Newsletter of the Bilston Watershed Habitat Protection Association
Spring 1997 Vol. 4 No. 1

New Years Plans

Well folks this year brings a flurry of ambitious plans to the "Bilston Buddies". The first and foremost is to carry on with the stream enhancement project started on the section just below the corner of Winter Road and Happy Valley. At present the work done last summer and fall is holding up very well to expectations. There has been no sign of erosion and a resident downstream says he has noticed far less sedimentation in the gravel beds on his property. One of the local young fishers, reports catching and releasing three nice sized trout from under the logs in the project. We are hoping to continue on with other works to protect the banks downstream subject to positive response to our application for Urban Salmonid Habitat Program funding.

Another goal, and probably the one that stands to help the overall system the most, is to see the "Bilston Watershed Management Plan" finally being adopted by the municipality of Langford. This has been, and no doubt will continue to be, an uphill battle.

Metchosin has adopted the Management Plan but is waiting for Langford to join up before rolling into full implementation. Meanwhile, they have brought in a riparian zone protection bylaw, and continue to pay for the Water Flow Monitoring program. Colwood has also blessed the Plan and have offered a modest amount of funding towards implementation. We have submitted our comments and hope for the best. So far it does look encouraging.

A new project underway is to give us a presence on the Internet. We are slowly building a "Web Page", which you can find at It is hoped to be a part of a project to promote the "Western Communities" and let everybody know just how nice and unique this part of Victoria really is. Anyone with ideas, special things about the area they want to share with the world, or are just interested should contact Ian McKenzie at 250-478-2387. We hope that the finished product will incorporate most community groups such as, residents associations, business groups, governments, area history interests, and of course, ourselves.

Annual General Meeting

The Annual General Meeting for 1997 will be held on April 28, at the Metchosin Golf and Country Club. Come on out and get to see the details of the ongoing projects and programs happening in our Watershed.

The Guest Speaker this year will be Councillor Karen Watson of Metchosin, who will speak on the Bilston Watershed Management Plan. Langford’s "Plan" representative, Winnie Siefert, has also been invited. Bring your questions and suggestions!

This is also the ideal opportunity to renew your membership. All yearly fees are due at this time.

1996 Year End Report

An overview of all our work for the last year has been assembled. The impressive list of tasks complete includes:

Winter Road project
Enhancement at Martin Brook
Scott’s Pond
Cooperative Work with the Environmental Youth Team
Stockpiling of plant material
Fish Counts
Local Schools Program
Pilot Job Training Program
Bilston Watershed Management Plan
Input and Monitoring of Governments
Water Quality Monitoring
Flow and Habitat condition monitoring

Our Volunteer contribution of Labour in 1996 totaled 1,722.5 hours! If you would like to buy or borrow a copy of the report contact Kym at 250-474-7062.

Good Year for Willows

The spring of '97 has been less than ideal in many ways, yet the cool nights and high rainfall have favoured one springtime ritual upon the creek - the collection and setting out of willow whips. Using whips for propagation is an efficient and economical way to revegetate riparian thicket and to stabilize stream banks and beds. This year has been particularly good for employing a method of restoration that requires harvesting of whips at the stage where buds are swelling but not yet in leaf. Normally this "window" for harvesting is no more than a few weeks but this spring's indifferent weather has caused willows, and many other trees and shrubs, to leaf out very slowly.

The Bilston Creek is a refuge and habitat for all our native willows. In the space of a few kilometers, a willow hunter can find the six of our native species endemic to Greater Victoria, and not a few hybrids and escaped aliens. The most commonly found willows are the Pacific Willow (Salix lucida)and the Sitka Willow (Salix sitchensis). These are small trees and thick, robust shrubs, respectively. The most attractive and sought after for pussy willow is the Hooker's Willow (Salix hookeriana) and its hybrids. This is the showiest of willows with catkins as large as your thumb; a truly glorious harbinger of spring.


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