Restoring the Side Channel in the Englishman River
MVIHES is collaborating with the Regional District of Nanaimo (RDN) Parks Dept to restore, conserve and protect riparian habitats in Englishman River Regional Park (ERRP). The project is being led by MVIHES volunteer, James Craig.
Since park formation in 2003 and since COVID 19 arrived, the trail network within the park has seen uncontrolled expansion with significant negative impacts along a large portion of the river’s west bank riparian edge, as well as parts of Clay Young Side Channel. The Side Channel is a very important rearing area for Coho Salmon fry and smolts. Both the number and size of trails have exploded with duplicate and unsanctioned trails close or next to the water’s edge through most of the 4.8km of river channel that flow through the park.
The left-hand photo shows the lack of riparian vegetation needed to stabilize the riverbank and provide shade for juvenile salmon and trout caused by the trail being right beside the river.
The right-hand photo shows an area of eroded riverbank (delineated by red lines) due to excessive foot traffic.
And due to the dynamic nature of the river, some trails are being destroyed by flooding as the river carves a new channel (left-hand photo). Eventually these areas will be inaccessible, putting more pressure on the remaining trails.
With a grant from the Pacific Salmon Foundation, funding from the RDN Parks Dept, and support from DFO’s Resource Restoration Unit, we are working with RDN Parks staff and contractors to:
- design, purchase and install educational signage to encourage people to stay on sanctioned trails,
- purchase and install split rail cedar fencing to direct foot traffic to the sanctioned trail along the Side Channel
- decommission unsanctioned trails along the Side Channel
- plant native shrubs and live stakes in impacted riparian areas to improve instream and overstream
vegetation and, ultimately, salmonid productivity.
We have completed installing split rail fencing in an area along the Side Channel as seen in the photos below. Isn’t it beeyootiful! Mid Island Fence Products supplied and installed the fence. The red squares highlight areas of bank that have been trampled and require restoration.
We're awaiting the results of a riparian trail study that the RDN commissioned in late 2021. Parks staff are still working with the consultant to finalize the report (expected May-June). This will determine what other trail routes will be sanctioned along the Side Channel, and which ones will be closed. Fencing to date may be adjusted or added according to the report’s recommendations.
Meanwhile, we’re waiting for the weather to cooperate so we can plant shrubs purchased from Streamside Native Plants, as well as doing some live staking of shrubs, to restore these Side Channel banks. We'll be looking for volunteers to help with that so keep your shovels handy!
Many thanks to:
Elaine McCulloch, Amy Gore, and Dave Wheldon of the RDN Parks Department,
Area G Director Lehann Wallace who acknowledged our concerns and brought forward the motion of managing trails and restoring riparian habitat to the Regional Parks and Trails Select Committee,
And of course, our very own James Craig.