Biologist Brian Koval stands in front of the section of Colquitz Creek that will undergo restoration in and around the water this month in Copley East Park. The public is invited to enlist as volunteers for the project, an initiative of the Peninsula Streams Society and the District of Saanich. (Photo by Rebecca Koval)

Fish habitat enhancement champions set to start next project in Saanich

The latest stage of restorations to Colquitz Creek runs Aug. 4 to 14

Making further improvements to in-stream habitat for coho salmon and cutthroat is a key element of a new project getting underway on a section of the Colquitz Creek in Copley East Park in Saanich.

But giving the community further opportunities to be a part of that work is equally important, says biologist Brian Koval, who is overseeing the project for the Peninsula Streams Society alongside fellow biologist David Clough.

“It’s a location that has been kind of loved to death,” Koval says, noting that many visitors enjoy spending time at the creek’s edge, even doing yoga in this forested area in the Northridge neighbourhood. “But [the activity has] trampled the ground to the point where plants can’t regrow.”

The project, being undertaken on an 80-metre section of creek downstream from where restoration work was done last year, includes various elements.

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The in-stream habitat will be restored by adding new rock crests with spawning gravel, and anchoring large rocks and woody debris to provide protection against erosion for the stream banks. Compacted clay soil will be broken up, and healthy, clean soil will be added to allow native plants to grow, a further buffer against erosion. The newly planted area will be protected with a split rail fence, to be installed between the trail and the creek.

The plants will not only help decrease contaminants from entering the creek, Koval says, bugs on the plants fall into the water, providing a food source for young salmon fry.

While there are technical aspects to the project, Koval says neighbourhood volunteers will be welcomed to help with planting and other labour-intensive duties.

“We’ve gone door to door handing out brochures that let people know about the importance of project, and to encourage them to become part of the project,” he says.

RELATED STORY: Peninsula Streams Society to restore 120 metres of Colquitz Watershed

The combination of last year and this year’s projects will provide roughly 200 metres of continuous, high-quality habitat for salmon. While it may not rival Goldstream Park for a salmon spawning spectacle this fall, it still gives residents and children a chance to see nature in action, right in their own backyard, Koval says.

Access to this area of the park will be restricted during the restoration work, which is scheduled to run through Aug. 14.

The 2020 project is a partnership between the society, the District of Saanich, Pacific Salmon Foundation and the Freshwater Fisheries Society of B.C. For more information on the Peninsula Streams Society and their projects, or to financially support their projects around Greater Victoria, visit peninsulastreams.ca.

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