Volunteers Plant 200+ Trees, Shrubs!

Final Phase of Channel Enhancement Project at old Brooklyn Creek Elementary School Site Completed.

Brooklyn Creek Volunteers November 2017. Photo by R. Wong

The final phase of a three-year project was completed on November 12, 2017 with sixteen hardy volunteers planting over 200 trees and shrubs along the banks of the expanded off-channel pond.

BCWS has worked with Town of Comox and Current Environmental over the past three years on the Brooklyn Creek Channel Enhancement Project. The opportunity came about when the Comox Valley School District sold the Brooklyn Elementary School property to the Phil and Jennie Gaglardi Academy in 2013. The Town of Comox acquired a corridor along the border of this property with the intent to turn the space into a restored municipal greenway and to improve fish habitat in the creek. The mainstem of Brooklyn Creek flows through the western section of this property. This reach was straightened in the 1960s to gain more land for school development and a wetland area to the south of the property was drained to create playing fields. In 2015, a first phase of restoration reestablished a meandering channel pattern with pool / riffle sequences and large woody debris structures.

The next phase of restoration involved constructing a 60-meter long off-channel pond along the southern border of the school property and connecting it to the Brooklyn Creek mainstem via a 75-metre channel. The pond was constructed in 2016 in the location of a wetland which was historically drained for a school playing field. The connection channel and off-channel pond added over 600 square meters of off-channel juvenile salmonid rearing habitat.

The third and final phase of the project was carried out in 2017 with the installation of a connection to a ground water spring located in the Northeast corner of the school property and extension of the off-channel pond. The goal of this final phase is to augment water flow into Brooklyn Creek and increase rearing habitat for cutthroat trout and coho fry. The plantings help stabilize the banks and provide shade in the summer months. Current Environmental Ltd. coordinated all activities associated with this project. The Town of Comox provided compost and mulch, as well as extra shovels and wheelbarrows.

 

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Smolt Count 2017 Results

Water “fence” directs fish into the counting box.

The Brooklyn Creek Watershed Society (BCWS) 2017 Coho smolt count was completed June 3 with the help of 49 local volunteers.  Each day between April 12 and June 3 two or three volunteers counted and released the fish near the mouth of the creek.

Though the primary goal is to monitor Coho salmon smolts, data is also collected for Coho fry, Chum fry, Cutthroat trout, Stickleback, Sculpin and Crayfish. The Coho salmon smolts (about 9-15 cm long) have spent slightly over a year in the creek and are now going to the ocean.  At this stage they are called smolts and have changed colour to silver to enhance their survival in the ocean. Click to download the PDF report: 2017 Smolt Fence Data Final

Volunteers are the ones that get the job done!

Over the past 10 years BCWS has initiated a number of habitat improvement projects along with the help of the town of Comox, Pacific Salmon Foundation and several other grantors and the labour of local volunteers.

In the past three years the numbers counted increased substantially (3457, 3137, 3346) over previous years. This year volunteers counted 2434 Coho smolts. The reduced numbers may have been influenced by the later start this year (April 12) compared to 2016 (April 3) or rainfall patterns which determine flow levels in the creek. It is expected that numbers will fluctuate due to many factors including survival rates of eggs and fry and the impact of urban residents in the watershed.

A great job done by the many volunteers, rain or shine!

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