Special to the Record
Streamkeeper volunteers and local biologists have long known about the Morrison Creek headwater’s “secret sauce.”
With a new campaign to acquire the 289-hectare area for conservation, the wider world is learning about it too.
The Comox Valley Land Trust, in partnership with the BC Parks Foundation, has been leading a campaign to purchase the headwaters so that it is preserved from logging and development forever. A large federal grant kickstarted the process, with the BC Parks Foundation and other granting agencies stepping in to raise most of the project cost of $4.75 million. A crowdfunding campaign was launched in November to raise the remaining 20 per cent of the funds.
Groundwater is the headwater’s secret. All year round, springs bubble out of the ground to feed extensive wetlands and small waterways. This fall, while the rest of coastal B.C. was feeling the effects of an extended drought, Morrison Creek’s flow was unaffected. Not only do these cool, spring-fed waters provide the best salmon habitat of its kind on eastern Vancouver Island, they also support a species found nowhere else: the Morrison Creek lamprey. This ancient, eel-like fish has evolved into a completely new species here and has captured media attention across the country.
The Morrison headwaters are nestled between Courtenay and Cumberland in the traditional territory of the K’omoks First Nation. Twenty-two hectares of the headwaters were purchased for protection in 2019, and this area was renamed “qax mot” or “lots of medicine,” for its abundance of medicinal plants. This enclave is also home to wildlife including elk, cougars, pine martens, beavers, bears, and the occasional wolf.
Comox Valley residents and donors from outside the Valley have been stepping up and have now raised 80 per cent of the remaining funds required. If the momentum continues to grow around the crowdfunding campaign, children and future generations will get a great Christmas present this year. Donations are still being received through the CVLT website at www.cvlandtrust.ca.