Woodstream Park receives some TLC

NANAIMO – Fish habitat improvement, new trees and shoreline erosion prevention all part of a partnership to revitalize ecosystem.

At first glance, there doesn’t appear to be much life in Departure Creek near Woodstream Park.

Look a little closer – maybe under some rocks, along the shore under some branches or near some submerged or logs – and you’ll find crayfish, good-sized cutthroat trout, coho fry and many other aquatic creatures working hard to survive.

Last year, a run of about 150 pink salmon returned to the river to spawn for the first time in recent memory.

It hasn’t always been this way. For decades, Departure Creek was devoid of most aquatic life due to development, pollution and a general misunderstanding of the ecosystem. A small dam, detrimental to fish movement in the stream, was removed last year as a first step to improving the stream.

A partnership of the Pacific Salmon Foundation, Harbour City River Stewards, DFO, and the city is working to ensure the stream once again is home to a thriving ecosystem for generations to come.

“The stream is still under stress,” said Jean Michel Hanssens, spokesman for the Harbour City River Stewards and project manager. “Our goal isn’t to necessarily attract any specific type of fish. It’s to restore the habitat overall and provide a healthy environment for all species here, including the vegetation along the shoreline and other animals.”

Recently, an otter was spotted along the creek, as well as two barred owls.

“They’re signs it’s getting healthier. We’re here to help that along,” said Hanssens.

On Thursday afternoon, work began to further improve fish habitat on the lower part of the creek, just below the bridge at the Woodstream Park entrance.

Project biologist Jeramy Damborg of the B.C. Conservation Foundation, third year Vancouver Island University biologist Katie Davidson and Hanssens were pole seining the lower part of the creek to trap fish and relocate them to areas higher up the stream bed, away from areas where work will take place.

That will enable the team to prepare for a habitat enhancement project that will include the construction of rock grade control riffles, improved spawning gravel and the introduction of more habitat, such as large woody debris and more rocks, similar to the salmon channel at Bowen Park but on a smaller scale.

The restoration project is a shared goal of both the city and the Departure Bay Neighborhood Association and is outlined in each organization’s respective official plans. In an effort to reduce shoreline erosion and encourage plant life along the shore, the DBNA has planted several saplings and, in partnership with the city, erected a split rail in Woodstream Park to discourage further shoreline erosion.

“We want to make the park still as accessible as possible but at the same time, limit further damage,” said Hanssens. “Everything is tied together. Vegetation, water quality and habitat all have to work together to result in revitalization.”

As part of the project, city crews will temporarily divert the lower part of the stream and excavate as much of the sediment as possible that has collected over time, replacing it with spawning gravel.

A VIU team will assess water quality, and DFO is funding a coho fry survey, performed by biologist Charles Thirkill, to establish base line data to assist in properly assessing and monitoring the salmonid population in the creek.

The immediate work is expected to be completed within the next week, in time for the pinks to return upstream again to spawn. But Hanssens said it is the beginning of a three-year process that will see Departure Creek rehabilitated as far upstream as possible.

“One of the reasons why many of us live here is because of resources like this,” he said. “It’s amazing we have places like this right in the middle of an urban centre, there aren’t many places that do. So it’s important to look after it, protect it and improve it not only for the ecosystem but for the neighbourhood that surrounds it.”

reporter2@nanaimobulletin.com

Just Posted

Nanaimo Fire Rescue crews on scene at a boat fire near the boat ramp at Long Lake on Sunday, June 20. (Greg Sakaki/News Bulletin)
Boat burns up on Nanaimo’s Long Lake, man and child unhurt

Jet skiers attempt to put out fire by circling around to spray water on burning boat

Nanaimo Track and Field Club athletes are off to a fast start this season after no competition last season due to the pandemic. (News Bulletin file photo)
Nanaimo athletes back on track, starting with club competitions

Nanaimo Track and Field Club registration filled up

A conceptual rendering of a commercial plaza at 1130 Rocky Creek Road. (Town of Ladysmith image)
Commercial plaza in north end of Ladysmith passes public hearing

Councillors debate proposed land use at 1130 Rocky Creek Rd.

The Nanaimo sign at Maffeo Sutton Park could be hazardous for children, says letter writer. (News Bulletin file photo)
LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Nanaimo sign will cause falls

Children can’t resist climbing on sign, says letter writer

John A. Read, who was inspired to leave his former career to become a professional astronomy by the purchase of a $13 telescope, will give beginning astronomers key pointers on how to set up and get the best performance from their instruments at Nanaimo Astronomy Society’s meeting June 24. (Photo courtesy Jennifer Read)
Astrophysicist will talk about getting the most out of a telescope at Nanaimo astronomy meeting

John Read’s purchase of a $13 telescope led to a degree in astrophysics and a career in astronomy

Robin Dutton, left, and Peter Sinclair are taking their mountain bikes and travelling down trails in the Mount Benson area June 19 as part of a 24-hour fundraiser benefiting Loaves and Fishes Community Food Bank. (Karl Yu/News Bulletin)
Full-day mountain bike fundraiser gives financial support for Nanaimo food bank

Event part of Loaves and Fishes Community Food Bank’s Food 4 Summer campaign

FILE – Most lanes remain closed at the Peace Arch border crossing into the U.S. from Canada, where the shared border has been closed for nonessential travel in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Thursday, May 7, 2020, in Blaine, Wash. The restrictions at the border took effect March 21, while allowing trade and other travel deemed essential to continue. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Feds to issue update on border measures for fully vaccinated Canadians, permanent residents

Border with U.S. to remain closed to most until at least July 21

A portion of the George Road wildfire burns near Lytton, B.C. in this Friday, June 18, 2021 handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, BC Wildfire Service *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Blaze near Lytton spread across steep terrain, says BC Wildfire Service

Fire began Wednesday and is suspected to be human-caused, but remains under investigation

Blair Lebsack, owner of RGE RD restaurant, poses for a portrait in the dining room, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. Canadian restaurants are having to find ways to deal with the rising cost of food. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Canadian restaurateurs grapple with rising food costs, menu prices expected to rise

Restaurants are a low margin industry, so there’s not a lot of room to work in additional costs

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
Fort St. John man arrested after allegedly inviting sexual touching from children

Two children reported the incident to a trusted adult right away

A Lotto 6/49 ticket purchased in Parksville for the June 19, 2021 draw is a $3M winner. (Submitted photo)
Winning Lotto 6/49 ticket worth $3M purchased on Vancouver Island

Lottery prize winners have 52 weeks to claim jackpot

Barbara Violo, pharmacist and owner of The Junction Chemist Pharmacy, draws up a dose behind vials of both Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines on the counter, in Toronto, Friday, June 18, 2021. An independent vaccine tracker website founded by a University of Saskatchewan student says just over 20 per cent of eligible Canadians — those 12 years old and above — are now fully vaccinated. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
At least 20% of eligible Canadians fully vaccinated, 75% with one dose: data

Earlier projections for reopening at this milestone didn’t include Delta variant

This undated file photo provided by Ernie Carswell & Partners shows the home featured in the opening and closing scenes of The Brady Bunch in Los Angeles. Do you know the occupation of Mike Brady, the father in this show about a blended family? (Anthony Barcelo/Ernie Carswell & Partners via AP, File)
QUIZ: A celebration of dad on Father’s Day

How much do you know about famous fathers?

Most Read