A screenshot depicting the Shelly Creek watershed. The watershed itself is outlined in white and blue line in the middle signifies the creek. (Submitted photo)

A screenshot depicting the Shelly Creek watershed. The watershed itself is outlined in white and blue line in the middle signifies the creek. (Submitted photo)

Mid Vancouver Island Habitat Enhancement Society to conduct two projects and mail out surverys in Parksville

Vice-president: ‘I have some good news, some bad news, and some really ugly news about Shelly Creek’

An organization dedicated to the recovery of wild Pacific salmon will be busy at work in Parksville over the coming months.

The Mid Vancouver Island Habitat Enhancement Society (MVIHES) went before Parksville city council on May 3 to present upcoming projects in 2021 that focus on the Shelly Creek watershed.

As per the organization’s website, Shelly Creek drains from the base of Little Mountain in Parksville and flows northeast into the Englishman River. The stream channel is approximately 6.5 kilometres long, draining a watershed area of approximately five square kilometers.

The president of MVIHES, Barbara Riordan, and vice-president, Peter Law, introduced MVIHES as a charitable society dedicated to the recovery of wild Pacific salmon through the conservation and restoration of their habitat, including watersheds, estuaries and shorelines.

“Today I have some good news, some bad news, and some really ugly news about Shelly Creek,” said Law. “The good news is the creek provides a limited but valuable habitat for coho and trout populations. The bad news is the water quality in the fall, specifically its turbidity values [the cloudiness of a fluid caused by individual particles that are usually invisible to the naked eye] are the highest in Oceanside. The ugly news is that the stream is suffering from wildly fluctuating annual flows, almost drying up in the winter time.”

READ MORE: VIDEO: MVIHES counting cohos in Parksville creek

Law said, as indicated in a water balance study conducted by an engineer with 35 years of rainwater management, the natural water balance had been altered by land development.

In order to further ease and prevent issues, the organization plans to conduct several projects within the City of Parksville.

In May, MVIHES and a VIU research team will mail surveys to 175 households along upper Corfield Street and Butler Avenue, to ask homeowners about their awareness of the issues facing Shelly Creek and advise on how they can help.

In August, they plan to conduct another study at Shelly Farm, an area popularly used as a rearing habitat for coho salmon smolts and trout juveniles. For this project, they’ve received a grant from the Pacific Salmon Foundation for $22,200.

Later this year, in the late summer to early fall, volunteers will engage with local Shelly Creek Park area homeowners at pop-up tent sessions and advise on how they could help design and implement rainwater projects on their property.

MVIHES will also support a VIU biology student in a trout migration study in Shelly Creek starting in the summer. The trout will be tagged, then tracked by an antenna that the organization hopes to install in Shelly Park north.

mandy.moraes@pqbnews.com

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