Photo Credit Hayley Datoo: Comox Valley Nature Kids at Kus-kus-sum with painted wooden salmon.
Project Watershed’s latest fundraising endeavor “Sponsor a Salmon at Kus-kus-sum” combines education and stewardship. Students from Queneesh, Arden, Brooklyn, Puntledge and Royston Schools have participated in estuary presentations given by staff and volunteers of Project Watershed. After one of the presentations, a student was heard commenting “I learned more than I even thought I would!” and a few teachers reported the same thing.
Most of those students have gone on, or will go on, a field trip to learn about the estuary and Kus-kus-sum first-hand. Project Watershed has also provided a group of parents and children from Comox Valley NatureKids with a field trip. Field trip activities have included beach seining, the salmon verses seals game, estuary walks, bird talks, water science, ancient fish trap building and salt marsh planting. Activity leaders have included Fisheries and Oceans staff, School District 71 staff and Project Watershed staff and volunteers.The Peninsula Co-op and the Comox Valley Regional District have funded the educational component of this project and the Peninsula Co-op funded the creation of the wooden salmon.
Inspired by their learning, the students have created written pieces and painted wooden salmon. The wooden salmon were cutout by volunteers in the Comox Valley and Campbell River. Community members are being encouraged to sponsor the painted wooden salmon as a fundraiser for Kus-kus-sum. A salmon can be sponsored through a donation of $25 or more. Donors will receive a charitable tax receipt for the full amount of their donation. The name of the student who painted the salmon and the donor will go on the back of the salmon. The salmon will then be put up on the Kus-kus-sum fence along Comox Road. Donors will be invited, but are not required, to hang the salmon on the fence at Kus-kus-sum on June 20, 21 and 22 between 9:30 and 11:30 am. Volunteers will be on site to assist. All funds raised through the initiative will go towards the Kus-kus-sum project.
How does restoring Kus-kus-sum help salmon? Seals are very effective at using the 440-meter steel wall that lines Kus-kus-sum to prey on salmon as the salmon pass the site going down river as juveniles and up river as adults. Along the wall, there is neither salt marsh for the salmon to hide in, nor any channels for them to use for escape. Female seals have been seen placing their young along the wall near the surface of the water. Then the mothers dive down chasing salmon into the wall and up into the mouths of their young. Because of these factors, the wall has been nicknamed the “Killing Wall”.
Salmon already have a hard enough journey going from egg to spawner. From each thousand eggs that are laid, only a few adult salmon survive to continue their species. “Project Watershed initiated this fundraiser as a reminder that restoring Kus-kus-sum will give salmon going up into or coming down from the Puntledge, Browns, Morrison and Tsolum Rivers a better chance of survival.” stated Caila Holbrook, Manager of Fundraising, Outreach and Mapping, Comox Valley Project Watershed Society.
To sponsor a salmon or find out more visit www.kuskussum.ca/salmon.