Some fish are released into Arden Creek by a volunteer. Photo supplied

Some fish are released into Arden Creek by a volunteer. Photo supplied

Courtenay stream restoration project nearing completion

The final touches will be added this fall to a stream restoration project, undertaken over the summer in Arden Creek, a tributary of Morrison Creek.

Arden Creek flows from Arden Elementary, under Lake Trail Road, below Lake Trail School, along the wooded area in the back of the school fields, and joins Morrison Creek at Ecole Puntledge Park Elementary. During settlement and school building, Arden Creek was diverted into a straight dug channel.

“Arden Creek is habitat for salmonids: pink, coho and chum salmon, as well as cutthroat trout,” said local streamkeeper Jim Palmer. “It is also home for signal crayfish, other stream invertebrates, and a unique species of lamprey. The life in this small creek thrives thanks to a reliable flow of cool water through our increasingly hot summers, but this stream needed help.”

The restoration project involved placing boulders, cobble, gravel, stumps and logs to create habitat features in the creek. The features were placed by an excavator in some two dozen locations, either alternately on either side of the stream banks to pinch the stream channel, or spanning the channel to create riffles, small rock “water slides.” The pinching of the creek and the riffles increase water velocity, adding oxygen to the water and flushing silt from the stream bed, exposing clean gravel to provide spawning areas for both salmon and the Morrison Creek lamprey, a population of lamprey unique to the Morrison Creek watershed. Upstream of the riffles, pools are created that provide habitat for trout.

The Morrison Creek Streamkeepers initiated the project, with funding from the Pacific Salmon Foundation, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, School District 71 and BC Hydro’s Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program. Professional expertise was provided by Current Environmental, Fundy Aqua Services, Northwest Hydraulics and Jake Shephard Contracting. Community volunteers assisted daily by collecting fish and other creatures, moving them to safety, away from the day’s work area.

“I really enjoyed the people I volunteered with, the learning I did and of course seeing the wonders of what Mother Nature does,” said volunteer, Colleen Hanley. “I saw some pink salmon way up in the creek – so special to know the waterway is more friendly and accommodating for them after the work done.”

In addition to instream work, a new trail, away from the stream channel, was built between Lake Trail School and Ecole Puntledge Park. Rail fencing has been installed along the creek to protect the riparian area from wandering feet. Students and volunteers will plant the riparian area for the final phase of the project. For more information on the project please contact Morrison Creek Streamkeepers at morrisoncreek.org/

ALSO: Tsolum River Restoration Society volunteers busy rescuing stranded salmon smolts

Comox ValleyNature