Project Watershed Welcomes New Board Members
On December 29th, the Comox Valley Project Watershed Society (projectwatershed.ca) held a celebratory event at the 40 Knots Winery with its new eight member Board of Directors.
The Society was established in 1993 and has been involved with watershed stewardship for 23 years, the last five focusing on our estuary. A vision for the estuary was conceived based on First Nations principles of sustainability. In 2011, the Society signed an historic Memorandum of Agreement with the K’omoks First Nations to work in partnership to protect and restore the estuary. “In 2016, we are working with the new K’omoks First Nations Guardians to move our protection and restoration efforts forward”, notes Dan Bowen, Technical Director.
An estuary management plan was crafted and from this document, the local governments (four bordering the estuary) renamed the estuary the K’omoks Estuary to recognize the traditional importance of the estuary to the K’omoks people.
In 2013, the Society began developing an estuary restoration strategy that involved restoration of shorelines and eelgrass, and connecting this to blue carbon, climate adaptation and carbon sequestration.
When working with the governments that border the estuary, the economic value and ecosystem service benefits of a healthy estuary were always stressed. The Society’s Blue Carbon Team have restored over 6000 m2 eelgrass (Z/Marina) and have pioneered a new approach for salt marsh shoreline restoration. Most recently, they have initiated bull kelp restoration as part of a plan to restore the salmon highway in the Comox Valley and potentially the coast of BC. Currently, Project Watershed is completing a $300,000 project involving breaching an old sewer lagoon which allows daily flushing and the break down of an old barrier to fish migration as well as creating additional salt marsh habitat “Furthermore”, reports Paul Horgen, Board Chair, “we will complete our work at the new Royston Seaside Trail to open the small lagoon there to daily tidal flushing”. “We ended the year with a public forum on our ideas and plans for the old sawmill site in Courtenay”, reports Jennifer Sutherst, Staff Biologist and Estuary Coordinator. Project Watershed’s efforts will be aided as they move forward with its new association with North Island College as a result of a Memorandum of Understanding signed in May of this year 2015 by Board Chair Horgen, and NIC President, John Bowman.
The yearend event at 40 Knots is to celebrate and welcome our two new Board members, Barbara Wellwood and Tim Ennis, to celebrate an outstanding year of restoration efforts and to thank the management and owners of the local winery, Brenda Hetman-Craig and Layne Robert Craig for pledging a portion of the sales of their vintage, “Safe Haven” to support the efforts of Project Project Watershed.