Riparian Program Update – April 2019

The 2019 “Bow Valley Riparian Recovery and Enhancement Program”  April Update

Melting ice reveals planted willows on an eroding stream bank on Bighill Creek. These native willows were planted in the spring of 2014, during the first year of the riparian planting program. The program title is the “Bow Valley Riparian Recovery and Enhancement Program”.

It is April 10th. 2019, with the spring planting planned to start in only weeks from now, I am getting excited about our spring program.  It will be another great year of planting native willows and trees on some local streams that flow into the Bow River. More native riparian cover will be created, which means better water quality and more habitat for both fish and wildlife.

On my last update, I mentioned our plant total was at 9,700 plants. My good news for the day is that the total is now up to 10,400, with more plants to be added in the next month. Presently, our tally for the sixth year of the riparian planting program is now 71,114 native willows and trees. All of the native stock was planted on a total distance of stream bank exceeding 30 kilometres in length. The program first started in 2014 and it is now averaging approximately 12,000 native plants per season.

The partners for this year’s BVRRE Program so far are:

Inter Pipeline; Shell Canada; City of Calgary; City of Airdrie; Harmony Developments; Bow Valley Habitat Development and the Cochrane Foundation. These partners have all been involved over the past few years, with some of them since the beginning of the program.

Three different schools will be part of the planting program this year. Two schools in the City of Airdrie and one in the Town of Cochrane. The school planting program covers elementary, middle school and high school students. Glenbow Elementary and CW Perry Middle Schools have been involved in our riparian planting program in the past, so it is nice to have them back for this season.

Heavy Winter Kill on Nose Creek

On a recent meeting and tour of Nose Creek in Airdrie, we noticed a number of dead pike along the stream channel of Nose Creek, in the City. I suspect the prolonged heavy cover of ice into March was responsible for a large number of dead fish in the stream. Due in part to low flows of oxygen-starved water and lack of sunlight beneath the ice, the fish will fall victim to asphyxia.

One pike, which was in an advanced state of decay, was estimated to be over six pounds in weight. Too bad that there isn’t enough wintering habitat to support the pike population on the creek. The lack of good flow is also responsible for the loss of fish. Aeration of certain areas of the stream in the City may help sustain a fish population thru the winter months, but this is something that others will have to consider and implement in the future, if possible.