BCWF course encourages community conservations of wetlands
Members of the B.C. Wildlife Federation were in Grand Forks the weekend of June 14th, to provide willing community members training in wetland conservation.
The training occurred over three days and involved a classroom component which took place at Selkirk College, as well as two days in the field at Boothman’s Oxbow.
In the classroom, members of the Christina Lake Stewardship Society, Boundary Invasive Species Society, Granby Wilderness Society, Kettle River Water Management Working Group, the RDKB, as well as other members of the community learned techniques to map watersheds and identify aquatic invertebrates, along with a discussion on the importance of wetland ecosystems.
The different types of wetlands were also discussed, bogs, fens, marshes, swamps and shallow water, which are distinguished based on the presence (and amount) of water, soil type and the vegetation present.
In the field, the participants listened to bird calls and identified the species making these sounds, followed by a wade into the wetland to attempt to catch some aquatic insects and amphibians that were identified and set free.
The second day in the field involved perfecting techniques for mapping wetlands using GPS units, the use of compasses, as well as procedures for studying the vegetation in and around wetlands.
The participants took with them a new found appreciation of wetlands which are important for maintaining water levels, and filtering water, but also attract a myriad of different species from bugs to birds and all other species in between.
These important wildlife ‘hubs’ are much less abundant than they were historically due to the impacts that humans have on these systems, including dredging and draining and the introduction of invasive non-native species. There has acutally been 70 to 90% wetland loss in developed areas along the coast, which is a huge proportion.
The loss of these wetlands has an especially large impact on amphibian species which require these wetlands for mating and the first stages of life as tadpoles. These animals that return to the wetland in which they were born will become extinct if these areas are not conserved.
Within the boundary area there are at least six different species of amphibians that are at risk of becoming extinct including the Blotched Tiger Salamander, and the Great Basin Spadefoot.
These are just some of the things that the participants of the 2013 Wetland Keepers course in Grand Forks learned, and they are all anxious to put their new conservation skills to work. If you have any questions you can contact the Christina Lake Stewardship Society at 250-447-2504.
— submitted by the Christina Lake Stewardship Society