Wed, 6 Sep 2023

Morrison Creek Headwaters acquisition ensures protection of rare fish species

A lily pond in the Morrison Creek Headwaters - photo from Comox Valley Land Trust

The Comox Valley Land Trust (CVLT), in collaboration with the BC Parks Foundation, recently announced the acquisition of 275ha of land to create the Morrison Headwaters conservation area on Vancouver Island.

Located near the Village of Cumberland in the Comox Valley Regional District and within the traditional territory of the K’ómoks First Nation, this project acquired nearly all the unprotected land in the headwaters of the watershed.

A Morrison Creek Lamprey – photo from Comox Valley Land Trust

The streams of the creek provide spawning and rearing habitat for an abundant run of Coho salmon, occasional spawning of Pink and Chum salmon, and habitat for several trout species such as Rainbow, Cutthroat, and Dolly Varden. Perhaps most notable though is that Morrison Creek and its tributary streams are Critical Habitat for the Morrison Creek Lamprey, a rare form of Western Brook Lamprey. The Morrison Creek Lamprey is listed as Endangered on the Species-At-Risk schedule 1 as it exists only in Morrison Creek, and the headwaters area now protects the vast majority of its habitat.

“The acquisition of the Morrison Creek headwaters by the Comox Valley Land Trust (CVLT) and BC Parks Foundation (BCPF) with the support of HCTF is a remarkable achievement that significantly advances conservation in regionally and globally significant ways. At 680-acres, the headwaters of Morrison Creek includes a complex of riparian areas, streams, springs and wetlands along with associated upland forests,” says Tim Ennis, Executive Director of the CVLT.

Morrison Creek – photo from Comox Valley Land Trust

“The somewhat overlooked area nestled between the City of Courtenay and Village of Cumberland is an important refugium for wildlife of all kinds, from bears and cougar to deer, birds, butterflies, bats, amphibians and reptiles. The land is now protected forever as a conservation area.”

Since 1981, HCTF has helped secure valuable habitat in British Columbia through conservation land acquisitions. With incredible biological diversity, B.C. is home to more vertebrates than any other province in Canada and over 600 ecosystem types; acquisition of conservation lands like the Morrison Headwaters is an effective, though difficult, means of protecting fish, wildlife, and their habitats.

The Comox Valley Land Trust formed in 1999 to promote, protect, conserve, and restore the land, waters, and habitat of the Comox Valley. It now protects approximately 600 hectares of ecological significance.

This project was made possible through the partnership of the Comox Valley Land Trust and BC Parks Foundation, with funding from Environment and Climate Change Canada, Sitka Foundation, the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation, the Pacific Salmon Foundation, the Courtenay Fish and Game Protective Association, B.C. Hydro’s Fish & wildlife Compensation Program, and over $500,000 from other individuals and organizations through a fundraiser.