The Somass River Estuary, lies at the head of the narrow 40 km long Alberni inlet at the south end of the Alberni Valley. It is located at the mouth of the second largest watershed on Vancouver Island . Today, only a small portion of the original delta remains relatively undisturbed.  It is consequently one of the most protected winter feeding sites for waterfowl migrating and wintering along the west coast of Vancouver Island.

Visitors to the site enjoy great birding, beautiful views, the land holds of historic tsunamis and First Nations sites that date artifacts back 4000 years.

An Estuary Management Plan has been developed for the site that includes a vision, objectives, habitat classification, management strategies, area designations, and implementation and monitoring plans. Under the management plan an area is designated for agriculture.  Coleman Meadows Farm leases approximately 25 acres of fields for forage production. Our goal is to manage the land in concert with the wildlife that exists on site and the Somass Estuary Management Committee who volunteer to manage the entire 96.8 hectares.

gorgeous but cool April 17, 2009 We began April 17, 2009  to manage fields and control weeds  by harrowing the entire old hay field and by plowing and seeding sections that had considerable weed and bird damage. We took several days to pull and cut broom that had encroached on the field.  An old Spruce branch had fallen over during heavy snow last winter which we removed from the field, counting the growth rings on the branch alone was 60 years!  Our farm will mange approximately 25 acres  organically. There is considerable encroachment of dock and other perennial weeds within the grasslands. Our management approach will be to deep plough, sow in the spring with annual oat crop, cut and seed when plants emerge and  sow with grazing Rye to encourage birds in September.

Winter of 2010 saw an increase in the Canada Goose population and the cool late spring meant a later hay harvest. We managed one cut and the remainder of the later summer (September) was used to control encroaching weeds. The estuary is a fascinating place at any given afternoon big black bears roam the estuary. We had many high tides in early July which delayed the hay harvest and the bears loved to play on the round bales!

July 2010 hay harvest

The wind howls up the inlet every afternoon which provides the perfect balance for drying hay, but the high tides late in the afternoon meant that considerable raking was required!

Many eagles sit and watch as we cut the hay swooping down to pick snakes and mice as they are no longer hidden in the tall grass.

Common wildlife to the site are:

Canada Goose, Trumpeter Swan, Mallard, Green-winged Teal, American Wigeon, Bald Eagle, Great Blue Heron, Gyrfalcon, Pink Salmon, Sandhill Crane, Coho Salmon, Chinook Salmon, Black Bear and Wolf

For more information visit the Ducks Unlimited site for the Somass Estuary

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Work on the agriculture portion of the Somass Estuary