Conservation group finishes second phase of Shelly Creek fish habitat restoration

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The Mid-Vancouver Island Habitat Enhancement Society (MVIHES) has completed fish habitat restoration work on a 400 m section of Shelly Creek.

The section, which flows through the Shelly Farm and under Martindale Road on its way to the Englishman River, is a rearing habitat for Coho fry and smolts, according to MVIHES.

With a grant from the Pacific Salmon Foundation for $22,200, the society hired Parksville Heavy Equipment to excavate the sediment and invasive vegetation, re-establish the creek channel and deep pools, as well as add gravel and rock to restore the aquatic habitat required for the bugs the fry feed upon. 

Decades of sediment from upstream sources had buried the creek, displacing habitat, enabling reed canary grass to grow and Himalayan blackberry thickets to choke streamflow. Built-up sediment had resulted in a loss of Coho fry rearing habitat and very low or no water flow in the summer, trapping fry in small pools that eventually dry up, according to MVIHES. 

The excavated sediment was used to make a berm to help contain water in the stream channel during high flows. It will also stop the flooding of the farmer’s field every winter. 

The berm is contoured so rainfall will flow off evenly, preventing erosion. MVIHES volunteers seeded the berm with a fast-growing erosion control seed mix and covered it in straw to prevent the seed from being washed away by rain. Shrubs are already beginning to regenerate on the berm and creek bank, according to MVIHES.

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