This past weekend, the BCWF Wetlands Education Program (WEP) team hosted a Wetlandkeepers in Vancouver, BC. Our team partnered with four incredible organizations, including: Pacific Spirit Park Society, Metro Vancouver Regional Parks, Jericho Stewardship Group, and Vancouver Parks Board. This workshop brought together people from many walks of life, such as, government representatives, professional biologists, environmental non-profits, teachers, naturalists, and those who wanted to become environmental stewards of their community. The theme of the weekend was urban wetland management and restoration design, making our two wetland sites (Pacific Spirit Regional Park and Jericho Beach Park) the perfect settings!
The workshop began with an indoor portion, providing participants with the background information necessary to classify wetlands, ID basic plants and animals, and understand the layout of the weekend. Many of the WEP team’s past restoration projects were highlighted, with the hopes of sparking an interest in the minds of those attending to think of a restoration project in their own community. After a jam-packed evening, we signed off, ready to get out in the field in the morning.
We met in the morning at the wetlands in Pacific Spirit Regional Park. Robyn Worcester, Natural Resource Management Specialist with Metro Vancouver Regional Parks, provided an overview of the site and explained a few management strategies that had been used to keep the friendly family of beavers surviving and thriving at the wetlands. This family has caused some disruption to the roads as they flood in the winter when the water levels raise, and it has been difficult to manage. She explained the various techniques attempted and the plans moving forward. Afterwards, we took a crack at conducting Breeding Bird Surveys in the park. This was something very new for most participants, myself included! I had such a tough time distinguishing between the different types of birds and guessing their distances away from us. It was great that we had Robyn with us as she has over 10 years’ experience performing these surveys!
Next, we heard from Krista Voth, Program Coordinator of the Pacific Spirt Park Society and Co-President of the Jericho Stewardship Group. With the help of Caitlin Pierzchalski, Monitoring Protocol Developer for the Pacific Spirt Park Society, participants were guided through the steps necessary to conduct a vegetation plot survey. The two addressed many important techniques, such as how to set up a transect and measure tree size.
Afterwards, the spotlight was passed back to Robyn to explain how to conduct proper amphibian surveys, and the information portion of the day ended with one of WEP’s own, Jason Jobin, explaining how to capture and identify aquatic invertebrates.
Now it meant it was time to test out this knowledge in the field! Participants split into 5 groups staggered around the wetland and went to work. All of the above skills were put to use, and participants had a wonderful time getting their hands dirty. Groups found many exciting things in their plots including: North Western Salamanders, Tree Frogs, Water Scorpions, and Long toed Salamanders. The day ended on a high note and everyone was excited to see what tomorrow had in store.
Sunday morning began with a birding tour at the Jericho Wetlands, run by Susan Fisher and Bev Ramey, two highly knowledgeable birders. Afterwards, we were joined by Dana McDonald, Environmental Stewardship Coordinator of the Vancouver Parks Board, who gave us a tour of the Jericho Wetlands. She mentioned the sites history, which was extremely fascinating! Prior to being a city park, Jericho had once been a historic Musqueam village, the first Golf and Country Club in the province, and even a Military Air Force site. All of this land use change has led to many challenges at the park, including the divesting of three majors streams. Dana has been conducting park enhancements through the establishment of the wetlands and is currently working in partnership with the BCWF to propose a new wetland restoration site, which the participants had the chance to help design after the tour. Those attending the workshop removed invasive blackberry at the site, leveled the area, mapped the wetland size, and considered barriers and logistical pieces towards the restoration.
The workshop ended with learning about a method of invasive Yellow Flag Iris removal that is currently performed by the Jericho Stewardship Group. John Coope, Director of the Jericho Stewardship Group, and Krista Voth introduced the site and the methods involved. Participants used their muscles to haul large mats over freshly cut stems which will be left on the ground for 9 months. The method has been quite successful so far, but it is new, so results are still being evaluated.
Overall, it was a highly successful workshop! More information was covered than in previous Wetlandkeepers, giving participants a wealth of knowledge that they can take with them to enhance their own communities! We are very happy to have had such a high number of attendees and we can’t wait for the next Wetlandkeepers event. Thank you again to all our amazing partners, this workshop would not have been possible without your help and expertise. Additionally, we would like to thank Wildlife Habitat Canada, Environment and Climate Change Canada, and the Government of BC for sponsoring this event.
Click here to see additional photos of the event!
THIS WORKSHOP WAS HELD IN PARTNERSHIP WITH: