Cowichan Lake and River Stewardship Society



Cowichan Shoreline Stewardship Project



The Cowichan Shoreline Stewardship Project is a pilot 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 program will not discourage development nor recreation usage but will demonstrate how natural function and human activities can co-exist.

Experience in the Cowichan Valley has demonstrated that regulation and enforcement of riparian areas is expensive and ineffective.  Our non-confrontational approach will lead to a cultural shift toward responsible environmental behaviors 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 behaviors.

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 stewardship and restoration.

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The Problem

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.

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Our Goal

CLRSS has joined forces with the BC Conservation Foundation, the Cowichan Watershed Board, and local stakeholders to develop a plan and set targets to reverse the current trend of shoreline destruction. 

By 2020, we will:

  • protect 35% of Cowichan Lake shoreline

  • restore 3% of Cowichan Lake shoreline to its natural state

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How We Will Do It

Our collaborative, grassroots, stewardship approach will engage youth, volunteers, and private land owners in shoreline education, protection, and restoration to maintain good shoreline ecological values.  This program will provide exponential growth of stewardship activities to protect and restore critical habitat without huge expenditures for enforcement and property acquisition.

By combining the vast experience of valley volunteers with the vitality of youth, we will create summer student employment and restore and protect lakeshore habitat.  This project will:

  •  contribute to species diversity

  • prevent erosion

  • maintain water quality

  • preserve ecological integrity

By March 2017, the Cowichan Lake Stewarship Project will:

  • conduct 300 site visits with lakefront property owners to explain the benefits of intact riparian areas and to encourage protection and restoration

  • form partnerships with private lakefront landowners to provide permanent protection of 15 kilometers of shoreline riparian areas

  • restore over one kilometre (15,000 cubic meters) of shoreline to reverse the current trend of habitat destruction and provide much needed demonstration sites

  • engage youth and the broader community in our stewardship efforts to foster the cultural shift that is required to protect shoreline ecological values on a long term basis

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Who Will Lead the Project

The project team (all unpaid!) will consist of the following dedicate people:

Dave Polster (M.Sc., R.P. Bio.) - Polster Environmental Services

Duties: restoration planning & oversight

  • restoration expert

  • 2013 recipient of the John Reiger Achievement Award for excellence in environmental restoration

  • 30+ years of restoration experience

Diana Gunderson  CLRSS Vice President & Project Manager


Duties: restoration planning and implementation; public outreach coordination; project leadership & coordination

  • B.C. Lake Stewardship Outstanding Volunteer Award

  • Lake Cowichan Citizen of the Year Award (2013)

  • 20+ years experience in aquatic ecosystem design and construction

Jean Atkinson (B.Sc., M.Sc.) - CLRSS Secretary


Duties: project coordinator; record keeping & project documentation

  • 30+ years experience in higher education

Craig Wightman (B.Sc., R.P. Bio.) - B.C. Conservation Foundation Restoration Consultant

Duties: project review & consultation; fisheries assessment

  • 40+ years experience in fish biology and environmental management

Peter Law (B.Sc., retired biologist) - Habitat Biologist (retired), Project Consultant

Duties: riparian area consultation

  • 30+ years experience with the B.C. Ministry of the Environment, responsible for Riparian Area Regulation (RAR) assessment on Vancouver Island

Rodger Hunter (M.Sc. M.P.A.) - Coordinator of the Cowichan Watershed Board

Duties: lead contact on industry negotiations; long term watershed planning and advocacy

  • 30+ years experience in project administration of environmental projects & assessments

Parker Jefferson (B.Sc.) - CLRSS Communications Director

Duties: project coordination; river project coordination

  • 30+ years of communication experience

  • expert fly fisherman

Klaus Kuhn - CLRSS Treasurer, Project Financial Management

Duties: project financial record keeping

  • 25+ years as a certified financial planner

  • (ex) Director of Area I of the CVRD


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Last updated: 09/10/18.