the ground. The new stramkeepers group would be for the Glen Uruquhart and Mallard Creeks. The video highlights the challenges the creeks face and the benefits a focused streamkeepers group could have.
Issued by the BC Ministry of Environment, April 9, 2013
COURTENAY – The B.C. government is partnering with Vancouver Island University and the Comox Valley Project Watershed Society to better understand how coastal communities can combine action on climate change and improvements to coastal ecosystems, and at the same time potentially benefit economically from these activities.
(Left to right): Project Watershed’s Dr. Paul Horgen, Minister of Environment Hon. Terry Lake and VIU President Dr. Ralph Nilson signed a three way Memorandum of Understanding between the University, Project Watershed and the BC Government (via, Ministry of Environment and the Climate Action Secretariat to work together to investigate “Blue Carbon” and its role of estuaries in sequestering carbon.
The Province, Vancouver Island University and Comox Valley Project Watershed Society have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and identified opportunities – starting in the Comox Valley – for these blue carbon projects in B.C.
To contribute to the success of the agreement, the Ministry of Environment is providing $30,000 to commission a first phase of scientific research planning. Blue carbon is the carbon stored in the marine environment, shellfish, plants and sediment. Healthy estuaries remove and store carbon dioxide – possibly even more effectively than plants on land.
B.C. has 27,200 kilometres of coastline and 422 estuaries to work with. Blue carbon projects have climate change reduction and adaptation benefits, as well as economic and environmental opportunities for communities and First Nations along the B.C. coastline.
The parties have agreed to:
Identify additional eligible project areas for blue carbon project activities along the B.C. coast.
Evaluate the reasonable cost per tonne to undertake various blue carbon projects, including key variables in forecasting costs (i.e., accessible vs. inaccessible coastline).
Undertake projects involving a wide range of shoreline and estuary protection and habitat restoration activities on private and public lands that can be designed, developed, quantified and verified to meet domestic and international quality standards.
Undertake the necessary research and analysis to support the creation and sale of greenhouse gas offsets from blue carbon projects that will be recognized as quality offsets in international markets.
Through these activities, Vancouver Island University will increase its ability to respond to coastal community needs and meet the educational goals of its students. The Province will better understand the opportunity to combine community action on dealing with the impacts of a changing climate, climate change reduction and ecological improvement in coastal ecosystems.
Comox Valley Project Watershed Society will build local expertise and capacity, and restore valuable intertidal areas to the benefit of B.C. coastal and First Nations communities.
Environment Minister Terry Lake – “By leveraging blue carbon, we have the opportunity to reduce the risk of sea level rise and ocean acidification, and repair centuries of habitat destruction. Blue carbon also supports community-based efforts to create climate change solutions locally and will make possible cultural, economic and environmental benefits.”
MLA (Comox Valley) and Education Minister Don McRae – “Blue carbon is the point where ecological restoration, greenhouse gas reduction and climate change adaptation converge. With our unrivaled knowledge in ecosystem and climate change science, strong policies to drive investment in sequestration and a world-leading approach to dealing with the impacts of a changing climate, B.C. possesses the tools and expertise the world is looking for. The end result will hopefully be the creation of sustainable jobs in coastal areas of B.C. such as the Comox Valley.”
Dr. Ralph Nilson, president and vice-chancellor, Vancouver Island University – “Preservation and restoration of coastal marine ecosystems is essential to support the sustainability and quality of life in the coastal communities that Vancouver Island University is proud to serve. We are delighted to be a part of the research and restoration efforts that will not only have a positive local impact but potential global application in mitigating climate change.”
Paul Horgen, chair, Comox Valley Project Watershed Society – “Eelgrass meadows are disappearing from coastal estuaries as a result of pollution, habitat destruction and burial. Their loss is a loss of an important natural carbon sink. Restoration efforts have economic and climate adaptation benefits, and provide key wildlife habitat – a hat trick for the environment. We look forward to working with the Province and VIU to make the Comox Valley blue carbon project a local effort with international ramifications.”
Do you like being outdoors? Looking for a way to make a change in your neighborhood? Want to meet other people who care about the environment?
Glen Urquhart Creek and Mallard Creek are in need of volunteers to organise into a Streamkeepers group. These two creeks are located on the Estuary flats and run through East Courtenay and Area B in to the Dyke Slough (see map). The portion of Glen Urquhart on the flats is fish bearing as is the Mallard. Both have been affected by human settlement and require attention of a few caring volunteers. Project Watershed Society is offering mentoring to get you on your way.
The Comox Valley is a network of streams and rivers. These waterways and their associated riparian areas move water, nutrients and sediment through the Valley, provide habitat for a vast number of species and make our Valley a scenic and lush place to live. Many of the major stream systems have a Streamkeeper group who help keep them healthy with tasks like invasive species removal, unplugging blockages, water quality testing, and fish habitat restoration. Some streamkeepers groups stay small and others become large organisations that embark on exciting projects and public education. Millard-Piercy Creek Streamkeepers (http://www.millardpiercy.org/) and Brooklyn Creek Watershed Society (http://brooklyncreek.ca/) are good examples of larger groups stewarding urban streams.
If you are interested in becoming part of a Streamkeepers group for the Glen Urquhart/Mallard Creeks or are interested in Streamkeeping in general contact Project Watershed firstname.lastname@example.org.
The tradition of people going around a neighbourhood singing Christmas carols is a very ancient one. However, in the Comox Valley, it’s quite a new tradition. It is a great way to experience the Estuary during the Winter season.
On Tuesday, December 5, 4:00 - 6:00 pm, join singers as they walk from 27th Street along the Riverway to the Westerly Hotel. The Hotel will provide a wassail cup to all carollers. Those who wish to stay for dinner will receive a special rate but reserve seats or a table in advance (250 338 2749).
Carollers will gather at the Mansfield Drive parking space near Cliffe Ave at 27 St., Courtenay. They will be led by John van Egmond,; Jim Boase on trumpet. Those who don’t want to walk 10 blocks, could join the minstrels at the Air Park or at the Old House. This year, Rick Husband and Dale Graham, John and Joanne van Egmond and Nicole Fifi will join us for an indoor program of singing at the Westerly.
Dress for the weather and for the Season! Also, consider car pooling so that one vehicle is at each end of the walk. Some shuttle service will be available but you might have to wait. Everyone should have a light and bring some carol sheets. It is not necessary to be a great singer but it is necessary that everyone has a great time, so dress for the weather! (If it is particularly inclement, we will meet in the Westerly lobby at 4 pm)
Following the Riverway, the route will go past several strata complexes, the Whistle Stop Pub and Holiday Inn, past the Information Centre and Air Park, Old House Hotel and under the 17th street bridge to the Westerly Hotel.
This is a free public event for people of all ages who wish to begin the Holiday Season by celebrating traditionally – but with Comox Valley style and ambience. Last year we were joined by 96 people! In our era, money often is offered for good causes. This event is not a fundraiser per se but Salvation Army Kettle volunteers will be on the carol walk.
Wassail is derived from an old English word meaning “be thou hale”. Sometimes people would go into orchards and sing to the apple trees so they would bear good harvests. Often carollers were invited into homes for a cup of good cheer. Organizers are Project Watershed volunteers. For further information, contact that office: 250-703-2871.