ACTIONS TO DATE, NOVEMBER 2011.

The group and its partner groups and agencies has taken on a wide range of projects to further the management and protection of the wetland system. These include:

  1. Dutch Creek stream restoration proposal.

    This has been a long standing concern. The Partners, working with the Columere Park Community Association and several other groups had professionals look at this issue so that an information based decision can be made on if and how to proceed on this project. The objective was to return Dutch Creek to its original channel in which it flowed into Columbia Lake and contributed to the health of that lake and provided spawning habitat for ling cod and other species. After some consideration by the committee responsible for this project, it was realized that this project would be prohibitively expensive, given the situation on the alluvial fan of Dutch Creek, and present day regulations around actions related to “in stream” actions. Initial investigations into the situation indicated that the required diversion would be in the order of several hundred thousand dollars. The Columbia Wetland Stewardship Partners is concerned with being fiscally responsible. The committee overseeing the project therefore decided that we should save the various funding agencies the cost of a more detailed analysis and decided not to proceed with the assessment.

  2. Fairmont Resort riparian habitat enhancement.

    In the summer of 2010, the Wetland Partners used school kids and teenagers to plant 1200 cottonwood seedlings (and other deciduous species) along the reach of the Columbia River that flows through the Riverside Golf Course, working with the staff at the golf course and the Fairmont Hot Springs Resort. Support has been received from the Columbia Valley Local Conservation Fund and the Royal Bank Blue Water Fund. The objective is to restore a deciduous component to the riparian zone along the river to maintain Lewis’ Woodpecker (a listed species), other riparian birds and animals and to help maintain the quality of kokanee spawning habitat in this reach.

  3. Salmon Festival.

    Prior to the construction of the Grand Coulee Dam in Washington State in 1947, 40 to 50 lb Spring salmon spawned in the Upper Columbia River at Fairmont, Athalmere and other areas. The loss of this fishery had a major impact on First Nations people’s in the valley. In the fall of 2011 we worked with First Nations and the Fairmont Hot Springs Resort planning and managing a conference and celebration of both the salmon that once occurred here (so we don’t forget), and the kokanee salmon (landlocked sockeye salmon) that presently occur in the system.  Some 250,000 of these smaller fish will be spawning in the river at the Fairmont Resort during the conference and celebration. During the event a sculpture to commemorate the salmon was opened at an event in Athalmer.

  4. Wilmer Slough cleanup.

    The federal government has initiated a cleanup on this site, which is a National Wildlife Area. Two local photographers and film makers, Pat and Bibba Morrow, have taken the lead in planning a public cleanup day on the site to assist in this project, working with the local chapter of Wildsight, the Windermere Rod and Gun Club and the town on Invermere. The major cleanup event occurred on April 24, 2010, with 25 community members removing 150 tires and other junk from the wetlands and the slopes above. This work was supported financially by Wildsight, Friends of the Columbia Wetlands, the Windermere Rod and Gun Club, the town of Invermere and the Wetland Partners.  The group will continue to work with the federal ministries responsible for the final cleanup of the site, providing an excellent example of cooperation between federal agencies and local stewardship groups.

  5. Habitat Linkage Project.

    The Partners, working with Parks Canada have completed a report that identifies and map linkages for aquatic species along the Columbia River, for movement north and south of terrestrial species along the east and west benches, and for east to west movement across the valley, to assist the Regional District of East Kootenay and others in their planning for the area.

  6. The impact of human activity on river levees and perched wetlands.

    Through most of the wetland system the river is bordered by natural levees built up over time by flood events. These levees separate the river from “perched” wetlands on the adjacent floodplain that have high wildlife and ecosystem values, especially where water levels are maintained throughout the year. In many areas these levees have been compromised by human activity (bridge building, historic changes to the levees to accommodate stern wheeler traffic). Working with the University of Alberta, the partners have supported the activities of a Masters level student to document the degree of change in the levees and associated perched wetlands. Rather to our surprise (thus the value of good science), we found there was more change resulting from natural processes in the system than was found close to bridges and causeways across the wetlands. The final results of this work will be reported in late 2011.

  7. Northern Leopard Frog Habitat Assessment.

    Leopard Frog is the one amphibian species that has disappeared from the wetland system. The Wetland Partners have supported work by Dr. Suzanne Bayley, Chris Carli and Penny Ohanjanian’s team to identify potential habitat for leopard frogs. The objective is to identify those wetlands that would be the best sites for a re-introduction of leopard frogs into the system. This work was reported in early 2011. The Wetland Partners will work with the Leopard Frog Recovery Team to return leopard frogs to the system in future years.

  8. Water Monitoring in the Upper Columbia watershed.

    The Columbia River wetlands are directly dependent on the flows and spring freshette of the Columbia River. Ryan MacDonald of the University of Lethbridge was contracted by the CBT, on behalf of the Partners and the Wildsight Lake Windermere Project to provide an overview of climate, water flow, water quality and ground water monitoring for the Upper Columbia basin. The report provides an overview of the water supply issues faced by the wetlands and communities in the Upper Columbia Basin. We also worked with Crystal Slaught, a GIS student at Selkirk College, who developed a Power Point that described spatially our knowledge of water flows in the Upper Columbia. For 2011-12 we have proposed a meeting of all water interests to plot a strategy for improving water monitoring and water management in the upper system.

  9. Invasive Weeds in the wetlands.

    A Wildsight staff person has been working on invasive weeds, with funding support from the Wetland Partners, for three years. We now have the cooperation of CP Rail on this issue and we are making headway on dealing with this issue in the wetlands. An assessment of several sites in the wetlands found no aquatic invasive weeds in the system to date.

  10. Noxious weeds on private lands

    Several local ranchers have had problems with Poison Hemlock a local plant that is deadly for cattle. They have requested assistance in identifying these plants and making sure they do not remove other similar plants that are important foods for wildlife, including grizzly bears.

  11. Solid Science and an Adaptive Management Strategy.

    Understanding the working of this very complex river, wetland and riparian system is important to the long term management of the system. In 2010 a strategy was developed that reviewed the ecological status of the system, identified all previous work in the area and reviewed the status of the entire range of species that use the system. The objective is to identify those processes and species we need to be concerned about in the future. To date, the only species lost from this system are the Northern Leopard Frog, the Columbia River Chinook Salmon and Columbia River Steelhead, both of which spawned in this area prior to 1936 and the construction of the Grand Coulee dam.

  12. A Photo Plot survey for the wetlands.

    We do not have access to money to do higher level scientific monitoring in the wetlands. However, there is a valuable and cheap alternative called a photo plot survey that can be carried out by volunteers. It consists of taking photos of various habitats on an annual basis to provide a record of long term change over time. Such photos become more and more valuable over time. As part of this project we have collected and scanned historic photos of the wetlands to provide a record of habitat change over time in the wetlands. We found some photographs that dated to 1883.

  13. Art in the Wetlands.

    The Wetland Partners supported a project called “Columbia Wetlands: Natural Inspiration”, working with Kicking Horse Culture, an art studio in Golden and the Golden chapter of Wildsight. The exhibition was a spectacular success with exhibits from 20 artists involved. You can see the art created for the exhibition at the site for Kicking Horse Culture.

  14. Firefly Project.

    Fire flies are a small beetle that lives in wetlands that glow in the dark during their mating ritual in June. They are a classic icon for wetland health and are part of many young people’s first experiences with wetlands. There are international concerns with their fate in many areas. They occur in a few areas in the wetlands and in the East Kootenay. The Wetland Partners, working with the Royal BC Museum and local land owners have identified 25 sites at which they occur in the East Kootenay and have developed a sense of their habitat requirements. We intend to work with the land owners involved to maintain this unique species and develop opportunities for you people to see these spectacular residents in the wetlands.

More details on these projects and the final reports for each are provided under the Button for “Resources”.

Columbia Wetlands Stewardship Partners