French Creek is suffering from 100 years of logging and other human impact, which The Friends of French Creek Conservation Society has been working to counteract.
“It’s a very sick creek,” said Robin Robinson, of the group which is being recognized next week by Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s Salmonid Enhancement Program for 10 years of important work.
Robin and co-founder husband Sandy explained that one of the main impacts of human activity — including things like ditches efficiently moving the water toward the sea — is to speed up the water.
Rather than seeping into the ground and slowly being released into the stream throughout the year, more water now rushes through in the winter, while crucial summer flows have decreased.
“It used to be that 80 per cent of the precipitation went into the soil and 20 per cent went as creek flow,” Robin said, “but now that’s literally reversed.”
This means the water is scouring the creek, changing the topography, making the bottom flatter and providing less habitat for all kinds of plants and animals.
This is further complicated by the spread of the invasive giant hog weed in the area, which chokes out other more useful trees and plants, but has shallow roots that don’t help with things like bank stabilization.
“This (award) recognizes we’ve been doing good work for years, it’s a nice honour and an important thing for the volunteers, but it doesn’t accelerate our work,” Robin said of the totally-volunteer organization.
“It’s good for the public to hear about it because nobody knows.”
The public is invited to a ceremony at Oceanside Place today, August 2 at 4 p.m. The Robinsons will perform the ceremony and thanked the Regional District of Nanaimo for use of the space.
Watch The NEWS for more on French Creek and local salmon issues in the near future.