Did you know that up to 70% of wetlands have been lost in settled areas of Canada? In the Lower Mainland the number is even higher. Between 1827 and 1990, over 85% of wetlands were lost, mainly due to agriculture and development. With Metro Vancouver’s population expected to rise to 3.4million people by 2041 (that’s approximately an additional 800,000 for those that are counting), wetland conservation and restoration in the Lower Mainland is more important than ever.
This is one of the reasons that the Wetlands Education Program hosted their 2016 Wetlands Institute in the Lower Mainland. 24 participants representing a wide range of government agencies, conservation groups, First Nations, consulting firms, educators, and more gathered in the Lower Mainland for the annual Wetlands Institute. This intensive, week-long program took participants to Aldergrove, Cheam, Chilliwack, Delta, Mission, Pitt Meadows, and many places in between. The main goal of the workshop is to, through a mix of hands-on and in-class presentations and activities, provide participants with the skills required to complete wetland projects in their communities.
“I got more out of this week than I have from any past workshop.” – 2016 Wetlands Institute Participant
As is common in many wetlands in the Lower Mainland, our two restoration projects involved invasive species management. The first project was at Dewdney Elementary School in Mission. The existing, ephemeral body of water was being choked out by Reed Canary Grass and the entire site was made inaccessible to the schoolchildren by thick Himalayan Blackberry. After removing these invasive plants, an excavator was used to create a larger clay-liner wetland. Logs were also used to create an amphitheatre where students can learn all about the natural world in a more natural setting. Since the Institute, a number of planting events (including one that was hailed on!) succeeded in adding over 2400 plants to the area. We are excited to see how the site evolves in the future.
“It’s going to look really, really beautiful. I’m going to get to visit a nice wetland when I go to school, which is really educational.” – Lucas, Dewdney Elementary Grade 6 Student
The second project involved converting a Reed Canary Grass monoculture floodplain into viable wetland habitat for a number of species including Coho Salmon. This project was a collaboration between the BC Wildlife Federation, District of Mission, Ducks Unlimited Canada, Fraser Valley Watershed Coalition, and Mission of Streams. Pits and mounds were excavated to create more open water, provide structural diversity and prevent Reed Canary Grass from re-establishing in the future. A family planting day was also held to plant an additional 3500 native shrubs, trees, sedges, and rushes to the new wetland.
In addition to assisting with the above restoration projects through planning, design, and planting, participants learned about bird banding, landowner contact, invasive species control, Traditional Ecological Knowledge, plant ID, grant-writing BC turtle biology, and amphibian identification. Significant contributions provided by participants were the removal of 400 square feet of invasive Yellow Flag Iris at Cheam Lake Wetlands, and providing restoration design input for projects in Aldergrove and Katzie territory.
As always, an array of experts from wetland-related fields were brought in to train participants. Speakers came from Wetland Restoration and Training LLT, Agrowest Consulting Scientists, Ducks Unlimited Canada, South Coast Conservation Program, Katzie First Nations, University of British Columbia, Coastal Painted Turtle Project, Langley Environmental Partners Society, Fraser Valley Regional District, Canadian Wildlife Service, and Balance Ecological.
District of Mission, Fraser Valley Watershed Coalition, Stave Valley Salmonid Enhancement Society, Ducks Unlimited, Province of BC, Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation, Public Conservation Assistance Fund, Wildlife Habitat Canada, the Boag Foundation, Government of Canada, Dewdney Elementary School, Tall Timbers Log Homes, TW Excavating Ltd., Ridgedale Rod and Gun Club, the Oliver Family, Carter Family, Mission Public School District, Fraser Valley Regional District, Youth Unlimited, Malabar farm, Davies Sand and Gravel, Valley Pulp Carriers, Communities in Bloom, Rootdown Farm, and 5 Maples Nursery, Mission Contractors, Dewdney Elementary families, South Coast Conservation Program, Balance Ecological, Precious Frog, Catherine Tarasoff, Terry McIntosh, Community Mapping Network, Katzie First Nations, Canadian Wildlife Service, Metro Vancouver Parks Department, Coastal Painted Turtle Project, .Langley Environmental Partners Society, Wetland Restoration Consulting, and Wetland Restoration and Training LLC.