December Ice Locks in Native Willow and Tree Plants

Along The Streams

The ice came early this late fall, to our local small streams. One thing that did stand out this fall was that there was not as much anchor ice as there usually is on Bighill Creek. I hope that this will result in a higher hatch of trout eggs from this fall’s brook trout and brown trout spawning that occurred on the Bighill. I am not sure about the effects of anchor ice on trout eggs, but I suspect that the ice does prevent good oxygenated flow from circulating over the trout eggs.

After our first cold snap, in the first week of November, there have been Chinook breaks that have kept areas of Bighill Creek ice free up until December 1st. The water levels in the creek are good, both volume wise and in clarity. I expect a good hatch of trout eggs next spring. There are also some beaver dams at key locations along the lower end of the creek, which will provide good wintering habitats for resident trout populations.

Native willow and tree plants from previous planting seasons are taking hold on many previously barren stream banks. The winter ice always locks the plants into the channel ice around this time of the years, which is great for preservation thru the winter months and helps in getting an early start on the growing season next spring. This icy cover also keeps many animals from browsing off the vital new growth and buds on the young plants.

These willow plants will soon be half covered in stream channel ice. The ice floods and freezes continuously over the winter months, elevating it up the stream banks. On small streams, there is limited movement of the ice during the winter, so the ice does not harm the willow and tree plants. The ice will actually contribute to protecting the plants during the winter months. Next spring the willows will have an early start into the growing season, with plenty of moisture from the melting ice along the stream channel.

2018 Bow Valley Riparian Recovery and Enhancement Program

In The Works!

The riparian planting program for the 2018 season is in the works and partnerships will be organized and ready to go by March of late winter. The target for the 2018 project year is 10,000 native willow and tree plants. We did 9,070 in 2017, which was close, but not quite in the ten thousand mark, which has been surpassed for a number of years before 2017. However, there are no complaints and in my opinion we still have great momentum.

There are a number of other plantings that take place along Nose Creek and West Nose Creek every year, as part of the overall riparian recovery on these streams, carried out by the City of Airdrie and Calgary. So combining our efforts with theirs makes for a substantial riparian planting program. I am confident that this will continue until we see some very positive transformations in the stream’s ecosystem. This will also include the fisheries on these same streams.

December Issue of Stream Tender Magazine

The December issue of Stream Tender Magazine is now uploaded and ready for review. The link is in the index at the top of the page or the home page on this site. Please check it out when you have time.

About Guy Woods

I am Director of Bow Valley Habitat Development, based in the Town of Cochrane, Alberta, Canada. I love to fly fish and it is this past time that prompted me to get involved in the field of riparian and fish habitat enhancement. I have been working in this pursuit for over 30 years!
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