Habitat work by 19 Wing Comox and Project Watershed

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


A diver plants an eelgrass shoot in a bed as part of efforts to restore natural habitat at Goose Spit Marina. Photo by Lora Tryon

19 Wing is restoring marine habitat near Royston as compensation for the habitat affected by the maintenance dredging of the Goose Spit Marina that took place in January.   The dredging was required to remove sediment that built up around the pilings and threatened dock infrastructure and the safe use of the marina by various Canadian Armed Forces and Sea Cadet vessels.  “Dredging needed to be done to restore the capability of the marina,” said Maj. Mark Kierstead, 19 Wing construction engineering officer. “The project’s planning team consulted with K’ómoks First Nation and obtained approvals from several government agencies to ensure the project would be successful and environmentally responsible.”

19 Wing environmental staff developed the project’s mitigation and compensation plan after extensive discussions with local environment experts, including Project Watershed, a local charitable organization that promotes stewardship of local watersheds.  “Over the past few years Project Watershed has been involved with smaller eelgrass restoration projects and also created aerial eelgrass density maps of the entire K’omoks Estuary,” said Dr. Paul Horgen, Project Watershed’s Chairman of the board of directors. “This data has proved valuable to the Department of National Defence.”  The eelgrass harvesting and transplant work started on May 28 and will continue for four weeks. Working from a boat, a surface team prepares and tallies the eelgrass and a team of scuba divers transplants as many as 1,500 shoots a day.  “We will create over 3,000 square metres of new eelgrass habitat near the Trent River Estuary,” said Bob Allan, 19 Wing environmental officer. “We are very pleased to partner with Project Watershed because they have proven success with this specialized habitat restoration work.”  19 Wing will monitor the health and recovery of the habitats for the next five years to ensure the success of our project.

— 19 Wing Comox

Mudflats Mischief

As part of this year’s Keeping It Living Campaign Project Watershed is providing an opportunity to get up close and personal with the Estuary through an event held on the mudflats. Participants will delve into the intertidal world of critters with Biologist Michele Jones on Saturday May 25th at 1pm.  The inter-tidal portion of the estuary will be explored through looking at tide pools, estuary plants, and learning about the mudflat ecosystem. Participants should be ready for a “gumboot” hike into a world that is usually hidden by water or mud.

This event is appropriate for people of all ages and everyone is welcome. Project Watershed is asking that all participants sign up before hand at to ensure an appropriate number of assistants are available. Participation is by donation. The group will be meeting at the Courtenay Riverway Walk Parking Lot on Mansfield Drive and will leave at 1pm. Remember to bring a hat, sunscreen, and water if it is sunny.

The Keeping It Living Campaign is a yearly campaign Project Watershed runs to raise awareness and funds to protect and restore the K’omoks Estuary. It includes various events and a silent art auction and competition. Project Watershed will be hosting more events as part of Elevate the Estuary in conjunction with Elevate the Arts from the 4th to the 8th of June.