If you want to save the world, you got to get up pretty early. We’re not saving the entire planet, but we found enough dedicated people to come out and help a small section of it. From as far as Calgary, Lethbridge, and everywhere in between, people arrived to meet by 9:00 am at the Dutch Creek Recreational Area. Luckily the organizations sponsoring and hosting the event welcomed us with coffee, donuts, and muffins. Something to take the edge off in the cold morning air. Unfortunately some volunteers weren’t able to make it, but we couldn’t wait for them if we wanted to get the work done on time.
The site was way up in the mountains. We followed Dutch Creek road and then south on Atlas road. You could still see people out there squeezing every last second of camping they could get before winter sets in. I can’t blame them. It’s beautiful country, but when they couldn’t cross the bridge when it was damaged by flooding in 2013, off-road vehicle users began crossing the creek in the shallow parts. Now that doesn’t sound too bad right? What harm could possibly come by driving through a little water? These are questions I asked myself before volunteering. It turns out it does more damage than most people, including myself, realize. Basically it speeds up the erosion process . Dirt and debris fall into the creek, clean creek gets dirty, pretty soon it changes the bed of the creek and later the river, and the fish get the short end of the stick.
So that was the purpose of the day's work and why OWC and its partners organize riparian restoration events. First order of business was blocking the path through the creek, and to encourage people to use the bridge. A full sized truck bridge was put in by Spray Lake Sawmills in August, and they also put boulders and rough timber in the ford path the week before we came out. We planted willows and poplars near the edge of the creek. By this time next year, their roots will be deep enough to stop the erosion and they will be tall enough to catch whatever’s falling into the creek. Now if you’re thinking that’s way more work than it sounds you’re wrong. We’re not transplanting whole trees. We were literally jamming stakes into the ground. They have the ability to grow from a single twig provided they’re in soil, like Groot from Guardians of the Galaxy.
We had to be done by 3:00 pm and since we started at 9:30 the time just flew by, especially when you’re working with friends and meeting other people. Hot lunch was also provided consisting of chili and caesar salad, now how’s that back-country dining? All in all it was a worthwhile way to spend a Saturday. I got fresh air, had a little fun and did a little good for the community. I would highly recommend that more people sign up for this sort of thing, and it can be done over at our volunteer portal at http://oldmanwatershed.ca/volunteering.
-Riley Sawyer, event volunteer and OWC Commnications Intern
For more information please contact:
Oldman Watershed Council
Cows and Fish
To get more information about this project visit http://oldmanwatershed.ca/projects-list/engaging-recreationalists.