Nearly 2.5 hectares of wetlands restored near Golden
For the last four years, the FWCP Columbia Region Board has identified “on-the-ground” riparian and wetland restoration projects, and projects in the North Columbia, as two priorities. The recently completed wetland habitat restoration at Spike Elk Farm, near Blaeberry, north of Golden, meets both.
Seven shallow water wetlands, totalling 2.47 hectares, were built, which will provide habitat for Great Blue Heron, Sandhill Crane, Columbia Spotted Frog, and other native amphibians, as well as a variety of ducks, Canada Geese, and shorebirds.
The project was led by the BC Wildlife Federation and supported by the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development.
The wetlands were restored from areas that were drained by the digging of ditches and construction of dams in the 1970s, and on land that was too wet to cut for hay. The wetlands were built so they would not require maintenance, and would naturally fill with water from rainfall and melting snow.
The project is helping both wildlife and agriculture: the soil removed from constructing the wetlands was used to improve 3.4 acres of land, so it could be managed for hay, and the expanded hay fields are expected to provide quality forage for deer, elk, and Canada Geese.
A diversity of plants were seeded in and around the restored wetlands to improve habitat for waterfowl, elk, deer, and pollinators, including butterflies and bees. The plants growing in the restored wetlands will likely contain high amounts of sodium, a mineral critical for ungulate health. And mosquito populations in the area will be reduced by animals living in and near the restored wetlands, including salamanders, toads, dragonflies, damselflies, aquatic beetles, bats, and swallows.
The Spike Elk Wetland Restoration Project was funded by the FWCP and Environment and Climate Change Canada through the National Wetland Conservation Fund.
The Blaeberry work is just one of five wetland restoration projects the FWCP is funding the BC Wildlife Federation to deliver this year. Other sites are at Lister, Erickson, Creston, and Park Siding, near Salmo. The project – Advancing Wetland Stewardship & Restoration in the Kootenays – also involves delivering wetland workshops and the design of a wetland restoration plan, near Rossland.