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Project Watershed 2014 Volunteer Appreciation event

On 12/12/2014 Project Watershed invited their regular volunteers, and some other friends, to an appreciation event at the Comox Valley Community Justice Centre in downtown Courtenay.

With more than 50 attendees, including some of the local city council members who openly support Project Watershed’s work, enjoying local snacks and refreshments, the event highlighted the interconnected nature of the organisation’s work.

In this video some top volunteers are acknowledged individually by Project Watershed chair Paul Horgen and Acting Estuary Coordinator Jennifer Sutherst.

Keeping It living – Calling all ARTISTS

Project Watershed is inviting you to join us in inspiring the Comox Valley to experience the estuary by submitting a piece of your work in our 6th annual Keeping it Living Art competition and silent auction.

Keeping it Living is an art and literature awareness and fundraising campaign to give everyone the opportunity to contribute to the preservation and restoration of the K’ómoks Estuary.


Keeping it Living
Art for the Estuary
Then, Now and Future

The year’s title “Then, Now and Future” is to inspire the artist to capture their version of the past, present and future of the estuary…or all three! And as in every year the theme encompasses “all things estuary”, and is wide open to the whole ecosystem which extends into the Georgia Strait. Nationally renowned First Nations artist Andy Everson will be creating a unique image for this years’ campaign. Join Andy in the creation of art inspired by our one of  kind estuary.

All types of art including (but not limited to) painting, sculpture, jewelry, pottery, photography and glass are encouraged.

Art is displayed as follows:

Details:

  • Artwork image submitted online as JPEG using the form found at www.keepingitliving.ca or by clicking here.
  • Artwork must be submitted with entry fee ($20) and form (2 pieces can be submitted for this fee)
  • All mediums accepted; must be your own original work
  • Creative writing pieces are free to enter; max 200 words
  • All 2D artwork must be framed and/or ready to hang
  • All entries must be for sale, proceeds split 50/50 between Artist and Project Watershed
  • Submission deadline is Tuesday, March 31st, 2015

aerialestuary

 

Courtenay Council Candidates Consider Field Sawmill Site

With an election coming in a few days, all of the candidates running in Courtenay are firming up their platforms. One of the important issues facing our beautiful community and is on the minds of not only citizens of Courtenay,  but all of us who have chosen the Comox Valley as our home, is the old Field Saw Mill site.  In November of last year, Project Watershed presented some preliminary ideas about the site and published them in local papers.  They included feasibility of restoration.  We have recently submitted our most current thoughts in another article submitted to local papers in the first week in November.

 
I can tell you as a speaker that has talked to Rotary clubs, Probus clubs, Newcomer groups and courses that I have taught on the Estuary at NIC Elder College, that a question that comes up at every talk or course is, “What is going to happen to the old Field Sawmill Site?”
What to do with the Fields Saw Mill
 
The Project Watershed Board of Directors believes that this should be an issue discussed during the fall campaign. Consequently during the first week in October, Project  Watershed invited or attempted to invite all of the candidates running to meet and discuss the issue.
 
To date  we have had replies /or and met with Jon Ambler (mayoral candidate) and Council candidates Doug Hillian, Bob Wells, David Frisch, Bill Anglin, Starr Winchester, Rebecca Lennox, George Knox, Eric Erickson, Stu MacInnis and Marcus Felgenhauer.  All agreed that this issue should be put on the table for consideration. What a great start!
 
We look forward to involving the entire Comox Valley in discussions related to restoring this site. What a legacy it would be for future generations.
Yours sincerely.

Paul Horgen

Webcast for PICS seminar October 16, 2014

On 16 October 2014 Paul Horgen (Chair of the Comox Valley Project Watershed Society) and Christine Hodgson of North Island College (Chair of the Math and Science Department) were invited to speak at the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions “Climate Seminar Series”.

 

Paul Horgen

Many thanks to Megan Jameson and the PICS staff for having us over and capturing our presentation on video. We are very pleased to be able to share this information with our supporters.

Paul HorgenChair - Comox Valley Project Watershed Society

Great Canadian Shoreline Clean-up

Kathryn Clouston

Trust you all had a relaxing and enjoyable summer and are keen to get out and enjoy some great fall days in our valley’s superb natural environment.

The Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup will be running for a week (Sept 20 to 28) so it will give you a moral reason to be out helping to clean up your local streams and waterways.

If you want to participate in an organized cleanup the CV Nature group will be picking up litter at the Airpark on Sunday, Sept 21st and I have registered the Simms Park area on behalf of Project Watershed to be groomed on Sunday, September 28th (also BC Rivers Day).

Both cleanup parties will be meeting at their respective parking lots and run from 10 AM until noon . Bring gloves and a garbage bag (also family and friends) and wear appropriate footwear. Refreshments will be served during a tally-up of debris at the end.

Hope to see you out there – working to better our natural environment is always a feel-good and very worthwhile activity.

Kathryn CloustonProject Watershed Staff Member

K’omoks Estuary 2014 – Keeping It Living: The Return of Abundance (January 2014)

Keeping It Living 2014 – An art & literature awareness & fundraising campaign to give everyone the opportunity to contribute to the preservation and restoration of the K’ómoks Estuary; This year includes a Sponsorship Drive and Events.

Thanks from everyone at Project Watershed

Project Watershed thanks the Vancouver Foundation for their donation $20,000 towards the creation of a publicly accessible online Interactive Map of the K’ómoks Estuary – which will be available soon!

Celebrating ART and ACHIEVEMENTS since 2009

Project Watershed has been conducting the The Keeping It Living Campaign to raise awareness and funds for the protection and restoration of the K’ómoks Estuary since 2009. We are taking this year to celebrate the art that has honored our cause, the achievements we have made and our future aspirations. To this end we are focusing on our sponsorship artworks and the following activities during the month of April.

  • Keeping It Living Collection Art Display – In the George Sawchuk Gallery of the CV Art Gallery, April 16th to May 3rd

  • Keeping It Living Earthweek Gala – An event featuring wine,  cheese, music, art and performance art

  • Keeping It Living for Earth Day – Estuary art and performance for the whole family

  • Keeping It Living by Bike – A cycling tour of the Estuary

  • Estuary Walks and Talks – Guided walks in the Estuary

Protect this WORLD CLASS ESTUARY with WORLD CLASS ART

The K’ómoks Estuary has been termed “the heart of our watershed”. It is a unique feature of the Comox Valley which enriches our community and supports our high quality of life, vibrate bird communities, wealth of outdoor activities, and rebounding salmon populations. It also has a rich First Nations history. It has been severely impacted over the years but these industries have moved and it is now time to restore its natural abundance. We are inviting residents to contribute to our efforts by:

ESTUARY and ECONOMY

Protecting the estuary not only makes sense environmentally but also economically. Bev Byerley’s painting speaks to the quality of life we enjoy in the Comox Valley. Economists use property values among others to capture this value financially. The Estuary Working Group has produced a vision document and is  working on a Management Plan to help sustain that quality of life and uphold those economic values. We hope to have this plan adopted by local, provincial and federal governments. Click here for more Estuary and Economy facts!

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View From Airpark by Bev Byerley

See who is Keeping It Living at the Swan Festival

Every year Project Watershed bestows an array of Keeping It Living Awards to a deserving group and chosen artists. These awards are part of a campaign created to promote community knowledge of and pride in the K’omoks Estuary. One such award is the Keeping It Living Award, a merit based award that recognises an organisation, group or business exhibiting leadership in protecting and restoring the K’omoks Estuary.  The other awards – People’s Choice, Artist’s Choice and Keeping It Living’s Choice – go to artists from their winning submissions to the Keeping It Living Campaign’s Art Competition. You are invited to come out to acknowledge and celebrate these awards as they are presented at the Swan Festival in the K’omoks First Nations Hall 12 noon Saturday November 23rd.

 This year the Estuary Working Group and Project Watershed will be bestowing the 2013-14 Keeping It Living Award on the Comox Valley Naturalists. In making this Award, we wish to recognize the contribution the Naturalists have made over the years in protecting and restoring vital habitat in the K’όmoks Estuary. This includes the many years spent removing invasive species, planting native species, undertaking habitat restoration, and gathering a wealth of local information through bird counts and botany surveys. Historically this includes the work done on a Trent River Study which led to it remaining a natural area, getting the estuary and surrounding area designated as an Important Bird Area, promoting the idea of converting the Sewage Lagoon to the present day Air Park and helping to save Hollyhock Marsh. Comox Valley Nature is also recognized for its public education efforts – the nature walks you have provided and the information on your website has led to greater awareness and more intimate knowledge of plant and bird life in the Estuary.

View+From+Airpark

Bev Byerley “View from Courtenay Air Park #34”

The Naturalists will be receiving the original Bev Byerley painting “View from the Courtenay Air Park #34” to display in a location of their choice for one year. This painting was generously donated to Project Watershed in 2010 for this purpose.

Bev Byerley herself will be at the ceremony as she will be receiving the Artist’s Choice Award for  “View from the Courtenay Air Park #66”. Shirley Dickie will be receiving the People’s Choice Award for her painting “Reaching Up” and Martha Ponting will be receiving the Keeping It Living’s Choice Award for “Living Waters”. Project Watershed thanks these artists and all the other artists (~40) who contributed pieces to the competition and auction this year. “It is a wonderful show of support for the Estuary from the Art Community” says Paul Horgen, Chair of Project Watershed.

Martha Ponting has graciously donated Living Waters, as Keeping It Living’s Choice, to be used as the image for the 2014 Keeping It Living Campaign.  Art cards, posters and limited edition prints of this and the previous years winners will be on display and available for purchase at the Swan Festival.  They are also available online at https://projectwatershed.ca/get-involved/donate/. Purchasing any of these items raises funds for activities such as eelgrass planting, habitat restoration and protection. If you are were looking to offset some holiday travel through the purchase of carbon credits or for an ecofriendly gift, a Keeping It Living card, poster or print will not only improve your local environment but also keep the money in the community.

Living Waters_web

Martha Ponting “Living Waters”

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Bev Byerley ” View from the Courtenay Air Park #66″

Reaching-Up

Shirley Dickie ” Reaching Up”

 

Keeping It Living Art Cards Now Available

Art_card_preview

 

Project Watershed has created a set of specialty Keeping It Living Art Cards just in time for the winter season. Now you can share the beauty inspired by the K’omoks Estuary with others.

As Get Well cards, Thank You cards or to go with your holiday giving these blank cards look great and help fund estuary restoration and protection.

The front of the cards are adorned with one of the images from our yearly Keeping It Living campaign. These images ere created by local Comox Valley Artists including Bev Byerley, Jennifer Weber, Rena Rogers, Shirley Dickie and Martha Ponting.

We will be selling the Art Cards for $3 each, or 2 for $5, or get a set of 5 for $12. Cards will be available at Project Watershed offices, the Swan Festival and online with our Keeping It Living Sponsorships.

 

Reclaiming Field Sawmill

Project Watershed and the Estuary Working Group have been developing restoration possibilities for the Field Sawmill site since 2009. “It is our belief that this property has the potential to become a highlight of a restored K’ómoks Estuary, itself a signature feature of the Comox Valley” states Don Castleden, Chair of the Estuary Working Group.

1931 Courtenay River Airphoto showing Future Site of Fields Saw Mill

1931 Courtenay River Airphoto showing Future Site of Fields Saw Mill

The sawmill that was located on this site in 1949 once served as an economic mainstay of Courtenay, however, that period was not without its cost to the health of the estuary, especially to our five major salmon runs. In fact, a governmental report made in 1976 Comox Harbor and later referenced in an article in the Comox District Free Press in 1977 stated that our estuary is one of the richest in Canada and the saw mill and log booming should be relocated. The sale of the sawmill site presents an opportunity to mitigate the damage done and to do what is humanly possible to restore salmon runs as well as other flora and fauna once abundant in the Estuary.

1958 - Field Sawmill in the background before sheet piling and in filling

1958 – Field Sawmill in the background before sheet piling and in filling

“Although we realize that the price at the moment is prohibitive we have encouraged the City to work with Interfor to acquire this property with a view to restoring its natural habitat. This could be a symbol of the commitment of the community to protect this important feature. Project Watershed has offered to work with the City and the community to help raise the money needed to purchase and restore this site” reports Paul Horgen, Chair of Project Watershed.

“The Chief and Council of the K’ómoks First Nation support the conceptual ideas presented by Project Watershed” states Cory Frank the K’omoks First Nation representative on the Estuary Working Group.

A Restored Sawmill Site

  • The sawmill site can be planted with indigenous plants and trees and would eventually blend in with Hollyhock Marsh with its beautiful stand of Sitka spruce which lies just south of the property.
  • A small stream can be created on the property that would connect the Dyke Slough to the river providing safe passage for migrating salmon in the Courtenay River (a channel is illustrated in the diagram accompanying this article). This channel would be too shallow for seals and therefore would alleviate predation and provide refuge for young salmon.
  • A riparian buffer and salt water marsh can be incorporated into this new stream and would provide rearing habitat as well as pools for migrating salmon fry that need to ‘hold over’ while they adjust to salt water before striking out into ocean waters. This restoration would tie in with the existing salt water marsh and slough adjacent to Hollyhock Marsh, an area which has been determined to be one of the most productive habitats for salmon in the estuary, of which there are very few.
  • Salt marsh could be planted in the area and would increase feeding and breeding grounds for bird species, act as a nursery for fish, filter and store pollutants from urban sources, anchor sediment and sequester carbon.
  • The steel sheet piling at the river’s edge of the property can be removed and naturally sloped banks restored, similar to Hollyhock Marsh. These banks could be planted with indigenous bushes to stabilize the banks and protect the area during floods. Removal of the steel sheet piling would greatly improve the river for salmon survival as seals currently use the corrugated feature of the piling to trap their salmon prey.
  • The concrete and pavement currently on the Sawmill Site can be removed and replaced with park space and walkways making the area accessible to the public for recreation, education and tourism. A bridge over the proposed creek would provide an ideal site for viewing salmon during their migration. One of the walkways could join with the walkway being planned by the Regional District between the Rotary Viewing Platform and Hollyhock Marsh. Kiosks, small vendors, interpretive signs, and benches would create an impressive gateway to the estuary.
Proposed channel at Fields Saw Milll connecting to Hollyhock Marsh

Proposed channel at Fields Saw Milll connecting to Hollyhock Marsh

In addition to the Estuary Working Group’s vision for a restored property, several professionals have reviewed the issues associated with developing this property for commercial purposes. It is important to note that any development would have to contend with:

  • height restrictions due to the Air Park and floatplane operations on the river. Any building on the property will have to be assessed by NAV CANADA and Transport Canada for potential impacts to the Air Navigation System and for marking and lighting requirements.
  • rising sea levels, storm surges, and flood waters as a result of severe weather events are to be expected in the future. Flood waters even now inundate the sawmill site during severe upland flooding and storm surges on the Strait. Provincial officials are now advising municipalities to plan for a minimum one metre rise in sea levels. It is estimated that this can result in much higher threat during the highest tides and extreme weather events. The best defences under these severe conditions are natural barriers – shrubs, trees, and aquatic plants that absorb the energy of ocean waves and fast flowing waters.

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    2010 Flooding at Fields Saw Mill Site. Photo courtesy of Betty Donaldson

  • insurance issues as there is every likelihood that buildings in floodplains will be uninsurable.
  • setbacks which may be required for any building from both the natural shore and from the highway. When setbacks are factored in, the usable land may be very limited.

It also appears that the steel sheet piling along the west side of the property has encroached on the river and is a major hazard for salmon.

Acquiring this property for the benefit of all citizens will be a major undertaking but there are ways environmental groups, the community, local government, and local businesses can work together to achieve this goal. “We believe the community will rally behind this initiative and support the effort with volunteer time, money and materials” says Don Castleden. Possible tax deductions may be granted to the vendor and carbon offsets may be available to assist in the cost of restoration work. Funds can also be solicited from conservation trusts that support the restoration of estuaries.

The Project Watershed and the Estuary Working Group remain committed to assisting in this restoration. It will be a tangible way to follow through on our commitment to Keeping the Estuary Living.

K’omoks Estuary Video

The video below was produced and prepared through the Comox Valley National Historic Site Committee, as a descriptive information piece to go along with the submission to the National Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada to respect, honor and give Historic Site recognition to the Ancient Wood Stake Fish Trap System studied by Community Archaeologist Nancy Greene and Geologist David McGee in the K’ómoks Estuary.

The K’omoks Estuary- A cultural & archaeological treasure.

Duration: 17 minutes, 19 seconds

 

Project Watershed thanks Michael Fountain of Blue Bamboo Productions for his ongoing contributions and outstanding work in producing this, and other videos, towards the restoration and preservation of the K’omoks Estuary. 

Please note that as a Stewardship Society it is not within Project Watershed’s mandate nor will it ever be to be owners or have any kind of jurisdiction over land and water. Our interests are purely in education, restoration and protection.

We acknowledge that the K’ómoks First Nation has been the caretakers of the K’ómoks Estuary since time immemorial, and will continue to care for the lands, waters, forests and air in their territory for generations to come.