Nimbly avoiding the mounting floodwaters, the Wetlands Education Program team was able to host two Map our Marshes workshops in Peachland (May 6th) and Salmo (May 10th); sandwiching a mélange of wetland site visits, presentations, and restoration prescriptions.
Held in partnership with the Peachland Watershed Protection Alliance, our first workshop began in the charming “Little Schoolhouse” before proceeding to the field. Due to this year’s unusually rapid snowmelt, many of the roads leading to Peachland’s wetlands were washed out and unsafe to venture upon. Therefore, participants spent the outdoor portion of the workshop classifying and mapping the Rose Valley Regional Park Wetland in West Kelowna. This wetland, directly adjacent to an elementary school, was brimming with bird life: an Osprey hunted for fish and Yellow-Headed Blackbirds flittered among the vegetation while the elusive Pied-Billed Grebe and American Coot could be heard in the distance. Only if every school was so lucky as to have such an amazing resource nearby. Once the backroad conditions improve, the Protection Alliance will be mapping their watershed’s wetlands, which they believe have a long history of mismanagement.
Three days separated the two workshops but rather than travel back to the Lower Mainland or rest on our laurels, the team made the most of time in the area by packing in as many site visits as possible. One such visit was to Robson Community School near Castlegar, which will be creating a wetland on their school grounds this fall. After a short presentation, approximately 60 students participated in a “barefoot mapping” exercise where they sketched what the future wetland may look like. Spearheaded by Castlegar & District Wildlife Association’s Lawrence Redfern, this project will provide an outdoor space for exploring nature without any field trip costs. Fingers crossed we will be able to return when the excavator breaks ground. BCWF also met with partners at the Lower Kootenay Band (ie. Yaqan Nukiy), Regional District of Central Kootenay, and Erickson Elementary School; all of whom will be working with BCWF to restore wetlands in the future. Further visits to wetlands in Vernon and Kelowna rounded off these inter-workshop travels.
The Salmo Map our Marshes was instigated through a partnership with the Salmo Valley Seniors ATV Club, which has the motto “Share, Protect, Enjoy”. Unfortunately a few less-ecologically-minded recreationists have created a bad reputation for ATV users but by and large they are respectful lovers of nature. In fact, ATV users can be a powerful ally in wetland conservation, as you may have read in one of our previous articles. This was most definitely the wettest Map our Marshes I have organized. If the rising waters weren’t making things difficult enough by flooding many wetlands, the rain ensured that not an inch of soil remained dry. Fortunately, we were able to find some intact wetland habitat nearby at Erie Lake. Though invasive Reed Canary Grass was present, it had not completely dominated the Marsh Cinquefoil, Cattail, and Pond Lilly in the marsh/shallow open water complex. Participants also took the opportunity to tour the KP Park Wetland, which BCWF restored at the 2013 Wetlands Institute. We are looking forward to continuing our partnership with the Salmo Valley Seniors ATV Club and recording small, previously unmapped wetlands in the area.
You can see images of the Peachland workshop here, and images of the Salmo workshop here.
Currently the Wetlands Education Program has no other Map our Marshes workshops planned for 2018, but other workshops like our Wetlands Institute are still to come. Click here to see our upcoming events.
The above workshops were made possible with the financial support of the following organizations: