It took a dozen Elk Valley residents digging into difficult rocky soil to complete the Elk River Watershed Alliance (ERA) stream habitat restoration and enhancement project on Alexander Creek. Approximately 15 kms east of Sparwood, volunteers planted an additional 44 saskatoon, prickly rose, red-osier dogwood and wolf willow shrubs. The bare earth was seeded with a native grass mixture in an attempt to out compete noxious weeds and the site was fenced to give the plants a chance to establish.

Volunteer team digging in.

“Planted in the transition zone between the creek and upland, these shrubs were selected for their high wildlife values”, said Beth Millions ERA Restoration and Stewardship Program Manager.

“This community effort had many components over the last two years”, notes Millions. “Together we removed two truck loads of trash illegally dumped, planted a total of 85 native shrubs, installed 20 m of bioengineered streambank using tree root wads, rocks and 600 locally sourced live-cuttings of willow, dogwood and cottonwood. ERA also installed an interpretive kiosk highlighting 4 years of data from our community-based water monitoring program on Alexander Creek”.

ERA has been conducting community-based water monitoring on Alexander Creek from its mouth with Michel Creek to upstream of the Sparwood Rifle Range since 2012. This section of the creek was badly eroded, firstly from human activity and then made larger from stream erosion. “We choose this area to restore and enhance because it was accessible and people use it regularly and can watch its transformation back to health over time”, explains Millions.

Even kids can get involved.

“People often wonder what they can do to help environmental efforts”, comments Millions. “Citizens, business, other community groups and funders, all worked together to restore this small section of Alexander Creek for fish and wildlife”, encourages Millions. “Nature’s roots act as rebar to stabilize the bank, root wads and rock improve pools for fish and native vegetation enhances the habitat”.

This project was managed and delivered by the Elk River Watershed Alliance (ERA) with financial support from the BC Hydro Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program, Columbia Basin Trust, DFO Recreational Fisheries Conservation Partnerships Program, Teck, Canfor, Sparwood and District Fish and Wildlife Association. The ERA wishes to acknowledge volunteers from ERA, Wildsight Elk Valley Branch and Sparwood Fish and Wildlife Association for their efforts and contributions to this project.

About Elk River Alliance
The Elk River Alliance (ERA) is a non-profit, community-based water group dedicated to connecting people to the Elk River watershed keeping it drinkable, fishable and swimmable for future generations. For more information call Beth Millions, ERA Restoration and Stewardship Program Manager at (250) 423-3322 or info@elkriveralliance.ca

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