The streamside restoration using pioneering species such as willows, hawthorn, and red-osier dogwood will help control invasive weed species such as reed canary grass and blackberry. These treatments will also re-establish dense root systems that will hold the fragile soils of the Saar Creek area (former lake sediments) in place reducing soil erosion and turbidity, and thereby increasing the oxygen content in the stream. This will benefit fish that live in the creek and reduce ditch maintenance costs. The vegetation will provide habitat and food for small animals and birds that live along the creek banks, shade and bank stability (which controls sediment) for fish.
Instrumental in the restoration plan are the farmers whose land that follows the creek.Without their support in the project and their willingness to give up some of their crop producing land and volunteer their time and equipment, projects like this would never happen. Over the course of three days, 590 native plants were installed along 290 meters of the creek.
The partnership developed out of KMC’s desire to find an environmental restoration project in the Fraser Valley. To meet KMC’s objectives, in addition to its environmental benefit, the project also needed to have education value. ASCA had a plan ready to restore Saar Creek. The area has been productively farmed, at the cost of the creek’s natural riparian area. The restoration activities will reinstate the creek’s habitat value. FVWC has experience implementing restoration projects and a great network of volunteers for restoration activities. Barrowtown expressed an interest in using the creek as an ‘outdoor classroom’ to meet their learning objectives.
- The ASCA is a non-profit society that is directed by farmers for the continuing benefit of farmers, the community, and the environment. The ASCA has been working with Abbotsford farmers and surrounding areas since 1990, responding to concerns over soil management issues. ASCA had commissioned a plan to restore habitat along Saar Creek, but needed funding for the project.
- The FVWC is community-based coalition that spans multiple municipalities, levels of government and governmental departments, as well as community groups and citizens. The Coalition's objectives are to evaluate and then enhance the Fraser Valley community's sustainability in environmental, health and economic perspectives, primarily focusing on water and watershed issues. It was first established to encourage communities to play a greater role in resource enhancement, habitat protection, and salmon stock assessment.
- Kinder Morgan Canada pipeline and terminal operation with a strong environmental mandate. KMC will seek Wildlife Habitat Council Wildlife at Work and Corporate Lands for learning certification for the restoration project. This will be the fourth WHC certified project KMC has initiated in Canada.>
- Part of the City of Abbotsford's strategic plan and vision statement is as follows: The City of Abbotsford is the most sustainable, livable, and prosperous community in British Columbia. A green community which respects and protects its natural environments and biological diversity, and which strives to reduce its ecological footprint by using resources wisely and by taking steps to restore ecosystems.
- Barrowtown Elementary School is a school family that cooperates, achieves, respects, encourages, and supports all students in order to prepare them with the knowledge, skills, and positive attitudes necessary to reach their goals. Caring for students since 1952, Barrowtown is a small, rural school located east of Abbotsford, in a thriving agricultural community. We prepare students to be leaders in their community today and excellent citizens in their world tomorrow. 23 Grade 4/5 students and 15 6/7 students participated in the planting of native tree species along the banks of Saar Creek, the elementary school has a focus on agriculture / gardening.
Restoration Project Background
Saar Creek flows from the hills south of Abbotsford, across the United States border into Canada at the Jacobs farm at the south end of Lampson Road. The creek eventually drains into the Sumas River. The creek is in highly productive agricultural land.
Originally a lake in the early 1900s, the area was drained and dyked to protect the rich agricultural lands from flooding. As the area has been productively farmed, the creek’s natural riparian area has been lost.
Natural services once provided by the creek and its riparian area including flood control, bank erosion protection, water quality mitigation, harmful insect control, beneficial bird and insect provision and a host of fisheries values have been lost. Many of the goods and services once provided by the stream and its riparian area for free now costs thousands of dollars to provide artificially.
Restoration seeks to re-establish many of these values to the stream and its surroundings without compromising the agricultural production that is so important in this region.
Establishing a stand of pioneering vegetation along the banks of Saar Creek will help to control the growth of invasive species as well as holding the bank together during periods of high flows. The rapid growth of these pioneering species makes them an excellent choice for establishing a dense cover quickly. In addition, pioneering species such as willows, cottonwood and red-osier dogwood create conditions that foster establishment of later successional species such as many conifers. These species can be pruned as needed to allow agricultural production on adjacent fields, although care should be taken to ensure a deep shade is maintained on the stream banks to prevent re-establishment of blackberry and reed canary grass. Maintaining a healthy riparian zone will help ensure stable banks and other natural services such as water filtration are provided.