Two people inspect a wooded tributary just before it meets Morrison Creek.

Photo Credit: Steve Ogle | British Columbia Magazine

A Little Salmon Stream Worth Fighting For

Fundraisers need more donations to reach their goal of buying and protecting nearly 300 hectares of private land in the headwaters

Morrison Creek’s steady supply of cold, clear spring water makes for great fish and wildlife habitat

A major fundraising effort is underway to buy more land to protect the headwaters of Morrison Creek, one of the richest salmon streams on southeast Vancouver Island.

The BC Parks Foundation has partnered with the Comox Valley Land Trust to negotiate an agreement to buy almost 300 hectares from the logging company owners. They have raised pledges and cash to cover most of the cost.

The campaign now has until December 31st, 2022 to reach a target of another $375,000 in donations to close the deal. 

For more than 20 years, volunteers with the Morrison Creek Streamkeepers have been restoring riparian and in stream habitat, and monitoring fish and wildlife populations in the creeks that meanders through rural and urban Comox Valley.

Headwater protection is considered a key piece of the conservation puzzle.

Morrison Creek benefits from a steady and consistent supply of cool spring fed water, buffering it from extreme temperature and flow fluctuations that impact many VanIsle streams. Fish love it.

According to Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Morrison Creek is the most productive salmon stream of its size found anywhere on southeast Vancouver Island. And it’s entirely without hatchery support. All salmon species except sockeye return to spawn in Morrison Creek, along with cutthroat and rainbow trout and dolly Varden.

The headwaters are especially important for Coho salmon, which spawn and rear in the upper reaches of the watershed.

Located in the territory of the K’omoks First Nation, the wetlands, swamps, and riparian areas in the headwaters are also rich in bird, mammal, and amphibian biodiversity. Motion-triggered wildlife cameras have captured images of bears, cougars, deer, mink, beavers and other wildlife.

The web of life is alive and well in Morrison Creek. And it deserves to be protected.

The watershed is also home to more than a dozen species at risk, including one found nowhere else in the world —the Morrison Creek lamprey. It’s a subspecies of Western Brook lamprey, a curious looking aquatic invertebrate widely found in temperate rivers and seas.

They grow to be about as long as an adult human’s index finger, and scientist believe lampreys have been around since the Palaeozoic Era, roughly 300 million years ago.

Given that the Morrison Creek lamprey is found only in its namesake creek, the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) lists the species as “endangered.”