A tree came down across the creek several weeks ago, taking down the top of another tree and leaving a big mess in its wake. Unfortunately the branches and tree trunk squashed many of the plants from our fall planting project!
A small group of hardworking volunteers worked to remove the branches, leaving a log which will provide shade and hopefully stabilize the bank.
There are many trees remaining in this narrow corridor that are dead or dying.
This area continues to struggle from drought, and erosion in the riparian area.
Our group has a nice rhythm of spring/summer invasive removal and fall planting. This has the goal of increasing biodiversity, stabilizing the stream banks to prevent erosion, and restoring the plant communities that were here pre-disturbance.
We are learning that it's not as simple as putting plants in the ground. Despite best efforts at placement, some plants get trampled, browsed by deer, suffer from summer drought, or don't make it for unknown reasons. We've learned that ferns and Oregon grape are nearly indestructible, though they haven't survived well on the steep slope stabilization projects.
The key seems to be considering which plants need "wet feet" - salmon berry and Cedar, for example, and which ones can tolerate drier conditions - snow berry and pine. Then adding lots and lots of bark mulch and wood chips to hold onto moisture and nutrients in our dry summers.
Even still, not all the plants survive. We keep planting densely, using chicken wire and Plantskydd to deter the deer, and repeating planting as we assess what's surviving.
It makes us grateful for the established trees that are there, and appreciate the truth in the saying, "The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second best time is now."
This year we were helped by a hard working, hilarious crew! Most of the volunteers also play basketball together at school. They joked and laughed together while they worked. I loved the “blackberry brigade” they figured out! Clearly they are used to working as a team.
We focused on removing invasives from the area adjacent to the "salamander meadow", since there were nesting songbirds in the area adjacent to the gravel path.
Volunteers hauled out four bags of English Ivy and a huge pile of Himalayan blackberry.
Best of all we heard a woodpecker and lots of song sparrows, and saw the red backed salamanders that are so unique to that little wetland.
Over Spring Break we worked hard to cut back Himalayan blackberry along the streamside and and dig out the tenacious knuckles left behind. While a small excavator can be helpful with this work, we used loppers and shovels so as not to disturb the native thimbleberry plants interspersed with the Himalayan blackberry. There is also a lovely carpet of native trailing blackberry in this area that we tried to gently move aside during this work. A huge thanks to NALT volunteers who helped with this physically demanding task. Also, Bruce dug Daphne while the kids bagged ivy.
In November 2022 we planted over 250 plants from Streamside Native Plants over several days with the help of over 20 volunteers recruited through NALT, as well as a group of students from Ecole Hammond Bay. In February 2023 a small group got the last few plants in the ground!
First, our thanks to Milner Group for their donation of logs and stumps, to the Snuneymuxw First Nation and City of Nanaimo for help developing and carrying out this project, and to the Pacific Salmon Foundation for their support.
The pamphlet below was developed to inform neighbors and other interested community members of the work plan.
This was our first "big" project, requiring temporary diversion of the creek to install two large woody debris structures. Previously, boulders were hand placed and brush bundles were installed along the bank to prevent erosion. These were mostly washed out during extreme rainfall events.
For this project, volunteers filled sandbags and helped set up coffer dams to temporarily exclude fish access to the creek.
Biologists carried out electro-fishing to move any fish in the work area to a safe location (none were found at this site).
Two pumps were set up to remove water and make sure water with stirred up sediment didn't re-enter the creek.
A small excavator installed logs and stumps in the banks of the creek. These are just touching the surface of the water now (at very low flow) so that as the water rises the space under the large woody debris will be protected from the scouring effect of high flows, and offer sanctuary to fish.
Large boulders were added to the streambed to force the water to meander downstream, creating smaller pools that slow flow and improve habitat.
Logs and stumps installed at the Morningside CWMN location, to create a pool and prevent bank erosion during high flows.
Huge stump and boulders installed between the Morningside CWMN location and the culvert under Morningside drive.
After a 2 year hiatus due to Covid restrictions, we again organized a work party in the park adjacent to École Hammond Bay. This event started in 2017 and makes a tremendous positive impact on the biodiversity and ecological integrity of the park. It gives graduating elementary school students an opportunity to give back to an area they enjoyed playing and learning in.
On June 21, 2022 a hard working group of grade 7 students and their families removed invasive plants in Morningside Park. This year we were also joined by the school principal and other community volunteers. We reflected on our commitment to understanding how human activities have impacted the stream ecosystem in the same way that settler activities have impacted indigenous communities. Spending time tending and appreciating this place is an act of reconciliation as much as environmental healing.
We targeted blackberry bushes that are crowding out native plants in the riparian area, and Bur chervil that's growing along the gravel path to the tennis courts. We also continue to carefully pull ivy and bag it for safe disposal. We watch the maples grow taller and provide shade for native plants like Salal, Orgeon grape and ferns. We continue to reflect on how we can educate the children who enjoy this space about how to prevent erosion, and avoid disturbing the animals that live in and around the creek.
2021 planned riparian Work (fall):
Members of the Dover Bay High School Eco-club
Can you see how steep those banks are? Plants have a hard time getting established here, and as a result rains cause erosion and sediment buildup in the creek. Our 2019 attempt at steep slope stabilization used rebar and landscape ties to create "shelves" for planting. This year we tried a new method based on suggestions from landscape designer Lindsay Haist of Alder Enviro - Restorative Landscaping. We used rubber mallets to pound 1" x 1" wooden stakes into the ground, and placed logs above the stakes to create a shelf where ferns and Oregon grape could be planted.
One of the greatest benefits of these projects is the inter-generational reciprocity. Elders bring wisdom and guidance, youth bring energy and enthusiasm. This project is a wonderful example of collaboration between our stewardship group, City staff, and community members.
We gratefully acknowledge the Pacific Salmon Foundation for supporting this project.
The Walley Creek Streamkeepers, in partnership with the City of Nanaimo, Snuneymuxw First Nation, and Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO), are undertaking a restoration project this summer to make the creek healthier for the fish and other animals that live there. Walley Creek has resident cutthroat trout, and has the possibility to support Coho salmon.
In-stream work can only happen during the window of August 15 to September 15. This is to prevent damage to sensitive fish habitat. In-stream work requires a permit from the Provincial Government, and is done with the greatest amount of care possible, with the goal to leave the fish habitat better. Outside of this time, nothing should ever enter or block the water – not humans, animals, or tree parts. If branches and other “small woody debris” incidentally enter the water (through storms or getting flushed downstream) volunteers must remove blockages, with permission from DFO, the City and the Province. This work is supervised by Dave Clough, R.P.Bio.
2021 planned in-stream work (summer):
A team of hard working volunteers worked to improve fish access to the culvert under Morningside Drive. This work had been done in (year?) but time and heavy rains had washed it out. Volunteers under the direction of Dave Clough carried boulders down to the stream and placed them in a gradual slop up to the culvert. The project stood up to torrential rains that came in early October.
We gratefully acknowledge the Pacific Salmon Foundation for supporting this project.
While Walley Creek is open to the surface along its whole length, it is fed by storm drain inputs from the developed areas of the watershed, as well as groundwater seepage. To see a map of the storm drains in the Walley Creek Watershed, visit the interactive Nanaimo map - http://maps.nanaimo.ca/nanaimomap/.
Click on Themes and choose Utilities. On the left side, check the box that says Storm. (The photo below is an example.) You can also turn on the air photos, and select different attributes that you want to see as you zoom in.
Since 2019 our group has been dismayed see the creek go dry in the lower reaches (Shores Drive to the ocean) during the summer. We are desperately trying to sleuth out why this is happening, since we know it's fatal for the fish and invertebrates that depend on the creek being wet. In August and September 2019 and 2021, creek water has been present only in isolated pools in Reaches 1 and 2, if at all.
There is one pipe just south of Shores Drive that we found during our (2016/2017) stream assessment that isn't on the City utilities map. Water used to trickle out of it that we assumed was groundwater because it was so cold (<12 degrees C). In fall 2018 we walked that area to plan for some restoration work and noticed it's not providing water to the creek anymore. We're wondering if that has something to do with why the creek is dry.
In August 2021 we decided to walk the creek again from Morningside Park north, mapping storm drain inputs.