Re-planting Annie Creek
Through our collaboration with Trout Unlimited Canada and Vancouver Island University, a program was initiated called the Nile Creek – Qualicum Bay Watershed Renewal Program. Through this program, data collection and assessments on all our local streams has been done over the last five years by biologist, Marc Gaboury, and university fisheries students.
Fish access projects have been an outcome of this program on several of our streams; most recently, Annie Creek.
With the help of BC Ministry of Transportation’s Sean Wong, construction of two rock riffles downstream of the highway culvert crossing was undertaken to address the impediment of upstream migrating juvenile salmonids and, possibly, Cutthroat Trout and Coho during low water flows.
Because of the necessity of stripping large amounts of vegetation during the construction, a group of NCES volunteers, with the help of some local businesses, set out to re-establish the natural setting by replanting the bank with native ferns, shrubs and trees.
On October 9th, this group of volunteers gathered at the site under the direction of Richard Wahlgren, member and owner of Streamside Native Plants.
Most difficult was the removal of a non-native, invasive species, such as Himalayan Blackberry, and a well-established creeping groundcover. The volunteers carefully removed and bagged these plants for disposal.
With Richard’s help, a variety of young trees, ferns and shrubs, including Sword Fern, Big-Leaf Maple and Salal were “sited” for optimum spacing to maximize the growing conditions of the area; the amount of moisture, sun or shade, soil type and proximity to the creek. Soil was loosened and amended, holes were dug, and the native species were planted.
Although it takes time for a new planting to establish, success will be evident when you can pass by and see it blending again with the surrounding area, affording habitat for birds and animals and shade for the fish in the creek.
Many thanks to the volunteers who came out to plant: Ken Traynor, Susie Parkin, Mario and Aaron Mauro, Diane Nichol, Jack and Lynn Gillen and VIU students Jordan Brooks, and Bruce Keizer. This restoration project was aided by the continued support of local businesses, Streamside Native Plants, Lighthouse Feed and Garden and Bowser Builders’ Supply.
Nile Creek Enhancement Society (NCES) recently teamed up with Bear Smart BC and placed a bear-resistant public waste container at the Nile Creek Fish Hatchery!
Bears are attracted to the area when the fish are spawning, feeding on the salmon and carrying them into the forest, leaving the remaining parts to fertilize the trees and provide food for other species.
The danger to humans is when garbage is left, drawing the bears to areas frequented by local residents like the hatchery and the hiking trails, to prowl through garbage for food waste.
Protect public safety and protect our wildlife, please use only bear-resistant containers for your garbage or dispose of it when you get home.
Thank you for keeping bears wild!
Fall 2014 Fish Count
As of this writing, September 1st, Nile Creek is heavily populated with returning Pink salmon and has been since late July when those early arrivals made their first appearance. In spite of low water levels, new fish continue to arrive and, by all accounts, 2014 will be the year for a record setting return of Pinks.
Campbell River uses swimmers and a fish net to count the returns and have done so for many years. They are reporting an estimated return of 1.5 million Pinks vs. last year’s record return of 1 million fish. Good news for sports and commercial fisherman, and for those who just love fresh and smoked fish.
The fish in Nile Creek have never been officially counted, so there is no historical data on returns. However, a number of NCES volunteers are game to start the practice.
So, how do you count fish that are perpetually in motion, and where water levels, turbidity, challenging terrain and hungry predators all conspire to make the task difficult, if not impossible?
The two kilometre length of the Nile creek, plus the one kilometre side channel, have been divided into manageable segments. Volunteers will walk the specified segments of the creek at regular intervals, counting both live and dead fish before, during and after the spawning period. The count began August 23rd and will be counted weekly through the peak mid-September spawning period and until the end of spawning in late September.
DFO (Department of Fisheries & Oceans) encourages community groups to participate in stream walks and provides instruction on best practises and safety, as well as supplying a Stream Inspection Log (SIL) to record the required data in a comprehensive and consistent format. Data captured from the Nile Creek 2014 fish count will be entered into the DFO salmon escapement database and can be used for year over year comparisons. Over a period of time, the data creates a picture of Nile Creek Pink salmon returns and will provide the basis for a “Relative Index of Abundance”.
Although counting fish is not an exact science and all projected returns are estimates, the importance of having the numbers cannot be overstated, as they provide early warning of changes in fish return trends and will help to ensure the continuation of this commercial, sport and gourmet bonanza.
Nile Creek Enhancement Society wishes to thank our dedicated volunteers: Bob Ellis, Ken Traynor, Corley Henry, Bob Niedermayer and Jack Gillen.
Thanks also to Dave Davies and David O’Brien, DFO for their assistance and support.