Cowichan Shoreline Restoration Project
Partnering with BCCF we have worked with more than 40 shoreline lake and river property owners; removing invasive species and planting native plants in their place; employing a Project Manager and crew of four secondary students every summer for six years; carrying out over 300 volunteer interviews with shoreline property owners educating them on riparian issues. We are well on our way to meeting our project goals: To promote a "stewardship first" culture by protecting and enhancing riparian areas.
We have produced a short video on the program with support from the Pacific Salmon Foundation.
For detailed reporting on both Phases of the CSSP project see the next two sections
CSSP Phase 2 - 2017-2020
The Cowichan Shoreline Stewardship Project was 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 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 3 years (ending March 2020):
Restoration, we will ...
complete 10 (minimum) riparian restoration projects on public & private properties
restore 2,500 - 3,000 square meters of riparian habitat area
Education, we will ...
conduct at least 75 shoreline visits with lake and river property owners to demonstrate how maintaining shoreline/wetland ecological integrity & diversity is compatible with enhanced property values, lifestyle satisfaction and owner land use practices
with each visit, have each resident complete a survey intended to measure their knowledge of riparian protection legislation and to gauge their personal preferences for natural shoreline vegetation
Community Engagement, we will ...
engage youth and the broader community in hands-on stewardship activities to promote the cultural & behavioural shifts necessary to ensure long-term shoreline and wetland integrity
Co-Operative Partnership, we will ...
continue to work closely with the Cowichan Watershed Board, First Nations, all levels of government and land owners (including privately owned forest land) to more fully protect riparian & wetland habitats throughout the watershed
How We Will Do It
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:
contribute to species diversity
help prevent or minimize erosion
maintain water quality
preserve ecological integrity
By March 2020, the Cowichan Lake Stewarship Project will:
conduct 225 shoreline property visits and interviews to explain the benefits of intact riparian areas and to encourage their protection and restoration
restore approximately 1 km (or 7,500 square meters) of shoreline to reverse the current trend of riparian habitat degradation and provide much needed stewardship demonstration sites
encourage and form partnerships with private lake and river shoreline owners to provide permanent protection for up to 15 km of sensitive shoreline habitat
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
Who Will Lead the Project
In this second 3-year phase of the CSSP, work continued as before under the Pilot Phase with one major exception. The BC Conservation Foundation (BCCF) who supported the Pilot Phase with funding and advice, took over management of the Riparian Restoration segment of the project. This included hiring of a Project Manager and local secondary school students as workers. Importantly, BCCF managed 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 managed all other aspects of the CSSP, including riparian visits and identification of suitable participants for riparian restoration. The CLRSS and BCCF continued as essential partners in the CSSP with the goal of permanently protecting the foreshore.
The project team consisted of the following dedicated people:
Diana Gunderson (B. Ed) CLRSS Board Member
(email: email@example.com )
Experience: 3 years leadership of the CSSP Pilot Phase. 30+ years experience in higher education.
Role: provided leadership on Landowner Education, Community Engagement & Riparian Protection; liaison with BCCF on Riparian Restoration.
Jean Atkinson (B.Sc., M.Sc.) - CLRSS
(email: firstname.lastname@example.org )
Experience: 3 years leadership of the CSSP Pilot Phase, 30+ years experience in higher education.
Role: provide co-leadership on Landowner Education, Community Engagement & Riparian Protection.
Craig Wightman (B.Sc., R.P. Bio.) - Restoration Consultant
(email: email@example.com )
Experience: 46 years experience in fish biology and environmental management
Organization: B.C. Conservation Foundation (BCCF)
Role: Technical Advisor & BCCF's CSSP Coordinator (funding, reporting, QA/QC). Project review & consultation; writing and managing funding applications/grants; inter-agency liaison.
Christine Brophy (Dip. Resource Management Officer of Technology, Bachelor of Natural Resource Protection)
(email: firstname.lastname@example.org )
Experience: 3 years Project Manager of the CSSP Pilot Phase.
Role: CSSP Field Manager. Planning, implementing and monitoring restoration work by student crew; media and public relations.
Peter Law (B.Sc., Habitat Biologist - retired), Project Consultant
(email: email@example.com )
Experience: 30+ years experience with the B.C. Ministry of the Environment, responsible for Riparian Area Regulation (RAR) assessment on Vancouver Island.
Role: Riparian area regulation consultation; assisting and advising the CSSP Field Manager; inter-agency liaison.
Dave Polster (M.Sc., R.P. Bio.)
(email: firstname.lastname@example.org )
Experience: Bioengineering expert. 2013 recipient of the John Reiger Achievement Award for excellence in environmental restoration. 30+ years of restoration experience.
Organization: Polster Environmental Services Ltd., Duncan, BC
Role: Technical Advisor. Planning, advising and QA/QC of all riparian restoration activities.
How Was the Project Funded
Project work was funded primarily by grants, but also by owners of restored properties. For a list of Project funders click here.
Project Progress & Reports
We are now into our second year of the post-pilot project. For a report on what we have accomplished in our first year, please see . . .
The Roots of the Project
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:
collaborative government that supports local watershed management
healthy watershed ecosystems that support a healthy community with a vibrant economy
an informed community that understands and cares about and for its watershed
a regulatory and financial framework that ensure compliance and watershed integrity
decision-making and public education that are fuelled by best-available science, community knowledge and traditional ecological knowledge
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:
government (civic, provincial, federal)
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 below.
CSSP Pilot Project
The first phase of the CSSP, completed in the fall of 2016, was a 3 year pilot project to engage community and to change attitudes regarding the value of riparian areas and to involve shoreline owners who wished to return their riparian zones to a healthy state.
Based upon conversations with waterfront property owners during visits with them, there has been a positive change of attitudes and behaviour with respect to natural riparian areas due to our activities. This is reflected in the interest shown in riparian restoration by property owners. In the beginning of the project, we sought out property owners who might be interested in riparian restoration of their property. By the end of the project we were finding that the roles had changed, now property owners were seeking us in order to have their properties restored.
Pilot Project Summary Report
Here is a summary of what we have accomplished under the Pilot Project:
restored 8,167 square metres of habitat by
planting 4,570 plants on
22 properties on Cowichan Lake and Cowichan River
Each property now has a “Shoreline Steward” driveway sign that calls attention to their participation in the program.
We have produced a Riparian Care & Maintenance Manual, a valuable resource regarding the identification, care and maintenance of all riparian plants. Click here to see it.
Participants were identified through the landowner education component of CSSP where CLRSS volunteers knocked on doors and talked to individual owners about the benefits of natural vegetation on their foreshores. To date, we have completed 282 of these “riparian visits”.
We also administered 227 surveys that measure owners’ knowledge of riparian protection bylaws and their personal preferences for balancing their recreational needs with the ecological value of retaining natural shoreline vegetation on their properties.
Restored sites were used as demonstrations for riparian tours led by the Project’s Manager. The 7 tours conducted have proven successful in engaging a wider audience including: media, politicians, individual property owners, and members of other watershed groups.
Community engagement was also realized through the CLRSS website and Facebook page as well as articles in the local newspaper. We also featured CSSP when participating in community events.
Besides the aforementioned results which are easily measureable, another achievement is the affect the project had upon the young adults who have worked with us doing riparian restoration. Each has turned into a riparian ambassador, spreading the word about the value of the riparian zone and some have even gone on to pursue higher education in environmental studies.
Project work was funded primarily by grants, but also by property owner donations. We would like to thank and acknowledge the following
Funders & In-kind Supporters
Cowichan Valley Regional District
BC Conservation Foundation
Department of Fisheries and Oceans (Recreational Fisheries Conservation Partnership Program)
Cowichan Valley Naturalists
Environment and Climate Change Canada (EcoAction Community Funding Program)
Lake Cowichan First Nation
First West Foundation (Island Savings Community Endowment)
Habitat Conservation Trust Fund Meyers, Norris, Penny
Pacific Salmon Foundation
And of course . . .
the many CLRSS volunteers
Participating Project Property Owners
Project Detailed Yearly Reports
CSSP Summer 2016 Report
Here is the concluding report for the Pilot Phase:
CSSP Summer 2015 Report
For complete details of what we have accomplished in 2015 click on the following:
CSSP Summer 2014 Report
In the first year of the project we completed many important things including
making door to door visits of approximately 100 lakeshore residences to talk about the health of the Lake
completion of surveys to determine concerns of Lake residents
and most importantly, working to repair and restore riparian habitat around the Lake
Our CLRSS 5 person summer work crew, consisting of a VIU student supervisor & 4 Lake Cowichan high school students, worked diligently to complete riparian restoration work on seven properties around the Lake.
consultation with property owners on developing a planting plan to restore their riparian zone to its native state
invasive plant removal & planting preparation
planting of 2500+ native plants
erection of deer fencing
We completed two projects on communal sites. One in Honeymoon Bay at the Paradise RV Park and the other on Lake Cowichan First Nations property on North Shore Road.
Paradise RV Park July 5th
The CLRSS work crew led 34 volunteers from the RV Park and CLRSS to restore a 640 square meter area of foreshore, planting 527 native plants. After the hard work, a hamburger and hot dog BBQ, provided by the Paradise RV folks, was enjoyed by all. On August 26th the CLRSS work crew returned to weed the whole area.
Lake Cowichan First Nations July 26th
At the Lake Cowichan First Nation's site on North Shore road the CLRSS work crew led 33 volunteers from Lake Cowichan First Nations, the CLRSS & other stewardship organizations in the replanting of 853 native plants in a 1,500 square meter foreshore area.
Individual Owner Sites
The CLRSS summer work crew worked on five properties around the Lake. Working together with the property owners 1,154 native plants were planted. Some of the plantings addressed beach erosion problems as well as riparian issues.