Holly Hock flats salt marsh

March 17th – Estuary Movie Night – 7-9pm

You are invited to Estuary Movie Night at the Stan Hagen Theater, North Island College, admission by donation.

Project Watershed in conjunction with World Community will be presenting estuary focused movies and a short presentation on our own Courtenay River Estuary.  The two movies that will be shown are a 5 min short on the Courtenay River Estuary and an hour segment on the fight to save the San Fransisco Estuary. The San Fransisco Estuary is the largest estuary in North America and was highly impacted by rapid development; much of the estuary was “lost” or severely degraded.  Then a small group of dedicated people got together and changed its fate ( With less obstacles in our way the Courtenay River Estuary can also become a shining example of people living in harmony with an important natural feature.

The Courtenay River Estuary is the heart of our community both physically, as it resembles a heart, and spiritually, as our beautiful geographic center. Along with the impressive Comox Glacier it frames our world. Come out for a movie night to be inspired and motivated to protect and restore it. If California can do the Comox Valley can do it!

CVRD Initiative on a Courtenay River Estuary Management Plan

Kent Leontowich of the Comox Valley Regional District’s Planning Department is coordinating a steering committee that includes members of Project Watershed’s Estuary Working Group.  In 2000, a Courtenay River Management Plan (CREMP) was released but  never adopted by any of the local governments.  In 2009, when the Regional Directors of the Comox Valley Regional District put a moratorium on development along the Dyke Road and other parts of the Estuary in the Regional District, they also directed CVRD staff to update the 2000 CREMP to reflect the situation as we enter the second decade of the 21st century. Times have changed and local governments are cooperating.  The Courtenay River Estuary plays an important role in the Regional Growth Strategy soon to be adopted for the Comox Valley and Management Plan updating is underway.

The Courtenay River Estuary Management Plan Steering Committee was put together including representatives from the relevant provincial and federal ministries, BC Nature Trust, Ducks Unlimited, Courtenay Fish and Game Association and Project Watershed.  Planning Manager Tom Knight often joins the group at its sessions as the team reworks the original sections of the 2000 document and adds important new sections like Archeology and Climate Change.  The group has been meeting every 5 or 6 weeks for over the past year and the draft document is anticipated to be completed by March of 2011. It then will go to the governments of Comox, Courtenay, Cumberland, the CVRD and K’omoks First Nation and the public for consideration and final approval.

You can see the original CREMP here on the Regional District’s website.  Watch Project Watershed’s News Bulletin or the CREMP page on our Keeping It Living website for updates as this important local government-community initiative moves forward.

Project Watershed thanks community way businesses

Project Watershed would like to extend a big thanks to Fluid Bar & Grill, Mike Toulmin Construction, and Good Karma Delivery for their donation of community way dollars (cw$).

These dollars will help us promote stewardship of Comox Valley Watersheds through education, information and action. Currently we are focusing much of our work on the Courtenay River Estuary. The Courtenay River Estuary is the heart of our watershed, not to mention a unique and special feature of the Comox Valley. We are concerned about its health, and through our Estuary Working Group are striving for increased protection and restoration. The Estuary Committee has estimated it to cost over $100,000/year to protect and restore the estuary – we need every dollar we can get. To learn more about Project Watershed’s programs and initiatives visit  You can also find us on facebook.

Project Watershed is a registered charity and funding for our activities depends on governments, foundations, memberships and local businesses. Community way gives charities like Project Watershed a new avenue for fund generation that everyone in the community can be a part of.

If you own a business please consider joining community way and donate to Project Watershed. It is an excellent way to promote your business. Since Project Watershed is a registered charity we will also issue a charitable tax receipt.

The community way dollars you donate to Project Watershed will go towards protection and restoration of the beautiful and highly cherished natural environment of the Comox Valley. To find out more about joining community way visit

Another way to support your community is to buy cw$.  Buying cw$ from Project Watershed is similar to donating but better as you get to use your money twice; first by supporting Project Watershed and again by purchasing from local businesses. Visit our offices at 2356a Rosewall Cres in Tin Town or call (250) 703-2871.

Report on the Estuary Gala Campaign

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You can view more media from the Estuary Gala Gathering held in 2010 on

Thank You to our Sponsors & Funders!

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Visit our sponsors’ websites:


The Big Chill

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Call to Artists and Creative Writers

Mingling WatersJoin us to inspire the vision and open the dialogue for creating the return of abundance by perserving the Courtenay River Estuary.

Project Watershed and the Estuary Working Group are holding an art and creating writing competition and silent auction for Keeping It Living.  For further details, click here

Brian Buckrell is Keeping It Living

In June , Comox artist Brian Buckrell won Artists Choice Award in Project Watershed’s Keeping It Living Art Auction and Competition. Being very impressed by the Keeping It Living Campaign and the efforts of Project Watershed and associated groups to protect and restore the Courtenay River Estuary he has donated a fitting piece called “Towards the Estuary”. “The support from the artistic community has been wonderful and this is definitely the icing on the cake” says Project Watershed’s Estuary Coordinator, Caila Holbrook.

Buckrell’s paintings have received many awards previously. His studio is along the Courtenay River Estuary – where he can be seen painting along the shoreline and in the harbour. He says that “this particular piece was inspired by a small stream that fed into the Puntledge River and eventually the Esturary. I feel strongly that the Estuary needs to be protected and managed. I am very happy to be able to make a small contribution to Project Watershed”. “Towards the Estuary” currently hangs in Project Watershed’s offices at the Conservation Centre. The piece will be incorporated into Project Watershed’s 2011 campaign which starts this December.

The Keeping It Living Awareness and Fundraising Campaign will run from December to April this year. Following the same format as last year art of all kinds will be accepted for the Auction and Competition. Creative writing pieces will be accepted for the Competition only. Details and registration forms are available at All submitted pieces will be on display at the finale event on April 2nd at K’omoks Band Hall. “This campaign gives everyone the opportunity to contribute to protecting and restoring the Courtenay River Estuary. It is a chance for acclaimed artists like Brian Buckrell to help us not only envision a brighter future but make it happen.” Caila Holbrook.

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