Water Conservation in the Koksilah Watershed – Responding to Climate Disruption

Salvaging salmon fry in the Koksilah River. (photo Genevieve Singleton)

On July 17th, the Nature Centre is partnering with the Cowichan Watershed Board to host an evening on Water Conservation in the increasingly drought challenged Koksilah Watershed. Join us for a solutions-focused community conversation from 6 pm to 9 pm at the Hub in Cowichan Station.

Sierra Robinson, Permaculture Teacher

Speakers Tom Rutherford, fish biologist and Watershed Board Executive Director, and David Slade, Watershed Board member and former President of the BC Groundwater Association, will be joined by 17-year old Sierra Robinson, permaculture teacher, farmer, film-maker and crew-lead for the Cowichan Valley Earth Guardians. Together they will talk about the severe drought conditions in the watershed, the ongoing challenge of climate change and real, on-the-ground water conservation solutions.

“Water conservation is everybody’s responsibility,” says Rutherford, “While it’s easy to point fingers at the big agricultural users, we all have to step up.  We can all be better water stewards.”

A world-café style community conversation will follow the presentations to give residents a chance to share what water conservation efforts are working, what is worth trying and what kind of support is needed to better address the growing water challenges in the Koksilah.

During the evening local gardeners and hobby farmers in the Koksilah Watershed will also have a chance to apply to win one of six free permaculture water conservation garden audits on their property. These will be conducted by local permaculturists Jason Greenwood and Sierra Robinson in August. Those householders participating in garden audits will receive a report with specific water conservation recommendations for their property.

Permaculture is an ecological approach to gardening and food production and one of its most exciting aspects is its approach to water. Permaculture designers use landscape design to conserve and store water while building topsoil. Some permaculture projects have been so successful that they even recharge groundwater supplies.

One of the gardens selected for an audit will also be chosen for a Permaculture Blitz implementing water conservation solutions. This includes both design support from our permaculture experts and a day of hands-on help from a team of young volunteers to work on a water conservation garden transformation this fall.  The team will bring tools and willing hands. The property owner will cover the hard costs, such as the purchase of trees or shrubs.


Click HERE to enter to Win A Permaculture Water Conservation Audit


ENTER to WIN a FREE Permaculture Water Conservation Garden Audit on your property


Permaculture Water Conservation Garden Audit on your property (Open to Gardeners and Hobby Farmers in the Koksilah Watershed)

Six lucky home owners will receive an audit of their property this August, 2019. From this group of 6, one homeowner will have the chance to transform their property this summer through a one day Permaculture Blitz. Note all hard costs will be paid for by the property owner, design and labour will be courtesy of a permaculture expert and a team of youth volunteers. 

To complete the application please fill out the form below and submit to info@cowichanestuary.ca 

For questions, email info@cowichanestuary.ca or call 250.597.2288

Enter to Win A Permaculture Water Conservation Garden Audit

Thank you Rotary Club of Duncan for their amazing effort staining our building

It takes a village to maintain the Nature Centre, and all it’s programs, interpretive displays, fundraising and and and…

Which is why it was so wonderful to have the incredibly focused, dedicated energy of the Rotary Club of Duncan to come stain our building in a morning.

We are deeply grateful.

Some photos from the day!

We are hiring! Project Assistant, Part time, 24 month contract

We are hiring! Project Assistant, Part time, 24 month contract

Cowichan Estuary Nature Centre (CENC) Project Assistant 

Hours:18 hours a week

Rate: $17/hr

Anticipated start date: As soon as possible

Contract: 24 months


Project Description: The “Conserving & Protecting Cowichan Fresh Water for a Climate Resilient Future” project is aimed at engaging youth and communities in the  Cowichan Valley to produce measurable results in conserving and protecting freshwater aquatic habitat and building climate resilience in the Cowichan and Koksilah Watersheds through leadership training, educational workshops, awareness-­raising activities, and effective hands­-on water conservation and restoration projects in the two watershed that converge at the Cowichan Estuary

Project Support Job Description: The CENC Project Assistant works under the direction and supervision of the CENC Coordinator and the CENC Board President. They will function as a key resource for the project’s success by means of working on project administration, program and workshop organization and support, co-coordination of conservation and restoration action days and tracking data to measure project success through evaluations and other metrics (including volunteer hours, areas of restoration work completed, survival of riparian plantings over two years, etc.). They will assist in overall project communications and outreach, and volunteer support.


  • Project-related CENC website (WordPress) updates.
  • Assist with communication and outreach, including creating event posters and other graphic communications, slide shows and reports.
  • Update media contacts, draft media releases, and track earned media.
  • Assist the coordinator in planning and implement action days and workshops.
  • Communicate with members and supporters via email using MailChimp & Sumac software.
  • Maintain information systems: monthly statistics, member,supporter and volunteer lists, and ensure data is entered into the database.
  • Assist with financial recordkeeping, and reporting pertaining to the project.
  • Maintain CENC supplies and equipment for the project.
  • Respond to phone calls, emails and general inquiries.
  • Assist the project education team as needed.
  • Assist with maintenance of CENC databases.
  • Communicate with project volunteers, ensure volunteer coverage for assistance with the project.
  • Assist with other Nature Centre activities and duties as needed and time is available.


  • Experience working in non-profit administration in either a volunteer or professional capacity.  Diploma in Office Administration or a related discipline an asset.
  • Education, or work experience relating to ecological restoration or citizen science, permaculture, marine/coastal ecosystems.
  • Experience working or volunteering in a non-profit environment.
  • Demonstrated organizational and planning skills, ability to meet deadlines.
  • Excellent interpersonal skills and ability to communicate effectively both verbally and in writing.
  • Flexibility, initiative, creativity and problem solving skills.
  • Proficiency with MS Office including Excel, Word, Access, Publisher and PowerPoint.
  • Ability to design and create simple and attractive posters and graphics.
  • Experience with online newsletter platforms such as MailChimp.
  • Experience with social media and online engagement.
  • Experience with donor management software, such as MS Dynamics, Salesforce, or Sumac.
  • Website experience, preferably on a WordPress platform.


How to Apply: Ensure that your resume shows how your skills and experiences apply to the qualifications (above). Please submit your resume, cover letter and references via email by 11:59pm on July 17, 2019

Email resume to Alicia Taylor at alicia@cowichanestuary.ca with subject heading: Project Assistant Application. Use this format for your resume filename: LastName_FirstName_Application_2019.


We thank all those who apply for their interest in our organization; only shortlisted applicants will be contacted.


Project Assistant – Posting ECO Action

Eelgrass Transplanting June 2019, over 5000 plants were transplanted!

Eelgrass Transplanting June 2019, over 5000 plants were transplanted!

We send out a HUGE Thank you to all the volunteers who assisted in the eelgrass restoration project this week

We had an amazing 4 days of participating in the restoration of eel grass beds. BIG thanks Cheri Ayers and Cowichan Tribes, Sea Change and to all the volunteers including Alistair MacGregor MP and Chief Seymour for their participation and love of the estuary.

Over 5000 eelgrass rhizomes were transplanted

Cowichan Tribes, with support from the Federal Coastal Restoration Fund, teamed up with the Cowichan Estuary Nature Centre to re-plant over 5000 eelgrass plants in the Cowichan Estuary.  Eelgrass restoration was being overseen by biologist Cheri Ayers and a team of experts from SeaChange Marine Conservation Society who worked with divers and many volunteers to restore eelgrass meadows in the estuary.

“For many years the northern side of the estuary has been lacking eelgrass while the southern side near Hecate Park has continued to thrive” said Chief Seymour of Cowichan Tribes. “In historic times the elders tell of fields of eelgrass across the whole estuary where they raked crabs and harvested seafood. When the tide was out the table was set”.  The team re-planted two pilot areas – one on the extreme northern edge of the estuary and one with the Western Stevedoring lease area along the WesCan Terminal Causeway. The pilot areas will be monitored in 6 months and if successful additional planting will take place over the next two years.

Email alicia@cowichanestuary.ca to add your name to the restoration list for future projects


July 17th 6-9pm: Water Conservation in the Koksilah Watershed, a Community Conversation @ the HUB – free


SAVE THE DATE: July 17th 6-9pm

Join us for an evening on Water Conservation in the Koksilah Watershed –
 Responding to our Changing Climate: A Community Conversation at the HUB in Cowichan Station

With speakers David Slade & Tom Rutherford from the Cowichan Watershed Board, and 16 year-old Sierra Robinson, permaculture teacher

AND a chance for Gardeners  and Hobby Farmers in the Koksilah Watershed to apply to have a permaculture water conservation garden audit on their property and win a one-day permaculture water conservation garden Perma-Blitz transformation.  

We are hiring! Summer Camp Leader – extended deadline June 5th

Spend a summer immersed in nature on the shorelines of the inspiring Cowichan Estuary located in Cowichan Bay, BC.

Science and Nature Summer Camp Leader – extended deadline – June 5th, 2019

Summer break is special, and the next best thing to being a summer camp attendee is being a summer camp leader. Envision your days immersed in nature, play and discovery. Gather your love and knowledge of the sea and science and build on your skills of sharing, facilitating and children development. We have two 10 week positions ready for 2 youth (age 15-30) keen to take their appreciation for the natural world and awareness of how to lead and support others to the next level.

Detailed job description and application process

Eric Marshall Wins Island Savings Award

We are delighted to recognize long-time Nature Centre Volunteer Eric Marshall who was selected as an Outstanding Volunteer to receive the Island Savings #SimpleGenerosity Award.

“Eric’s contributions to the Cowichan Estuary Nature Centre and the community in general are significant.” says Nature Centre Coordinator Haley Guest. “He generously gives his time as a volunteer nature interpreter, works with our school programs, and also works on the Operations Committee. I’ve learned so much from Eric and am grateful for his wisdom and commitment to our little Nature Centre!”

Eric received $1500 to give to a charity of his choice – and we are grateful that he kindly donated the funds to the Nature Centre.

Eric Marshall and Cowichan Estuary Nature Centre Coordinator Haley Guest. Eric kindly donated the $1500 to the Nature Centre.

#SimpleGenerosity was a year-long campaign of Island Savings and other divisions of First West Credit Union as part of an effort to celebrate the Canadians who make communities great by recognizing local volunteers, non-profit organizations and charities that are making meaningful contributions in our communities.

In 2017, they recognized 52 outstanding volunteers or volunteer teams – one individual or group every week from communities throughout British Columbia. They believe that every act of kindness and every volunteer hour make our communities strong and vibrant.

The Nature Centre’s New Coordinator

We are pleased to welcome Haley Guest as the Estuary Nature Centre’s new Coordinator. Over the next ten months Haley will be taking a lead role in coordinating our Eco-Action Project: Adapting to Climate Change: Community Workshops and Volunteer Restoration Action Days in and around the estuary.  She’s keen to get to know our community partners in this work and to support and grow our volunteers who are the backbone of the Centre. She’s now our go-to person if you are interested in volunteering or otherwise supporting the Nature Centre’s work. haley@cowichanestuary.ca

Haley has a solid background in environmental education, including a degree in Environmental Science and Ecology from Dalhousie University. She is currently completing her Masters in Environmental Education and Communication at Royal Roads. Haley comes to us with years of volunteer and event coordination experience, and a passion to contribute to community resilience. For the past four years she has worked at Dalhousie leading an ocean literacy research project and coordinating the development of the innovative education program ‘Ocean School’, while also working as the Marine Conservation Biology Lab Manager.

Haley is keen to dive into the climate adaptation project saying, “The shoreline and eelgrass restoration work really interests me; I believe that time spent restoring natural spaces can empower people to feel a sense of agency and a greater connection with their human and non-human communities – building both ecological and community resilience.”

Welcome aboard Haley!

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