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."
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!
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.
Volunteers from Walley Creek and Departure Creek Streamkeepers pulled off a small project in the "salmon window", so that we could follow Covid protocols.
Project area in Morningside Park BEFORE thinning, January 2018
On October 25 Walley Creek Streamkeepers met with Rob Lawrance and Margaret Pimlott from the City of Nanaimo, along with Dave Clough, RPBio, to create a plan for improving the biodiversity in a part of the riparian area in Morningside Park. City arborists then helped thin an unhealthy stand of fir and alder that had self-seeded in an area full of rock fill. This created space for volunteers to plant a variety of native plants to increase the biodiversity of this area, and improve the water-retention qualities of a wetland area adjacent to the creek.
Project area in Morningside Park DURING thinning/before planting, facing the gravel path and Ecole Hammond Bay Elementary.
Project area AFTER planting, facing the creek and houses that back onto Walley Creek along Hammond Bay Road.
35 volunteers came out November 8, 2019 to help us improve the biodiversity in Morningside Park (Reach 2 of Walley Creek). They created polygons out of logs, moved 15 yards of topsoil and 7 yards of mulch, then planted 260 native plants and trees including snowberry, Indian Plum (Oemlaria), swordfern, Oregon grape, Douglas Fir, Western Red Cedar and pine. The day was a great success!
High school volunteers from Dover Bay and Nanaimo & District Secondary schools brought energy and enthusiasm to the planting day. Rob Lawrance and Deb Beck from the City of Nanaimo volunteered their time, as well as many volunteers from the Nanaimo & Area Land Trust, Departure Creek Streamkeepers, and Snunuemuxw First Nation. We are so grateful to all the volunteers that came out and gave time, energy and expertise to this project!
Each week since June we've been carefully watering the Oregon grape, ferns, Nootka rose, Snowberry, and Salmonberry that were planted in the riparian area back in March. We are careful not to let any treated "tap" water enter the creek, but volunteers soak the mulch and soil enough that the plants have a chance to get established this spring/summer. We have also spent many hours pulling invasive thistles along the gravel path. This area was disturbed in 2015 when the RDN upgraded the wastewater outfall at Morningside Drive. The City then replanted both sides of the path and installed an irrigation system to support Maple trees, Salal, Oregon grape and ferns until they were established. The irrigation system is no longer being used, and the native plants are being choked out by opportunistic weeds. While we focus on the riparian area and salmon habitat, we recognize the importance of this park land as a corridor and habitat for many other animals. This is one of many tasks we take on in this "adopted" park.