With measuring sticks and tapes and notebooks, a small group of Pitt Meadows residents were recording what was growing in a new channel by Airport Way.
When the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure built the bus lane on Lougheed Highway from Harris Road westward, part of the Katzie Slough was permanently removed.
To compensate for this loss of wildlife habitat, they built the Katzie Slough Blind Channel near Airport Way and Golden Ears Way.
Because it’s a new waterway, it is being studied for five years to see what kind of wildlife – fish, invertebrates, vegetation – grows in the channel.
The Alouette Rivers Management Society (ARMS) has been tasked with engaging the local community in helping monitor the new channel.
On Tuesday morning, Greta Borick-Cunningham, acting executive director of ARMS, was out at the blind channel with two Katzie youth, Nancy Florence and Byron Antone, and Pitt Meadows resident Mike Stark, measuring and recording the vegetation, which included bullrushes, grass, and some fledgling willow trees.
Engaging youth is a priority for this project, Borick-Cunningham said, and she hopes it sparks an interest in learning about the environment and stewardship.
“ARMS’ focus is around engaging the youth – Katzie youth in particular... in an area they know something about,” Borick-Cunningham said.
Skills that she hopes to pass on are learning to do vegetation surveys, fish trapping, water quality testing, and studying stream invertebrates – all these give information about the overall health of the channel.
The information collected by ARMS and the community members supplements the work a biologist is doing to monitor the slough.
This is the second year of the five-year monitoring program.
The Pitt-Addington Marsh is being used a point of comparison for the new channel, because it is relatively close.
“It takes time for ecology to... form,” Borick-Cunningham said, adding that “ideally, what we see in Pitt-Addington, we’d like to see [in the new channel].”
Some invasive species have been detected in the channel, for example, a plant called parrot feather and a bullfrog tadpole.
The canary grass can also take over vegetation areas, and Borick-Cunningham would like to see less of it in around the channel.
@ Copyright 2013