This category features all post related to Project Watershed’s new and ongoing projects and initiatives.

Wooden stakes create archeological excitement

By Lindsay Chung – Comox Valley Record, Published: December 02, 2010

“There are thousands of wooden stakes sticking out of the mud in Comox Harbour.

The stakes are the remains of a large aboriginal intertidal wood stake fish trap site, which is creating a lot of excitement in the archeological world and in the community.

Archeologist Nancy Greene has spent seven years studying these fish traps with her husband David McGee. Tuesday night, they shared their latest research with members of the Stick in the Mud Club, who sponsored the radiocarbon dating of 46 stakes.

Conservatively, Greene and McGee estimate at least 150,000 stakes were pounded into the sediment in the Courtenay River Estuary.

Greene and McGee collected 11 wood stakes from trap features for radiocarbon analysis in 2004, and the sampling of the additional 46 stakes funded by the Stick in the Mud Club have allowed them to broaden the scope of the research.

“With all of these new dates particularly, it just nails it really,” said Greene. “We have now 57 dates altogether, which is unprecedented. This new batch of dates, the 46 that have been now sponsored, they extended the range of dates another 200 years. Now we have a date that is just 10 to 20 years before the first European settlers came into the Valley, 1840s more or less, and then the earliest date is around 1360.”

Greene has been amazed by the community support for her work.

“The study has truly been a community-based project, and that puts it in a league of its own in the world of archeology,” she said. “Such widespread community support for this type of research is very rare and is a testament to our community’s understanding that the estuary is not only a valuable centerpiece for our community’s life but also a highly significant archeological and heritage resource that appears to be the largest and most technologically sophisticated prehistoric fishing site in North America.”

Fifty-seven wooden stakes have now been carbon dated.

“These 46 stakes that the Stick in the Mud Club have so generously sponsored allowed a whole range of questions to be answered about the dates of the traps and how the traps functioned and not only that but the scale of the fishery,” said Greene.

“It’s the biggest, most significant intensified fishing site so far recorded in Canada. Each date helps to tell the story of this very important archeological site and how First Nations people lived along the edge of the estuary and effectively and sustainably managed an intensive fishery for well over a thousand years.

” As a former academic, Project Watershed board vice-chair Paul Horgen — who was the evening’s master of ceremonies — was “just blown away” when he heard Greene speak about her research in 2008.

“It is a monumental study,” he said. “I think it’s probably one of the most important ones done in archeology in the last 50 years, and we should all be very proud of this effort.”


“Heart of the Watershed” – a Symposium on Restoring the Courtenay River Estuary (Oct 2008).

The event on was a great success. 

Thanks to all for your participation. If you would like to join the action group, or contribute any further comments, please contact Project Watershed.

Below are some sample videos (first 5-10 minutes) and slide presentations given at the “Heart of the Watershed” Symposium on the Courtenay River Estuary on October 3, 2008!

(DVD’s were made of most presentations at our event and these are being made available for borrowing from the Project Watershed Office.)

Please note the Acrobat Reader (pdf) files of presenters’ slide shows next to the video clips.

Friday Morning Opening Address

Mary Everson, Comox First Nation Addressing Symposium Attendees

Friday Morning Presentations

Wedlidi Speck, First Nations Perspective on Estuary Environment
Dr. Rob Butler – Function and Importance of Estuaries
Dr. Will Marsh – Planning for Sustainable Systems

 Dr.Will Marsh’s Morning Presentation

Dr. Thomas Homer-Dixon – The Upside of Down
Dan Buffett: Ranking of Estuaries in BC: Where does the Courtenay Estuary Fit In?
Tim Clermont: State of the Courtenay River Estuary

Friday Afternoon Case Study Presentations

Michele Deakin: Englishman River Estuary
Shannon Anderson: Campbell River Estuary Management
Peter Law: Cowichan River Estuary Management
Rob Lawrence & Pam Shaw: Nanaimo Estuary Management

Friday Evening Presentations

Dr. Will Marsh – Moving Toward a Sustainable Courtenay River Estuary
 Dr. Will Marsh’s Evening Presentation
Dr. Rob Butler: Restoring the Strait of Georgia Ecosystem

Saturday Case Study Presentations

Mike Richards: Green Boating


Event Synopsis

If rivers are the veins and arteries of a watershed, and wetlands are the kidneys that cleanse the water, then the central element of the watershed must be the heart: in the Comox Valley, that heart is the Courtenay River Estuary.

The Courtenay River Estuary is one of the most important estuaries on the east coast of Vancouver Island, with national and global significance. There are many ongoing & recent issues which will impact the sensitive habitat along the estuary’s shores including the banks of the Courtenay River. At the same time opportunities are presenting themselves to preserve and restore portions of the estuary. 

On October 3-4, 2008, this unique event focused on the “Heart of the Watershed”.

The symposium was designed to be of interest to policy makers including elected officials & municipal staff, science & planning professionals, representatives from environmental organizations and concerned citizens.

The “Heart of the Watershed” event’s objectives were to:

  • – increase awareness and appreciation of the estuary, educate, & inspire participants to take action
  • – establish the connection between a healthy resilient ecosystem and a healthy resilient community
  • – create an action group of professionals, policy makers, community environmental representatives, and concerned citizens, to carry forward with management planning, stewardship, and monitoring of the Courtenay River Estuary
  • – be an exciting and inspiring weekend!

Tributary Supporters

Comox Valley Land Trust

Comox Valley Water Watch Coalition

Georgia Strait Alliance

Millard-Piercy Watershed Stewards

Puntledge River Restoration Committee

Tsolum River Restoration Society

Blue Planet Songfest Committee

Brooklyn Creek Watershed Society

Comox Archives & Museum Society

Comox Valley Camera Club

Comox Valley Young Naturalists Club

Courtenay Heritage Commission

Best Western Westerly Hotel

Kingfisher Oceanside Resort & Spa

Tree Island Kayaking

BlackFin Pub

Crawford Studio Sandblasted Designs on Glass

Park Cafe on the Riverwalk

Tomato Tomato Restaurant & Lounge

The Courtenay River Estuary – by Blue Bamboo Productions


Michael Fountain from Blue Bamboo Productions has created a beautiful piece that highlights the historical, economical and spiritual influence and presence of the Courtenay River Estuary in the Comox Valley on Vancouver Island.

Many thanks to Paul Horgen, Mary and Andy Everson, Scott Wallace, Caila Holbrook and Pieter Vorster for this collaborative creation.

Grand Opening a Huge Success!

There was an excellent turnout to the  Conservation Centre’s Grand Opening event Saturday the 6th.  The event was a collaboration between The Comox Valley Land Trust, Tsolum River Restoration Society, The Comox Valley Conservation Strategy and Project Watershed. Representatives from each of these organizations were on hand to talk about their initiatives and to promote conservation in the Comox Valley.

Visitors had the opportunity to exchange community way dollars, sign a postcard in support of the Comox Valley Conservation Strategy and take a chance on the salmon roulette wheel. Project Watershed was featuring their social enterprise,The Mapping Centre, with interactive mapping stations where you could see the Valley in 3D and have a map printed of your local watershed. There were also lots of activities in the kids zone and door prizes. The groups had a conservation gift shop set up selling art cards, t-shirts, Keeping It Living posters, the conservation calendar, and a beautiful pair of canvas photographs of swans taken by a local photographer Father Charles Brandt. Proceeds from the sale of items in the gift shop go towards protecting and restoring natural areas in the Comox Valley.

The lucky winners of our door prizes were Peter Chandle who won a conservation calendar and Carolyn Walton who won a Watersheds of the Comox Valley map.

The upcoming commuter bike map that The Mapping Centre is producing together with the Broken Spoke was on display as well.  The map will be available soon. If you are interested in sponsoring this map, please contact Mike Collins at the Broken Spoke – – 250-871-2229.

“Overall the day was a huge success with over 100 visitors taking part in our activities. We exchanged $130 of community way and sold many calendars, t-shirts and maps. We thank all of our volunteers from the four organizations who helped make such a great day possible.” says Project Watershed’s Volunteer Coordinator Valeri Diamond. Valeri Diamond’s position is funded in whole or in part through the Canada-British Columbia Labour Market Development Agreement.

Conservation Centre Grand Opening – Nov. 6th

Project Watershed is co-hosting a Grand Opening for Comox Valley’s new Conservation Centre 1-4pm, November 6th.

Puntledge River Hatchery Open House – Sun, 17 Oct.

Wetlandkeepers course – Oct. 22nd, 23rd & 24th, 2010

Project Watershed proudly presents our 2nd Wetlandkeepers course for 2010.

Dates: October 22nd, 23rd & 24th (see the event on our calendar)

The fall 2010 Wetlandkeeper course will cover all types of wetlands, including estuaries. During a 2.5 day introduction to wetland stewardship, participants will visit local wetlands, learn how to identify and map wetlands, and conduct plant and bird inventories. 
The course will be taught by Michele Jones (R.P. Bio) and Julie Micksch.
Michele is a registered professional biologist and has had extensive
educational experience working with groups from 10 to 80 years of age. Julie is an experience wildlife biologist and has taught outdoor programs for over 10 years. 

Upon completion of the course participants will be awarded a BCWF Wetlandkeepers certificate

Location: Courtenay Fish & Game Club

Cost: $90.00 + $35.00 * for course handbook.


Discount for Project Watershed Members:
$70.00 + $35.00 * for course handbook (*Participant can download and print the Wetlandkeeper Handbook as an alternative to purchasing.)
Registration Deadline: October 8 , 2010
For more information or course registration contact: 
Go back to the Wetlandkeepers / Streamkeepers page, where you can sign up.  

Salmon Stream Stewardship

Comox Valley Salmon Stream Stewardship Project

Final Report

In 1999 a five-year project, the “Comox Valley Salmon Streams Stewardship Project“, was created within the Sensitive Habitat Stewardship Program operated by Comox Valley Project Watershed Society.

The objectives of the Comox Valley Salmon Stream Stewardship Project flow from the objectives of the Sensitive Habitat Stewardship Program, which are:

  • ~ Sensitive Habitat Surveys: to inventory and verify (ground truth) watercourses, wetlands and other sensitive habitat areas for updates and additions to the digital Comox Valley Sensitive Habitat (CVSH) Atlas, and to provide detailed descriptions of biophysical information that can aid in land use decision-making and watershed planning.
  • ~ Geographic Information System (GIS) Development: to digitize field information and manage data for updates and additions to the digital CVSH Atlas; to centralize watershed information for easier access by the community-at-large; and to raise awareness about sensitive habitat (locations).
  • ~ Community Partnerships: to increase public awareness of and involvement in watershed stewardship; and, in turn, to foster a coordinated effort locally to increase information exchange among partners and to reduce potential land use conflicts.


The salmon streams treated between 1999 and 2005 in the project included: Millard Creek, Piercy Creek, Brooklyn Creek, Glen Urquhart Creek, Mallard Creek, Morrison Creek, Arden Creek, Roy Creek, and Hart/Washer Creek, Perseverance Creek, Beacon Creek, Black Creek, small tributaries of the Puntledge River, Oyster River, Trent River and Pup Creek and Finlay Creek which are tributaries of the Tsolum River.

This project built on landowner contact and sensitive habitat information gathered during the Sensitive Habitat Inventory and Mapping (SHIM) work completed in the Comox Valley between 1998-1999.

Additional objectives developed during the project were to:

  • ~ Enhance our capacity to apply Trimble Pathfinder GPS technology and Sensitive Habitat Inventory and Mapping (SHIM) methods and Coastal Shoreline Inventory Methods (CSHIM) to collect data for community awareness and planning purposes,
  • ~ Continue to acquire and compile watershed information and make it more user-friendly with GIS (Arcview) technology and Internet Information Technology ,
  • ~ Develop more community partnerships with long-term relationships through networking, program development, and providing training and library resources through a “conservation centre” approach,
  • ~ Increase stewardship in the community by integrating volunteers into the mapping and inventory as well as library development work, building their capacity to act as long-term stewards.
  • ~ Assist in the formation of the Community Mapping Network to provide guidance and leadership to communities interested in developing projects and products that increase sensitive habitat stewardship.
  • ~ Integrate our sensitive habitat mapping/ inventory activities, landowner contact and community awareness projects into a one-stop local “Community Conservation Centre” complete with a catalogued library, field equipment loan system, computer terminal access, and Streamkeepers and Wetlandkeepers courses.

Should you need to view the report, and its 2 appendices, please contact us.

2011 Comox Valley Conservation Calendar coming out in October!!

The first-ever Comox Valley Conservation Calendar is being published this year by the Comox Valley Conservation Strategy!!

The calendar will be out in a few weeks, and features beautiful photos of local natural areas taken by local photographers. The calendar also gives information about local environmental groups and their activities to protect and restore natural areas and sensitive habitats in the Comox Valley. Funds from this calendar will be used to support the member groups of the CVCS: including the Comox Valley Land TrustTsolumn River Restoration SocietyProject WatershedBrooklyn Creek Watershed SocietyMillard-Piercy Watershed StewardsComox Valley Waterwatch CoalitionMorrison Creek Streamkeepers, Oyster River Watershed Management Committee and more!

The calendar is a fabulous educational tool as well as a fundraiser – it offers pertinent conservation information about wetlands, riparian areas, invasive species and information on the local conservation groups working in the Valley, along with their websites and contact information.

If you know of local stores that would be willing to take and sell the calendars or allow us to set up a table and sell calendars before Christmas time – please let us know!!!!

To order calendars, people can contact either Caila at Project Watershed at 703-2871, or Kerry at the Conservation Strategy at 339-1029.  Pricing is still to be determined but will likely be:

  • $15 for 1
  • $25 for 2
  • $33 for 3
  • $40 for 4

I’ve attached a PDF Poster – please pass it around to everyone to help us publicize – or even print one off and put it up at your workplace or office!!!

Thanks so much!!!


Nature Without Borders
Kerry Dawson
Education and Outreach Coordinator
Comox Valley Conservation Strategy
(250) 339-1029

*** Find CVCS on Facebook, become a fan!!

Calendar Poster from Comox Valley Conservation Strategy

Dave Davies from the DFO talks about our estuary.

Dave Davies from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans speaks to Shaw about the Courtenay River Estuary in this short community clip.

(Contact Project Watershed via if you are interested in taking a wetlandkeepers or streamkeepers course.)

Many thanks to Shaw TV for Keeping It Living by sharing this footage.