Region 1 - Vancouver Island

Dave Judson, Ladysmith Sportsman Club

Some 15 years ago, the Holland Creek was far from ideal habitat for salmon. There were no breeding pools, very little protection from the elements, and sometimes even no water.  Due to historical logging activities increasing the speed of snowmelt, freshets would wash away any existing habitat. Dave Judson and the Ladysmith Sportsman’s club (LSC) decided to begin restoring the degraded creek and armoring it against such events.

“It needs to be done and it’s the right thing to do. In 20 years your kids will be able to come down here and watch the salmon.”

Three large side channels were created on the creek to serve multiple purposes. Not only do the channels offer basic habitat year round, but they provide refuge during harsh winters and dry summer months (seasonal extremes). Deep pools were also created in Holland Creek to act as breeding habitat and protection against predators. In addition, large woody debris and log jams were added to protect the banks and newly created habitat from the future freshets. With a trail system nearby, the restored sections also raise public awareness. The LSC also operate the Bush Creek hatchery which releases some 300 000 Chum and 50 000 Coho fry a year into Walker, Stocking, Rocky, and Holland creeks.

Knowing the importance and power of education, Dave also works with several local schools like St. Joseph’s and Chemainus Secondary School.  Each year, members of the LSC visit schools to explain the importance and function of fish hatcheries. Classes are also given 100 chum eggs to watch grow in classroom incubators. On Earth Day, students plant trees along the streamside and learn about the role of healthy vegetation in protecting banks from erosion. Visits to schools are a key step in educating children on the “giving” side of angling and hunting. 

“We don’t just enhance to get more fish in the freezer, we do it to repair habitat damage”

When speaking with Dave, he also stressed the importance of developing relationships with conservation groups and individuals. Fortunately, many of the biologists they partner with also work with the city and developers, which aids immensely. Though they are not opposed to logging or development, the FSC strives to be included in those processes in order to improve best practices regarding sediment control, riparian zone setbacks, and stormdrain diversion projects.

Dave has found that one of the major hurdles involving large conservation issues is that too often people spend more time pointing fingers at who is responsible than actually doing anything productive. In his experience, these political and legal debates can last years and delay time-sensitive action. His advice? “Rather than talk, do. Pick up a garbage bag, plant a tree…”

“You guys can figure out who to blame, meanwhile we are going to clean it up”

That is exactly what the LSC did when a landside struck several creeks in the area in 2007. When it was clear that official help would take too long, the LSC, Chemainus Rod & Gun Club, and community volunteers began to clear out the estimated 400 gravel trucks worth of debris from Stocking creek. The following year, they received funding from the Pacific Salmon Foundation to continue their work and in the end, they removed 10,000 pounds of dirt and 65,000 pounds of scrap metal (which was sold to pay for excavator work).  After 4 years of removing material, seeding the streambanks, and enhancing the habitat, the work was finally completed and salmon could use the stream once more.

-Written by Jason Jobin