Past Willow Plantings Showing Along Stream Banks
This past week, I visited a few planting sites along the West Nose Creek, in the City of Calgary. It was nice to see native willow plants from the “Bow Valley Riparian Recovery and Enhancement Program” were starting to show along the water’s edge at previously planted reaches of the creek. The new plants were covered with catkins, ready for seeding later on in the spring. Despite a heavy cover of shoreline sedge, the plants are advanced in growth enough to stand out, hanging over the stream channel.
Some of the plants had been grazed upon by the resident beaver and muskrat populations in the stream, but these plants are established enough to survive the foraging, with new buds from the remaining stocks already to break into leaf, later on in the spring. At some point in time in the future, additional plants will take place along the same reach of the West Nose Creek, but for now, previous plantings will continue to be monitored.
Above: You can see the new willows growing out from under a cover of shoreline grasses and sedge, along the creek. The willows are mature enough now to be foraged upon by beavers and still survive. I look forward to taking pictures of the same reach a few years down the road.
So far, on West Nose Creek, there are a total of 96 stream bank stabilization sites that have already been planted in the program. A number of the sites are erosion sites that were already showing exposed soil that would enter the stream annually. The new native willows and trees that were planted over past years, are now helping to stabilize the stream banks and reduce silt loading into the stream channel. These sites are especially important, because they have a direct impact on the amount of suspended fines that were being washed into the creek, causing huge amounts of muck to settle on the stream-bed, smothering the existing cobble and gravel on much of the bottom.
After a few years from when plantings occurred, a number of the stabilization sites are showing good native willow growth. The network of root systems establishing in the loose soil on eroding banks is helping to hold the banks together. Future secondary plantings will take place on these sites in the future as well.
Above: You can see the native willows that had been planted in previous years on this unstable stream bank. There is still loose soil showing on the eroding bank, but over time this site will stabilize. More planting is planned for the future.