Courtenay and District Fish and Game members collect brood salmon stock from the Trent River. Photo courtesy BCWF

Courtenay and District Fish and Game members collect brood salmon stock from the Trent River. Photo courtesy BCWF

Courtenay and District Fish and Game making waves in Vancouver Island conservation

If you’ve ever driven along Colake Road, Comox-Strathcona way, you may have wondered about the small sign that says: Courtenay & District Fish & Game.

The Courtenay and District Fish and Game Protective Association is a large club with a long history in conservation and outdoor recreation. It has more than 2,500 members, 80 acres of land overlooking Comox Lake and the glacier, and extensive outdoor recreation facilities for all ages.

The club started in 1937 as a conservation club.

“Around 25 to 30 guys got together and put in $125 each to buy some property in Courtenay to work on local conservation,” Wayne White, chair of the club’s conservation committee, says in a BC Wildlife Federation press release. Eventually, selling that original Courtenay property meant they could purchase the property on Comox Lake.

The club’s conservation efforts are described as “outstanding.” Their approach to conservation and wildlife/fish management is based on scientific data, community education and boots-on-the-ground action.

The organization sponsors studies of fish populations and habitat in Comox Lake and the Puntledge River. It recently concluded a study of the kokanee population in Comox Lake. It has also received a five-year grant to continue its annual distribution of chum salmon carcasses into the upper watershed to replace nutrients that natural salmon runs would have provided before hydroelectric dams were built.

In 1979, the club built a fish hatchery on the Trent River, which has run successfully for 40-plus years. The club is now building a new, state-of-the-art hatchery. It works closely with BC Hydro to ensure migrating smolts can swim past their facilities by persuading BC Hydro to reduce power production in the Puntledge River facility during peak migration (February-May) of summer Chinook Salmon.

Fish and Game also contributes to local conservation initiatives. For instance, it donated $25,000 to the purchase of the Morrison Creek headwater (key for coho and pink salmon populations in the Puntledge), and $25,000 to the Cumberland Community Forest Society to “retire the working forest” for mountain bike trails.

Given five minutes with a politician, White would raise the issue of climate change, calling for increased riparian protection on streams to keep them cooler, and changes to private forest codes to ensure riparian areas are protected. “Vancouver Island has mainly private lands, and climate change is resulting in warmer/drier rivers and streams each summer, which deeply impacts fish populations,” he said.

If interested in joining the club, the next new member orientation is Tuesday, March 1.

For further inquiries, email the-office@courtenayfishandgame.org, or call (250) 338-0850.

Comox ValleyConservation

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