For our next stop, the WEP team gathered in the small community of Crawford Bay just east of Nelson, B.C. to partner with the Eastshore Freshwater Habitat Society. Similarly, to Slocan, Crawford Bay is home to a 70-hectare wetland complex that was purchased by the regional district to prevent the destruction of one of the very few wetlands along the shores of Kootenay Lake. Unbeknownst to many, the leading cause of wetland loss across North America is destruction and development. The purchase of the Crawford Bay Regional Park was a rare event where a community rallied to actively prevent this and are actively looking to restore the area.
As the sun began to shine on the morning of the first day, participants went through the motions of familiarizing themselves with wetland classification. The Crawford Bay Regional Park was a prime location to develop these skills as it features a variety of wetland sites and species. While the day pressed on, participants shared their love and appreciation for the wetlands and remarked on how they felt the workshop allowed them to forge a deeper connection with the area itself.
On the second day, plans changed as the group expressed their interest in visiting other local wetlands. The group gathered at a small wetland that most participants had driven by, but none had taken time to explore. The team broke out the macroinvertebrate kits and let the group dip and dive in the pond. Macroinvertebrates are animals without a backbone that can be seen with the naked eye and make excellent biological indicators for determining the health of aquatic systems as they are sensitive to different chemicals and physical conditions including pollution, dissolved oxygen levels and temperature. Though this pond seemed as though it might be a highly disturbed site, it was teeming with life! Participants uncovered numerous pollution intolerant and tolerant species along with a variety of amphibians, indicating that the wetland was healthier than expected for a roadside site.
For the rest of the day, participants were invited back to the Crawford Bay Regional Park to practice a hands-on wetland design project. Soil samples were taken to determine composition and depth to water. This helped provide an idea of the required size of wetland that could be constructed without steep sloped edges, which was then flagged and mapped using a GPS. As the sun began to dip below the Kootenay Valley range, participants returned to their daily lives with a more intimate knowledge of the wetlands in their backyard.