The Cowichan Estuary Nature Centre will engage youth to restore plant habitat in the Cowichan and Koksilah watersheds. Early this spring this youth group participated in a restoration project in the Cowichan Estuary’s salt marsh. (submitted)

3 Cowichan salmon projects get $7,400 grants

The funds came from the Pacific Salmon Foundation’s Community Salmon Program

Pacific Salmon Foundation announced it contributed more than $7,400 for three wild salmon restoration projects in Duncan last summer. The funds came from the Foundation’s Community Salmon Program and were underwritten by Mosaic Forest Management, the timberland manager for TimberWest and Island Timberlands.

“The volunteers and First Nations groups we support in Duncan have worked tirelessly to restore and protect the Cowichan and Koksilah — two important salmon rivers,” said Michael Meneer, president and CEO of the Foundation. “Both watersheds support Chinook, Coho, Chum, Steelhead and Cutthroat trout, along with numerous species of wildlife. But, like many other salmon watersheds, climate change is posing an increasing challenge to salmon there.”

The Cowichan and Koksilah watersheds, and the estuary where they meet, are experiencing more and more frequent droughts intensified by our changing climate.

“Droughts can now stretch from the spring into fall, resulting in longer periods of reduced water flows, higher water temperatures, and more frequent stranding of salmon fry in pools cut off from their rivers,” said Jane Kilthei, a volunteer with the Cowichan Estuary Nature Centre. Kilthei is leading efforts on a project this summer to restore riverside plant habitat with support from the Foundation and Mosaic.

Adds Kilthei “We’re bringing teams of young people together, supported by restoration biologists and local volunteers, to restore plant habitat in both watersheds. The restoration work will provide increased shade, cooler waters, help stabilize banks and support food sources throughout their life cycles in the rivers. It will also give local youth an opportunity to make a concrete difference while gaining team building and leadership skills.”

“Community-based groups, like the Cowichan Estuary Nature Centre are undertaking highly effective salmon conservation and habitat rehabilitation work. Together with the Pacific Salmon Foundation, we’re proud to support these groups to improve the health and vitality of our rivers and forests,” said Jeff Zweig, president and CEO of Mosaic Forest Management, which has contributed more than $1 million over the past two decades for salmon habitat conservation projects on Vancouver Island.

Two other projects in Duncan also received funding. The Somenos Marsh Wildlife Society is collaborating with Cowichan Tribes to monitor water quality for salmon in Somenos Lake and Somenos Creek. In the second project, students from Quamichan Secondary will participate in the Stream to Sea education program raising salmon from egg to fry stage in classroom aquariums, and then releasing them into nearby streams.

The Community Salmon Program is largely supported through fees from the Salmon Conservation Stamp which is affixed to tidal fishing licences and required to retain Pacific salmon species in B.C.

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