City councillors want to make the Overton Creek watershed a priority
Grand Forks city council promised to look into protecting the Overton Creek watershed at their April 2 committee of the whole meeting. Roy Ronaghan encouraged councillors to protect this clean water source when he made a presentation at the meeting. He represented the Committee for the Enhancement of the Gilpin Grasslands.
“(I’d like to request) that necessary remedial actions are taken within the watershed as soon as possible to ensure the creek is protected from the cows that graze in the area during the spring of each year and the motorized vehicles that may enter the area,” said Ronaghan.
Ronaghan raised concerns about the condition of the fences, tree planting, better signage and regular inspections. He also expressed a desire to see more low-impact recreation in the Gilpin Grassland Provincial Park.
Quality fencing around the watershed is a critical part in keeping cattle out of the water, but the watershed fencing needs improvement. In some areas, the fencing is broken, non-existent or too close to the water’s edge. Ronaghan strongly recommended that wildlife fencing is used instead of the barbed wire that is typically used for containing cattle.
He also encouraged the council to remove some of the fallen trees around the watershed. There are quite a few downed trees, courtesy of the storm that blew through the region last spring. Indigenous trees, like cottonwood, would be the ideal replacement.
The watershed is not currently being used as a source for clean water but has been used as a water source in the past. Ronaghan feels it will not be a viable source in the future if councillors don’t take action.
“If initiatives are not taken to protect the watershed it will become like any of the other waterways on the Gilpin,” he said. “Damaged further by cows and the creek would be lost as a further source of clean water.”
Mayor Brian Taylor added that the Gilpin Grasslands would be a good place to redirect the Grand Forks deer population — something city councillors should consider when making any plans.
Coun. Gary Smith agreed with the points made, “As clean water becomes more of a rare commodity … we certainly need to protect those sources,” he said.
While the councillors are keen to protect the watershed, they need to go through the proper channels. Chief Administrative Officer Doug Allin said that key stakeholders would need to be considered before any plan was put into action. In this situation, the Ministry of Forests, the Ministry of Environment and the Cattlemen’s Association all have a role to play in future plans.
Councillors decided their next steps would be to look at the most recent studies they have of the watershed and making a commitment to move forward.
“I’m very optimistic this could be the very first approach to protecting some serious grasslands. It’s a small piece but if we can do something on this…,” said Taylor.
A motion was passed to accept the presentation from the Committee for the Enhancement of the Gilpin Grasslands and defer the matter for further conception.