Fish will return to the Dillon Creek wetland restoration

Fish will return to the Dillon Creek wetland restoration

It has been more than 130 years since the land was drained, but fish may soon return to what is now called the Dillon Creek wetland restoration on Cortes Island. Image credit: Cutthroat Trout – Timothy Knepp, NCTC Image Library, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Public Domain) They won’t be salmon, which cannot make it past the falls at Mansons Lagoon, but other species of fish. “There are coastal cutthroat trout, which are a blue listed species at risk, and we also found sculpins,” explained Project Manager Miranda Cross. They won’t be spawning, because the size of gravel needed for spawning is found in the stream channel, not the wetlands. Cross explained that the fish will probably use the wetlands as a nursery where they will have plenty to eat. She does not expect a lot of fish. The wetlands are not connected to Dillon Creek, but they will have access during flood conditions. “It will be a nursery ground for fish and then when we see high waters and intense rain events, they’ll be able to leave and reconnect back to the creek and the lake,” Cross explained. She has already seen cutthroat trout in Dillon Creek below the Cortes Bay culvert. “We expect to see them, however, fish eat frogs eggs and little frogs, so it would be great to not have too many fish — so we can have successful amphibian breeding.” Top photo credit: The rain arrives on Cortes Island, flooding the areas where fish are expected to enter when the waters of Dillon Creek rise higher. Photo by Roy L Hales. This program was funded by a...
What the Dillon Creek Wetlands restoration means to Linnaea farm

What the Dillon Creek Wetlands restoration means to Linnaea farm

As the Dillon Creek wetlands project enters a new phase, Linnaea Farm’s executive director Tamara McPhail describes what this project means to her. “I got to see the farm through a wetland restoration guru’s eyes and that was really eye opening for me,” she said. The need to purify the water emptying into Gunflint and Hague Lakes became apparent during the algae bloom of 2014. The logical place to start was Cortes Island’s oldest farm (preempted in 1887). A pasture at Dillon Creek before the wetland restoration began. Photo by Roy L Hales In the spring of 2018, wetland restoration specialist Tom Biebighauser took McPhail and Adam Schick, resident stewards of Linnaea Farm, on a walk through the future restoration site. Biebighauser led them to where the land clearing stopped during the 1970s and the erosion started. He described what the wetland probably looked like prior to being transformed into an agricultural field. Dillon creek was actually a ditch created to drain the land. “I started to hear running water as erosion,” said McPhail. This project is being undertaken as a partnership project between Friends of Cortes Island Society (FOCI) and the Linnaea Farm Society (LFS). McPhail spoke about the conversations that she had with Shick, and Linnaea Farm VP Kirsten Vidulich, had about this project. She describes the process of deep learning as they began to think of the farm in relationship of the larger ecosystem. She said the people who created what is now known as Linnaea Farm were carrying out the best agricultural practises known at that time. “We don’t know when we do some things, how the land will respond,” admitted...
New UBC tool aims to bridge gap between housing needs and availability

New UBC tool aims to bridge gap between housing needs and availability

UBC has developed a new Housing Assessment Resource Tool (HART) to identify sites that can be used to bridge the gap between housing needs and potential building sites in specific communities. According to data from the 2016 census, the UBC research estimates that 1.7 million Canadian households need core housing. The Housing Research Collaborative’s first glimpse of Cortes Island: properties that might be of interest but further research is needed. Image courtesy of Housing Research Collaborative. The vast majority are low and very low-income households that cannot pay more than $375-$750 a month for rent. Dr. Penny Gurstein, director of UBC’s Housing Research Collaborative, identified 157/520 households on Cortes Island paying more for accommodation than they could comfortably afford (based on the 2016 data). She also identified parcels of federal, provincial and municipal properties on Cortes Island that might be available as housing sites. “We did this in two minutes,” she explained. “We’re using GIS mapping to actually find out what land is available.” The housing collaborative published a more detailed study on Kelowna last month. They identified 230 well-located government or non-profit land parcels that could be used for up to 34,620 affordable housing units. This was just the first stage of the program’s development. During the next phase, Gurstein hopes to develop a land acquisition strategy. “In a place like Cortes, I suspect this would be very useful,” she said. The Housing Research Collaborative also plans to develop a training program for communities and individuals that want to use HART.“We are hoping that this will be a way for policy makers and councils and others to start making more effective and...
Heron Day on Cortes Island

Heron Day on Cortes Island

Cortes Island’s second annual Heron Day was Sunday, September 5th. “Heron day is where we get a whole bunch of volunteers to go out in different spots around Cortes Island, at the same time, to count Heron,” explained Max Thaysen, President of the Friends of Cortes Island (FOCI). “If we have multiple eyes counting at the same time, then we know we are not double counting heron that are cruising around the island.” Fourteen volunteers counted for about an hour, between 10 AM and 12 PM. They saw 15 birds, 6 more than last  year, which is not as significant as the numbers suggest. There were fewer volunteers checking fewer locations last year. “We saw more heron in the proportion to more people looking, so in effect we saw the same number of heron. We saw approximately one heron in every one observation location, and that was the same last year and this year,” he said. Thaysen mentioned some of the 14 locations in this year’s count: Carrington Bay, Whaletown Bay, Smelt Bay, Cortes Bay (inside and outside), and Mansons Lagoon (inside and outside). FOCI looked at 9 locations last year. “The Pacific Great Blue Heron is a species-at-risk ‘of special concern’ (which means it is vulnerable and on its way to being threatened or endangered),” he wrote. Thaysen did not know if the Cortes Island population of herons is threatened, or not. “It could be that they are common on the shores of Cortes, but not in a lot of places where they used to be common,” he said. Thaysen noted that there are a lot more houses lining the shore...
Tidemark Theatre reopens with ‘the Magnitude of All Things”

Tidemark Theatre reopens with ‘the Magnitude of All Things”

Campbell River’s Tidemark Theatre is reopening at 7 PM Friday, September 17th with a showing of Vancouver film maker Jennifer Abbott’s ’The Magnitude of All Things.’ This was initially thought to be the first show since the 467 seat roadhouse and presenter venue closed down because of COVID, in March 2020. The organizers have since learned there was a performance eleven months ago. The Tidemark was built in 1947 and is one of the seven heritage sites identified by the City of Campbell River. “Opening again and welcoming live audiences again is hopefully a good milestone on the road to all things being able to open back up,” said Dr. Don Goodeve of Extinction Rebellion, who organized Friday’s showing. ‘The Magnitude of All Things’ is a journey into Jennifer Abbots’ grief after her sister died of cancer and the immediacy and drama of the changes and loss we all face as the climate crises unfold. There will be a panel discussion after the showing with filmmaker Jennifer Abbot, Dr Peter Carter, a member of Extinction Rebellion and reviewer of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change  and Green party candidate Jessica Wegg in attendance. “The idea behind the panel discussion is both so that people can get their questions answered and so that together we can explore the possibilities for actions and what comes next,” said Goodeve. Photo credits: (top) Publicity image for the Magnitude of All Things - courtesy Extinction Rebellion (podcast) Audience - photo by Karl-Sebastian Schulte via Flickr (CC BY SA, 2.0 License) This program was funded by a grant from the Community Radio Fund of Canada and the Government of...