The Cowichan Shoreline Stewardship Project (CSSP) has been restoring riparian habitat along Cowichan Lake and River since 2014. HCTF staff were invited to a tour of various restoration sites on the 1st of September, and we were pleased to attend to see the results of this important HCTF funded stewardship project.

The CSSP is a combined effort between the BC Conservation Foundation (BCCF) and the Cowichan Lake and River Stewardship Society (CLRSS), with the later as the main “community lead”. The CLRSS is made up of local residents with a strong desire to preserve and protect terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems that surround and sustain the lake.

In the initial three year phase of the project 2014-17, a total of 26 lake/river shoreline properties have been restored under CSSP, totaling 7,239 square metres of riparian habitat improvements. To date, average plant survival has exceeded 85% for the majority of sites. In this same period, CLRSS volunteers have conducted a total of 282 riparian owner visits around the lake/river, and administered 227 standard surveys designed to gauge shoreline owner knowledge and preferences for preservation of natural riparian habitats. The project has been funded for another three-year phase (2017-10), we look forward to seeing the results of this project moving forward.

The tour included a mix of sites planted in each year of the project to date (see photos below). It was interesting to see the site planted in 2014 looking quite established and naturalized, compared with the recent plantings which still required frequent watering and protection from grazing by deer, elk and beaver.

Below: Photos of the lakefront site planted in 2014. Plants are well-established, requiring little ongoing maintenance. 

 

2015 Riverfront Site: Two adjacent private residences (the sign marks the restored area)

 

2016 Riverfront site (owned by Town of Lake Cowichan): Site was previously solid Blackberry. Ongoing maintenance has included regular pulling of regenerating blackberry.

2017 Lakefront site (private residence). This site includes a creek passing through property also undergoing restoration.

 

Thank-you to Christine Brophy, Field Manager for the tour if this important stewardship project. Keep up the good work!