Courtenay-River-Estuary-from-south-of-Millard-Piercy_smSince 2008 we at Project Watershed have endeavored to protect and restore the K’ómoks Estuary to its former glory. To guide this work, we chose a traditional aboriginal principle — Keeping it Living. This principle has become the banner for our public outreach efforts which include an art and literature competition and silent auction. We work with the Estuary Working Group and are involved in a variety of projects from awareness raising, research, mapping, restoration, protection, to land acquisition. Scroll down to the news feed below to see what we have been up to lately or click on the links to find out more.

Ecology

An estuary is the part of the wide lower course of a river where its current is met by the tides. Estuaries are where salt and fresh water meet. They are rare, extremely productive and important habitats making it imperative we restore and protect them to the best of our ability. They have biodiversity greater than tropical rainforests and sequester carbon at an estimated rate of about 90 times greater than forested sites of equal area. On the coast of British Columbia 80% of marine species use estuaries for some portion of their life cycle. Since they are where fresh and salt waters meet work in an estuary benefits both the fresh water and salt water environments and species.

The K’omoks Estuary (formerly the Courtenay River Estuary), second only in importance to the Fraser River Estuary, is a special and unique feature of the Comox Valley. It is one of only eight Class 1 estuaries in British Columbia and provides habitat for 145 bird species (more than 70,000 birds), 218 plant species, 29 fish species (including all five species of pacific salmon) and innumerable species of intertidal animals (clams, worms, bacteria, viruses, etc.).  To learn more visit the Comox Valley Naturalists website at http://comoxvalleynaturalist.bc.ca/nature-viewing-guide/1-courtenay-rivercomox-bay-area/courtenay-river-estuary-riverway-and-airpark/.

Another reason the K’omoks Estuary is especially special is the abundance of well preserved wooden stakes that make up ancient fish traps. Nancy Greene and David Mcgee, who have been studying these stakes for many years, estimate that there are over 150,000 of them pounded into the sediment. We know that indigenous people have lived on the estuary’s shores for thousands of years, obtaining food and shelter in harmony with the natural eco-system. The large aboriginal trap fishery, maintained in the estuary for well over 1,000 years (Nancy and David have carbon dated one stake to be around 1400 years before present), was conducted without depleting the fish resources or habitat.

The K’omoks Estuary has been severely impacted over the years by industrial activity and changes are required if the estuary’s natural features are to be preserved. The estuary is also geographically divided into four distinct political jurisdictions with no common agreement as to how the estuary should be protected for future generations.

To learn more about estuaries visit www.estuaries.gov.

History

In 2006, Project Watershed created the Stewards of the Puntledge Education Series, funded in part by the Vancouver Foundation. At the conclusion of the series, it became apparent that an additional forum on the then named Courtenay River Estuary was needed. Issues that arose were: that a major parcel of land in the estuary, the site of a former saw mill, had been put up for sale; that further industrial development of this site would be detrimental to the long term health of the estuary; that plans for a gas station located adjacent to the estuary were proceeding; that seal predation of salmon stocks in the Courtenay River was disconcerting and finally; that any efforts to protect and restore the estuary faced the challenge of obtaining the co-operation of four local governments as well as provincial and federal authorities.

Project Watershed proceeded to organize an Estuary Forum in October 2008 called “The Heart of the Watershed”. It was highly successful, with upwards of 300+ participants. An outcome of the forum was the formation of the Estuary Working Group which includes members representing eleven environmental organizations and DFO. The Estuary Working Group is a sub committee of Project Watershed and aims to restore and protect the K’ómoks Estuary. The group has compiled a Vision Document to guide their work. The Estuary Working Group is in close contact with the Regional District and the K’omoks First Nation, keeping them abreast of plans to build partnerships with government and public interest groups to promote estuary protection and restoration. For more information about the Estuary Working Group click here.

Projects

For more complete information on current projects, please visit – http://projectwatershed.ca/estuary-stewardship/komoks-estuary-projects/

Recent Estuary Related News from Project Watershed

PWLogoMain_nobackground

Project Watershed addresses sewer issue

/
Dear editor, Project Watershed and the Estuary Working Group,…
Jennifer Sutherst on left giving restoration presentation to Emily Carr students, Royston.
,

Project Watershed has big footprint at Regional Conference

/
The Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference (http://www.wwu.edu/salishseaconference/index.shtml)…
The remains of a large-scale First Nations fishery at low tide.
, ,

Stephen Hume: Archeology student publishes paper on ancient, industrial-scale First Nations fishery

/
© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun - View the original article.  England’s…
Maj Birch

Maj Birch Memorial

/
In November of this year, the wildlife and environmental…
Slide1
,

5th Annual Carol Walk on Dec 6

/
Weather Update A storm warning is in effect for tomorrow so…
PWFieldeSawmillCommunityForum-PanelMembers
DCIM100MEDIA

Compensation Program Board Members Tour Airpark

/
The Comox Valley Project Watershed Society (CVPWS) hosted…
pano of construction3
, ,

The Airpark Lagoon has been Breached

/
If you have been down to the Airpark lately you may have noticed…
Rob.Fields.1.3
, ,

Fields Sawmill Restoration Vision

/
Comox Valley Project Watershed Society (PW) has launched an initiative…
NIC student Jamie Lund hands the GoPro camera to a KFN student while documenting eelgrass beds in the K’ómoks Estuary. Photo: Island Life Photographics
,

NIC and Project Watershed unite for blue carbon research

/
NIC will sign a Memorandum of Understanding June 4 with Comox…
RoystonWrecks
KeepingItLiving2015-background

Project Watershed Fundraiser - Art for the Estuary

/
Project Watershed Fundraiser Art for the Estuary View this…
Eelgrass restoration by Project Watershed in the estuary
, ,

Estuary Workshop March 14

/
*Image: Eelgrass restoration by Project Watershed in the estuary Comox…
CarolWalkPOster

7 Dec 4th Annual Carol Walk

/
The Estuary Carol Walk is an invitation to enjoy our beloved…
In the spring of 2012, residents along the Dyke Road were evacuated by the RCMP due to flooding. This was how things looked in front of the old cement tower.— Image Credit: PHOTO SUBMITTED
,

Climate change could increase estuary flooding

/
Image Credit: Contributed - In the spring of 2012, residents…
ProjectWatershed_Frontpage_slider-EelgrassPortAugusta
, ,

Project Watershed Plants Eelgrass near Port Augusta Park in Comox

/
The effort involved Project Watershed staff and over 9 volunteers…
PW-NoTankers
ProjectWatershed_Frontpageslide-komoksEstuaryBlueCarbon

K’omoks Estuary at the Forefront of Blue Carbon Research

/
Something interesting is happening in our local waters.  Project…
PW_CVArtGroup-About-Us
projectwatershed-clue-carbon-backround
, , ,

Blue Carbon Pilot Project in Comox Valley Getting Attention

/
By  Mandy Larade - Comox Valley Record; posted Apr 9, 2014 at 4:00…
KeepILpage2014-Header
View From Airpark by Bev Byerley
,

See who is Keeping It Living at the Swan Festival

/
Every year Project Watershed bestows an array of Keeping It Living…
2014KILPage_KeepingItLivingtext_web
,

Keeping It Living Art Cards Now Available

/
  Project Watershed has created a set of specialty…
Proposed channel at Fields Saw Milll connecting to Hollyhock Marsh
, ,

Reclaiming Field Sawmill

/
Project Watershed and the Estuary Working Group have been developing…
Ecology
,

K'omoks Estuary Video

/
The video below was produced and prepared through the Comox Valley…
Air Park Lagoon aeiral
,

A Plan for Improved Habitat at the Air Park Lagoon

/
Following the Restoration and Prioritization study that occurred…
pwshoreline cleanup 2013
,

Shoreline Cleanup a Success

/
Another successful shoreline cleanup of Simms Park and its waterways…
TsolumRiverVolunteers
Lauren Labossiere with the remains of a shopping cart from a previous clean up.
Restoration
crab_web
,

Mudflat Mysteries Revealed

/
Saturday May 25th was a great day to explore and learn…
Jilli Martini
,

Estuary Dinner Launches Elevate the Arts

/
Project Watershed is presenting "Dine Under the Sea" to raise…
Courtenay-River-Estuary-from-south-of-Millard-Piercy_sm
,

Mudflats Mischief

/
As part of this year’s Keeping It Living Campaign Project Watershed…
Bill crop 269
,

Birding for All Ages

/
As part of the Keeping It Living Campaign Project Watershed held…
Caila Holbrook and Kathryn Claustin in recent eelgrass planting in the estuary.
, ,

Eelgrass Restoration

/
Project Watershed would like to thank our volunteers from Superstore,…
estuary_meadow_web
,

An Estuary Walk by Jocie Ingram

/
  Paintbrush, common camas, and pretty shootingstar fill…
CVEcho_Promo_Logo
,

Call for action on updated estuary plan

/
Comox Valley Echo Published: Friday, June 15, 2012 Concern…
Portfolio Banner 2013_

K'omoks Estuary

The Estuary Working Group was initiated as a sub-committee by…
View+From+Airpark_8x12_resized
,

Calling All Elders/Long-time Residents

/
We are hosting two community drop-in sessions for elders who…
Photograph Left to right  Back row:  Dave Davies (DFO), Dr Royann Petrell, Sylvain Alie, Dan Bowen, Ting-Ching Jerry Chou Front row:  Tsung Han (Henry) Kue, Yan Zhang, David Eng, Heather Kempthorne, and Qing-Yuan Hebe He
, ,

Project Watershed and UBC Students Studying Blue Forests in the Estuary

/
On Saturday, January 21 around 11 PM to catch the lowest tide…
Scan1
,

Support for Blue Carbon Initiative

/
Paul Horgen (left) of the Comox Valley Project Watershed…
Photograph Left to right  Back row:  Dave Davies (DFO), Dr Royann Petrell, Sylvain Alie, Dan Bowen, Ting-Ching Jerry Chou Front row:  Tsung Han (Henry) Kue, Yan Zhang, David Eng, Heather Kempthorne, and Qing-Yuan Hebe He
, ,

Midnight Madness on the Mudflats

/
Students from UBC and volunteers from Project Watershed braved…
Real Estate Foundation
,

Real Estate Foundation and Keeping it Living

/
Submitted by Celina on Wed, 2011-11-30 15:26 Keeping It Living…
ElderCollege_logo
,

College seeks grant for aquatic monitoring program

/
Spencer Anderson, Comox Valley Echo Published: Tuesday, December…
COLLECTING PUNTLEDGE RIVER hatchery dividend is a happy adventure for river anglers. PHOTO BY RALPH SHAW
,

Salmon enhancement pays big dividends

/
  By Ralph Shaw - Comox Valley Record Published:…
City-of-Courtenay-clearlogo
,

City receives Watershed award

/
Published: November 08, 2011 12:00 PM Updated: November 08,…
aerial estuary
, ,

Blue Carbon Pilot Project

/
Excerpt from 'Ferry Man visits Comox Valley Regional District…
Estuary Clean Up
,

Volunteers clean shoreline

/
The rain pouring down on the morning of Sept. 25 didn’t…
K ómoks First Nation logo
,

Celebrate our Estuary - Sunday, 4 September 2011

/
Join the K'omoks First Nation and Project Watershed Society…
Keeping it in Perspective-The Estuary from a birds' eye view

Keeping It Living Silent Auction

/
Time is running out for you to bid on estuary inspired art. Once…
Holly Hock flats salt marsh
,

March 17th - Estuary Movie Night - 7-9pm

/
You are invited to Estuary Movie Night at the Stan Hagen Theater,…
Sierra Comox logo1

PROJECT WATERSHED KEYNOTES SIERRA CLUB COMOX VALLEY’S ANNUAL MEETING

  Mike Bell, Co-chair of Sierra Club Comox Valley, announced…
Community way - web
,

Courtenay Classic Printers donates cw$

Project Watershed would like to extend a big thanks to Courtenay…
PWLogoMain_nobackground_newheader
, ,

Report on the Estuary Gala Campaign

(Click the box icon in the top right corner of the document to…
PWLogoMain
,

Thank You to our Sponsors & Funders!

(Click the box icon in the top right corner of the document to…
Keeping-it-Living-Mingling-Waters

Call to Artists and Creative Writers

Join us to inspire the vision and open the dialogue for creating…
SONY DSC

Brian Buckrell is Keeping It Living

/
In June , Comox artist Brian Buckrell won Artists Choice Award…
20055NewS.26.20101202180340.Fishtraps_20101203
,

Wooden stakes create archeological excitement

/
By Lindsay Chung - Comox Valley Record, Published: December 02,…
Courtenay River Estuary from south of Millard Piercy_sm
aerial estuary

The Courtenay River Estuary - by Blue Bamboo Productions

/
  Michael Fountain from Blue Bamboo Productions has…
PWLogoMain_nobackground_newheader

Dave Davies from the DFO talks about our estuary.

/
Dave Davies from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans speaks…
PWLogoMain_nobackground_newheader

Michelle Jones - biodiversity in the Courtenay River Estuary

/
Biologist Michele Jones from Mimulus Biological Consultants speaks…