Volunteers build beds for 30,000 chum eggs to settle in late this winter in an Oak Bay segment of Bowker Creek. (Gerald Harris photo)

Volunteers build beds for 30,000 chum eggs to settle in late this winter in an Oak Bay segment of Bowker Creek. (Gerald Harris photo)

Volunteers move masses of gravel, rock into Oak Bay creek

Bowker Creek bed ready for 30,000 chum salmon in early 2022

The bed is freshly made and ready for 30,000 potential baby salmon to nestle into late next winter.

About 30 volunteer streamkeepers with Friends of Bowker Creek moved up to seven tonnes of rock and gravel into the creek on Sept. 11. The work, done alongside the experienced staff of Peninsula Streams, is the next step preparing to bring salmon back to the creek – it winds through Saanich, Oak Bay and Victoria – for the first time in more than 100 years.

The work was intentionally scheduled for a Saturday to get volunteers beyond the usual retired crowd, said Gerald Harris, director for Friends of Bowker Creek Society. The ploy worked, with a handful of players from a local rugby team and several alum from local schools among the group.

READ ALSO: Friends of Bowker Creek to plant 30,000 salmon eggs in Oak Bay section

“For some of them, when they were going to school, Bowker Creek was just a deep somewhat nasty ditch behind the school,” Harris said.

That was before work began on the Bowker Creek Blueprint, a 100-year plan published in 2010. One project on the blueprint was completed in 2015, the physical reconstruction of the creek near Oak Bay High. Work included creating a meandering channel with riffles, small islands and native riparian vegetation on the bank. The work left the school with an outdoor classroom, and the community with a naturalized greenway.

Planting chum eggs is another restoration initiative.

This winter, those same streamkeepers plan to build fencing on the banks at the site to discourage people from entering the creek or trampling vegetation.

In November, the volunteer streamkeepers will go to the Goldstream hatchery and work with the Goldstream Volunteer Salmonid Enhancement Association to take eggs from selected chum salmon. The hatchery will incubate the eggs until February 2022, when Peninsula Streams Society staff will again offer expertise as the volunteers place place thousands of eggs in the newly crafted gravel bed.

Follow the project or find out how to volunteer with the Friends at bowkercreek.org.

c.vanreeuwyk@blackpress.ca

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Volunteers build beds for 30,000 chum eggs to settle in late this winter in an Oak Bay segment of Bowker Creek. (Gerald Harris photo)

Volunteers build beds for 30,000 chum eggs to settle in late this winter in an Oak Bay segment of Bowker Creek. (Gerald Harris photo)