Until this year, the Wetlands Education Program has focused many of its efforts in the southern parts of BC, where most of the historical loss of wetlands has occurred. However, acknowledging a rapidly developing north and impacts from the resource sector, we’ve been aware for some time of the need to enhance the capacity of northern communities to steward and restore wetlands. This past summer, WEP took the first steps to expanding their program in the North-East of BC by hosting a Wetlandkeepers workshop in Fort St John, and was able to concurrently hold a free public talk and design a number of wetland restoration projects.
Registration for the Wetlandkeepers Workshop, held at Northern Lights College, quickly filled with eager participants from a wide background including First Nation members, industry professionals, and government employees. One participant travelled 6 hours to attend! This may have been due to the fact that it was a special Wetlandkeepers, featuring hands-on training with wetland restoration expert, Tom Biebighauser. Tom, who has restored over 2000 wetlands across multiple countries, led participants through the design of multiple restoration projects, including one at a site previously used for Natural Gas extraction. Taking full advantage of his time in the area, Tom also provided a free public talk in the evening about the Benefits of Wetland Restoration, showing how wetlands can be simply restored to look and function as their natural counterparts. Participants also received in depth training on plant identification and were able to hone their soil classification with samples calibrated to exact percentages of sand, silt, and clay. Photos of the workshop can be found here. Overall, the workshop generated more than enough interest to justify future workshops in the area. Stay tuned to our Facebook and Twitter accounts for more details in Spring 2018. Alternatively, you can keep an eye on our Upcoming Events page.
During our time in Fort St. John, restoration sites were identified in partnership with workshop partners; Forest, Lands, Natural Resources and Operations (FLNRO) and the North Peace Rod and Gun Club. BCWF Wetlands Program staff were offered some northern BC hospitality from several BCWF Club members (Jason Palfy, Kaleb Bellamy, and Daine Gieni) who graciously helped provide access to the south slopes of the Peace River by jet boat in order to view some unique “tufa seeps” that will be impacted by the Site C Dam reservoir (should it proceed). Found at approximately 7 locations along the steep southern slopes of the Peace River, the small cascading pools are formed when calcium carbonate precipitates from the slow-moving, mineral-rich water. Over time (estimated by some to be thousands of years), an ecosystem of specially adapted mosses and lichens form a truly beautiful sight. Though it is unlikely that these conditions could be replicated elsewhere without significant cost, the sites were documented for potential future compensation considerations. Restoration design prescriptions were prepared on private land with fields where wetlands were drained and crown land areas where resource extraction operations had occurred. BCWF hopes to continue preparation of design prescriptions and begin restoring wetlands in partnership with local organizations in the Peace region as early as 2019.
Activities were held in partnership with the Ministry of Forest, Lands, Natural Resource Operations (FLNRO) and the North Peace Rod and Gun Club. Special thanks to BCWF Regional President, Gerry Paille, for helping to organize the Wetlandkeepers Workshop. Also special thanks to Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program for enabling enhanced participation of regional First Nation Communities at the workshop.
These activities were made possible with the financial support of Wildlife Habitat Canada, Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program, Environment and Climate Change Canada, and the Government of BC.