Seed Grant project helps vegetation in Williston Reservoir
DWB Consulting received a Seed Grant from the FWCP to explore a seed project in 2016. More specifically, a seed project to identify drought and flood tolerant plants naturally colonizing the Williston Reservoir drawdown zone.
Drawdown zones can be a challenging environment for plants – wave action, ice build-up, woody debris, a lack of suitable substrates – plus the flood and drought cycle in the drawdown zone, can all be limiting factors for plants.
Despite the challenges, there are many benefits of vegetation in the drawdown zone. Amphibians and waterfowl will benefit. Grass and sedge cover provide habitat for amphibians at all stages of their life cycles by providing food, shelter, migration corridors, as well as hibernation and breeding sites. Many semi-aquatic and aquatic plant species provide shelter and forage for waterfowl during migration and breeding seasons.
The main goal of this Seed Grant project is to develop a new approach to re-vegetating the drawdown zone of the reservoir by taking a lesson from nature and seeing what plants are established, and maintain a constant presence, in the reservoir’s challenging growing conditions.
There are two stages to this work, both involving First Nations:
- identify flood and drought tolerant native plant species already established within the Williston Reservoir drawdown zone; and
- assess the potential to collect seed and propagate seedlings for each of the species.
In the first stage, 10 plant species were identified as candidates for revegetating the drawdown zone: Bluejoint, Common Spike-Rush, Common Horsetail, Swamp Horsetail, Dwarf Scouring-Rush, Lakeshore Sedge, Water Sedge, Water Smartweed, Willow, and Hardhack.
In stage two, the study team will collect seeds buds, suckers, or spores for each candidate species and start seedling propagation in a native plant nursery. Many species will be collected near Airport Lagoon, approximately 6 km south of Mackenzie.