Sunday, April 15, 2012

"Looking back, the Bowker Creek Forum in 2002 was THE turning point for restoring watershed health," says Chris Jensen

Making a Contribution
The Bowker Creek watershed is located in British Columbia's Capital Regional District on southern Vancouver Island. The Bowker Creek Urban Watershed Renewal Initiative (BCI) demonstrates how to apply a 'regional team approach' to urban restoration in the Georgia Basin. The players driving the BCI have brought their vision to fruition through development of the Bowker Creek Blueprint. This is a 100-year action plan to restore watershed health.

The Bowker Creek Watershed Management Plan guides all activities undertaken by the BCI. The plan was developed in 2002 by a forum of municipal representatives, community organizations and residents. 

Chris Jensen was a founding member of the Bowker Creek Initiative. He is now an Infrastructure Resource Officer with BC's Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development where he is responsible for the development of tools, programs and policies that aim to improve water sustainability and community infrastructure. 
“The Bowker Creek Forum was THE turning point,” emphasizes Chris Jensen. “Use whatever analogy you wish to use to describe the situation, the reality is that there had been a progressive deterioration in creek health and we were at the bottom of the curve. Subsequent to the Forum, there has been a slow progression upwards.”

Chris Jensen: In his own words
“I grew up by Elk Lake on a farm property which had a creek, a pond and a wetland. So I played in water all the time. The water features connected me to nature.”

“Then the day came that my parents subdivided our property and all the water features were removed. The land was paved and sterilized, drained and filled.....there was no longer a place to play.  During this time I also noticed that as the watershed was developed, the more the water quality in local lakes deteriorated. I wondered if there was a link. I wondered if the land my family developed was part of the problem.”

“This experience directly influenced what I would later go onto study at university.  I specialized in hydrology so I could learn how to achieve a balance between development and nature.”

“I wanted to apply this knowledge locally and take it from theory to practice. I didn’t have to look any further than the watershed I live in for the opportunity to do so. I connected with Ian Graeme and together we have been working to improve watershed health for over 10 years.”

Developing Needed Tools: “In 2008, I obtained a research fellowship to do my Master’s Degree. The decision to return to UVic was part of my personal evolution from community advocate to developing needed tools for practitioners.”

“My research focus is on HOW to restore the rainfall capture capacity of the Bowker Creek watershed as we redevelop the urban landscape. Because this is the first climate change adaptation study of its kind, we have a chance to show the world how small changes can make a big difference to our cities," concludes Chris Jensen.

TO LEARN MORE: To download a comprehensive article about community engagement in the Bowker Creek watershed, click on Shared Responsibility: Community Perspectives on Developing and Implementing the 100-Year Action Plan for Watershed Restoration.

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