Editor’s note: If you haven’t met “Flo” yet, this superhero is visiting Cowichan communities this summer, helping us face down a severe drought and water restrictions. Cowichan Watershed Board summer student Lauren Frost reports in weekly as Flo visits local watershed heroes to learn more about their work.
Name: Rai Mullin
Occupation: Summer student, Cowichan Lake and River Stewardship Society (CLRSS)
Why Flo Likes Him: Riparian Restoration Hero
Flo: Hi Rai. I understand you are here for the summer to help with lake and river stewardship. How do you like it?
Rai: I love riparian restoration. It really pays in ways that you wouldn’t imagine. When you get to go back the next year and check out the sites, and see that it looks great and the plants are doing well, it gives you a really good feeling about the whole project.
Flo: CLRSS is an amazing organization that does so much to restore lakeside vegetation all summer to improve the fish and wildlife habitat around Cowichan Lake. Thank you for helping them! Can you tell me why this work is so important?
Rai: The work that we do is so important because the entire watershed depends on this. The lake is the beginning. All the water that runs off into the lake continues down the river, affecting the rest of the watershed. The riparian habitat also prevents erosion, provides food and cover for fish and wildlife, and provides shade. Without the riparian restoration, the water that runs through could be polluted and damaging to the ecosystem.
Flo: What is your favourite project or accomplishment of this summer?
Rai: My favourite project would be the hardest one: Jake’s at the Lake. It may have been very difficult digging, but it is a focal point for the entire town of Lake Cowichan to see. It really shows how much hard work we pour into this, and how much it means to us. It also proves that, in the long run, the work we do looks great for both the watershed and for the entire town.
Flo: What will you look back on when you’re older and feel great about?
Rai: I’ve always loved the forest as a kid, so when I look back and I see all the plants grown up and natural, it will have a really great look and feel to it, knowing how important it is for the ecosystem.
Flo: If you could ask every Cowichan region resident to do one thing for our watershed, what would it be?
Rai: I would ask every single resident to learn something new about the way our watershed functions — something that they haven’t thought about or put through their mind before — and think about why it happens, how it happens, where it comes from, and what they can do about it.