Bow Valley Riparian Recovery and Enhancement Program Update – Feb. 2017

The 2017 program is starting to take shape, with good partnership support so far. This could be another banner year for the riparian planting program. By the end of March, I should have a pretty good idea of the scope of this year’s program. So far, there is enough support to plant approximately 5,000 native willow and tree plants, with more to come.

Earlier on in January, I visited some of the planting sites from the last three years. The stream bank stabilization sites look particularly great, because the density of plants and the white snow shows off the native willow and tree plants. The photo below gives you an idea of what I am talking about. This is one of 58 stream bank stabilization sites on the Bighill Creek, in the Town of Cochrane.

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The winter ice on the creek has been elevated by a few feet, so you can only see the tops of the native plants that were planted over the past few years. This was an especially bank eroding stream bank on the creek, so stabilization will help prevent many tonnes of silt from entering the stream in the future.

Whirling Disease in our Reach of the Bow River

Late in 2016, a total of 5 positive sample results were documented on our reach of the Bow River, between the Ghost Dam and Bearspaw Dam. One of the samples was found in the Jumpingpound Creek, just upstream of the confluence. This could be a disaster for the rainbow trout that reproduce in the JP Creek. Only time will tell how the impacts of this invasive disease will damage our trout fishery. In 2016, a total of 41 positive samples were found on the entire Bow River, from its upper reach, downstream to near Bassano, Alberta.

Some river systems in the USA that have the disease present in their trout waters have not be impacted as severely as other river systems. No doubt environmental conditions may play a role in this. For the time being, the only thing that we can do as anglers, is too help prevent the spread of the disease. The most obvious measure to take, is too make sure that you wash all of your wading equipment and nets off after any outing. Pontoon boats, float tubes and other boating equipment should also be thoroughly cleaned between trips to the water.

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Happy Holidays

Another Season Wraps Up and a New Year is Close at Hand

With the recent release of the December Issue of Stream Tender Magazine, Bow Valley Habitat Development is now focused on preparing a riparian planting program for 2017. The next big event comes in January, when Millennium Creek will be closely watched for emergence of brook trout from the 2016 spawning season. I look forward to updating you all in the March issue of the magazine, or possibly another post on this blog site.

I am really excited about this year’s trout hatch on the Bighill and West Nose Creek systems. Clear water flowing in both streams this late fall will hopefully result in a good trout hatch in the New Year. On the Bighill Creek system, having three primary spring feeder tributaries, will result in a good predicable egg hatch, where the main-stem is less predictable. On West Nose Creek, in the early spring, I will closely monitor the key spawning areas on the creek to see if I can verify a successful egg hatch. It is more difficult to accomplish this on West Nose and the main-stem of BH Creek, due to the turbid water in both creeks, but I may get lucky.

Keep checking out this website for future developments and in the meantime, have a great holiday season.

Best regards,

Guy Woods, Director/BVHD

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December 2016 Issue of Stream Tender Magazine

Just Uploaded The New Issue.

I just uploaded the December issue of “Stream Tender Magazine“. There is some exciting news to share with you, regarding the West Nose Creek fisheries restoration program. Also included, updates on this year’s riparian restoration and fish habitat enhancement work. Please take the time to check it out. Thanks – Guy Woods

2017 Bow Valley Riparian Recovery and Enhancement Program

It is still early in the 2017 BVRR&E Program Partnership Program year, but I already have some solid commitments for the next season of work on three area streams. The streams are Bighill Creek, West Nose Creek and Nose Creek. Some additional planting will also take place on Jumpingpound Creek this next year as well.

The benefits from past plantings on these streams is already showing positive results. This is especially evident on Bighill Creek, in the Town of Cochrane. The Bighill Creek riparian program started earlier than the ongoing work that is being carried out on the other two streams, so early signs of recovery are more advanced. The most noticeable results are related to improved water quality.

With a total of 58 stream bank stabilization sites that have been planted over the past few years, the amount of silt loading into the stream channel on Bighill Creek has been greatly reduced. This year, I noted that the stream bed on the lower reaches of the creek are cleaning up and more gravel, cobble and boulder habitat is revealing its presence on areas that were once covered with silt.

dscf1418Above: This stream bank erosion site on the Bighill Creek is now being held together by a crop of native willows that form a solid root network in the loose soil. Over time these plants will provide shade and cover for the resident trout population.

Stream Tender Magazine is Transforming

This fall it was determined that having more content relating to fly fishing in Stream Tender Magazine would expand the readership for the publication. So articles on fly fishing, fly tying and local fly fishing destinations will be added to every issue. In the December issue of 2016, articles by Joe Thompson and Jake Gotta are included on page 9 and 10 of the magazine.

Fly fisher’s are major stakeholders in the protection and enhancement of our trout streams, so having information that is directed at these topics will help keep these sport anglers more informed about their home waters. I have found that most responsible fly fisher’s are conservation minded individuals, so this transformation in the publication should be of interest to them.

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West Nose Creek Spawning Brown Trout 2016

Big Year for West Nose Creek Spawning

The 2016 fall spawning event on West Nose Creek was a huge success, in respect to the number of spawning brown trout this year. A total of 31 large brown trout redds were documented and mapped in the 2016 spawning survey report.

dsc00185-cropped-downAbove: A large male West Nose Creek brown trout holds over a redd, waiting for the female to return, after it was spooked by my approach.

One of the major discoveries during the 2016 spawning survey on West Nose, was the mapping of a new key spawning habitat further up the system than last year. Now we know that brown trout spawn as far as 10 kilometres upstream of the confluence with Nose Creek. This should result in a significant increase in the number of new brown trout higher up the stream after next year’s hatch.

img_5377Above: This double brown trout redd excavation was unmistakable when discovered. When the redds or egg nests are fresh, the clean gravel is obvious to the spawning surveyor’s eye. All of the redds mapped where large in size, representing large trout.

dsc00209Above: A pair of West Nose Creek brown trout spawning over large gravel on the stream this fall.

This year, I was lucky enough to capture some great video of the brown trout spawning on West Nose Creek. You can check out the video below:

I am very pleased with having the opportunity to share some of the discoveries made on the West Nose Creek this year. The information gathered will be of great benefit to the ongoing restoration of the trout fishery on this great “Spring Creek”, located in the City of Calgary, Alberta.

Update

Trout Unlimited also participated in the spawning survey on West Nose Creek this fall. After the above had been published, I received the findings of the TU study, which was great news for the overall results. In their study, which concentrated more on the lower reach of West Nose Creek, they mapped and documented a total of 17 additional brown trout redds. This brings the overall total up to 48 brown trout redds for the fall study of 2016.

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Bow Valley Riparian Recovery and Enhancement Program – October 2016 Update

Another Great Year of Riparian Planting.

I have just completed the tally sheets for another season of riparian plantings on Bighill, West Nose and Nose Creek. We set a record for planting this year at a total number of native willows and tree plants, it added up to 16,425. Over the past few years, since the program was started in 2014, the overall total of plants is now at 41,725. This makes the riparian restoration program one of the largest in Canada and North America.

dscf1342-enhancedAbove: These willows were planted in 2015, along the stream banks of West Nose Creek.

This season, the total volunteer effort came to 510 volunteer person hours, to plant along approximately 15 kilometers of stream bank. The distribution of plants was as follows:

Bighill Creek – 2,300 plants; West Nose Creek – 10,100 plants;Nose Creek – 3,900 plants; Millennium Creek – 100 plants and Jumpingpound Creek – 25 large diameter plants.

A total of 34 volunteers made this year’s program possible. The partners involved in this year’s program were as follows:

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada; Inter Pipeline; Shell Canada; The City of Calgary; The City of Airdrie; The Town of Cochrane; The Cochrane Foundation; ATCO; Evergreen and HSBC; The Airdrie Ventures.

Bow Valley Habitat Development is already underway with organizing a partnership program for the 2017 season. Hopefully, it will turn out as good as this years planting program, or even the previous two seasons.

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Exciting News For West Nose Creek’s Future Trout Fishery

Important Discovery Made

In 2015, Bow Valley Habitat Development discovered spawning brown trout on West Nose Creek, in the City of Calgary. This year, another important discovery was made by BVHD on the small stream. This new development promises huge potential for the future establishment of a spring creek trout fishery in the City of Calgary. There was a successful hatch of some of the brown trout eggs from the previous 2015 fall spawn, on West Nose Creek.

The discovery of juvenile brown trout that have hatched on the stream, was made on August 30th, of this year. Not by electro fishing and not by netting or trapping, but by capturing the small trout on a fly rod. Using a very small nymph fly pattern as a lure. Sounds pretty incredible, but that is exactly what happened.

Bow Valley Habitat Development had obtained a research licence from ASRD Fish & Wildlife, to conduct a trout trapping study in mid-July, but a series of flood events on the small creek had postponed the trapping study until next season. The objective of the study was to determine whether any of the brown trout eggs from the fall 2015 spawn had successfully incubated and hatched.

Anxious to find out if there were any new generations of trout in the creek, I decided to conduct an angling survey to capture a YOY brown trout with my fly rod. After six hours of angling, and catching a number of Lake Chub and one dace, I hit pay dirt. I caught an 80 mm long juvenile brown trout from the 2016 hatch on West Nose Creek.

DSCF1325 small fileAbove: This is the small 80 mm juvenile brown trout that I captured on West Nose Creek. After the photo session, the small trout was released in good condition, back into the stream.

The small trout was captured just downstream of the Harvest Hills Boulevard.

DSCF1318 cropped small fileAbove: This photo shows the Harvest Hills Boulevard Overpass in the background. This was a really healthy looking juvenile brown trout specimen, so they must do just fine in the creek.

Just because trout are observed spawning in a creek, it doesn’t mean that there is successful reproduction. The eggs laid down in the spawning gravel need to have clean enough, well oxygenated water to survive incubation. Now that we know that some eggs hatch on West Nose Creek, we can take measures to improve the survival rate. Also; with evidence of some recruitment, a major significant value is added to the stream’s potential.

You can read more about this entire story in the December issue of Stream Tender Magazine.

September Issue of Stream Tender Magazine – Now Available Online and it is a Free Read:

As of September 1st, 2016, the new issue of Stream Tender Magazine has been uploaded to the Web. Hey; that’s today. Read all about this year’s “Bow Valley Riparian Recovery and Enhancement Program” and other local stories of interest. Please enjoy the read.

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Bow Valley Riparian Recovery and Enhancement Program 2016 – August Update

Record Planting Set for This Year

As of August 25th., 2016, a record number of native willow and tree plants were planted in the “Bow Valley Riparian Recovery and Enhancement Program” for 2016. The final planting event for this year happened on Thursday of this week, with an Evergreen/HSBC planting on West Nose Creek, in the City of Calgary. The planting of 300 native willows brought the total for this year’s program up to 16,425 native willows and tree plants.

Despite rainy weather, a team of volunteers managed to get the job done in a short period of time, urged on by the threat of heavy rain and the possibility of thunder and lightning, which would have brought the planting to a sudden end that afternoon, but we were lucky.

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With the cool wet weather, everyone worked comfortably in their rain gear at an accelerated pace. This is typical on cooler, wet days, when moving faster keeps a planter warm and anxious to get the job done.

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Last year, in the “Bow Valley Riparian Recovery and Enhancement Program” a total of 14,800 plants were planted along the stream banks of Nose, West Nose and Bighill Creek. It was very rewarding to surpass that previous goal with an additional 1,625 plants for this year. This scope of riparian plantings on our local waters make the program a major watershed restoration program, even on a national scale.

New Issue of Stream Tender Magazine to be Released

The September issue of Stream Tender Magazine will be uploaded to the internet on the first day of the month. Please check out this free publication for more detailed reports on this year’s activities. There are also links on the cover page to the Stream Tender Youtube video channel and more.

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West Nose Creek’s 2015 Willow and Tree Crop are Doing Great

Yesterday, I inspected the Creekside planting site that has been planted in 2015 and 2016. I took my video equipment along to capture some footage of a few locations along the creek. It was great to see how well the plants from last year are doing so far. The tall grass along the water’s edge made it difficult to find this year’s plants, but the ones that were put into the ground last year are standing out pretty good.

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The Creekside planting area is a long reach of the West Nose Creek and it is the perfect “blank canvas” site to complete a riparian planting program on. Presently, there are few existing willows and no trees. For the ones that are present, they are heavily grazed upon by a few resident beavers. Once a large crop of willows is established along the creek, the few mature willows that are already on the landscape should have an opportunity to grow a little taller.

I expect that by next year, the 2015 willow crop will attractive enough to the beavers that they will probably be grazed on. However, by that time the willows will be established enough that they will survive this type of beaver damage. Eventually, the riparian area that has now been planted, will start to develop and standout on the landscape.

The recent high flows on the creek made the grass along the creek bend down, exposing the last year’s willow plants. This made the photo and video recording a little better, with the plants standing out more than if they were hidden beneath the grass. The photo below shows this. In it you can see a row of last year’s willows lined up along the top of the stream bank.

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Below: This is the video production that I did as a result of my video tour on the West Nose Creek, in the City of Calgary.

Check out the September issue of “Stream Tender Magazine” for more info. It is a free read.

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Bow Valley Riparian Recovery and Enhancement Program – July 11th Update

This Year’s Planting Program

Today there are rain clouds outside and within an hour I will be off to do some more willow and tree planting on Nose Creek, in the City of Airdrie. It has been a great year so far, with a total of over 13,000 plants in the ground and more to be planted. At this point in time, I can safely say that we will be breaking last year’s record of 14,800 plants.

Despite the dry spring, survival is good for the majority of the crop. Just recently, we have started to get the rain that I was hoping for earlier this spring. With most of the plants being planted close to the water’s edge, the lack of rain earlier on is not as important. This past week I took a few photos of some of the plants and below is one of them:

ATCO plant one month after planting

The photo of the plant above is one of the willows planted on West Nose Creek, in the City of Calgary. This plant was planted a month earlier and like most of the rest of the planted crop, it is doing just fine.

Last Year’s Crop

Also recently, I visited some of the sites that were planted last year, in the “Bow Valley Riparian Recovery and Enhancement Program”. The sites along West Nose Creek, in Calgary, are doing exceptionally well, with willows growing above the shoreline sedge and grasses. The soil conditions (PH) were very good on some of the planting sites, resulting in a very high survival rate. The photo below shows you some of these plants:

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There will be further good news in the next issue of “Stream Tender Magazine“, so check out the September issue.

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“New Willows and Trees for the Creeks – A Great Start for the Season’s Riparian Program”

Early Willow  and Tree Planting

It has been a great early season planting effort that is now well underway. So far, over 5,000 native willow and tree plants are in the ground and it is only May 23rd. Hopefully, by the end of the season, we can tally a record planting for this year. The recent rain and snow will be a real benefit to those plants already in the stream banks and any planting that happens in the near future. June should be a busy month, but this is just my optimistic opinion at this point in time. I have yet to hear from some of the ongoing and new partners in this “Bow Valley Riparian Recovery and Enhancement Program”.

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Above: A few hundred willow plants are wheeled onto a planting site on Bighill Creek, in the Town of Cochrane.

This past week I had an interesting encounter with a beaver, the animal wanted to pass by me on its way upstream and it took a while before the large critter was confident enough to swim by me. I managed to take a quick photo as the beaver passed by one of the willow plants that had been planted in 2014 on the creek. Check out the Photo Below:

DSCF0964 enhanced small fileIt is experiences like this that make the task of planting willows and trees an enjoyable volunteer work program. I knew that the beaver’s decedents might one day be dinning on the willow plant that it was passing by on this occasion. However, this is just part of the expected results of riparian restoration work.

New Issue of Stream Tender Magazine Due on the First of June – This Next Week

The special BVHD 30th anniversary issue of Stream Tender Magazine is almost ready to download onto the web this next week. Some of the articles that you may find of interest are as follows:

  • Ghost Village Bay Re-Contouring to Benefit the Fishery in Ghost Lake

  • A Black Spot Infestation Discovered on Brook Trout in Birch Lake Recently

  • A Recovery on The Bighill Creek Trout Sport Fishery

  • Water Quality Issues on Nose Creek in The City of Airdrie

  • Planting Willows and Trees on the Capillary Fringe

  • Constructed Rock Dams Blocking Trout Migrations

  • Successful Trout Hatches on Park Spring Creek and Ranch House Spring Creek

  • Videos of Trout Hatchlings

—– And More.

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