Community group members working to restore eroded streambank.

Restoring eroded streambank on Alexander Creek

A dedicated group of community members working with industry and government have taken watershed health into their own hands.

Submitted

A dedicated group of community members working with industry and government have taken watershed health in their own hands and restored a 50 metre section of stream bank on Alexander Creek adjacent to the Sparwood Gun Range.  “Members and volunteers from the Elk River Alliance (ERA), Wildsight, and Sparwood Fish and Wildlife Association pooled their energy and resources to improve fish habitat at a site where ERA has been monitoring water quality and ecosystem health on Alexander Creek since 2012”, said Lee-Anne Walker, ERA Executive Director.

“After a thorough assessment, a bio-engineering technique was used to reduce bank erosion, restore riparian ecosystems and enhance fish habitat.  Volunteers removed garbage, pulled invasive species, collected over 600 native plant cuttings of black cottonwood, willow and red-osier dogwood and laid them in a criss-cross pattern in two brush layers.  In the spring they are expected to root in place providing bank stabilization,” said ERA Project Manager Marsha Clarke.  “Coir matting, which is like a heavy burlap, also covers the exposed soil holding it in place.  Native shrubs were planted and grass seed was applied to the exposed soil.  This project is evidence of what community can do to help improve habitat for fish in our watershed”.

ERA worked closely with a number of businesses to successfully complete this project.  “Canfor harvested and delivered to the site gratis footer logs and rootwads which were placed in the creek to provide pools for fish at the base of the slope.   Along with permission to work on their property, Teck donated metre square boulders to secure the logs in place.  Lotic Environmental from Cranbrook offered services to design the prescription”, thanks Walker.

An interpretive sign will be installed highlighting the community-based water monitoring results from ERA’s first five years of monitoring, the rationale for the design chosen, and ways that community can continue to participate in ongoing stewardship efforts.  “People feel empowered when they can get their hands dirty participating and learning restoration techniques, and discovering solutions to issues together”, notes Walker.  “This project has been implemented as an alternative to riprapping, and will be monitored for long term bank stability and habitat enhancement. Benefits to this project include decreased sedimentation in the stream, greater biodiversity and improved ecosystem connectivity.”

The ERA gratefully acknowledges the financial support of the BC Hydro, Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program, along with Columbia Basin Trust, Teck and Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

If you have any questions or comments about the Alexander Creek streamside restoration and community education project or ERA, please feel free to contact Lee-Anne Walker, ERA Executive Director (250) 423-3322 lee-anne@elkriveralliance.ca