Wetland Restoration Project Finds Rare Plant

Sidalcea oregana var procera: E. Cameron

Rare Plant Found Near Rossland Wetland

Wetland restoration and creation is one of three priorities for the FWCP Columbia Board, so there are numerous wetland projects currently being supported. One is the restoration of ​Centennial Wetland ​by the City of Rossland, and during the field work in 2016 they made quite a find: the discovery of Oregon checker-mallow (Sidalcea oregana var. procera).​

The plant is red-listed provincially, meaning threatened, or endangered of becoming extirpated or locally extinct. It has only been identified in two other locations in B.C.: near Kamloops and Creston.

The Centennial Wetland in Rossland is four acres at the headwaters of Trail Creek. It has areas of rare wet-meadow, shrubby wetland and ephemeral ponds with a great diversity of plants and amphibians including Western Toad, Columbia Spotted Frog and Pacific Chorus Frog.

Eva Cameron​, a member of the Rossland Society for Environmental Action (RSEA), is coordinating the wetland restoration work, and the one who had the sharp eye to recognize the plant as an unusual native among the Mallow family.

“It was certainly an unexpected and exciting find,” said Eva. “The Oregon checker-mallow is not actually a wetland plant but is found in ​seasonally saturated grasslands, shrublands, and open-forest habitat. This one was found ​in a seasonally saturated area in Centennial Wetland right adjacent to the Rossland City Campground, while ​I was collecting seeds of ​other native plants ​ to be used for seeding during the restoration work​.”

The finding was confirmed by local botanist Valerie Huff who is undertaking a plant inventory for the restoration project, and by Dr. Richard Hebda, Curator of Botany and Earth History a​t ​the Royal B.C. Museum.

“It looks like the infilling of the campsite development is an imminent threat to this plant so the City will be enforcing boundaries to ensure that there is no more infill that could negatively impact it,” added Eva.

This goal of the wetland restoration project is to restore, protect and conserve the integrity of the Centennial Wetland, by repairing and preventing further damage, and enhancing habitat.​ This will be accomplished by building a 40-metre trail that routes OHVs and trail users out of the wetland and by restoring the wetland area by repairing the filling, ditching and head cuts that are changing the wetland hydrology.

​The trail and restoration work in a one acre area of the wetland was completed in 2016. This include​d ​the removal of some campsite fill and construction of two shallow ​wetland ponds​. A study of the Oregon checker-​mallow and invasive plant management plan are part of the work scheduled for 2017.

The project is being funded by the FWCP, BC Wildlife Federation, and Columbia Basin Trust, ​ with support from RSEA.

Columbia Region News