The BC Wildlife Federation’s Wetlands Education Program (BCWF WEP) hosted a free public Map our Marshes workshop in Squamish on October 22, 2016. This workshop added a public engagement component of a more detailed wetland mapping process that the District of Squamish has been undergoing with the support of the BC Wildlife Federation. This multi-year mapping initiative is an effort to better conserve and protect wetlands in the region. Over the Summer, Doug Newbigging, an intern with BC Wildlife Federation and a student at BC Institute of Technology’s Ecological Restoration Program, worked with consultant Ryan Durand of Ecologic Environmental Consultants, to map wetlands within the District of Squamish.
Prior to the workshop, and to meaningfully engage the public and citizen-based conservation, the District of Squamish
developed a citizen-based mapping phone app with support from BCWF. The free app allows citizen scientists to efficiently upload pictures and descriptions of wetlands that they find to the District’s mapping database. The information that is collected through the app will be proofed by a professional biologist before it is added to the official webmap of Squamish (See here: https://maps.squamish.ca/html5viewer/?viewer=webmap).
The workshop was divided into two parts, a classroom lesson about wetlands followed by a field exercise where participants learned the process of a wetland inventory. There were 24 participants and 3 presenters:
Neil Fletcher, BCWF WEP Manager, opened the day with an introductory presentation about wetlands. This brought participants of various backgrounds up to speed with wetland classification. He explained the three major components of wetlands: water, soil, and hydrophilic vegetation (i.e. water-loving plants). Neil then highlighted their importance for flood control, drought mitigation, water filtration, food & habitat for wildlife, carbon sequestration, nutrient cycling, and more!
Ryan Durand, a professional biologist with Ecologic Environmental Consultants, gave the second presentation of the morning. His presentation focused on different wetland types he found in Squamish while conducting Terrestrial Ecosystem Mapping for the District of Squamish. He did an excellent job of linking the wetland classification system, whi
ch Fletcher explained previously, with local examples in Squamish.
Caroline Ashekian, the Environmental Coordinator of District of Squamish, gave the third presentation of the morning. She described how the District is incorporating sensitive ecosystem information in its Official Community Plan. Sensitive Ecosystems such as wetlands, will require Development Permits by the District before they are impacted, which provides a safeguard and an enforcement tool to help conserve important ecosystems within its jurisdiction.
After lunch, the workshop moved into the field portion, where Durand taught participants how to fill out a wetland inventory form. Durand brought participants to the swamps and ephemeral wetlands along Logger’s Creek Nature Trail. Participants followed Durand along with paper forms or on their phones or tablets using the District’s new Collector app. Participants learned how to assess various parameters of the wetlands, including soil texture, vegetation, hydrological properties, and water quality.
We hope that this workshop sparks citizen science in Squamish and we will continue to support the district with the sensitive ecosystem mapping initiative.
This workshop and associated initiatives were funded or supported by:
The Real Estate Foundation of BC, Wildlife Habitat Canada, Environment Canada, BC Institute of Technology, Government of BC, the Government of Canada, Squamish River Watershed Society, and the District of Squamish