Mossom 2023 Year End Message
As we reflect on the year we have just traversed together, we think with immense gratitude of the community members who see the value of what we do at Mossom and are able contribute volunteer time or donations or share our stewardship message. Without strong community support we could not operate.
(photo credit: Paul Steeves)
By far our biggest donation this year was a Federal Government Community Services Recovery Grant, through the Port Moody Foundation. This is funding specifically designed to assist societies like ours who suffered a downturn because of COVID. It allowed us to hire a second program educator, Lauren Kerley, and greatly expand our school field program offerings and their availability. This grant also enabled us to completely redesign our website, purchase a membership management program, and improve communication with the community and the school district. Big thanks to Tracy Green for our excellent new, visually pleasing, user-friendly website.
We deeply appreciate generous funding from Fisheries and Oceans Canada, the City of Port Moody, Seaspan, RBC Global, the Port Moody Firefighters Charitable Society, Vancity, and Reed Point Marina. A special shout out to repeat generous donor Dietmar Raudzus and all the other kind individuals who supported Mossom with donations throughout the year. We love the beautiful cards and tea towels that artist Trudy Norton is allowing us to offer for sale.
Mossom Bio Blitz
In June, many biologists from a full range of flora and fauna disciplines studied the Mossom watershed as part of our 2023 BioBlitz, the second we have done. This event was co-ordinated by Robyn Ingham, Kamil Szlachta and Serena Moore and their colleagues at Bailey Environmental Consulting. The impressive results of that BioBlitz survey can be found on our website. Our signature ‘Mossom is Awesome’ t-shirts were given to all participants, and they are also on sale at the hatchery in child and adult sizes.
Hatchery and Fish Returns
It’s been a challenging year with extreme drought lasting well into the end of October. Mossom water levels were at a historic low, making it challenging for returning spawners. We were able to identify a few hundred coho and chum and thanks to DFO and Arne Perrin we were able to secure adequate numbers of coho adults in our creek for this year’s egg incubation.
Kudos and thanks to Mike Baldus and Brooke Wilson, teachers at Heritage Woods Secondary School. This year for the first time their Science Co-op students helped to enumerate our returning spawners. It’s a program we hope to repeat.
We are so grateful to DFO community advisor Brian Smith and DFO aquatic science technician Eric Kukulowicz for their consistent responsiveness and dedicated hard work to assist us in so many ways.
Ongoing Research Projects
Coho tagging: We are planning to tag all 4000 of our coho in 2024 prior to their release. This is a follow up to our v7 radio tag project in 2022. Mortality was determined to be very high within Burrard Inlet and we want to learn more about this, so we have decided to implant all 4000 of this year’s coho with radio tags which are considerably less expensive than the v7 tags. These coho smolts will be released at several different sites within and beyond Mossom Creek. With the assistance of UBC PhD student Zachary Sherker, we’ll build a receiver to record every returning coho so we can determine which release location is best for survival. We are in discussion with the Seymour Salmonid Society to partner with them on this project.
Road Salt: Led by Vicki Guzikowski, BIMES is partnering in a large multi-year study, made possible by a five-million-dollar grant from the federal government. Mossom is one of more than thirty stream keeper groups in the Lower Mainland participating in this project. Vicki works with a team of students and volunteers recording data from three data loggers in Mossom Creek that measure salinity. In addition, they do invertebrate sampling and juvenile fry trapping to see what is living in our creek. Recorded data is compared with other creeks in Metro Vancouver. Stream salinity tests will be duplicated in UBC, SFU and BCIT labs to determine the impact of road salt on organisms living in the creeks.
Accessibility Project: Thanks to the vision and hard work of Pat Dennett, our construction manager and a longtime volunteer at Mossom, we recently received the Rick Hansen Accessibility Foundation Gold Award for many improvements and modifications to our eight-year-old facility. Mossom is the first hatchery in Canada to receive this award. We hope to go even further to make our building and grounds still more user-friendly for mobility, sight and hearing challenged individuals.
Education Program and Facility Rentals
Thanks to the federal grant, as mentioned, we were able to hire Lauren Kerley as our new program manager. She joins Shelley Frick in providing curriculum-focused environmental programs for all ages.
We had quite a variety of learners this past year with students from the Dawson College Veterinary Tech program participating in salmon dissections, SFU student teachers learning environmental education strategies, guide and scout groups enjoying sleepovers and programs, and many school district and pre-school classes doing a variety of field trip-based activities with us. On days when it is available, our meeting room with its kitchen has been rented out for corporate meetings and celebrations.
Development in Anmore
Mossom Creek watershed is the last large remaining intact watershed in this area we need to do everything possible to protect it.
In December, first reading for a designation change to the lands for the proposed Anmore South development was passed at Village of Anmore Council. If this massive project goes through, it will bring a significant increase in population with negative impacts on the forest and waterways, especially Schoolhouse Creek North just west of Mossom. This is the beginning of a very long process. We have started working with the Village of Anmore and icona (the developer) to ensure best practices are followed to preserve and protect as much as possible of the forest and the creek systems and as much of the wildlife that use this area for habitat as possible.
We are constantly impressed with the number of visitors who come to Mossom and especially delighted with those who decide to return and volunteer. We have a great solid base of regular volunteers, and we also have a wonderful mix of visitors every Sunday at our weekly community open house. Visitors love to see what we are up to and learn about the work our volunteers are doing. Young visitors enjoy feeding our juvenile coho. We welcome individuals with a passion for the environment to come and give us a hand.
Special thanks to BIMES board directors for their untiring dedication to everything we do at Mossom. Rod and Ruth, thank you for your vision and dedication. You inspire everyone who visits. Brian and Howard, thank you for your focus on the financials. Neil, we so very much appreciate your tireless work as our terrific hatchery manager. Jen, your weekly commitment to scientific water quality testing and volunteer training is critical to our credibility. Greg, thank you for everything you are doing to manage our membership base, Tony, thank you for handling the board minutes, and Kevin M. and Cory for your words of wisdom. Kevin R., your excellent leadership as president has made a world of difference to our capabilities!
As we do every year, we invited our volunteers and supporters to celebrate the spirit of the holiday season. Much food was brought to share and for SHARE, gifts were exchanged (and re-exchanged), and a fun time was had by all.
Drought and Trees
2023 was a tough year for trees in the lower mainland due to the extended drought. The City of Port Moody assisted us in removing hazard trees that did not make it through the summer drought or were infected by the hemlock looper moth. They also provided us with a variety of replacement saplings of Douglas Fir, Western Red Cedar, Red Alder and Vine Maple for planting.
We hosted DFO senior regional staff and the SEHAB group (Salmon Enhancement Habitat Advisory Board) that regularly meets with DFO to work with them in a variety of areas. Thanks go to Kevin Ryan for serving on this board and speaking up for our concerns and interests at these meetings.
Every second year, DFO hosts a wonderful learning opportunity for stream keepers throughout BC. This year, the three-day SEP workshop was in beautiful Port Hardy. There were nine Mossom volunteers in attendance.
Sunday Open Houses:
We love our weekly Sunday get-togethers at the hatchery! It’s a time for work and for connecting. We never know who will show up to visit us and it’s a pleasure to welcome new and returning visitors. Paul Steeves deserves a big netful of recognition for all his hard work taking excellent photographs each Sunday and for managing our many trail cameras. Documenting the abundant wildlife of the watershed has become an important component of what we do at Mossom and has great educational value.