At the end of a chilly April, myself, spring WEP Intern Natashia Cox, and WEP Coordinator Neil Fletcher took a 3 day trip out to Kamloops for a series of site visits with the September Restoration Workshop in mind. Three potential sites, all on the beautiful grasslands of the Tk’emlups Indian Band Reserve, were on the roster. Each one was a disturbed, degraded or dried up wetland in need of varying degrees of rehabilitation. With the help of knowledgeable hosts Natural Resource officer Barry Bennett (TIB) and Forestry Manager Jim McGrath (TIB), John Surgenor (Biologist with Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations), Jocelyn Garner (Spadefoot student at TRU), Past Wetlands Institute Participants Heather Toles, Sue Huddart & Diane James, and Friends of Dallas-Barnhartvale Nature Park members Milt Stanley & Jim Sloper, we explored the potential of each site in a caravan of 4x4s.
The results of our site visits were clear after soil samples and an observation of habitat opportunities. Our first site on Strawberry Hill was the most exciting in that it could provide habitat for Spadefoot and wintering grounds for the Sharp Tailed Grouse. It already had a great variety of birds and some nesting cavities of Western Bluebird in the aspen copse next to it. The site has been frequented by the problematic population of wild horses who overgraze and trample native plant species and prepare the soil for seed of invasives and spreading sagebrush. We determined that by fencing off most of the area from the horses, the wetland could be renewed. If the site contained a cordoned access point for watering livestock it could benefit all animals and regain its integrity.
After these site visits, we all made a point of making our way out to the nearby 2010 Wetlands Institute site of Stud’s Pasture. Along with its stewards who were also our gracious hosts for the trip, Sue and Diane, we discussed the possibility of constructing some more ephemeral wetlands alongside it. The ground water level is quite high, and this was one reason in a list of many that put it on the list of wetland construction sites for the September workshop.
Early the next morning, we accepted the exciting invitation to a sharp-tailed grouse count during their mating ritual. Accompanied by Barry Bennett (TIB) and Rick Howie (a biologist with Aspen Park Consulting) , we crouched down in the grassy hillside to watch the grouse return to their Lek (an annual mating ground) and perform their dance. This was an excellent education for the three of us: we learned a great deal about this species and the importance of maintaining wild grassland spaces as these birds are so particular and habitual in the spaces they choose to mate.
In the afternoon we made our way out to the Dallas-Barnhartvale Nature Park to see a site that will be rehabilitated by the Friends of Dallas-Barnhartvale Nature Park (including Heather Toles). The BCWF Wetlands Education Program will be lending support wherever it can to help these stewards with their own local project which looks to be an exciting endeavor.
Heather Toles also took us on a tour of her backyard wetland that was created during the 2010 Kamloops Wetland Institute. It is a thriving pool frequently visited by wildlife which she maintains and monitors daily. It was a pleasure to witness a site nearing it’s first year mark after being built and to see such success.
The trip concluded with a visit to the Kamloops Fish and Game Club on invitation from Don Trethewey, where Neil delivered a presentation on the Wetlands Education Program and its activities. There was a great deal of interest and support from members and important connections with like-minded individuals were made.
To see a slideshow of photos from our site visits in Kamloops, click here.