Cowichan Lake and River Stewardship Society
Phase II (2017 - 2020)
The Cowichan Shoreline Stewardship Project is a project to engage community and change attitudes regarding the value of riparian areas. We are attempting to promote a cultural shift from cutting and clearing to protection and restoration of shoreline riparian areas. The project will not discourage development nor recreation usage but will demonstrate how natural ecological functions and human activities can co-exist.
Experience in the Cowichan Valley has demonstrated that regulation and enforcement of riparian areas is expensive and understaffed. Our non-confrontational approach will lead to a cultural shift toward responsible environmental behaviours that will be self-sustaining by the time the project is completed.
By engaging all age groups in a collaborative effort we hope to change attitudes. Change can occur quickly when youth begin questioning parental behaviours.
We hope this project will do for shoreline stewardship what the blue-box did for
recycling. The project will provide a high profile example of shoreline
stewardship and restoration.
Shoreline habitat is seriously threatened by recreation, residential development, and upland land use practices. The data clearly shows that we are continuously losing this critical habitat as it experiences serious degradation due to cumulative impacts.
Lake shores, stream shores & wetlands form transitional ecological boundaries between aquatic and terrestrial habitats. These transitional areas are important for fish and wildlife species, since they provide the benefits of ecologically diverse habitats in close proximity to each other. They are important for reproduction, feeding, resting and protection from the elements and predators. Vegetated foreshores also help to protect water quality and reduce erosion arising from heavy rainfall and wave action.
CLRSS has joined forces with the BC Conservation Foundation (BCCF), the Cowichan Watershed Board, First Nations and local stakeholders to develop a plan and set targets to reverse the current trend of shoreline destruction. Here are our annual objectives for the next 3 years (ending March 2020):
Restoration, we will ...
Community Engagement, we will ...
Our collaborative, grassroots, stewardship approach will engage resource professionals, youth, volunteers, private land owners and the community at large in ecological restoration and riparian education. This program will provide exponential growth of stewardship activities to protect and restore critical habitat without huge expenditures for enforcement and property acquisition. CLRSS and BCCF will work closely with supportive landowners to restore lake and river shoreline properties and use these as practical demonstrations of enhanced stewardship of valuable riparian habitats.
A team of restoration and fisheries experts will develop site-specific prescriptions for restoring aquatic/ riparian habitats on each candidate property. This will be followed by a planting team of local secondary students that will implement the plan under direct supervision of a VIU Natural Resource Protection graduate.
By combining the extensive experience of experts with volunteer and student workers this project will:
By March 2020, the Cowichan Lake Stewarship Project will:
In this second 3-year phase of the CSSP, work will continue as before under the Pilot Phase with one major exception. The BC Conservation Foundation (BCCF) who supported the Pilot Phase with funding and advice, will take over management of the Riparian Restoration segment of the project. This will include hiring of a Project Manager and local secondary school students as workers. Importantly, BCCF will manage applications for funding grants and the reporting that must be done for these grants. BCCF will continue ongoing monitoring of sites restored under the Pilot Phase while the CLRSS will manage all other aspects of the CSSP, including riparian visits and identification of suitable participants for riparian restoration. The CLRSS and BCCF will continue as essential partners in the CSSP with the goal of permanently protecting the foreshore.
The project team will consist of the following dedicated people:
Project work will be funded primarily by grants, but also by owners of restored properties. We would like to thank the following sponsors whose generous funding make this project possible:
In the spring of 2013 the Cowichan Lake Shoreline Workshop generated the following ideal vision of what the social, ecological and industrial environment of the Lake could look like by 2023:
This two day workshop was the impetus for the creation of the Cowichan Shoreline Stewardship Project. Members of our group attended along with forty-five others representing a broad spectrum of stakeholders, including:
To see the full report Outputs from the Workshop click here.
A 3 year pilot project was begun and subsequently completed in the fall of 2016. For details of what the pilot project accomplished please see our CSSP Pilot Project page.