Project Watershed reflects on 2016 and looks forward to 2017
Project Watershed Society was established in 1993 and has been involved with watershed stewardship for 23 years, the last five focusing on the K’ómoks Estuary. A vision for the estuary was conceived based on First Nations’ principles of sustainability.
Project Watershed Board and Staff are celebrating this holiday season and the amazing year of activity. We remember our partnership with the Emily Carr University course at North Island College that developed the “Pieces of an Estuary” program. Student in the program produced videos of the estuary which debuted at the Courtenay Museum, the videos are on our website. The Society made a significant impact at the April Salish Sea Conference in Vancouver by hosting and participating in a scientific community-based session on estuary restoration; our scientific team also lead a workshop on Blue Carbon.
Board Chair, Paul Horgen, notes we have ground breaking local research posted on our website including our exciting use of DNA diagnostics findings. These molecular genetic studies complement our collaborative work on DNA research on bull kelp, providing new information on genetic variances in local kelp populations. Kelp, eelgrass and salt marsh are major components of the salmon highway and the restoration analysis and research on these vegetation systems remain a priority in our local stewardship activities which will continue in 2017. Read more about our kelp project…
Education and outreach activities were numerous in 2016 concluding with a November Elder College Course entitled Nature’s Waterworks. Board members Dan Bowen, Bill Heath, Tim Ennis, and Bill Heidrick were visible at stewardship meetings and collective efforts on habitat restoration across the province. Our 2016 outreach activities ended with our 6th annual festive Estuary Carol Walk with nearly 140 participants.
In 2016, our society honoured the exemplary environmental contributions from our community. Norma Morton, a key conservationist in the Comox Valley environmental community was honoured with the opening of the Norma Morton Conservation Archives housed in our facility. The Tsolum River Restoration Society was also honored for restoring a river that was severely damaged by mining activities back to being a functional and thriving destination for fish traveling on our local salmon highway. At the last Estuary Working Group meeting of 2016, the Tsolum River Restoration Society was voted to receive the 2017 Keeping it Living award, the details of this will be forthcoming in the New Year.
One of the major endeavours destined for 2017 involves a fish habitat enhancement project in Simms Millennium Park. Partial funding has been secured for this project, which involves the reworking of an off-channel habitat area for fish within a tidally influenced section of the Courtenay River. The existing off-channel site is currently utilized by fish but habitat quality is poor and access is limited, at all but the highest tides. The plan is to create better connectivity between the River and the Courtenay Slough through the Park, this will improve access for fish seeking refuge from high river flows and predators, and will enhance and improve the function of this section of the existing salmon highway. Read more…
Many other stewardship efforts will be undertaken in the New Year. We continue to move ahead in a positive direction with our plans for the decommissioned sawmill site now given the name Kus Kus Sum. We continue negotiations with the owners Interfor, with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, the City of Courtenay, and the K’ómoks First Nations. “We hope to provide more definitive information in the New Year” states Paul Horgen.
We are always looking for members, volunteers or donors to get involved. We are located in Tin Town at 2356a Rosewall Crescent in Courtenay. We welcome you to visit the office or call 250 703-2871 to learn more about us.