FEBRUARY 13, 2006
Overview – Tom Rutherford, Community Advisor
“There is a perception by my clients that DFO is "caught between models" with respect to implementing habitat protection programming. We aren't doing it "the old way" and nobody seems to be sure what the "new way" will be. This concern in no way reflects on habitat practitioners or C&P staff, but there seems to be some confusion (both inside and outside the department) about who will be doing what and how, with respect to protecting fish and fish habitat. (and whether we have the horsepower to do so...)
I've received comments about PSEF's seemingly unilateral decision to allocate all funding to the Fraser River. This could just be sour grapes from Vancouver Island, but the perception was that David Anderson's vision was a trust fund for fish and fish habitat coast-wide, not for one river system.
The current and collective revision of our South Coast education delivery model is another example of everyone working together despite some differences in viewpoint, ensuring that we are achieving the best possible outcomes with our education programming.”
David Aldcroft, SEHAB Alternate (Cowichan Valley Naturalists)
1. There is a continued perception on the ground that all levels of government continue to
download responsibilities to volunteers, community groups, or to the wrong agency. Why give the responsibility of investigation of deleterious substances in fish-bearing streams to an agency (Environment Canada) that cannot respond? This is occurring at a time when there is no shortage of public funds to properly protect vital habitat, assess stocks, etc.
2. (Following attendance at a Marine Protected Area meeting) MPA’s are another unnecessary level of bureaucracy. Much of the MPA mandate is already a DFO mandate. Why did the Department not receive these resources?
3. There has been no response from the Department – or the media, for that matter – on poor coho returns last fall. What are the management implications of this disaster?
4. Re EPMP – We have evolved from a. No net loss, to b. No net loss of production, to
c. No net loss of production unless it impinges on profit
d. What’s next?
Streamkeeper Training Weekend October 22/23 – Victoria Stream Team
The Stream Team and Terasen Gas, Inc. presented a Streamkeeper Training Workshop for Greater
Victoria secondary students, February 11
and 12th at Edward Milne Community School, 6218 Sooke Road. The agenda included mapping, inventory and measuring skills required to assess the health of a stream – watershed mapping, water quality, aquatic invertebrate inventory, physical characteristics, etc.
Twelve students from five institutions participated. Susan Low provided instruction.
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 Note – Susan Low believes that there is a market for 5 to 7 workshops per year, just for students.
Since the resources for a Streamkeeper Coordinator disappeared about 5 years ago, no one is able to tap this demand. The Victoria Stream Team commits to organizing one streamkeeper event per year. More of these events would increase the Stream Team membership and the number of trained volunteers ready to join an aging corps of volunteer stewards.
Classroom Incubation, South Vancouver Island
In spite of warm hatchery incubation temperatures that hurried the delivery schedule, the eggs are
extremely viable this year. Only one of 95 projects has reported greater than average mortality to date.
Volunteer Recognition
1. South Vancouver Island Pacific Salmon Foundation Dinner Auction - The dinner committee has
chosen Kathy Reimer’s Island Streams and Enhancement Society as the volunteer group to be recognized at its February 25
2. Community Involvement Recognition Day, May 6/06 - Tom Rutherford (Chair), Don Lowen,
Peter McCully and Micqualyn Waldie are planning this biennial recognition event for Tom’s clients. This is a full day of group presentations, workshops, awards, great food and better company.
Report - Muir Creek Protection Society
Muir Creek and Tugwell Creek are two watersheds just west of Sooke on the southwest slope of
Vancouver Island.  Muir Creek takes its name from John Muir and the first pioneer family who settled in the area in the late 1800’s. John Muir was a magistrate and a member of the first provincial legislative assembly. Two of his sons were killed at Muir Creek in a wagon accident.
The T’souke First Nation traditionally used the area for winter dancing and smoking fish. The world’s tallest freestanding totem pole came from Muir Creek and was carved by a team led by Mungo Martin. It was erected in Beacon Hill Park. T’souke First Nation has been informed of our intentions and is supportive.
The land around both of these creeks is owned by TimberWest (
The portion surrounding the adjacent West Coast Road on the east of Muir Creek by the ocean was sold by TimberWest and is now being developed. The upper slopes, in between the two creeks, have been flagged with falling boundaries but not yet cleared. Old growth trees can be found in the lower areas along both sides of Muir Creek and its embankments for a distance of almost two kilometers. The largest tree found so far is a cedar at 29’ 6” in circumference. There are numerous Sitka spruce over 20’ in circumference, the largest being 25’3”. In all 9 trees have potential to be included in the Big Tree Registry of B.C. Some of the watershed areas by the creeks were previously logged in the late 19
early 20
century, but impressive old growth trees have survived right by the rivers, and on the
FEBRUARY 13, 2006
slopes. These trees are now surrounded by more or less mature second growth.  Logging has proceeded
recently above the creek watersheds and in the upper reaches of both streams, but so far both streams flow clear, even in recent months with high precipitation. 
These areas are easily accessible since West Coast Rd., part of the new Pacific circle route, travels right through it.  In fact, the area is a popular swimming place in the summer, and the Muir Creek estuary is a haven for fly fishers.  There is abundant wild life in and around the streams, including river otters, mink, bears, eagles, herons, king fishers and dippers, all of whom depend to some extent on the population of fish in these streams.  In both streams, there are substantial runs of chum (hundreds to thousands) with subsequent forays of foraging sea run cutthroat and steelhead. Recently, there have also been sightings of Coho and a few occasional Spring/King Salmon. 
Ocean beaches next to Muir Creek have one of the most prominent and easily accessible showings of Cenozoic fossils on Vancouver Island. School children, including ESL students, have visited on educational field trips for years.
TimberWest is currently poised to log both watersheds. Since it is now privately owned land, they are entitled to log down to the stream - the regulations require them only to leave 20 to 40 trees per 200 m of creek length, depending on the size of the stream – more trees for wider streams. The trees stand up to 250 feet tall. Due to the costs incurred by needing to use helicopters in order to remove these trees it is felt that the area will be harvested of all of its old growth fir, cedar and spruce trees on the slopes above creek. There are also large trees located right beside the stream - hopefully they would not be felled due to the impact on the creek, but TimberWest is not prohibited from taking them. The second largest registered yew tree in B.C resides at Muir Creek. TimberWest has currently numbered trees on Muir Creek to presumably create a space for clearing the big trees out by helicopter. 
Meanwhile, a Muir Creek Protection Society (MCPS) formed and registered as of November 25, 2005. ( Under the leadership of its president, Alanda Carver, it is rapidly accumulating members (currently 200), as well as support from numerous individuals and organizations who have a stake in the watershed, including the Otter Point & Shirley Residents & Rate Payers Association (OPSRRA,, Shirley Education Action Society, Surf Riders, Charter fishermen, Fly Fishermen, the Sierra Club of Canada, BC Chapter (, Juan de Fuca Community Trails and Seaparc Parks Commission .MCPS  would like to pursue a business like approach which includes benefits for the owners of the land, i.e., TimberWest, and to avoid confrontation in the effort to preserve this watershed. 
One potential solution would be to turn the lower end of the creeks into a park. This would be a matter which would have to be spearheaded by the Capital Regional District (CRD) here in Victoria or the provincial government. The Regional Director and local planner have expressed support in concept for this idea. The local developers also seem to be interested in a park on the basis that it would enhance the value of their developments. MCPS would like to work towards a deal with TimberWest, which might be possible if some kind of compensation can be offered. 
We are therefore hoping to form a coalition that might be able to purchase the trees in place before they are cut, and/or the land or perhaps the provincial government could be convinced to offer some less ecologically sensitive land in exchange for pieces around these creeks. Our very rough estimates are that the area in question should encompass a few km of stream and a variable width riparian zone up to 500m wide where required to protect the old growth trees. There are no parks available for recreation in
FEBRUARY 13, 2006
this area, most of the land is privately owned by forest companies due to the E&N land grant. After
harvesting it sounds as though the plan for the area may include TimberWest selling the land for residential use. Between Grant Rd. in Sooke and French beach Provincial Park there is only thirty five acres of parkland in an area spanning over 10 000 acres. When this area is developed where will these people recreate if we’ve cut all the trees?