Volunteers get Down and Dirty

Volunteers from a number of local clubs gathered Saturday to labour in the dirt to help restore a grassland on the Westside

Volunteers build check dams to slow the downhill flow of water eroding the soil from the Bald Range grassland off Bear Main Forest Service Road on the Westside.

 

Dozens of volunteers planted trees on the weekend, but instead of creating new forest they were restoring a grassland area on the Westside.

The trees they planted were chunks of dead pines, which they dug into a small gully carved through the middle of the Bald Range grassland off Bear Main Forest Service Road by runoff water—in an attempt to slow the water and reduce erosion.

Those check dams, made of dead pine logs, large rocks and other debris, should help to intercept soil and rocks being eroded by the force of the water’s downhill flow and minimize the erosion, explained Lorne Davies of Geostream Environmental Consulting, who provided the technical expertise for the work party.

“The idea of ecosystem restoration is to use on-site, natural materials to assist Mother Nature in the recovery of these grasslands,” he explained.

The dead pines that were cut had been allowed to encroach on the grassland, he added, so they were a natural choice to remove.

Trails created by dirt bikes riding on vertical hill climb trails instead of across the slope have eroded over the years, but motorized vehicles have now been fenced out of the area and new, sustainable trails built for trail riders to use in the area.

The project to restore the grassland was spearheaded by the Peachland Sportsmen’s Association, with the idea it will provide more winter range habitat for ungulates, and for birds and other wildlife. It had the support of a number of other groups in this area.

Saturday, about 25 volunteers from the Peachland club, the Central Okanagan Naturalists’ Club, Kelowna and District Fish and Game Club, Oceola Fish and Game Club and the Okanagan Trail Riders’ Association gathered to begin work on repairing and reducing the damage from erosion.

That meant hauling logs across the grassland to the cuts in the hill, setting them into the sides of the channel and stabilizing them with rocks, gravel and dirt.

The PSA received a grant of $4,500 towards the cost for the work from the Public Conservation Assistance Fund, a joint initiative of the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation and the provincial government.

In addition to non-government volunteers, a wildlife biologist from the Ministry of Forest, Land and Natural Resource Operations and ecologist Don Gayton volunteered their expertise during the day’s work.

 

jsteeves@kelownacapnews.com

 

 

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