The Chapter has been very active over the past year, conducting education, restoration, and research projects throughout the region. Most projects are planned and executed through a Projects Committee, which was formed partway through 2015 and has proven to be a very effective way of identifying, prioritizing, and executing both small and larger projects. The following presents a brief summary of recent Chapter activity.
Legacy Island Tree Wrapping and Clean-up
In the late Spring of 2015 the Chapter undertook a clean-up of Legacy Island. The Chapter leases Legacy Island from the Province, and maintains it as both a preservation area and one of the few public access points to the Bow River downstream of Calgary. The island was heavily impacted by the 2013 flood. Although major restoration work was completed previously, in 2015 additional clean-up and debris removal was required. In addition, like most of the riparian areas along the Bow River Legacy Island is under constant threat form beavers. A large scale tree wrapping effort resulted in the protection of the majority of the island’s large trees.
For 2016, additional minor clean-up, more tree wrapping, and a fall willow and poplar planting program are planned. In addition, the Chapter has obtained a grant that will enable us to investigate the potential to re-open the channel that runs behind the island, to r-establish it as spawning habitat.
Fish Handling Brochure
Improper handling techniques are a major source of fish mortality. In the fall of 2015 the Projects Committee developed a brochure with the title, “Don’t Be Catch and Release Killer”. As the suggests, the brochure explains why careful and proper handling matter, and provides step-by-step instructions for effective catch-and-release fishing. The brochure is generally targeted towards beginners, but contains information that would be useful to anyone interested in improving the potential for their released fish to thrive.
The brochure has been distributed at fly shops and special events. In addition, the Chapter has held several hands-on training seminars. These will continue as opportunities arise.
Fall Brown Trout Redd Survey
In the fall of 2015 the Chapter ran a two day float down the Bow River from Glenmore Trail in Calgary to Policeman’s Flats (approximately 10km downstream of the City). The purpose was to identify and document the number of brown trout spawning sites (redds) in the main and side channels of the river. Using three rafts and approximately 15 volunteers each day, we identified, GPS mapped and measured more than 600 redds. In general, it appears that most potential spawning habitat on the Bow is being heavily used. There is very little historical data on brown trout spawning in the Bow; the survey will continue as an annual project to build a database of information, and enable any changes in the future to be identified. This is particularly important as multiple major flood mitigation and repair projects are planned or underway.
One very significant observation was the large number of redds (more than 200) along the Mallard Point side channel. The restoration of the entrance to Mallard Point was a major project for Trout Unlimited (the national organization), and the channel has become very important spawning habitat.
Fish Creek Rainbow Trout Redd Survey
In the spring of 2016 the Projects Committee ran a spawning survey along Fish Creek, through the full length of Fish Creek Provincial Park. This was done in conjunction with the riparian restoration project described below. Fish Creek Provincial Park is the largest urban park in Canada, and is extremely heavily used. This heavy use, combined with damage form the 2013 and earlier floods, has created many ecological challenges along the creek.
There is almost no existing information on the extent of trout spawning within Fish Creek, although there is anecdotal evidence that the creek was formerly significant cutthroat habitat. During the spring survey, we were delighted to find that the creek was being very heavily used, with more than 350 redds identified in the Park. Many large rainbows were observed actively spawning.
Fish Creek has many challenges, from beavers to stormwater discharge to simple overuse. Annual redd surveys will continue, and the Chapter is exploring additional projects to preserve and enhance habitat along Fish Creek.
Fish Creek Riparian Restoration
The Chapter’s largest project of the past year was a major willow and balsam poplar planting program around and upstream of Bridge 9 in Fish Creek Provincial Park. Bridge 9 was destroyed by the 2013 flood, and was the last bridge in the park to be replaced. With the cooperation of Alberta Parks and the Friends of Fish Creek, the Chapter conducted a major planting program on the embankments of the new bridge, and on a severely eroding section of upstream riverbank. Full project details are provided on a separate hand-out.
River Valley Clean-up
The Chapter joined the annual City of Calgary River Valley Clean-up project this spring, removing assorted trash form a stretch of Elbow River bank and trails near the confluence with the Bow
A number of challenging projects are planned for the remainder of 2016. Maintaining (watering) the cuttings planted in Fish Creek Park will may be a considerable task, depending on rainfall. We will be conducting beaver wrapping projects in Fish Creek Park and downstream of Calgary. We are exploring opportunities to conduct restoration projects along Nose Creek, and may identify additional areas in Fish Creek for restoration. We are conducting research on methods to conduct restoration (planting) within areas of riverside rip-rap (flood armouring), with the hopes of implementing a full scale project late in 2016 or in 2017. Redd surveys will continue annually in the in spring and fall, with the potential to extend to additional locations.
The success of all of the Chapter’s projects is totally dependent on the dedication and hard work of our rapidly growing pool of volunteers. Thank you all.