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Getting Warmer: Globally 2015 Exceeds All Other Years

by Paul Horgen – Professor Emeritus, University of Toronto, Board Chair Project Watershed


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Quoting the great New York Yankee hall of fame catcher Yogi Berra, “Its deja vu all over again.”

In an announcement released on Wednesday, January 20th, Both NASA and NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) reported that 2015 was the warmest year since global temperatures were first recorded. During the same week last January, the same message was reported for 2014. These two US based agencies report that globally the high temperatures were fueled by record El Niño and its affect on climate change. In 2015, the month of December became the first month ever to increase 2 degrees F. In most of North America, December was more like March or April.

Despite this global information, the hottest year on record did not apply to Canada. According to Environment Canada, Atlantic Canada was one of the only regions on the planet that had cooler-than average temperatures last year. Canada only experienced the 11th warmest year on record in 2015.

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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

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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

Restoring Tidal Marshes in Royston

A tidal marsh is a type of marsh that is found along the shoreline of coasts and estuaries of which the flooding characteristics are determined by the tidal movement of the adjacent estuary.  The vegetation on the shore is called a salt marsh and it is a complex of many salt tolerant plants.  The vegetation from the tide line out into the waters of the estuary is composed of a single flowering plant known as eelgrass.  Volunteers including three local candidates running for office in November have been working on the shoreline by the new Royston Seaside trail creating salt marsh benches.

This new park site, in the early part of the 20th century, was an area with extensive tidal marshes. As the first settlers began to log forests in the area rails ran along the shoreline on an artificial dyke and logs were transported and dumped into the estuary for movement to saw mills.  This activity went on for decades and caused major habitat damage to the estuarine ecosystems.

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The sunken ships that can be seen off the estuary shore are known as the ‘Royston Wrecks’.  For years, these ships served to protect the shoreline against storm action and the scouring of the shore with logs in the water.

“All of the damaging industry is in our past, but now is the time to work together and restore habitat.  The amazing success so far is really encouraging”, commented Bob Wells, candidate for Courtenay Council. The Comox Valley Project Watershed Society has embarked on a major restoration project to re-establish the tidal marsh system lost during that time.  All of this is occurring along this new CVRD trail which will become a major destination in the Comox Valley for residents and tourists wanting seaside outdoor activity.

“I was very encouraged  with the enthusiasm of the staff and volunteers of Project Watershed for  this tidal marsh restoration effort ,”  stated Rebecca Lennox, candidate for Courtenay Council.

“We have restored almost 2000 m2 of eelgrass in the intertidal and sub tidal waters near the Wrecks and have just started the construction of three salt marsh benches which will occur over the next six months” reports Paul Horgen Chair of the Board.

Jim Gillis, running for Director of Area B in the Regional District, exclaimed that  “it was wonderful that a stewardship group like Project Watershed could secure over $100,000 in competitive funding to carry out these restorative activities on our new seaside trail.”

Image Credit:

  • Photo by Jennifer  Sutherst –  Rebecca Lennox and Technical Director Dan Bowen discussing the planing of salt tolerant species on the newly formed Royston salt marsh benches.

Project Watershed Plants Eelgrass near Port Augusta Park in Comox

Project Watershed, as part of their Blue Carbon efforts and habitat restoration activities, collected 2500 donor eelgrass shoots and then transplanted them into an area devoid of eelgrass off Port Augusta Park in the Town of Comox. These restorations provide habitat for migrating fish and other wildlife as well as increasing the blue carbon sink in our estuary.

The effort involved Project Watershed staff and over 9 volunteers during the low tide on August 8th and 9th. “These donor and transplant locations are part of our research sites and will be monitored for carbon sequestration over the next five years”, states Christine Hodgson, lead scientist for the project.

“We have taken core sediment samples at various locations and this particular location that we planted was barren”, says Paul Horgen, Chair of Project Watershed. Future measurements will give an indication of how much carbon dioxide is being removed by this newly planted site. During this restoration effort intertidal eelgrass, which is the eelgrass you see at low tide right at the tide line, was reestablished. Later this month more intertidal and some subtidal eelgrass will be planted. Divers will be involved with the subtidal efforts. Funding for the project is from The Council for Environmental Cooperation a three country partnership of Canada, the USA and Mexico and from the Pacific Salmon Foundation.

Barbara Price (Town of Comox Councilor) with eelgrass shoot.

Barbara Price (Town of Comox Councilor) with eelgrass shoot.

Nearly 6000 m2 of eelgrass has been restored during the summers of 2013 and 2014. At a recent Fisheries and Oceans workshop in Ladysmith a few weeks ago, it was reported by the Contractor who sub-contracted with Project Watershed for the eelgrass planted last year that we have a 95% success rate.

Jim Gillis (Comox Valley Regional District - Director Area B) – tying eelgrass.

Jim Gillis (Comox Valley Regional District – Director Area B) – tying eelgrass.

Horgen specifically extended invitations to the Mayor and Council of Comox to come and observe the eelgrass collection and transplanting. While Mayor Ives had a prior commitment, Councilors Price and Fletcher found the time to observe the restoration activity. We want to encourage more politicians to become engaged in environmental stewardship activities. “Although it is a busy time an some individuals are away on holidays, with an election coming in November, it is useful for constituents to know which political leaders put the restoration of damaged habitat as a priority and a valuable community activity to support”, states Horgen. It is clear that Price, Fletcher, Ives as well as Regional Director Jim Gillis, who was given a recognition award in May by Project Watershed, fit into this category.

Additional eelgrass work is planned for later in the month and in September. And Project Watershed will soon initiate salt marsh shoreline restorations later this month and in September.   Anyone wishing to be a volunteer on these projects please call Project Watershed at 250 703 2871 or e-mail projectwatershed@gmail.com.

Project watershed’s Pacific Institute for Climate Studies Internship Report

Russell Prentice

I have had a busy and exciting first month with Project Watershed. In the first couple weeks I assisted with eelgrass bed restoration. My duties included the maintenance and operation of a small boat, preparing eel-grass for planting and shuttling divers to planting sites. I also helped to survey inter-tidal sites that will later be restored using a GPS.

PW_surveyingDanBowen

After that I began to help with the collection of sediments that will be analyzed for their carbon content. I worked off the “Chetleo” from VIU to collect sub-tidal samples and also collected sediment cores in inter-tidal areas.

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I have also been creating field equipment, such as quadrats and a plumb line, that will be used for our field work in the coming weeks.

Russell PrenticeProject Watershed Pacific Institute for Climate Studies Intern

Blue Carbon Pilot Project in Comox Valley Getting Attention

CVRecord-genericfeaturedimageBy  Mandy Larade – Comox Valley Recordposted Apr 9, 2014 at 4:00 PM

A letter of federal recognition was given to the Comox Valley Project Watershed Society on the Blue Carbon Pilot Project from federal Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq.

“Your organization’s contribution is an essential part of the environmental agenda. I wish the Comox Valley Project Watershed Society every success in carrying out this important initiative for a healthy environment,” writes the minister.

In March, the Blue Carbon Pilot Project received $230,000 through the North American Partnership for Environmental Community Action (NAPECA) grant program of the Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC). They also accepted a $10,000 grant from the Pacific Institute of Climate Solutions to hire a student summer intern from a university — a first for the Blue Carbon Pilot Project.

Paul Horgen, chair of the board of the Comox Valley Project Watershed Society, is pleased with the minister’s recognition of the initiative, and hopes that both local and federal politicians will give ear to the cause. “I want to encourage politicians who don’t think about it to think about it,” Horgen says.

The Blue Carbon Pilot Project’s overall objective is to reduce the amounts of carbon dioxide damage in the environment, which is predicted to reduce climate change. The main goals include growing the estuarine habitat, restoring shorelines, and fostering a community understanding and action about the issue.

In total, British Columbia has 27, 200 kilometres of shoreline and 422 estuaries. Coastal vegetation such as marshes and seagrasses are incredibly efficient at absorbing and storing the carbon dioxide. The carbon stored within these aquatic environments is known as blue carbon.

Eelgrass, also known as Zostera marina, is one of the seagrasses that is able to hold the carbon. The education, preservation and expansion of eelgrass growth is a key component to the success of the project.

One of the next steps for the Blue Carbon Pilot Project is to figure out how to measure the carbon in these aquatic environments. “We need to measure what’s in the current sediments now, and take samples from a non-eelgrass location and an eelgrass location to measure the carbon,” Horgen says.

Comox Valley MLA Don McRae is excited to have project based in the Comox Valley, and believes that it will go beyond the local shorelines. “The project has a huge benefit to the Comox Valley, and potentially up and down the coast of North America,” McRae says. McRae notes that there are always environmental issues for local politicians to address in their communities, and that this one is well worth the time. “It’s a brilliant idea.”

In the meantime, the Comox Valley Project Watershed Society is waiting to hear back from other grant applications. Horgen says that once the amount of funding is known, then they can move forward in searching for the proper amount of volunteers and workers needed. “That’s one of the things I think is often not really well understood, is that stewardship groups bring volunteers and tourists in, and are providing economic input to the Comox Valley,” Horgen adds.

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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