Glenbrook Ravine – Native Planting Day October 14

Hey New West and friends of New West,

It’s almost time for the fourth, and final, round of ecological enhancement in the Glenbrook Ravine.

On Saturday, May 13, we had our first day, with volunteers out to begin our long journey of ecologically enhancing the Glenbrook Ravine. We had a great turnout with a lot of positive attitudes, in spite of the initial rain.

Our second event was on Saturday, June 17, and we had an even better turn out than the first! Over 30 people showed up, and with many hands, we removed a tremendous amount of Himalayan blackberry.

Our third day on August 12 had a smaller turnout than the initial two events, but as it was in the middle of the summer holidays, this was expected. We still had nearly 20 participating, and we made good progress in removing invasive plants in year one.

It’s now time to get back at it for the last time in 2017! You know you’ve enjoyed yourself if you’ve come out, and if you haven’t made it out yet, you know you kind of want to. So make it happen, and come get to know your community and connect with a bit of nature for a couple of hours.

We will be meeting on Saturday, October 14 from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm. We will have a number of enthusiastic volunteers out helping to put approximately 200 plants in the ground.

This is a family friendly event, and we have ways for people of all ages and abilities to get involved and contribute. The work is not that hard, and refreshment, socialization breaks are welcome and encouraged.

If you would like to come, but are not sure how to get yourself there, Evo Car Share has offered to provide free memberships and driving minutes to any volunteers that need help getting to or from the Glenbrook Ravine. Please contact me if you would like more information on this, or any other aspects of this fun project.

Pleas forward this on to anyone who you think might be interested. Looking forward to seeing everyone on the 14th!

 

Glenbrook Ravine Clean # 3 this weekend

Project Area Outline, (Glenbrook Park Amenities Centre in red circle):

 

Hey New West and friends of New West,

It’s almost time for the third round of invasive plant removal in the Glenbrook Ravine.

On Saturday, May 13, we had our first day, with volunteers out to begin our long journey of ecologically enhancing the Glenbrook Ravine. We had a great turnout with a lot of positive attitudes, in spite of the initial rain.

Our second event was on Saturday, June 17, and we had an even better turn out than the first! Over 30 people showed up, and with many hands, we removed a tremendous amount of Himalayan blackberry.

It’s now time to get back at it for the last time in 2017! You know you’ve enjoyed yourself if you’ve come out, and if you haven’t made it out yet, you know you kind of want to. So make it happen, and come get to know your community and connect with a bit of nature for a couple of hours.

We will be meeting on Saturday, August 12 from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm. We will have a number of enthusiastic volunteers out helping to restore one of the true gems of the city.

This is a family friendly event, and we have ways for people of all ages and abilities to get involved and contribute. The work is not that hard, and refreshment, socialization breaks are welcome and encouraged.

If you would like to come, but are not sure how to get yourself there, Evo Car Share has offered to provide free memberships and driving minutes to any volunteers that need help getting to or from the Glenbrook Ravine. Please contact me if you would like more information on this, or any other aspects of this fun project.

Pleas forward this on to anyone who you think might be interested. Looking forward to seeing everyone on the 12th!

Kyle

PS: For additional details or questions, please contact me.

Glenbrook Ravine Cleanup – Round Two!

Hey New West and friends of New West,

It’s almost time for the second round of invasive plant removal in the Glenbrook Ravine.

On Saturday, May 13, we had our first day of volunteers out to begin our long journey of ecologically enhancing the Glenbrook Ravine. We had a great turnout with a lot of positive attitudes, in spite of the initial rain.

In very little time, we were able to really notice the progress we were making. With plenty of water, juice, and snacks to fuel us, and with tools provided by Evergreen, the New Westminster Environmental Partners (NWEP), and most volunteers, we were able to really get to the root of the issue, removing a substantial amount of the blackberry.

Now it’s time to get back at it again! You know you enjoy the peaceful serenity that the Glenbrook Ravine has to offer, but that you also feel a sense of dismay from all of the invasive plants. You know you have an inexplicable longing to restore the Glenbrook Ravine to it’s former glory, but just don’t know where to begin. And you know you feel good when you give back to your community and connect with nature.

So why not come and connect with some old friends and meet some new ones on Saturday, June 17 from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm. We will have a number of enthusiastic volunteers out helping to restore one of the true gems of the city.

This is a family friendly event that will have lots of opportunity for people to get involved in the coming months and even years. Parking is free at the Glenbrook Amenities Centre, and the location of work is approximately 300 metres in from there. If you have interest in being involved but can’t make this day, please contact me and I’ll be happy to give more information and help organize a day that works for you.

If you would like to come, but are not sure how to get yourself there, Evo Car Share has offered to provide free memberships and driving minutes to any volunteers that need help getting to or from the Glenbrook Ravine. Please contact me if you would like more information on this, or any other aspects of this fun project.

Pleas forward this on to anyone who you think might be interested. Looking forward to seeing everyone on the 17th!

Kyle

More details below:

Come Clean up the Glenbrook Ravine: Saturday May 13 10am Start

A long-term ecological enhancement project in an area of New Westminster known as the Glenbrook Ravine is beginning Saturday, May 13. 

Historically, “Glenbrook Ravine Park was the first public park in the Colony of British Columbia. When the city was established in 1859, Colonel Moody wrote a letter to the Governor of the Colony of B.C: “The woods are magnificent, superb beyond description but most vexatious to a surveyor and the first dwellers in a town. I declare without the least sentimentality, I grieve and mourn the ruthless destruction of these most glorious trees. What a grand old Park this whole hill would make! I am reserving a very beautiful glen and adjoining ravine for the People and Park. I have already named it ‘Queen’s Ravine’…

Slope to be targeted in year one.

The restoration of the parts of this area that have fallen victim to invasive species over the years is our goal. We are hoping to reclaim the ravine over a few years, to create an area for locals to come and enjoy a connection to BC’s oldest public park. In addition to removing invasive species, we aim to construct some wildlife habitat features (bird and bat houses specifically), to plant some new trees where invasives have been removed, and to possibly incorporate temporary signage (partnering with local artists, after consulting with the City) to provide some information to people using the park. 

Day 1. Before and after shots, approx. 15m2, 3-person hours effort.
Day 1. Before and after shots, approx. 15m2, 3-person hours effort.

Involvement from the two residents associations that border the Glenbrook Ravine is one of the main goals of the project. As this will be an ongoing project, we expect different people will get involved at different times. A mid to end of summer big weekend cleanup and bird/bat house installation event is also planned. Based on the results of this year, we hope to expand to other areas of the ravine in subsequent years.

We will also be partnering with the local Beavers/Cubs and Brownies/Guides groups. This will help get young people educated about local ecological issues, will teach them how to remove invasive plant species and build wildlife housing, and will give them a sense of connection with this place for years to come. We have discussed reaching out to NWSS to see if the environmental club would be interested in getting involved. The Beavers/Cubs/Brownies/Guides will have their first day on Saturday, June 17.

Green waste after three-person hours effort.
Green waste after three-person hours effort.

The first year will be along the elevated area, approximately 300 metres in from the Glenbrook Amenities Centre, that we walked along during our site visit a few weeks ago (photo below). A few individuals may also choose to remove the ivy from the trees on the opposite side of the ravine pathway of the elevated area. Depending on how successful May 13 is and if we receive some funding, a follow-up meeting will be set up for Saturday, June 11. 

Project Area Outline, (Glenbrook Park Amenities Centre in red circle):

As the kick-off will occur before we have any confirmed funding, the following items would be welcome to help our first day go as smoothly as possible:

  • shovels
  • pruners
  • loppers 
  • clippers
  • tarps
  • thick gloves
  • [reusable] bottle of water
  • snacks
  • dress in layers

Free parking is available at the Glenbrook Park Amenities Centre (76 Jamieson Ct.), which will also serve as our meeting area at 10:00 on May 13. If you arrive late, you can simply follow the trail up the ravine until you find everyone.

If there are any questions or suggestions, please feel free to contact me by email (preferably) or phone (if necessary). kyleroutledge@gmail.com or 778.228.5953

The Brunette’s Quiet Keepers

2016-07-13 23.29.10Rivers are our lifeblood. We depend on them to provide us with water to drink and to irrigate our crops, they are habitat for the animals that provide us with sustenance, and they serve as networks to move goods and people. New Westminster was built along the shore of the Fraser River and our connection to this waterway runs deep. But there is another river that runs through our city: the Brunette River. While this river is strong and healthy today, it hasn’t always been that way.

Since 1969, the Sapperton Fish and Game Club (SFGC) has worked to enhance, restore, and revitalize the Brunette River, which at the time was viewed as no more than a local dumping ground. “All salmon runs in the river were extinct,” says Elmer Rudolph, president of the SFGC. Original members of the club grew up in Sapperton along the Brunette, and remember the salmon returns of their childhood. The level of deterioration the river experienced was “appalling,” so members decided to take action. This would set in motion events that would shape the future restoration of the river.

In the four years following the decision to take action, the club lobbied various levels of government to change the river’s sorry state. Initial efforts proved fruitless.The apathy they encountered would deter many, but the SFGC “took it as a challenge, not taking no for an answer,” says Rudolph. The club decided to initiate a clean up themselves, and with the help of the Greater Vancouver Regional District (GVRD), they removed the worst of the debris.

After the initial clean-up was complete, the club intensified lobbying efforts and received the support of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO). As DFO had an interest in helping the floundering coho salmon returns, the club’s efforts to restore this habitat did not go unnoticed. By the end of the 1970s, the SFGC had successfully created conditions in which the Brunette River could begin to thrive. Bylaw enforcement cracked down on polluters and water quality returned to a level where juvenile salmon and trout could survive again.

By the early 1980s, reports of trout big enough to be caught became more and more frequent. Around this time, the club decided to build concrete fishways along the Brunette system to facilitate the return of spawning salmon. By 1984, things were really looking up with the first return of spawning coho salmon in 30 years. It was around this time that Elmer Rudolph joined the club.

In 1984, we became famous. People from across North America were looking to do similar stream restorations. They were calling us asking ‘how did you guys do this?’” recalls Rudolph. After years of being told by fisheries biologists from across the country to “forget it,” and that “it couldn’t be done,” the SFGC was “one of the first groups to restore a ‘dead river’,” according to Rudolph. “I’m really proud on behalf of the club [for what they accomplished],” Rudolph says, the pride in his voice apparent as he retells the story, “they didn’t take no for an answer.” When asked how they accomplished thisin the face of overwhelming odds, he simply says: we didn’t know it couldn’t be done, so we just went out and did it.”

Unfortunately, the celebration would not last long. The next year the Brunette River suffered its first major setback: 10 gallons of wood preservative were dumped in the river from the Lake City industrial site. Many fish were killed, and the implications for an already fragile population were devastating.

The SFGC refused to give up after this terrible event. Efforts to return a viable stock continued. Remaining native species were reinforced by members transplanting eggs by hand, and populations of returning fish rose again. The club continued to work with DFO, finally seeing the fruits of their labour as pollution sources along the Brunette’s tributaries were identified and eliminated.

Then, in 1989, a second major setback occurred: a mindless act of vandalism along the Burlington Northern Railway track caused 3,000 litres of diesel fuel to be spilled into Stoney Creek, the main spawning stream of the Brunette River system, resulting in the death of thousands of juvenile fish. In order to completely contain the spill, the railway company brought in crews to clean up the site using absorbent material, and remained on-site 24 hours a day for the next week.

2016-07-13 22.41.14In the early 1990s, the SFGC again came to the aid of local waterways, this time in response to a massive fish kill in Fergus Creek in south Surrey caused by chloramine in the city’s drinking water. At this time, the GVRD was contemplating moving from chlorine to chloramine in the region’s drinking water. The SFGC came out in staunch opposition to this—cloramine would pose a huge threat to local salmon and trout populations if it escaped into the local environment, potentially leading to thousands of hours of wasted volunteer time to again rehabilitate the Brunette River system. The club’s campaign was successful, and in 1992 the GVRD decided against switching to chloramine.

In 1997, the club moved on to its next large project: a salmon-holding facility and hatchery. Everything was progressing wonderfully, with coho salmon eggs being incubated and salmon fry and smolts released into the Brunette River, when disaster struck for the third time. Toxic chemicals from a nearby sanitary sewer backup entered storm drains leading to the Brunette River. Nearly all aquatic life within three kilometres downstream of the release was killed in just 12 hours, including thousands of juvenile salmon released just days prior.

The following year, coho returns across the region plummeted, with fewer than 50 returning to the Brunette River. Fortunately, it was at this time the SFGC received $95,000 in a court-awarded judgment against two Coquitlam-based polluters, money that would be used to continue habitat enhancement and combat the degradation that occurred close to half a century earlier. Three rock weirs were built in order to increase available spawning grounds, summertime oxygen levels were increased in the river, and backwater used by overwintering juvenile salmon became protected, with more successful salmon returns as a result of these efforts.

In 2000, after over 30 years of working to restore the Brunette River, the SFGC won the Minister’s Environmental Award for their dedication to restoring a viable salmon population to the Brunette River. In 2007, the club expanded their projects to include spawning grounds for pink salmon.

Japanese Knotweed - an invasive and awful species, awaiting removal.
Japanese Knotweed – an invasive and awful species, awaiting removal.

Most recent efforts have been in building new off-channel tributaries and rearing ponds to increase spawning and juvenile salmon habitats. The ongoing efforts of the SFGC resulted in another huge milestone in 2012, when approximately 1,500 chum salmon returned to the Brunette River to spawn. This was a watershed moment—for the first time in over 50 years, all three historically spawning salmon species were again present in the Brunette River.

While today things look very positive for the Brunette River, the SFGC recognize that their work is far from over. Polluters are still out there, and the club knows from the past that all it would take is one spill or accident to devastate this fragile ecosystem. “The work of a stream keeper is never done in a metropolitan area,” says Rudolph.

As rivers ebb and flow down mountains, through forests, carving out valleys, forming the landscape, it must be remembered and respected that these essential waterways do not know man-made boundaries, treaties, or borders. We are all dependant on rivers and we need them to be strong and healthy so that generations to come can benefit from them as we do today, and have throughout history.

Check out Kyle’s other article with a who’s who of some of our local wildlife! 

2016-07-13 23.17.37

Meet the Locals

Meet the locals-01

Directly or indirectly, all BC wildlife relies on our rivers and the ecosystems they foster. There are fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, mammals, and countless insects that depend on clean, healthy, waterways and riparian zones (transitional areas between a river or stream and land) in and around Metro Vancouver.

Fish species are numerous in our rivers, including game fish such as salmon, trout and the iconic white sturgeon (Photo 1), as well as coarse fish, including sculpins and bullheads. A rich biodiversity is an indicator of a healthy river system.

Amphibians you could expect to find in slower-moving streams include the western toad (Photo 2), northwestern salamander, long-toed salamander, and, less frequently, the Pacific tree frog and red-legged frog.

There are not many reptiles in our local rivers and streams, but you might come across the red-eared slider (Photo 3) — an introduced turtle species that prefers the waters of a shallow stream or sluggish river. The only species of lizard you may spot in riparian zones of this region is the northern alligator lizard, a cryptic lizard that can grow up to 20 cm long from snout to tail. It is so named after its short legs, long body, and triangular shaped head cause it to resemble a very small alligator. As far as snakes go, garter snakes (Photo 4) are all you will likely encounter near any stream side or river habitat.

River otters and muskrats are two of the most commonly occurring mammals in our local streams and rivers. Beavers rely on our region’s slow-moving waterways,and often alter them to create suitable habitats (often to the chagrin of local landowners and clubs trying to revitalize struggling river ecosystems).

Various species of bats use waterways to hunt for insects from dusk till dawn. The mink (Photo 5) is one of the most commonly-sighted critters in our streams and rivers; however, they are not native and took up residence after being released into the wild. Harbour seals prefer a marine (salt water) setting, but are common friend you often see swimming in the Fraser while walking along the boardwalk at the Quay.

Birds are the most common and accessible animal group to be found along our regions streams and rivers. Gulls, cormorants, and bald eagles are widespread and can be found feeding in and around rivers. For birdwatchers, some great species, including green heron, barn swallow, Caspian tern, common nighthawk (Photo 6), and sandhill crane (Photo 7) can be found in and around our rivers and streams. Various waterfowl species, such as the Hooded Merganser (Photo 8) as well as the Mallard (Photo 9) are common on slow moving streams and tributaries.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of the wildlife you may come across along our local streams and rivers, but it does help illustrateMetro Vancouver’s biodiversity. We are fortunate to have such diverse wildlife in our backyards, but we cannot take it for granted. There are many simple things we can do to ensure it stays like this for future generations:  walking, cycling, or taking transit instead of the car one or two times more per week, taking a shorter shower, turning lights off when not in use, or supporting companies and products that have a strong environmental track record. We all have a part to play, and it doesn’t necessarily need to be a difficult role.