Think Like a Watershed
“Throughout British Columbia, salmonid enhancement stewardship groups were formed in the 1990s as a response to the Coho salmon crisis,” recalls Peter Law, a founding Director of the Partnership for Water Sustainability. Prior to retiring from government, he was a regional fish biologist for Vancouver Island with the BC Ministry of Environment.
“More than two decades later, most community-based groups still exist, providing thousands of volunteer hours to restore aquatic habitats.”
“As we learn more about what influences early salmon life history, stewardship groups are asking questions of their local governments about the linkages between small stream habitat destruction and land developments. Now, the scope of their involvement and influence is expanding beyond the creek channel.”
“Looking ahead, an informed stewardship sector may prove to be the difference-maker that accelerates implementation of the whole-system approach. Wouldn’t it be great if everyone really understood what it means to think and act like a watershed,” asks Peter Law rhetorically.
Whole-System, Water Balance Approach
“A ‘whole-system, water balance’ approach to watershed protection and restoration recognizes the value of streams in their natural state. The approach is a call for balanced action: maintain the ecological values of nature’s assets, while allowing a stream to be used for drainage,” adds Kim Stephens, Executive Director, Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC.
“In a perfect world, within the built environment and with the foregoing premise as a starting point for land use and conservation decisions, communities would simply refocus business processes to properly manage watershed systems.”
“In practice, however, ‘getting it right’ takes perseverance and time. Past BC history shows that local stream stewardship volunteers could play a defining role to make the community’s case for whole-system, water balance practices.”
TO LEARN MORE:
Download “Sustainable Watershed Systems, through Asset Management” – Local stream stewardship volunteers may yet be the difference-maker to read the complete story.
A flashback to the 1990s salmon crisis sets the scene for introductions to three noteworthy stewardship sector initiatives, representing three regions within the Georgia Basin: Nanaimo, Comox Valley and Metro Vancouver. All are motivated by a higher purpose.