Englishman River Watershed Recovery Plan: Connecting people to their landscape, the Mid Vancouver Island Habitat Enhancement Society is a voice for the community

Note to Reader:

Shelly-Creek-Water-Balance-Demonstration_Oct2017_cover_500pThe Shelly Creek story is the sixth in a series of Watershed Blueprint Case Profiles published by the Partnership for Water Sustainability.

The series showcases and celebrates successes and long-term ‘good work’ in the local government setting.

The purpose of the series is to inform and facilitate inter-regional collaboration in the Georgia Basin. 

By telling the stories of those who are spearheading changes in practice, this helps other local governments eliminate the “disconnect between information and implementation” that may otherwise hold them back.

Englishman River_location map

Englishman River / Shelly Creek   

Over the past two decades, the evolving role of stream steward groups in British Columbia is exemplified by Englishman River experience. When the river was declared the most endangered river in BC, in 2001, extinction of Coho salmon was viewed as an imminent possibility.

Call for Action

In the 1990s, the Coho salmon crisis resulted in two transformational outcomes:

  • development of the Englishman River Watershed Recovery Plan; and
  • creation of the Mid Vancouver Island Habitat Enhancement Society (MVIHES), a not-for-profit society.

Over time, MVIHES has morphed from Stewards of the Plan to Stewards of the Watershed. Beginning in 2011, the MVIHES action plan has concentrated on Shelly Creek. One of five Englishman River tributaries, it is the last fish-bearing creek flowing through the City of Parksville.

Englishman River Watershed Recovery Plan

The Englishman River is designated a ‘Sensitive Stream’. Thus, it requires special management attention under the Fisheries Protection Act.

The recovery plan was the first to be funded by the Pacific Salmon Endowment Fund.

MVIHES played a central role in Plan delivery, and convened a broadly based steering committee.

A Voice for the Community

“MVIHES represented the community in the Watershed Recovery Plan implementation process during the period 2001 through 2008,” explains Peter Law, MVIHES vice-president.

Peter Law_2015_trimmed1_120pThere were substantial financial investments in stream restoration projects to enhance salmon and steelhead habitat. MVIHES was the community voice, and its eyes and ears.

“As time moved on, priorities changed, and the role of MVIHES was refocussed into ‘monitoring streams’ to ensure watershed health. This meant getting the community involved by connecting people to their landscape through the Watershed Health and You initiative.”

Faye-Smith_MVIHES_120pMVIHES experience demonstrates that positive outcomes are a result of strong community support for protection of small streams and their tributaries,” stated the late Faye Smith (1937-2017).

The Shelly Creek Water Balance & Sediment Reduction Plan is dedicated to her memory. Faye Smith was the backbone of stream stewardship in the Oceanside area for 30 years.

To Learn More:

Read Faye Smith champions science-based action to protect urban watershed health on Vancouver Island

Watershed Health and You

The initiative aims to engage the local community in recognizing the importance of the watershed.  This is the prelude to involving community members in activities that would help to protect their own watersheds. MVIHES:

  • coordinates projects and community discussions about management of the watershed;
  • disseminates information regarding the status of aquatic habitat in the watershed; and
  • provides opportunities for the community to participate in hands-on care for the watershed, estuary and shorelines.

The MVIHES mission is to connect people to their landscape through education. Public events raise the level of awareness.

Table of Contents

The table is a synopsis. It distills the essence of each section into a succinct statement. These create a storyline. Readers are asked to pause and reflect on them before reading the story itself.

To Download a Copyhttps://waterbucket.ca/rm/files/2017/10/Shelly-Creek-Water-Balance-Demonstration_Oct2017.pdf

Shelley_Table of Contents