Learning all about Wetland Surveys and Stewardship at the Parksville Wetlandkeepers!

The first Wetlandkeepers workshop of 2016 was held in Parksville from April 22-24. This workshop, taught by Wetlandkeepers Trainer Michele Jones of Mimulus Biological Consultants, had 19 participants attend to learn about wetlands and how they can help protect them in their communities. A special thank you goes to Faye with the Mid Vancouver Island Habitat Enhancement Society, a workshop partner, who helped plan and notify the community about the event.

A large wetland at Rathtrevor Park, Parksville.

The workshop began on Friday evening with group introductions and a wetland presentation. Michele taught everyone what wetlands are, about wetland soils, and how to classify wetlands into 5 main types: Bogs, fens, swamps, marshes and shallow open water wetlands.

Saturday started bright an early in the classroom to discuss how to monitor wetlands and get a baseline to track changes from over time.  Surveying wetlands can lead to their protection, and the best way to protect them is to protect the water and identify the risks and influences on the water system in and around the wetland. It is important to look at the surrounding watershed and to know its boundaries and understand what may be entering the wetland at hand. Michele discussed the capabilities of stewardship groups and how they can have a huge impact on local wetland protection via land owner education.

Participants tracing the Rathtrevor wetland onto mylar.

One part of surveying a wetland is to get zonation data. Zonation means noting the changes in vegetation from upper areas to the lower wet areas of a wetland. These zones can often be seen from an airphoto and traced onto mylar tracing paper. Once we inspect the wetland from an airphoto to get an idea of what we will find, we can go out into the field and physically see what is there and measure the zone lengths. Having these traced onto mylar allows us to refer back to our sketches later and track changes in the wetland over time.

Participants following a compass bearing.

We then headed into the field to zone the large wetland at Rathtrevor Park. Michele taught the group how to use a compass and participants broke out into 6 groups to complete a compass exercise. Each group chose a spot in the field to place an animal marker and was given 3 different headings to follow for certain lengths. After following each heading for the specified length they should end up back at their marker. All 6 groups were successful!

We continued on with learning which information to collect when surveying a wetland. Michele led the group through the first few pages of the Wetlandkeepers long form survey and we arrived at the transect portion of the form. Now knowing how to use a compass, we laid a baseline and marked off 6 areas along the baseline to set up transects across the wetland. Each group followed the same heading into the wetland to get parallel transects and measured the lengths of each zone they passed through as they went. We all learned how to successfully travel through dense swamp zone containing rose among other shrubs! We finished in the field with taking a soil sample and performing soil classification tests and followed the Von Post scale. The soil found was very sandy and slightly loamy.

Setting up a transect line at Rathtrevor Park.

Upon returning to the classroom everyone calculated their scale to transfer their field transect measurements onto their mylar sketches and mark off the zone lengths and types.

Participants returned on Sunday to learn about wetland birds and vegetation. In the classroom Michele discussed how to set up a bird survey, a vegetation survey and a wildlife survey. She discussed things to consider before heading out like breeding seasons, migration periods, weather, flowering times, and much more. Before heading out it is always good to look at the BC Species and Ecosystems Explorer to check for at risk species in the area and to check out previous surveys to see if the area has been surveyed already. We also completed a vegetation identification activity indoors for participants to familiarize themselves with how to use a dichotomous key. We identified himilayan blackberry, sitka willow, pacific crabapple and hardhack.

Next, we headed back to Rathtrevor Park for some birding and vegetation identification. We heard many different bird songs during our visit including songs of the: raven, olive-sided flycatcher, red-breasted nuthatch, mallard duck, red-winged blackbird, robin, hummingbird, orange-crowned warbler, flicker, pileated woodpecker and kinglet. We also heard many pacific chorus frogs.

Participants identifying plants in their vegetation quadrat.

It was now time to use our knowledge and gain hands-on skills for setting up vegetation quadrats and identifying plants in the field. We set up a baseline and marked off spots to set up transect lines leading across the wetland. Each group set up a vegetation quadrat in each zone that they passed through in the wetland and identified each type of plant and it’s percent cover in the quadrats. This was all recorded on the long form survey and taken back to classroom.

To finish off the workshop we discussed how participants can and should reach out to their local stewardship groups and join in on wetland monitoring and surveying. Fay with the Mid Vancouver Island Habitat Enhancement Society discussed opportunities for participants to get involved with in the community. Faye also showed a video that Julie Pisani from the Regional District of Nanaimo made to let participants know about a watershed mapping and inventory project taking place in partnership with Vancouver Island University, a few participants signed up to help out with this project!

Parksville Wetlandkeepers workshop participants group photograph.

Thank you for stopping in to read about our workshop, for more photos please click here.

For more information about our workshops please contact Jason Jobin, BCWF Wetlands Education Program Coordinator at wetlands_coordinator@bcwf.bc.ca

This workshop was in partnership with the Mid Vancouver Island Habitat Enhancement Societymvihes-NEWLOGO-002
This project was undertaken with the financial support of:
/ Ce projet a été réalisé avec l’appui financier de: 

WK Parksville Funders

Since 1985, Wildlife Habitat Canada, a national, non-profit, charitable conservation organization, has invested over $60 million to support hundreds of conservation projects on private and public lands across Canada, through its granting program. Wildlife Habitat Canada works through partnerships with communities, landowners, governments, non-government organizations, and industry to conserve, enhance, and restore wildlife habitat. To learn more about the projects that Wildlife Habitat Canada has funded or to see our annual report, please visit www.whc.org. Without habitat…there is no wildlife.  It’s that simple!

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