Eelgrass Restoration and Stewardship
2005 – 2006
It has been very busy these last few weeks! Approximately 60 volunteers came out over the April 29th weekend to help plant eelgrass. In fact we were so successful over the two days with many additional hands and help from Shawnigan Lake School, Frances Kelsey High School, Queen Margaret’s and the Sunrise Waldorf School that we exceeded our target of 2500 by transplanting over 3000 eelgrass shoots. This is amazing as each shoot has to be individually tied with a washer weight and then planted by divers!!
It is wonderful to see these young students coming out on a very rainy Saturday to help with this project!
We held a Streamkeepers course on Speirs Creek in Cowichan Bay and had 15 participants join us for the two days of classroom and field study. The last Streamkeepers course held on Treffery Creek resulted in the Young Naturalists Streamkeepers, aged between 12 and 19, regularly monitoring Treffery Creek for water quality, quantity and fish presence. If you would like more information on the Young Naturalists Streamkeepers please give me a call at the office, 746-0227, or contact John Scull or Linda Hill at 746-6141.
We will be undertaking another eelgrass transplant early this summer and another Streamkeeper Course in early fall. Dates will be posted as soon as they are confirmed.
Thanks to everyone for all your support! And if you couldn’t make it this time we hope to see you next time…
Good news! Our Eelgrass transplants from last year are surviving and multiplying! We were out in March checking on their progress and have found that 2 sites have increased by 70-80% which is a great success. The other 2 sites weren’t found but in September they were being used as forage by the swans. I think we planted a buffet for them in that area!
Now we have confirmed that eelgrass will thrive in the selected sites we are starting up another round of eelgrass restoration.
We are looking at the last weekend in April – the 29th and 30th for the transplant dates – divers will be harvesting shoots on Friday in preparation for the Saturday land volunteers. We will need many hands on land to tie the shoots with their weights and 2-3 buddy pairs of divers for harvesting and planting on both days.
To help us organize this larger transplant I hope to meet with our volunteers from last year to get some suggestions as to how to make this transplant more efficient. As well, I would like to invite anyone who wasn’t available last year but is interested in helping out with this transplant to join us in the planning stage.
The planning meeting is set for Wednesday, April 19th at 7pm. Please RSVP so I know whether we can meet at the CCLT office or if a larger space is needed.
Thanks to all for your continued support – we couldn’t do it without you.
The Eelgrass Restoration Project has been busy through the summer. There is quite a bit of area in the Cowichan Bay void of eelgrass. The historical record gathered from long term residents and users of the Bay tell us that most of the bay was rich with eelgrass. One site in particular, off Kneipson Rd was referred to as “the garden”. This location was once a popular site for crabbing, now barren of all eelgrass, and home to crabs that do not taste as good.
Restoring eelgrass is not quite as simple as one may think. The CCLT had to call in a team of eelgrass experts, Cynthia Durance from Precision Identification, and Nikki Wright from SeaChange.
With their help, the CCLT, and many great volunteers attended two workshops on July 23 and July 31, receiving training in eelgrass site assessment and transplant methodology. The days were hands-on as volunteers harvested, prepared, and transplanted 400 eelgrass shoots. SCUBA divers gently pulled shoots from the donor bed, located around the boat launch ramp in Cowichan Bay. The shoots were then individually anchored and transported across the bay, to two different barren sites. These transplant sites are located between the terminal and the closest log boom, and the second one between the last log boom and the shore off Kneipson Rd. Two groups of 100 plants were transplanted at each of these two sites, testing the ability to support eelgrass growth again. If all goes well a large transplant will take place in the spring.
The CCLT could not have done this without the help and dedication of our volunteers. Thank you all for giving us part of your weekends to help preserve and enhance eelgrass beds in the Cowichan Bay. Stay tuned for a date to revisit the transplants, and a link to the Community Mapping Network illustrating eelgrass in the Cowichan Bay.
Partners and Community Support for the Eelgrass Project include:
- Cowichan Valley Naturalists Society (CVNS)
- Tom Rutherford, Community Advisor, DFO
- Public Conservation Assistance Fund
- Rob Russell, Habitat Biologist, DFO
- Seagrass Conservation Working Group
- Duncan Divers
- Dr. Bill Austin, Khoyatan Marine Laboratory
- Cowichan Bay Kayak and Paddlesports
- Pacific Water Sports, Cowichan Bay
- Cowichan Tribes
- Cowichan River Stewardship Roundtable
- Peter Law, Ecosystem Biologist, MoE
- Cowichan Valley Regional District
- Cowichan Bay Improvement Association
- Cowichan Estuary Preservation Society
- Young Naturalists Streamkeepers
- Environmental Club, Frances Kelsey High School
- Environmental Club, Shawnigan Lake School
- Queen Margaret School Streamkeepers
- Koksilah School Streamkeepers
- CVRD Electoral Area D (Cowichan Bay) Parks and Recreation Commission