BCIT students in the Ecological Restoration degree program went on a 5 day field trip to Vancouver Island to meet practicing professionals and visit several ecological restoration project sites. We started on April 7 at Elk Lake, with a presentation on cultural eutrophication by Dr. Rick Nordin, followed by a visit to the Swan Lake Nature Center where Brian Springinotic gave the students a presentation on the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation. We then had a wonderful personal tour of the Halliburton Farm site by Dr. Purnima Govindarajulu, before retiring for the evening to Langford.
The next 4 days were equally busy, and we visited Langford Lake with Mike Leskiw, City of Langford, Kevin Rieberger, MoE and Councilor Lanny Seaton, the Manley Farm site near Cobble Hill with Connell Bradwell, the Cowichan Estuary Nature Center with Kai Rietzel, and stayed overnight in Duncan. The next day we started with a tour of the Gary Oak Ecosystem Restoration project with Dave Polster, followed by a trip to Port Alberni to visit the BC Conservation Foundation restoration of Christie Slough with James Craig and discuss the innovative thermal management strategy for the Stamp-Somass River system with Kevin Pellett. After an interesting evening in Port Alberni we departed for the Little Qualicum River estuary for an awesome tour with James Craig, Tim Clermont, Guardians of Mid Island Estuaries, Neil Dawe, retired CWS and Aaron Ritchie to learn about how alien Canada geese hybrids are destroying estuaries on the East Coast of Vancouver Island.
That afternoon we visited Courtney to learn from Jack Minard and Wayne White how the Tsolum River Restoration Society is restoring the once famous Tsolum River, before retiring to Campbell River for the night. On the final day, Mike Gage, Campbell River Salmon Society, Dave Ewart, DFO and Martin Buchanan gave the class a great tour of off-channel salmonid habitat on the Campbell River below the John Hart Dam, and a tour of the Campbell River estuary, which is one of the best examples in BC on how to transform an estuary from an industrial site to a restored estuary. The finale for the week was a side-trip to Denman Island to meet Shelly McKeachie and the Denman Island Stewardship Society, and learn about the effects of industrial mariculture on native marine foreshore ecology and habitat. Thanks for the foreshore tour, coffee and cookies Shelly!