Gulf Islands National Park Reserve of Canada
Baseline Inventory and Monitoring
Prior to acquisition by the Gulf Islands National Park Reserve, very little scientific knowledge and written information existed for the Lyall Creek watershed. Most existing information was in the form of local knowledge of residents, obtained through personal communications. In the initial years of Park establishment, Parks Canada is interested in studying and evaluating rare and sensitive features such as freshwater creek systems. Implementation of inventory, restoration and monitoring projects will identify areas of concern, improve the overall health of these sites and allow the agency to track changes over time. This work is being completed in the context of collaboration and involvement with local stewardship groups and other government agencies.
Various surveys have been conducted in recent years to gain a better understanding and knowledge of the flora and fauna that are supported by Lyall Creek. A detailed habitat inventory was conducted during the winter of 2004 to map stream features in detail along the creek. Habitat varies from deeply scoured pools to rocky waterfalls and wide expanses of gravel filled runs. The abundance of downed logs and dense streamside vegetation shade the creek and provide cover to aquatic species. Over a quarter of the creek system is composed of wetlands, providing habitat for species that call these rare freshwater ecosystems home.
An electrofishing survey, conducted in August 2005, showed that the creek is in fact incredibly productive, producing unusually high numbers of fish for this region. High densities of cutthroat trout and juvenile coho were observed, in addition to a few sculpins in the lower reaches.
Parks Canada biology team conducting electrofishing survey
© L. Sumi, Parks Canada / 2005
Even in its highly altered state, Lyall Creek is rich with a wide diversity of species. Amphibian and reptile surveys in riparian and wetland habitats undertaken in Gulf Islands National Park Reserve in 2004 confirm the presence of four native species of amphibians in the Lyall Creek watershed: the long-toed salamander, rough-skinned newt, red-legged frog and Pacific treefrog. The red-legged frog is particularly abundant along the main channel. It is listed as "special concern" by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Species in Canada and is on the provincial blue list of species at risk. Many sites are also rich in bird species, though these surveys are yet to be conducted.
As Parks Canada Ecologist Todd Golumbia states,
The Lyall Creek watershed is unique in the southern Gulf Islands. This creek will serve as a benchmark and a
template to which other creek systems will be compared.
Over the long term, monitoring of the creek's ecological health will help us to better understand the natural processes at work in island streams. Species inventories and long-term restoration measures can be tracked over time, and the information gained will lead to better decision-making about managing the park's ecosystems.
Parks Canada will continue with monitoring activities and support of community-based education. Local events such as the annual fall salmon BBQ organized by the Lyall Creek Enhancement Society will continue to highlight the return of the salmon to the creek. The Lyall Creek trail will provide residents and visitors the opportunity to appreciate the creek's diversity and richness.
Background of Lyall Creek
Anatomy of a Creek
Restoring the Habitat of Lyall Creek