Campbell River has lost over 20 per cent of its salt marsh habitat over the 20th century, according to Greenways Land Trust, which is why they are unveiling a new restoration project to the Baikie Island Nature Reserve.
Greenways has been working behind the scenes on the new project, focusing on the “Mill Pond.” They will be showcasing their work on June 18 from 10 a.m. until noon at the Baikie Island parking lot.
“This area used to be a large salt marsh,” material from Greenways says. “The marsh was dug out to provide log storage and booming for the forest industry from the 1950s onward.”
The goal of the project was to restore the former industrial area to its original state as a salt marsh and eel grass bed. Eel grass beds and salt marshes are good habitats for juvenile salmon, allowing them to hide from predators. They are also good habitats for rare plant species like the Vancouver Island Beggarticks which live in the estuary. They also help with nutrient cycling, feeding invertebrates and other decomposers, which in turn become food for other species such as juvenile salmon.
“Since December 2020, we have been working with partners including the Wei Wai Kum First Nation, the City of Campbell River, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, the Nature Conservancy of Canada, several different specialist biologists, and hydraulic engineers to develop a restoration plan,” said the Greenways release. “We plan to move some of the material that was dug out to create the “Mill Pond” back into the pond – some of this material is still on-site on ‘Carolyn’s Spit,’ and has grown back into a disturbed habitat type of small alders and the invasive Himalayan blackberry.
“Turning this area back into salt marsh and eel grass beds will improve the ecological functioning of the estuary significantly,” it says.
Tree removal was done with the help of both the We Wai Kum Guardian Watchmen and a contracted arborist. All trees were removed earlier in the spring to ensure minimal impact on any bird species.
The Baikie Island parking lot is at the end of Robinson Road. More information about the event can be found on Facebook.