Puntledge River Projects

Project Watershed has been intimately involved with several projects focusing on the restoration and preservation of the Puntledge River. We are proud to be part of this process.

Puntledge River-related posters frequently displayed at events (click the links below):

Smile! You're on candid camera


New Salmon Habitat Monitored


Is it a fall or summer chinook?


Summer Chinook Migration Study



Go home or view more of our portfolio.

Education and Outreach

Project Watershed has a long history of bringing environmental education to schools and the community at large.  We have initiated the following events and programs:

Each school and the Learning Resource Center in the Comox Valley School District 71 was provided a map of their watershed.

To read the report go to the link below:

Estuary Residents Survey Report

Landowner Contact – specifically created to educate landowners living by streams and creeks about how they can become stewards for these environments.

Streamkeeping & Wetlandkeeping Courses for adults are offered

Puntledge River Geocache


This committee has primary responsibility for developing the educational and outreach purpose of Project Watershed.  Working with the three public systems (K-12, College and Elder College) and involvement in community stewardship activities such as disseminating information about local watersheds, building partner relationships with other organizations to raise awareness, and organizing public awareness events.

We welcome the volunteer involvement of retired teachers, college instructors, university faculty or anyone who has appropriate local expertise. Please contact:

Dr. Betty Donaldson , Chair

The Water for Life Benefit Concert

Aired on Global TV on Saturday, June 25 at 7 p.m. Highlighting an evening of inspirational stories, music, and images from BC and around the world was renowned conservationist Mark Angelo as well as musical guests Holly Arntzen and Kevin Wright. Proceeds raised from the event, which took place in April, 2011, will go to the Nature Trust of BC and the African water relief efforts of WaterCan.Water for Life Benefit Concert 

WildED, the BC Spaces for Nature Wilderness Education Program

WildED is an award winning, experiential, nature education program that is BC curriculum-linked for students in grades 4 – 12. WildED programs focus on reconnecting young people with nature so they can experience, know and understand the value of nature as well as its critical role in the health and sustainability of our communities

BBC, Staying the Course
“Staying the Course, Staying Alive – Coastal First Nations Fundamental Truths: Biodiversity, Stewardship and Sustainability” is an excellent example of the combined efforts of western science and traditional ecological knowledge. As 2010 is the International Year of Biodiversity, the Coastal First Nations fundamental truth statement that this book presents is a unique and timely insight into the proven effective sustainability practices of some of the most complex maritime Indigenous societies on the planet. The core values of Coastal First Nations can also inform the current thinking and policy development for the mitigation of the impacts of climate change.

Teachers  – Links to environmental education resources

Resources – Maps, reports, information and services created by Project Watershed


Go home or view more of our portfolio.



Sensitive Habitat Stewardship

This program provides accurate and current information on the state of sensitive habitats in the Comox Valley eco-region in order to effect better protection and restoration efforts. For information on this project, contact us or view below (please note the fullscreen and download options on top of the embedded documents):

A History of Comox Valley Project Watershed’s Sensitive Habitat Stewardship Program from 1995-2010

Fifteen years since its inception Project Watershed’s Sensitive Habitat Stewardship (SHS) Program is alive, well and continuing to evolve. Designed to gather and disseminate accurate information regarding locations and conditions of sensitive habitats, and to increase public awareness and understanding of local watersheds, the program has spawned many protection and restoration efforts in the Comox Valley. 
The SHS Program has been the umbrella under which several important projects in local watersheds have been implemented.  The SHS Program embodies Project Watershed’s mission statement of “promoting community stewardship of Comox Valley watersheds through education, information and action”.  Watershed projects developed within the SHS Program have included:

Comox Valley Salmon Streams Stewardship Project (1999-2005)

The Comox Valley Salmon Streams Stewardship Project focused on developing stewardship of sensitive fish and wildlife habitat on private land in the Comox Valley. The objective of this long term effort was partnership building among local government agencies, landowners and organized stewardship groups to improve protection and restoration of sensitive habitats when land development activities occur.  Project Watershed worked closely with staff at the Regional District, and implemented projects in partnership with groups such as the Tsolum River Restoration Society, Morrison Creek Streamkeepers, Millard/Piercy Creek Watershed Stewards, Brooklyn Creek Streamkeepers, and other regional groups such as the Land Trust and the Naturalists.  More….

Comox Valley Stream Signage Project

Stewards of the Puntledge Watershed – Education Series (2005-ongoing).

This series of projects is an evolution of our work focused on sensitive habitat stewardship. Our activities here are focused within the largest and most important watershed in the Comox Valley. The Puntledge River, flowing through Comox Lake provides community drinking water and is important for hydroelectric power generation, and for world class recreational opportunities. This watershed also historically supported one of the most productive salmonid fisheries on the East Coast of Vancouver Island, and it empties into one of BC’s most important estuaries, providing rich habitat for a wide range of fish, wildlife, plants, migratory birds, and shellfish.  The goal here is “to foster community knowledge, attitudes and behaviours that engage citizens in actions that protect our drinking water quality and benefit healthy fish and wildlife populations in the Puntledge River Watershed”. Much of our work in the Puntledge involves partnering with agencies such as BC Hydro, Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Puntledge River Restoration Society who are keen on conducting research and habitat improvements that benefit a unique and endangered stock of summer-run chinook salmon. An activity of this program was a major symposium in 2008 focused on the Courtenay River Estuary which drew more than 300 people together.  More…

The Courtenay River Estuary – Keeping It Living Campaign

The 2008 Estuary Symposium featured leading experts on estuaries in B.C. and beyond. It was learned that the Courtenay River Estuary is one of only eight Class 1 estuaries in British Columbia.  In this public forum event the importance of protecting First Nations heritage and wildlife habitats was illustrated.  The outcome of the Estuary Symposium was the creation of Project Watershed’s Estuary Working Group and the ‘Keeping It Living’ awareness campaign where Project Watershed is again fostering community partnerships with the goal of creating watershed stewardship efforts.  More….

Other Programs

Streamkeepers and Wetlandkeepers Courses (1993-ongoing).

Hundreds of people have taken the nationally-recognized Streamkeepers course, which focuses on the basic skills of monitoring aquatic habitats and getting involved in local volunteer driven watershed projects.  Project Watershed continues to offer streamkeeper and wetlandkeeper courses and some of our graduates have become champions working to further the goals of local stewardship groups.  Interested?

The Baynes Sound Stewardship Initiative (BSSI) (1995-2000)

This series of projects addressed non-point source pollution in Baynes Sound through education and outreach activities.  Products of this program include an extensive “State of the Sound” GIS project, as well as educational materials and action projects focused on non-point source pollution and remediation efforts.
Some examples are:  
  • Storm Drain Monitoring (1996-2000): A citizen monitoring program testing storm drains in urban areas.
  • Agricultural Program (1997-98): An educational and remedial action campaign aimed at preventing damage to sensitive riparian areas.
  • Survey and Education of Businesses (1999): Awareness and remedial work regarding toxic chemical use and disposal. The project included the distribution of educational materials, public workshops, and advertising and promotion for "green" businesses.
  • Biofiltration Wetland (1999): Construction of a wetland in a residential area to filter stormwater and septic wastes.
  • Pump-out Facilities and Boater Education (1999-2000): In conjunction with community partners, boater pump-out facilities were constructed in Comox Harbour and Deep Bay. A boater education program and celebration of clean water was also a focus. 
  • More…..


Included are the following elements:

Comox Valley Salmon Streams Stewardship Project Final Report

Mapping and Inventory Field Work

Sensitive Habitat Inventory and Mapping: Accurate watercourse, and wetland locations, salmon and trout presence and habitat conditions features of urban streams are mapped using standardized procedures called the SHIM methods. Project Watershed is a founding member of the Community Mapping Network, a group of like minded organizations working to create better opportunities for community stewardship of Sensitive Habitats.

Baynes Sound Foreshore Stewardship (2001-2002): Detailed maps and inventory in Baynes Sound area will provide information to increase protection of sensitive stream, wetland and foreshore habitats, through application of local government bylaws and landowners' voluntary stewardship commitments.

Urban Salmon Habitat Program Assessments: Fish habitats are assessed using standardized procedures and reports describing watershed problems and recommend remedial efforts. This work results in detailed biophysical descriptions of streams and wetlands that aid in land-use decision making and watershed planning.


Geographic Information Systems (GIS)

Arcview Smart Maps: Mapping, inventory and assessment data is compiled, digitized and used to update and expand the Comox Valley Sensitive Habitat Atlas, first published in 1995 in conjunction with local, provincial and federal governments. It is estimated that 20-30% of all streams in the valley are not mapped. Of those that are mapped, many habitat records are of limited accuracy. This project provides current, accurate maps and data to decision-makers, citizens, government agencies and volunteer stewardship groups in a user-friendly format. See samples on the Maps and Reports page.


Community Partnerships

A network of community mapping and stewardship groups has been developed, along with a protocol for information exchange. The purpose of this activity is to increase public awareness of and involvement in watershed stewardship and to establish a process to recruit new stewards, and to organize their activities in meaningful ways. This fosters a locally coordinated effort that increases information exchange among partners and reduces conflicts and duplication.

Landholder Stewardship Projects

A follow-up to initial stream surveys that provides information about habitat and stewardship options to landowners. This project creates an appreciation of the significance of habitats on private land, and wherever possible, to establish voluntary stewardship agreements, in which the landowner agrees to protect, restore and/or monitor the habitats found on their property.

  • See Evaluation Report from the 1999-2000 inaugural project year.

  • See 2000-2001 year end Report

  • See brochures on Maps and Reports page.


Entrepreneurial Non-Profit Activities

Partnership projects that build on the training and practical experience that our staff have acquired in the area of watershed stewardship services. We use cost-recovery pricing where appropriate and follow a comprehensive plan to deliver services to the non-profit and private sector providing more stable employment for local watershed technicians.



Go home or view more of our Portfolio.

SeaChoice: Healthy choices, healthy oceans

Working in collaboration with the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s acclaimed Seafood Watch program, SeaChoice undertakes science-based seafood assessments, provides informative resources for consumers, and supports businesses through collaborative partnerships.

Comprehensive National Seafood Program

SeaChoice, Canada’s most comprehensive sustainable seafood program, is about solutions for healthy oceans. Launched in 2006, SeaChoice was created to help Canadian businesses and shoppers take an active role in supporting sustainable fisheries and aquaculture at all levels of the seafood supply chain. Based on scientific assessments, SeaChoice has created easy-to-use tools that help you make the best seafood choices.

Working in collaboration with the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s acclaimed Seafood Watch program, SeaChoice undertakes science-based seafood assessments, provides informative resources for consumers, and supports businesses through collaborative partnerships.

seafood marketWe understand that choosing sustainable seafood can be challenging, that’s why SeaChoice has created easy-to-use products that help you identify the best seafood choices and find information about the fisheries that you support with your purchasing. This is the first time that information has been compiled for Canadians about our domestic fisheries and the seafood we import.

The ultimate solutions will require all of us-governments, industry, retailers and individuals-to take responsibility for changing our approach to seafood and fishing. We hope you will choose to be part of the solution.

We use the best available science, strategic communications and partnerships to mobilize sustainable seafood markets via six main programs:

  • Research – To assess the status of fish stocks and the structure of the seafood supply chain.
  • Industry outreach – Support for members of the supply line who would like to embrace sustainable sourcing.
  • Public education – Empowering consumers to promote conservation through their choices at restaurants and retail stores.
  • Retail partnerships – Working with major Canadian retailers to promote sales of sustainable seafood.
  • Strategic communications – Clear, effective and targeted communications.
  • Dialogue with government – Reforming fisheries policy to reflect scientific best fisheries practices, providing protection for threatened and endangered fish stocks and their habitat.

The threat

The movement towards sustainable seafood is about solutions for our oceans. Choosing sustainable seafood is a simple and effective action that you can take every time you eat at a restaurant or buy seafood. Whether you are an individual shopping for your family, a chef buying for your restaurant, or a supplier sourcing from fishing communities, your choices count. Voting with your wallet sends a strong signal to government and industry leaders, telling them that you support responsible stewardship of our natural marine resources.

What CPAWS is doing

The SeaChoice program is operated by the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, David Suzuki Foundation, Ecology Action Centre, Living Oceans Society and Sierra Club BC. Our work is funded by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the Webster Foundation, and the Eden Foundation.


Visit the Seachoice website ( to download Canada’s Seafood Guide.


Take the Count Me In Pledge for Conservation


The Comox Valley Conservation Strategy (CVCS) and the CV Regional District have partnered up to promote two online pledges for conservation and sustainability.  We are asking you to participate in this initiative by taking five minutes to make your pledge and circulate the pledge to your family and friends.  Here are 3 reasons to take and promote the pledge:


·         The pledges are educational, fun and motivate us to make more environmentally aware choices


·         By signing these pledges we can show local government elected representatives that CV citizens value environmental initiatives.


·         This projects shows that local  governments and environmental organizations can work together to promote positive environmental actions.


Link to CVCS pledge


Calling All Elders/Long-time Residents

We are hosting two community drop-in sessions for elders who remember the estuary prior to 1950:


On February 24th from 1-5 PM at the Comox Mall, and on

On February 25th from 1-4:30 PM at the CVRD Board Room (550 Comox Road)


We invite elders of the Comox Valley to meet with Project Watershed volunteers and staff to add to a map of the estuary the areas that they recall once had active and vibrant eelgrass meadows, kelp beds and salt marsh shoreline areas.  Your input will be invaluable to our restoration strategies.  Should you require transportation, please call us at 250-+703-2871 before Feb 22.

Baynes Sound a boon to the Valley

By Ralph Shaw – Comox Valley Record
Published: February 03, 2012 7:00 AM

Baynes Sound is a huge sea garden area that has produced food for  Comox Valley residents for thousands of years. The picture with this column features natural produce from the waters of the sound and land-based agriculture from our garden which is on the uplands above the sound.

A COMBINATION OF Baynes Sound aquaculture and Comox Valley agriculture. PHOTO BY RALPH SHAW

In my Jan. 13 column I noted that it is about 30 kilometres from Goose Spit to Chrome Island light. To further illustrate the size of the aquaculture garden, if you were to kayak around the perimeter of the sound you would travel approximately 100 kilometres. The productive aquaculture zone is of varying width, depending on species, but it would stretch from Cumberland to Nanaimo. It produces local seafood for which it has an international reputation. Oysters, littleneck clams, butter clams, cockles, scallops, and geoducks are some of the major aquaculture products of this fertile area.

In their book Oysters – A Connoisseur’s Guide and Cookbook, Lonnie Williams and Karen Warner list 64 species of oysters in North America. One of note is Crassostrea gigas: “Fanny Bay, British Columbia. A firm oyster that is very salty and sweet with a pronounced cucumber flavor finish. The fluted shells are thick, which makes them easy to open.” As long as we pay attention to the purity of the water it will produce this unique species of shellfish into the foreseeable future and continue to be a source of jobs for hundreds of local Valley residents.

Over the past few years we have had a series of industrial accidents that have led to the destruction of rich seafood producing coastal regions. The oil spill of the Exxon Valdez is still affecting the coastal waters of Alaska. Last year we had the terrible tragedy in the Gulf of Mexico with the British Petroleum offshore drilling rig that has decimated much of the marine and shellfish industries of the area. Acid mine drainage has created sterile rivers and lakes in the coal mining regions of the Eastern United States. Meanwhile in the Comox Valley we have paid a high price for the acid mine drainage into the Tsolum River.

To celebrate the bounty of Baynes Sound, the Ocean of Plenty II Shellfish Gala Dinner will be held Feb. 11 at the Fanny Bay Community Hall. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. dinner at 7 p.m. This year’s event is donating all profits from the dinner, silent and live auctions to the CoalWatch Comox Valley group who are gravely concerned and alarmed about the possibility of a coal mine on the drainage basin of Baynes Sound.

I share their concerns. At the time of this writing there are still a few tickets left for this gala seafood dinner. The tickets are $50 each and may I be so bold as to suggest that they would make a great Valentine gift for your significant other – after all, oysters are reputed to be exceptionally healthy food for Valentine celebrations.

If you wish to see copies of the menu go to Tickets are available from Laughing Oyster Books and the Freaking Coffee Shop in Courtenay, Blue Heron Books in Comox, Fanny Bay Oysters in Buckley Bay, and Abraxas Books and Gifts on Denman Island. For more information phone John Snyder at 250 335-2246.

Project Watershed and UBC Students Studying Blue Forests in the Estuary

On Saturday, January 21 around 11 PM to catch the lowest tide of the month, a team of Project Watershed volunteers and a group of Chemical and Biological engineering students from the University of British Columbia walked out onto the mud flats to obtain some samples of estuary sediment and eelgrass rhizomes.  This is part of a joint effort to measure carbon dioxide uptake by eelgrass first in simulated tanks at the UBC campus and then actual measurements of uptake in photosynthesis in the intertidal areas of our estuary.  Dr. Royann Petrell and five students from her advanced class in chemical and biological engineering laboratory techniques, as part of their program for students’ hands-on learning about community realities are working with a Comox Valley Stewardship group on these efforts.  The team was led out onto the estuary by Project Watershed’s Michele Jones, Dan Bowen and Dave Davies from DFO.

A major question facing residents of communities like the Comox Valley is how we can reduce our dependence on fossil fuels.  One approach is to establish strategies of conservation or use of renewable energy (solar, wind, etc.).  Another is to eliminate carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere through living carbon storage.  Living carbon is more commonly known as the long-term storage of carbon in the tissues of trees and plants in forests.

A special opportunity exists for those of us who live in coastal communities.  Blue carbon is a form of living carbon that occurs in aquatic environments where aquatic plants such as eelgrass act to store carbon in the soils and sediments. Greenhouse gas reductions (of carbon dioxide) can be achieved through uptake by estuarine “Blue Forests” moving these greenhouse gases to estuaries and Deep Ocean (sediments).

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

The Comox Valley Project Watershed Society, through its Estuary Working Group, has launched a pilot project to evaluate carbon storage by estuarine vegetation systems and to assess the effects of community based restoration efforts on eelgrass meadows and their abilities to remove greenhouse gas from the atmosphere.  Recent reports indicate eelgrass can be as much as 90 times as effective as identical areas of coniferous forest in removal of CO2 from the atmosphere. This project represents a long -term effort and has a “win-win” outcome for both carbon sequestration and habitat improvement.

Loss of, and damage to, eelgrass has affected whole populations of fish, including threatened salmon and herring, water fowl, shellfish, and other animals.  Many animals use eelgrass meadows for nursery areas, others swim or walk among the leaves, or burrow in the sediments.  Within eelgrass meadows, there is food and shelter for a wide variety of creatures. Therefore eelgrass restoration efforts automatically improve habitat and biodiversity in addition to their potential to positively affect climate change.

Should you be interested in making a contribution to this project or to become involved as a volunteer in the future, please contact Project Watershed at 250-703-2871 or Email at <><>

Support for Blue Carbon Initiative

Paul Horgen (left) of the Comox Valley Project Watershed Society receives a cheque for $1,500 from Creekside Commons Community Services Society (represented by left to right: Pam Munroe, Tim Crossin and Don Munroe) for the Eel Grass project to sequester carbon in the Comox Estuary.  This project while removing carbon from the atmosphere also restores our estuary and povides local employment. And, Project Watershed Society as a registered charity can issue income tax receipts for donations.  For more information on the Blue Carbon initiative by Project Watershed, contact

Comox Valley Echo Tuesday, January 10, 2012