The Duncan community engages in Wetland Mapping.

Thank you to our wonderful Map our Marshes participants who came out to our second Map our Marshes workshop of 2016! It took place in Duncan, BC on June 11th and was held at the Island Savings Centre. This workshop was held in partnership with the Somenos Marsh Wildlife Society (SMWS) and we had Elizabeth Bailey join us from the Society to tour us around Somenos Marsh and teach us a bit about the Society. We had 18 participants attend the workshop and everyone was eager to learn more about wetlands, invasive species and wetland mapping.

Jason presenting on wetland types.

Jason Jobin, BCWF Wetlands Education Program Coordinator, kicked off the day with a presentation on wetlands. He explained what a wetland is and the 3 ingredients: water, soil influenced by the presence of water, and hydrophytic (water loving) plants. He taught about the 5 main types of wetlands and how to recognize them, and explained that you will often come across sites that have more than one type present within one wetland area. Jason also discussed why wetlands are so important; they have multiple values including: flood and drought mitigation; water filtration; food, water and habitat sources; stop over areas for migrating birds; acting as carbon sinks; providing spawning and nesting grounds; nutrient cycling; and many more. This is why they need to be protected.

Elizabeth introducing the group to the Somenos Marsh Open Air Classroom.

Jason then talked about the many ways wetlands can be degraded and destroyed; and explained how our Wetlands Education Program is helping to restore wetlands and protect existing wetlands. He discussed how previous BCWF WEP participants have used the skills and knowledge gained at our workshops to take action in their communities. Even people with no previous wetland knowledge can do great things, like build a wetland habitat in their backyard for frogs, invertebrates and birds to use. One past participant went on to build 13 wetlands and counting, while others have formed stewardship groups within their communities and started large initiatives to map and conserve their local wetlands. Jason was sure to mention that before an individual or group goes out to map a wetland, it is important to check if the site is on private property and permission is needed, and if it has already been mapped and surveyed so that work is not being repeated. Mapping takes time and we want to make sure that time is being used well!

We then went out to the Somenos Marsh Open Air Classroom and Elizabeth gave us a tour on the boardwalk. She explained the importance of the Marsh for the many wildlife species that use it and we saw posted signs with information on many of the bird species residing in the marsh. The marsh also has spiritual and recreational values to the community.

Looking out at Somenos Marsh and seeing some patches of invasive Reed Canary Grass and Yellow Flag Iris.

As we were walking along the boardwalk, Elizabeth pointed out a few of the invasive plant species that are causing problems in the marsh including Reed Canary Grass, Blackberry and Yellow flag Iris. She also discussed the invasive plant called Parrotfeather, which just recently became an issue. It grows in thick mats and can disrupt the creek flow and salmon passage between the creek and the lake. The SMWS is currently working on a plan to investigate how bad the problem is and ways of removal.

Elizabeth discussing the wetland values and purpose.

After having lunch in the field, we walked to another site within Somenos Marsh, a constructed storm-water wetland that Elizabeth helped construct last year. Elizabeth explained the history about the site and that the wetland helps filter storm water containing run off, as well as provides wildlife habitat and flood/draught mitigation. At the small age of only 1 year old, the plant communities are taking off very well, which will greatly help with the water filtration. The site is being used by many wildlife animals already, many invertebrate species were seen, deer tracks were found and we saw and heard multiple bird species. There were many native plants here, including rush and sedge species, elderberry, hardhack, alders, water parsley, aquatic plants, etc.  One of the invasive plants affecting this area is Giant Mannagrass, it is starting to choke out other plants, but hopefully as the trees grow taller their shade will kill it off. Another invasive seen at this site is called Creeping Buttercup which is a low growing plant with yellow flowers that can choke out native species. We also saw quite a few invasive Bull Frogs at this site.

Waterstriders and backswimmer
Waterstriders and a backswimmer seen at the Somenos Marsh storm water wetland.
Bull frogs
Bull frogs spotted at the wetland.
Participant using a GPS unit to map the wetland.

This storm-water wetland also served as our site to learn about mapping and surveying wetlands for the workshop. Jason taught participants how to use the GPS units and then everyone got to walk around the wetland and map the perimeter using a GPS unit. Thankfully nobody fell in! Jason then walked everyone through how to do a quick survey of a wetland by filling out a site visit form as a group. This survey form is still a draft and is being finalized in partnership with the provincial government to be a standard wetland survey form to be used province wide.

Participants filling out the site visit survey form.

The form we used is what people will be using if they map and survey wetlands in their community and this information can be uploaded onto the Community Mapping Network BC Wetlands Atlas and the GPS data can be uploaded here and on Google Earth as well. Jason later showed the group how to do this when we returned back to the classroom. When back in the classroom we also watched an amazing video that a drone took of Somenos Marsh which shows the many habitat areas and also shows where work needs to be done, for example invasive plant removal. This allows us to view parts of the marsh that would not generally be accessible otherwise.

Every participant then got a BCWF WEP T-shirt to take home and remember us by. We all said our goodbyes and the workshop came to an end! We are hoping to see some Duncan community members add wetland data onto Google Earth in the future.

To view all of the workshop photographs please view the flickr album here.

A special thank you goes to out our funders and partners, the workshop would not have been possible without their contributions.

This workshop would not be possible without the financial contributions of the following organizations:

MoM Funders

This workshop was held in partnership with:

Somenos Marsh Wildlife Society

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 Without habitat…there is no wildlife.  It’s that simple!

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