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

An aerial view of the last major flood in Courtenay— image credit: Comox Valley Echo File photo

Project Watershed Recognizes City of Courtenay for New Spill Response Trailer

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During the Fall of 2015 there were two events causing oil spills…

Ancient Fish Trap at Elevate the Arts

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Come help recreate a bit of history. Project Watershed in…

Groundbreaking Archeology Celebrated!

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Nancy Greene and David McGee, local archeologists and Comox Valley…

The Cape Lazo Kelp Caper

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- Earth Day Edition Comox Record, Feature by Paul Horgen, Project…

Salt Marsh Planting Phase II

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To Sign Up Click Here - Planting Extended - Volunteers needed…

Project Watershed addresses sewer issue

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Dear editor, Project Watershed and the Estuary Working Group,…

Salt Marsh Planting and Air Park Clean Up

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To Sign Up Click Here! Project Watershed has been working…

Project Watershed has big footprint at Regional Conference

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The Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference (http://www.wwu.edu/salishseaconference/index.shtml)…

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

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

Maj Birch Memorial

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In November of this year, the wildlife and environmental…

5th Annual Carol Walk on Dec 6

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Weather Update A storm warning is in effect for tomorrow so…

Project Watershed's Community Forum on Field's Re-Envisioning Attracts 150

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(Scroll down to find the petition at the bottom of this page…

Field Sawmill Site Community Forum Tuesday, November 3rd

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Project Watershed, with the support of North Island College,…

Compensation Program Board Members Tour Airpark

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The Comox Valley Project Watershed Society (CVPWS) hosted…

Comox Valley Harbour Authority Donates to Project Watershed

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The Comox Valley Harbour Authority held the first ever "Comox…

Project Watershed estuary restoration work continues

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During the second and third week of July, Project Watershed…

40 Knots Winery Donates $1 for Every Safe Haven Sold

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Project Watershed is excited to announce a new stewardship partner…

The Airpark Lagoon has been Breached

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If you have been down to the Airpark lately you may have noticed…

Fields Sawmill Restoration Vision

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Comox Valley Project Watershed Society (PW) has launched an initiative…

NIC and Project Watershed unite for blue carbon research

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NIC will sign a Memorandum of Understanding June 4 with Comox…

Courtenay Airpark Lagoon Breach Project Underway!

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After four years of study and planning the project to breach…

Airpark Lagoon Breach Project

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Hello Everyone - We are excited to say that we have received…

Royston Salt Marsh Restoration - getting Royston Elementary kids involved!

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Teaches and students from Royston Elementary were invited to…

Project Watershed Fundraiser - Art for the Estuary

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Project Watershed Fundraiser Art for the Estuary View this…

Project Watershed’s Salt Marsh Project Featured in Stream Talk

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  Project Watershed's Salt Marsh Project at Royston…
TalesofKona-donationpressrelease

Children's Author Makes Donation to Project Watershed

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Paul Horgen, author of the children’s book Tales of Kona the…

Estuary Workshop March 14

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

Keeping It living - Calling all ARTISTS

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Project Watershed is inviting you to join us in inspiring the…

7 Dec 4th Annual Carol Walk

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The Estuary Carol Walk is an invitation to enjoy our beloved…

Courtenay Council Candidates Consider Field Sawmill Site

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With an election coming in a few days, all of the candidates…

Restoring Tidal Marshes in Royston

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A tidal marsh is a type of marsh that is found along the shoreline…

Climate change could increase estuary flooding

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

Project Watershed Plants Eelgrass near Port Augusta Park in Comox

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The effort involved Project Watershed staff and over 9 volunteers…
Eelgrass planting activities

Volunteers Needed for Eelgrass Planting!

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Project Watershed needs volunteers to help transplant eelgrass…

K’omoks Estuary at the Forefront of Blue Carbon Research

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Something interesting is happening in our local waters.  Project…

Blue Carbon Pilot Project in Comox Valley Getting Attention

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By  Mandy Larade - Comox Valley Record; posted Apr 9, 2014 at 4:00…

Project Watershed awarded grant for Blue Carbon Project

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(CEC funds will help to address North American environmental…

Now Hiring! Project Watershed is looking for a part time Estuary Coordinator

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Comox Valley Project Watershed Society, an environmental stewardship…

K'omoks Estuary 2014 - Keeping It Living: The Return of Abundance (January 2014)

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Keeping It Living 2014 - An art & literature awareness &…
Map of different species using the estuary.

Project Watershed talks about Blue Carbon at TEDX

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Looking back at 2013 I noticed we hadn't yet posted about our…

Project Watershed Presents Airpark Breach Project to Courtenay Council

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On November 18th, 2013 Comox Valley Project Watershed Society…
View From Airpark by Bev Byerley

See who is Keeping It Living at the Swan Festival

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Every year Project Watershed bestows an array of Keeping It Living…

Keeping It Living Art Cards Now Available

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  Project Watershed has created a set of specialty…

Reclaiming Field Sawmill

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Project Watershed and the Estuary Working Group have been developing…

K'omoks Estuary Video

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The video below was produced and prepared through the Comox Valley…

A Plan for Improved Habitat at the Air Park Lagoon

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Following the Restoration and Prioritization study that occurred…

Shoreline Cleanup a Success

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Another successful shoreline cleanup of Simms Park and its waterways…

Royston Trail Under Construction

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Comox Valley Regional District (CVRD) is going ahead with the…

Salmon Return to the Tsolum in the Comox Valley After 50 Years

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Project Watershed would like to congratulate our friends…

Project Watershed and other Local Groups Cleanup Shoreline

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It’s time again for the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup and…

Project Watershed Restoration Activities in the K’omoks Estuary

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September 23-29 has been designated as National Estuary Week…
Map of different species using the estuary.

Project Watershed Goes Eelgrass Planting

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With the help of Biologist Lora Tryon and some keen volunteers…

Habitat work by 19 Wing Comox and Project Watershed

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Published: June 19, 2013 2:00 PM, Updated: June 19, 2013 2:07…

Mudflat Mysteries Revealed

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Saturday May 25th was a great day to explore and learn…

Project Watershed Thanks TD Friends of the Environment

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Project Watershed thanks TD Friends of the Environment for their…

Estuary Dinner Launches Elevate the Arts

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Project Watershed is presenting "Dine Under the Sea" to raise…

Mudflats Mischief

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As part of this year’s Keeping It Living Campaign Project Watershed…

Birding for All Ages

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As part of the Keeping It Living Campaign Project Watershed held…

Estuary 'blue carbon' initiative wins $30,000 grant

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By Philip Round - Echo Staff   Pictured at the…

EDITORIAL: Keep reading for good news about blue carbon

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By Editorial - Comox Valley Record Published: April 17, 2013…

Unlocking Coastal BC's Blue Carbon Opportunities

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The following article was posted in The British Columbia Newsroom…

Eelgrass Restoration

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

An Estuary Walk by Jocie Ingram

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  Paintbrush, common camas, and pretty shootingstar fill…

Call for action on updated estuary plan

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Comox Valley Echo Published: Friday, June 15, 2012 Concern…

K'omoks Estuary

The Estuary Working Group was initiated as a sub-committee by…

Calling All Elders/Long-time Residents

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We are hosting two community drop-in sessions for elders who…

Project Watershed and UBC Students Studying Blue Forests in the Estuary

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

Support for Blue Carbon Initiative

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Paul Horgen (left) of the Comox Valley Project Watershed…

Midnight Madness on the Mudflats

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Students from UBC and volunteers from Project Watershed braved…

Real Estate Foundation and Keeping it Living

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

College seeks grant for aquatic monitoring program

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Spencer Anderson, Comox Valley Echo Published: Tuesday, December…

Salmon enhancement pays big dividends

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  By Ralph Shaw - Comox Valley Record Published:…

City receives Watershed award

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Published: November 08, 2011 12:00 PM Updated: November 08,…

Blue Carbon Pilot Project

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Excerpt from 'Ferry Man visits Comox Valley Regional District…

Courtenay River Estuary could hold 'blue key' to lock in carbon dioxide

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BY PHILIP ROUND, COMOX VALLEY ECHO OCTOBER 21, 2011 The…
Estuary Clean Up

Volunteers clean shoreline

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The rain pouring down on the morning of Sept. 25 didn’t…

Celebrate our Estuary - Sunday, 4 September 2011

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Join the K'omoks First Nation and Project Watershed Society…

Keeping It Living Silent Auction

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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

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You are invited to Estuary Movie Night at the Stan Hagen Theater,…

PROJECT WATERSHED KEYNOTES SIERRA CLUB COMOX VALLEY’S ANNUAL MEETING

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

Courtenay Classic Printers donates cw$

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

CVRD Initiative on a Courtenay River Estuary Management Plan

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Kent Leontowich of the Comox Valley Regional District’s Planning…

Project Watershed thanks community way businesses

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Project Watershed would like to extend a big thanks to Fluid…

Report on the Estuary Gala Campaign

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

Thank You to our Sponsors & Funders!

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

Call to Artists and Creative Writers

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

Brian Buckrell is Keeping It Living

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In June , Comox artist Brian Buckrell won Artists Choice Award…

Wooden stakes create archeological excitement

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By Lindsay Chung - Comox Valley Record, Published: December 02,…

"Heart of the Watershed" - a Symposium on Restoring the Courtenay River Estuary (Oct 2008).

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The event on was a great success.  Thanks to all for your…

The Courtenay River Estuary - by Blue Bamboo Productions

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  Michael Fountain from Blue Bamboo Productions has…

Grand Opening a Huge Success!

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There was an excellent turnout to the  Conservation Centre's…

Dave Davies from the DFO talks about our estuary.

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Dave Davies from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans speaks…

Michelle Jones - biodiversity in the Courtenay River Estuary

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Biologist Michele Jones from Mimulus Biological Consultants speaks…