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Project Watershed plants eelgrass in Comox waters

Jim Gillis (Comox Valley Regional District - Director Area B) – tying eelgrass - Submitted
Jim Gillis (Comox Valley Regional District - Director Area B) – tying eelgrass
— image credit: Submitted

Project Watershed, as part of their Blue Carbon efforts and habitat restoration activities, collected 2,500 donor eelgrass shoots and then transplanted them into an area devoid of eelgrass off Port Augusta Park in the Town of Comox.  These restorations provide habitat for migrating fish and other wildlife as well as increasing the blue carbon sink in our estuary.

The effort involved Project Watershed staff and nearly a dozen volunteers during the low tide on Aug. 8-9.

“These donor and transplant locations are part of our research sites and will be monitored for carbon sequestration over the next five years”, said Christine Hodgson, lead scientist for the project.

“We have taken core sediment samples at various locations and this particular location that we planted was barren,” added Paul Horgen, chair of Project Watershed.

Future measurements will give an indication of how much carbon dioxide is being removed by this newly planted site. During this restoration effort intertidal eelgrass, which is the eelgrass seen at low tide right at the tide line, was re-established. Later this month more intertidal and some subtidal eelgrass will be planted. Divers will be involved with the subtidal efforts. Funding for the project is from The Council for Environmental Cooperation a three-country partnership of Canada, the United States and Mexico and from the Pacific Salmon Foundation.

Nearly 6,000 square metres of eelgrass has been restored during the summers of 2013 and 2014. At a recent Fisheries and Oceans workshop in Ladysmith a few weeks ago, it was reported by the contractor who sub-contracted with Project Watershed for the eelgrass planted last year that we have a 95 per cent success rate.

Horgen extended invitations to the mayor and council of Comox to come and observe the eelgrass collection and transplanting. While Mayor Ives had a prior commitment, Councillors Price and Fletcher attended the restoration activity.

Additional eelgrass work is planned for later in the month and in September. And Project Watershed will soon initiate salt marsh shoreline restorations later this month and in September.   Anyone wishing to be a volunteer on these projects please call Project Watershed at 250-703-2871.

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