"The life of every river sings its own song, but in most
the song is long marred by the discords of misuse."
Aldo Leopold, 1886-1948
Gabriola Streamkeepers formed in July 2012 with the strong support of GaLTT. It operates as a semi-independent committee of GaLTT, chaired by Deb Ferens. Chris Hills is the Streamkeeper representative on GaLTT's board.
Gabriola Streamkeepers meet on the third Wednesday evening of each month, starting at 7pm. The meetings are usually at The Arts and Heritage Centre, nextdoor to the post office. Changes to the regular schedule are sent out by email to members, and posted on our Facebook page. Field activities are organized throughout the year in Gabriola's streams and wetlands.
Amphibian habitat—talk by Elke Wind
At GaLTT's AGM (February 22), Elke Winde spoke about suitable amphibian habitat. You can download a summary of her talk here.
EVENTS & ACTIVITIES
Using our grant money, we have acquired a selection of mechanical and electronic instruments for assessing water quality, oxygen content, flow, and so on. This valuable equipment is covered by GaLTT's insurance policy and stored in their weather-proof storage facility. Over the last year, we have been learning to use it by testing and measuring Castell Creek near the culvert that goes under Daniel Way. We thank the RDN for lending us some instruments before we got our own.
Commons pond survey
Late last Fall we helped complete a survey of the pond and wetland at The Commons. This is part of the Commons' assessment of the ecological baseline of their land to be used when setting up a covenant on the land.
We've installed our stream-crossing signs on South Road, North Road, and Taylor Bay Road, where they cross Dick Brook, Castell Creek, Goodhue Creek, and Mallett Creek. More signs are being planned, and we're also busy monitoring the streams and assessing their restoration needs.
Mallett Creek project
With permission from the landowner, we have begun to assess Mallett Creek above the Taylor Bay Road culvert. When our measurements are done, we hope to enhance this beautiful stream's ability to support a healthy fish population, since salmon fry have been seen there.
Winthuysen Creek project
Winthuysen Creek has been much affected by people. Its headwaters are in Cox Community Park and the stream passes under Taylor Bay Road and flows to the sea in Descanso Bay Regional Park. Its name (pronounced "Win-too-sen") derives from the name given to Nanaimo Harbour in 1791 by Spanish Naval explorers. Francisco Javier de Winthuysen was a senior officer in the Spanish navy. We do not know what the Snunéymuxw called the stream.
The park is situated where there used to be a farm and orchard. Within the park, part of the stream has been culverted, which was first done to drain the old farm's orchard, and later, to drain the park's playing field.
In partnership with RDN, GaLTT has chosen this creek as a model to educate the public about Gabriola Streamkeepers' work. They have conducted a habitat survey, looking at the physical features of the stream including slope, habitat types and vegetation; an invertebrate survey to look for indicators of health; and a water quality survey. This information will be used to determine the health of the stream and to see what restoration work may be needed to help to improve its health.
End of October
After the rains began at the end of October, we spotted a mature chum circling in the intertidal zone at Sandwell Park near where Castell Brook flows into the sea. It wasn't in the stream, but its presence in the area was encouraging since chum can spawn in the intertidal zone.
April 17—GES stream event
The Streamkeepers brought the Grade 6/7 class from Gabriola Elementary to Winthuysen creek on April 17. About 30 students rotated through three stations assessing water quality, riparian vegetation, and aquatic life, followed by hot chocolate near the campfire. Despite some rain, they had a great time.
April 15—pumpkin seed fish in Mallett Creek
Jethro says: "They are an introduced fish, likely washed downstream from the lake. These little fish are very tolerant of poor water quality and are often found where stickleback live. We have found pumpkin seed fish in Descanso Creek as well."
March 23—chum fry in Dick Brook
Melanie says "…Jethro and I went to check out Dick Brook March 23 and found hundreds of chum salmon fry swimming around. We took pictures of the ones we caught and posted them on the Facebook site.
So we can officially say we have TWO SALMON BEARING STREAMS on Gabriola!"
Jethro previously found this newly emerged salmon alevin in Mallett Creek . Alevin is the stage between egg and fry—you can see it still has part of its yolk sac attached. David Clough thought it looked like a coho.
With school kids at the Commons, we celebrated our first year of work on Gabriola's streams with thanks to our supporters, demonstrations of what we do, and cake.
The Streamkeepers first methodology course
last February had 12 participants, and was very successful. You can find more pictures on our Facebook page. On March 31 some of the group exercised their new habitat assessment skills in Drumbeg Park, and in June they participated in the Oceans Day event at Descanso Bay Regional Park, demonstrating their skills in Winthuysen Creek.
Mapping our streams
We have been busy mapping the significant streams on the island and have issued a map that you can view here. Another map and information about Gabriola's streams and wetlands can be found on GaLTT's streams and wetlands page, which also contains a useful glossary—do you know the difference between a creek and a stream? or between a fen and a bog, or between a swamp and a marsh?
Our Streamkeepers are currently investigating who owns the land where Gabriola's most significant streams run, and hope to solicit their co-operation in restoring the streams to health if they have been degraded.
We have selected Winthuysen Creek for our short–term focus. This culverted stream flows to the sea in Descanso Bay Regional Park.
Our first step to restoring Gabriola's streams to their pristine state was clearing a load of trash (including an ancient lawnmower!) out of Mallett Creek (shown at right). In April we worked with Randy Young's trail-clearing group to complete the clean-up and create a trail beside the stream to provide access to the mudflats of Peacock Bay. Later in the month, Jethro found juvenile coho in this newly cleaned-up creek that runs under Taylor Bay Road and down to the mudflats near Peacock Bay. Shortly after that, he also found chum salmon fry just above the intertidal zone in Wagg Brook, which flows into Degnen Bay.
We hope to involve the community at large by running special projects and field trips, and continuing to work with the school.
OUR MISSION STATEMENT
Gabriola Streamkeepers is a community based group dedicated to preserving and enhancing local waterways. Gabriola Streamkeepers are committed to this work in recognition that:
continuing development pressures impact aquatic habitat
fish stock are in decline.
climate change will have a growing impact on coastal areas
the connection to and knowledge of our aquatic environment is being lost.
healthy streams are indicators of a healthy surrounding environment.
Our goals are:
community stewardship of local waterways
fish bearing streams
healthy riparian areas.
To meet our goals we will focus on:
promoting best practices for sustaining productive creeks, watersheds and wetlands
promoting and facilitating the restoration of local fish and other aquatic life
fostering and coordinating environmental stewardship among public, corporate and private stakeholders
to provide opportunities for streamkeeper training
to organize and host public education events about streamkeeping
to disseminate information and share resources on the value of preserving and enhancing local waterways.
to actively engage in stream restoration projects to enhance water courses native to Gabriola.
to develop a baseline inventory on selected streams
to collect science-based data to assess the health of Gabriola waterways.
We are seeking sources of funding because we will continue to offer training on Gabriola in Streamkeeper Methodology, and we also need field equipment for exploring and restoring the streams. You can make a tax-deductible donation to GaLTT with a request that the funds be used in support of streamkeeping programs.
Pacific Streamkeepers Federation
The Pacific Streamkeepers Federation (PSkF) is a non-profit society committed to supporting community groups involved in Streamkeepers activities throughout BC and the Yukon.