Mapping Wetlands in St’at’imc Territory with Split Rock Environmental – Lillooet
Splitrock Environmental is an aboriginal business, owned by the St’at’imc community of Sekw’el’was. They specialize in ecological stewardship, environmental monitoring, native plant propagation and ethnobotany. Splitrock is looking to identify and classify wetlands in the St’at’imc Territory. For the first year the focus will be on lands within a 15km radius of Lillooet to the south and west – traditional use lands of both the Sekw’el’was and T’it’q’et communities. The areas to be explored include reserve, private and forest lands, as well as urban lands in the town of Lillooet. They reached out to BC Wildlife Federation’s Wetlands Education Program to provide training for their staff in the field of wetland inventory. The BCWF WEP Manager, Neil Fletcher, was unable to provide the training himself and so Ryan Durand of Ecologic (Environmental Consultation Firm) was brought in for the job. Durand, having 17 years in the field, was able to provide a high quality, two-day course for the Splitrock staff.
The first day of the course took place mostly in the beautiful log cabin classroom on the Splitrock property. The participants included students, farmers, biologists and more. To open the day, Kim North (manager) gave the class a quick presentation which explained the purpose of the course. Durand then took the floor and began his course by guiding the class through the process of wetland classification. Understanding the differences between marshes, swamps, fens and bogs is critical when working with wetlands. Durand and BCWF are working with the province to develop a standardized methodology to inventory wetlands. These standards will allow stewardship groups and citizen science to make meaningful contributions to inventorying wetlands in BC. Splitrock is one of the first groups to be exposed to the new framework.
After the portion on wetland classification, we turned off the powerpoints, projectors and computers and moved to Splitrock’s outdoor classroom. Durand provided the class with soil samples collected from different types of wetlands around Squamish. The participants seemed to really enjoy the hands-on activity of identifying the soil types. Soil identification can often be very subjective with a class new to wetland classifications, so it was a pleasant surprise to see the participants come to similar conclusions.
The field day began at the Splitrock classroom where Durand and Splitrock biologist Iraleigh Anderson led a brief safety meeting. Once the participants geared up, we headed to a wetland in a back channel on Cayoosh Creek, not far from the confluence with the Fraser River. Participants were given the opportunity to go through the process of classifying the wetland. We discovered that the typical vegetation types were horsetails and sedges growing in mineral soils. Durand walked the class through the rest of the classification process and determined that it was a Swamp horsetail – Beaked sedge marsh (Wm02).
We then visited Enterprise Pond, a unique marsh that was found at the bottom of a rocky slope. The participants again had an opportunity to run through the entire process of classifying the wetland on their own. The typical species were cattails and sedges. Through the classification process we determined that it was a cattail marsh (Wm05).
The third site we visited was on Spray Creek Ranch, owned by Tristan Banwell. On the ranch there is an area that receives excess water from a nearby stream. While not a traditional wetland, the area is clearly productive and is important habitat for several species.
Instructor Ryan Durand had this to say about working with Splitrock: “Working with Splitrock was a lot of fun and the course went well considering the short amount of time we had together. The class was exposed to multiple types of wetlands and had the opportunity to go through the classification process multiple times. Splitrocks connection with locals and community groups was an added bonus and they are doing great work in the Lillooet area.”
BCWF WEP would like to thank our sponsors for making this workshop possible.
We would also like to thank Splitrock for the amazing work they are doing in the Lillooet area and Ryan Durand for running such a productive workshop.