By Alice Johnson, Citizen Journalist
If a stream on the peninsula runs through your property, you have probably met Ian Bruce, Executive Director of the Peninsula Streams Society (PSS). In only ten years this largely volunteer group has changed the landscape for the better.
In the Mount Newton valley, through which Hagen Creek flows, Anne Waterhouse spoke about her experience with Peninsula Streams and her land which includes the creek. “I enjoyed hearing a bit of history on how the First Nations people used to catch many trout almost daily in the stream… My cousin was impressed on how this is the first group [Peninsula Streams Society] she has heard of who are not just trying to restore salmon streams but trout streams as well.”
Waterhouse explains that when she first moved to the property in 2000 the bridge crossing the creek was level, but successive years of flooding caused the bridge to tilt sideways. After some heavy work removing blackberry bushes the stream has stopped flooding and returned to its healthy flow. Another surprise awaited Anne after the clearing… she noted that from her house she now had an unobscured view of the lovely stream. Anne said, “When I am walking down by the stream there is the added sound of the riffles which were not there before.”
Anne recalled the stages of the creek restoration and said, ”When Ian suggested a small wetlands pond in the beginning I said ‘great!’ The land in the area was not usable for anything else. Little did I know that he would get so excited and start increasing the size of the pond. How could I stop him? It is quite elaborate with islands, logs and stumps added and all the plants put in by the volunteers.” Anne explained that the work continued and, “Now, more has been added in the way of a channel from the creek to the pond for creek overflow and a mini-lock to stop the outflow of the pond water … to raise the level of the pond.” Anne jokes, “I could almost add a boat launch for a lazy boat drift … in the summer.”
As a non profit society Peninsula Streams promotes healthy watersheds and coastlines through educational programmes in schools, water quality testing and physical stream restoration. The Society includes several watershed committees and coastline protection groups on the Saanich Peninsula. Their accomplishments over the past decade have been significant and worthy of celebration.
Regarding his ten year involvement with PSS, Bruce says: “It has been my pleasure and honour to have worked with over a 1000 dedicated volunteers and students from 8 to 80 years old over the past 10 years. We have pulled ivy, re-built streams, released salmon, and reclaimed habitat amongst other activities.”
Bruce also enjoys the school programs where he works with teachers and children. “Our school programs reach almost 1000… Grade 3 and 6 students every year and it is so rewarding to see them take an interest in helping their local ecosystems. I can’t think of a better way to spend my life” Says Bruce.
Peninsula Streams Society says that on July 14th they invite everyone to Centennial Park in Central Saanich to see their work and celebrate their accomplishments. According to their news release, 2012 marks the tenth anniversary for this important society. “As a Society we have undergone changes and growth, but what has remained constant is the support received from the community. This has included support from municipalities, local businesses and organisations, foundations, volunteers and friends.”
July 14th event attractions will include project displays, watershed model, stream tours, live music, wine and snack sales an aquarium with live fish, plus release-a-fish and adopt-a-tree by donation.
Peninsula Streams Society asks you to come on out and see if you live in one of the Peninsula’s many Watersheds.