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Kus-kus-sum watershed project moves to rebuild landscape

With concrete and rebar removed and plants beginning to be planted, the Kus-kus-sum watershed project is now moving to regrade the landscape.

Fundraising, outreach and mapping manager Caila Holbrook says this part of the project needs to make the area look like a natural landscape. It’s been going through restoration after the land was purchased in 2020, as it was completely covered in concrete.

Holbrook added the process will see the manipulation of the landscape to match that of the estuary.

“This year what we’re going to be doing is a lot of earthworks on the site. We’ve got to move a lot of the earth, we’ve got to excavate down to the elevations we want so that we have a natural streamside that kind of meshes with the Hollyhock Flats area,” she said. “Then later this fall we’ll be doing a lot more planting on the site.”

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Around 400 plants were put in the ground early in April at the north end. A variety of native species including alders, hemlocks, red flower currents, willows and others were planted.

“To make it look more natural, we’re going to be stepping it down towards the water’s edge,” added Holbrook. “We have to reduce the elevation so that it slopes gently down towards the water’s edge.”

Channels for fish and wildlife will also be put in to make them fit with the surrounding environment. Plants that can handle saltwater will be put near the river to start.

The project currently has raised around 64 per cent of the money that will be needed. But Holbrook says they are still looking for over a million dollars to fund it.

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She says they are applying for grants for the restoration and doing fundraisers to raise awareness.

The most recent fundraiser, called “Painting by the Numbers,” will be on May 14 at 40 Knots Winery, involving art donations from local artists Ken Kirby and Nana Cook.

Fifty paintings are being donated by the pair, and Project Watershed says the total value is over $100,000.

People who would like a painting and be at the event will purchase a $500 ticket. The ticket secures a painting from the duo. Those who want to be there for wine can purchase a $15 ticket.

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Project Watershed is hoping to raise $25,000 at the event. People can also donate at the Project Watershed or Kus-kus-sum websites, or volunteer.

Holbrook adds she is very excited about how far the project has come as it’s been a long time in the making.

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