Feb. 4, 23
The Bighill Creek Anthology
We are so fortunate, living in this community of Cochrane, nestled on the side slopes of two stream valleys, situated right at the point of where they meet! Two different watersheds, with unique individual bio-diversity, yet connected by their relationship to each other, and the dependency of both, intertwined.
Especially for the living things that depend on these two unique habitats, including the fish, a range of keystone species that live in the flowing waters, where an abundance of aquatic invertebrates thrive, if left unbothered in their natural habitats.
We should be very grateful, for the way in which most of the local land owners have taken care of the riparian zones on our beloved trout streams, and nowadays, wild ungulates, fur bearing animals and birds scurry about, mostly at night time, in the urban part of the Bighill Creek, the part that flows near downtown Cochrane.
A good comparison, would be the West Nose Creek, which bears the brunt of more human pressure, and it was never really protected from harm, so as a result, it went to hell, and now it is in despite need of recovery work, which we have contributed greatly in recent years, in our BVRR&E Program (Bow Valley Riparian Recovery and Enhancement Program, where we have planted the stream channel on West Nose Creek, almost to the city limits, with over 40,000 native willows and trees, since 2014!
This is only a contribution however, the real recovery will happen when these recently planted willows and deciduous trees will now grow exponentially, into the future. You see, now that the land is no longer farm or ranch land, the stream has a chance to recover, for the first time since the late 1800’s, when the area was just starting to populate.
A survey crew, surveying the West Nose Creek mouth area, in the late 1800’s, mentioned in his daily log book, that his crew had caught a nice brace of cutthroat trout, for supper or lunch, I would have to go back and research this one all over again to get the finer details, but bottom line, the words cutthroat trout was mentioned.
Another description of the mouth area, on Nose Creek, that works for me, is his description of the high valley rim, above a well willowed bit of bush that they had to navigate thru, back in the day!
In a phone conversation with Bill Christianson, a local biologist, I asked him about the possibility of stocking native cutthroat trout, back into Big Spring Creek, a main tributary to the West Nose Creek, but he really wasn’t interested. It is too bad, because it would work and there would once again be native cutthroat trout in West Nose Creek!
There are a few photos of the Big Spring Creek that I would like to share. I did some research on the creek, doing things like water temperature recordings and water quality information was compiled. The Big Spring Creek, has ideal volume of flow, water temperature ranges, and a consistent supply of cold, clean spring water!!
As part of my research, I did include a number of comments from individuals that knew that trout once lived in the Big Spring Creek, as late as the 1960’s, when rainbow trout were introduced into beaver dams on the stream.
One old timer, like me, was fishing the Big Spring Creek in the mid 60’s for rainbow trout. He told me the trout grew large in the dams over a few years, but when the stream trout stocking program stopped in this province in the 60’s, so did the fishing, because the remaining trout were all fished out, being so close to the city.
Also, the stream did suffer severe damage from agriculture, but the water still flows the same, so there is some building blocks already in place for a Millennium Creek type restoration, to bring the stream back to life. However, without a commitment from fish and wildlife biologists, there is no driving force and funding!
There is a good ending here, but it will take a few years to see anything done. We need some good and ambitious fisheries biologist, with some knowledge of habitat requirements to guide them on their way, someday, right?