Darrell Wick

Darrell Wick

Douglas Creek restoration protects ‘the last of the best’ in Saanich

Five-year restoration project will encourage salmon spawning, return of other wildlife and tree protection

Darrell Wick walks briskly along a temporary mulch road in Mt. Doug Park, as small pink flags demarcate the narrow drive through western red cedar, Pacific dogwood and Douglas fir roots.

As Douglas Creek appears over a fern-covered slope, a mammoth digger delicately piles boulders and tree roots along the edges of the eroded creek bed.

“There were huge storm surges that washed out all the beds and basically destroyed the creek over a number of years,” says Wick, pointing to slick, grey clay and muddied puddles full of water striders surrounding the digger.

“In a week from now, you’ll never know this equipment was even here,” he says.

As president of the Friends of Mount Douglas Park Society, Wick is overseeing a five-year plan to restore Douglas Creek to its former glory as a salmon-bearing stream. The project, now in its third year, is being supported by Saanich Parks as well as the Pacific Salmon Foundation and has a one-month window in which to complete the work each August. There are two end goals: to stop erosion and to make the creek bed appealing to returning chum and coho salmon and cutthroat trout.

“Originally, this was salmon-bearing when Gordon Head was farmland,” Wick says. “We’ve had some salmon return in the last number of years, but we want to improve that.”

As Gordon Head became urbanized with impervious surfaces like roadways and rooftops, the water no longer soaked into the ground but instead was funnelled directly into Douglas Creek through stormwater piping. The creek’s sole water source today is stormwater runoff, a fact that often leads to poor water quality after a summer dry stretch.

“We’re going to be increasing the weir at the top of the creek,” Wick says. “The sediment will sink, while floating oil pollutants are dammed there and can be skimmed off.”

Dry roots protrude from walls of the creek bed, leaving areas of the ancient tree canopy vulnerable to collapse. The rock and wood will protect those at-risk trees while redirecting the creek flow.

“Those tree roots also provide a hiding place for the salmon,” Wick says.

Biologist Dave Clough hoists himself up from the creek with a large wooden stick, his boots muddied.

“The idea is we’re trying to mimic the function of old-growth tree roots on banks that don’t have trees anymore,” says Clough, who is overseeing the multi-year project. “For thousands of years, the creek was only so wide, and the Douglas fir and red cedars grew to that limit. We logged the watershed and paved it, then the highest water patterns became hundreds of times what they were before.”

Mount Doug Park (PKOLS) is one of the last remaining natural riparian climates with ocean connectivity on southern Vancouver Island, says Clough, arching his neck to look up at the robust trunks around him.

“There were streams everywhere in Greater Victoria, they were put in pipes, look at Bowker Creek,” he says.

“This is the last best that we have.”

Once the creek is restored, Clough envisions Douglas Creek as a thriving micro-climate for otters, mink, salmon, herons, hummingbirds and other wildlife.

Also key is preparing for storm water surges by installing rain cisterns, rain gardens and other water capture methods at the source.

“This forest is so healthy down here that it takes care of itself, the invasive species have a much harder time getting a foothold,” Clough says.

As Wick climbs through the native vegetation and follows the path back to his nearby home, he reflects on the impact of his ongoing work for the next generation.

The Friends of Mount Douglas Park Society co-ordinate events like fry releases each spring in partnership with local schools, as well as the annual salmon toss to raise stewardship awareness.

“It’s a Canadian mentality that there’s endless wilderness, and there isn’t,” Wick says.

“This park is right inside the city, and that’s what makes this so special.”

editor@saanichnews.com

 

 

Just Posted

A dogs in parks pilot study unanimously approved by Saanich council will evaluate how park space can best be shared between dog owners and non-owners alike. (Photo by Megan Atkins-Baker/News Staff)
Saanich to study park-sharing strategy between those with and without pets

District-wide People, Parks and Dogs study to produce recommendations by fall

A screenshot of the First Peoples Cultural Councils First Peoples’ Map. (First Peoples Cultural Council)
Online resource blends B.C.’s Indigenous language, art and culture

North Saanich advisor says initiative supports urgent need to preserve Indigenous languages

General manager Lindsey Pomper says Sidney’s Star Cinema cannot wait welcome audiences when it reopens June 18, amid an easing of public health measures. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Sidney’s Star Cinema raises curtain for the first time after months in the darkness

Iconic theatre to reopen at half capacity for Friday night showing

Staff member Lena Laitinen gives the wall at BoulderHouse a workout during a media tour on June 16. (Rick Stiebel/News Staff)
BoulderHouse raring to rock Langford

Popularity of bouldering continues to climb across Greater Victoria

The Sooke Potholes is a jewel in the community's crown. Transition Sooke hosts a town hall meeting on community growth on June 26. (Courtesy: Sooke News Mirror)
Sooke forum tackles community growth

To Grow or Not to Grow online town hall meeting set for June 26

Maxwell Johnson is seen in Bella Bella, B.C., in an undated photo. The Indigenous man from British Columbia has filed complaints with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal and the Canadian Human Rights Commission after he and his granddaughter were handcuffed when they tried to open a bank account. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Heiltsuk Nation, Damien Gillis, *MANDATORY CREDIT*
VIDEO: Chiefs join human rights case of Indigenous man handcuffed by police in B.C. bank

Maxwell Johnson said he wants change, not just words, from Vancouver police

(Black Press Media file photo)
POLL: When was the last time you visited the mainland?

The films are again lighting the screens at local theatres, the wine… Continue reading

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of June 15

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Tk’emlups te Secwepemc Chief Rosanne Casimir stands outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School after speaking to reporters, in Kamloops, B.C., on Friday, June 4, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Kamloops chief says more unmarked graves will be found across Canada

Chief Rosanne Casimir told a virtual news conference the nation expects to release a report at the end of June

A woman wears a vaccinated sticker after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. ranks among highest in world in COVID-19 first-dose shots: health officials

More than 76% of eligible people have received their 1st shot

An artists conception of the new terminal building at the Pitt Meadows Regional Airport.
Air travel taking off in B.C., but lack of traffic controllers a sky-high concern

There will be demand for more air traffic controllers: Miller

Canadian Armed Forces experts are on their way to North Vancouver after a local homeowner expressed worry about a military artifact he recently purchased. (Twitter DNV Fire and Rescue)
Military called in to deal with antique ‘shell’ at North Vancouver home

‘The person somehow purchased a bombshell innocently believing it was an out-of-commission military artifact’

Amy Kobelt and Tony Cruz have set their wedding date for February, hoping that more COVID-19 restrictions will have lifted. (The Macleans)
B.C. couples ‘gambling’ on whether COVID rules will let them dance at their wedding

Amy Kobelt and Tony Cruz pushed back their wedding in hopes of being able to celebrate it without the constraints of COVID-19

Most Read