Don Castleden, Chair of Project Watershed’s Estuary Working Group presents the Keeping it Living award to Ken Derksen, from the Brooklyn Creek Watershed Society.
Project Watershed’s Keeping It Living Award was recently presented to the Brooklyn Creek Watershed Society. The Award, an original painting of the K’ómoks Estuary by noted local artist Bev Byerley, is presented annually to an organization in the Comox Valley in recognition of environmental leadership provided in protecting and restoring the K’ómoks Estuary and adjacent habitat.
The Brooklyn Creek Watershed Society was chosen by the Project Watershed’s Estuary Working Group in recognition of its contribution to restoring Brooklyn Creek, an important stream that runs through the Town of Comox, the City of Courtenay and the Comox Valley Regional District. Its headwaters originate at Crown Isle Golf Resort. A small tributary that originates in the Lannan Forest area upstream of Longlands Golf Course joins Brooklyn Creek extending the area drained by the creek. The creek runs for approximately 6 kms through two golf courses, large tracts of urban development, a farm, and two parks before empting into the K’ómoks Estuary near Mack Laing Park.
This past year, Brooklyn Creek Watershed volunteers completed the final phase of a three-year project, planting over 200 trees and shrubs along the banks of an expanded off-channel pond. The volunteers have worked with the Town of Comox over the past three years on enhancing the Brooklyn Creek Channel. In phase 1, they re-established a meandering channel pattern with pool and riffle sequences as well as large woody debris structures adjacent to Brooklyn Creek Elementary School. The construction of a 60-meter long off-channel pond along the southern border of the school property, connecting to the Brooklyn Creek main stem via a 75-metre channel was completed the following year. The pond was constructed in the location of a wetland which years earlier had been turned into a school playing field. The connection channel and off-channel pond added over 600 square meters of off-channel juvenile salmonid rearing habitat. The third and final phase of the project was carried by the Society in 2017 with the installation of a connection to a ground water spring located in the Northeast corner of the school property and extension of the off-channel pond. The goal of this final phase was to augment water flow into Brooklyn Creek, increasing rearing habitat for cutthroat trout and Coho fry. The Brooklyn Creek volunteers have begun monitoring Coho salmon smolts while also collecting data for Coho fry, Chum fry, Cutthroat trout, Stickleback, Sculpin and Crayfish. The monitoring indicates that, the number of Coho smolts have increased significantly in the past three years.
The work of the dedicated Brooklyn Creek Watershed volunteers adds a vital chapter to the widespread community effort to restore and protect watersheds and habitat that are part of our K’ómoks Estuary.