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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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Children’s Author Makes Donation to Project Watershed

Paul Horgen, author of the children’s book Tales of Kona the Guide Dog and board chair of Comox Valley Project Watershed Society is pleased to present the society with a $500 donation from the proceeds of book sales. This fun and colourful book chronicles the life and times of Paul’s lovely guide dog Kona. Kona narrates the book, telling her story to children, parents, teachers and grandparents.

TalesofKona-donationpressrelease

Photo caption: Paul Horgen presents Project Watershed’s Estuary Coordinator, Jennifer Sutherst with a cheque for $500.00.

“The book was published in early December and marketed locally in the valley. It has done very well, and I am so happy to make this first donation to Project Watershed. I have pledged to contribute a portion of the profits to my two favourite charities, Project Watershed and BC and Alberta Guide Dog Services, and I am hoping that this donation will be the first of many,” says Horgen. This donation has been earmarked for Project Watershed’s “Keeping It Living” art fundraising campaign, which runs from May 12 – 31 at the Pearl Ellis gallery.

Anyone wishing to order the book can do so online at talesofkona.com or email talesofkona@gmail.com. A reading of the book will be held at the Comox Library on Monday, March 30. Children will have an opportunity to meet Kona at work and at play.

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*Read this article in the Comox Valley Echo at – http://www.comoxvalleyecho.com/news/community/children-s-author-makes-donation-to-project-watershed-1.1809861

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.

Climate change could increase estuary flooding

Image Credit: Contributed – In the spring of 2012, residents along the Dyke Road were evacuated by the RCMP due to flooding. This was how things looked in front of the old cement tower.

Contributed – Comox Valley Recordposted Oct 15, 2014 at 1:00 PM

Today’s coastal areas face an unprecedented challenge, struggling to cope and adapt in the midst of a changing climate.

In coastal areas, the consequences of climate change are already evident, with global sea-levels rising 10 to 25 cm over the last century. By 2100, this number is expected to increase anywhere from 0.5 to 1.4 meters above the 1990 level. Increased incidence and severity of coastal storms are also predicted to result from warming oceans and weather anomalies.

Coastal zones such as estuaries, are particularly vulnerable to sea-level rise and enhanced storms, facing serious impacts including: (1) inundation and displacement of wetlands and lowlands; (2) increased coastal erosion; (3) increased coastal storm flooding; and (4) salination.

Flooding incidents

The last five years have been amongst the warmest ever recorded on earth.  In the Comox Valley we have had several flooding incidents and a few near disasters. Widespread human development and industrial activity over the last half century, a working saw mill, (log booming, etc.) further compromised the coastal system’s natural integrity, simultaneously augmenting erosion and forfeiting inherent resiliency.

Project Watershed and the Estuary Working Group has been focusing on shorelines and climate adaptation.  “Beginning this year, and for the next several years, we are going to focus on salt marsh shoreline areas,” commented Dan Bowen, technical director.  This, in conjunction with our intertidal and sub-tidal eelgrass restoration, provides shoreline protection (climate adaptation) and removes the greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide, from the atmosphere.  “The basis of this protection is simple,” says Paul Horgen, board chair of Project Watershed.  “The eelgrass and salt marsh vegetation provides a physical barrier against surges.”

2010 warmest year

Including 2013, nine of the 10 warmest years in the 134 year period of record keeping have occurred in the 21st century. Only one year during the 20th century—1998—was warmer than 2013.  And 2010 was the warmest year on record.

What could this mean for the Comox Valley?  A completely logical conclusion would be more frequent incidents of flooding.  In which case we brace ourselves for more frequent events of the type observed in the winter of 2010 and spring of 2012 when residents along the Dyke Road were evacuated by the RCMP (see photo).

Co-operation and collaboration between governments whose jurisdiction includes our estuary seems like a logical part of a solution that should involve planning and uniform standards.  Governments and stewardship groups need to co-operate and work together.

Which candidates running for local governments will put this important issue high on their election platforms?

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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

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.