The Quamichan watershed has seven new wetlands (node 205)

The Quamichan Watershed Stewardship Society has taken a lead role in improving water quality, wildlife habitat, and land uses within the watershed by building/restoring wetlands in an area that was previously drained. Building wetlands is one activity that contributes to all three goals by:

  • removing nutrients and sediments from surface runoff entering the lake,
  • providing more habitat for amphibians, and
  • providing more habitat for insect and migratory birds.

Algal blooms are a big issue for many of us who value Quamichan Lake. Warm temperatures and lots of available nutrients provide the ideal conditions for these blooms. Unfortunately, the algae deplete the oxygen in lake water and may cause fish kills in the late summer and early fall. Reducing the amount of nutrients entering the lake will help to reduce these blooms.

Providing more habitats for pollinators and insects that predate on nuisance insects will reduce pesticide use and may increase crop production within the watershed.

The Quamichan watershed provides key habitat for amphibians (e.g., tree frogs, red-legged frog) and migratory birds. The restored wetland areas provide valuable habitat that may have been lost in other parts of the watershed.

We partnered with the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) to build wetlands at the Cowichan Garry Oak preserve on Maple Bay Road. Funding for this project was provided through an EcoAction grant, Vancouver Foundation grant, and a Public Conservation Assistance Fund grant. Also, the following people volunteered their time and/or provided advice or assistance:

  • NCC staff, Bruce Holms, Jim Cosh, Erica Blake, Bridgid Reynolds, Mike Taylor, Matt Taylor, Shari and Trystan Willmott, Brian Roberts, Ian Ralston, Madrone Environmental, Mike Botic , Ian Wright, James Strumpfer, and many other who have donated time and expertise.

We were fortunate to have Thomas Biebighauser, an international expert on wetland construction and restoration, design and layout the wetlands. Also, Elke Wind, an amphibian professional biologist, helped with the layout and construction of the wetlands and in the design of a monitoring program to measure how the wetlands are evolving overtime.

In July, CLS Tractor Service did an amazing job of excavating and landscaping the wetlands. In the video, Greg Smith placing woody debris/stumps for birds to perch on. The photos show the wetlands being built while dragonflies and frogs settle in to their new habitat.

This fall we will plant native plants around the wetlands and would appreciate your help. This will be your opportunity to have some fun, learn about bird, amphibians, and insects in our watershed, and contribute to improving the water quality of Quamichan Lake and its watershed. Stay tuned for upcoming dates.