Note: The text below is only a brief overview. For a much more detailed examination of the Morrison Creek Headwaters, please refer to the Morrison Creek Headwaters SHIM report, prepared by Project Watershed.
Brief Overview of the Morrison Creek headwaters
The Morrison Creek Watershed is a very unique watershed. Besides producing enormous numbers of salmon for such a small (890ha) watershed, it is also home to the Morrison Creek Lamprey – a fish that is found nowhere else in the world! The key to the ecological health and diversity of the Morrison Creek Watershed lies in the area known as the Morrison Creek Headwaters. This area, 543ha in size, is a complex network of over 90ha of wetlands linked by approximately 19km of stream channel. It lies to the west of the new Inland Island Highway and immediately to the south of Lake Trail Rd. The area is shaped like a “big bowl” and lies at the foot of a large escarpment. Because of this large, sudden, drop in elevation, groundwater traveling underground towards the City of Courtenay from Comox Lake “springs” up to the surface and supplies the clean, cool, streamflows that run year-round in Morrison Creek.
The Morrison Creek Headwaters provide terrific habitat for a wide variety of species including fish, birds (waterfowl, raptors, songbirds), amphibians, rodents, beavers, deer, elk, bears, cougars, and a great diversity of plants. Furthermore, because wetlands act like giant “sponges” the huge complex of wetlands in the Morrison Creek Headwaters provide several important ecological functions. They are:
- Reduce high flows during large rainstorms. Wetlands soak up the large volumes of rainwater and release it slowly into the stream. This reduces downstream flooding and streambank erosion, and greatly improves the survival of animals living in the stream at the bottom of the watershed.
- Reduce stream channel drying during periods of drought. Wetlands slowly release all the water they soaked up during the spring rains through the summer. This is a crucial feature for the survival of fish and other animals that depend on the stream water to live through the late summer and early fall.
- Purify water. Wetlands are a lot like natures kidneys – as much as 80-90% of suspended matter is removed from water as it flows through a wetland.
- Wonderful to visit! Check out some of the pictures of the Morrison Creek Headwaters and see for yourself.