Waterhouse Work Party – Saturday, October 13

Submitted by Denis Coupland, Coordinator
KENNES (Hagan/Graham Creek) Watershed Project

See how the wetlands pond at the Waterhouse site has now filled up with the sedges we planted growing up from the submerged islands and along the banks.

You may recall that at the beginning of June I invited you all to join us in the Final Act of the great Waterhouse drama, the culmination of four years of work in stream restoration and creation of a wetlands pond on Hagan Creek as it flows through Anne’s farm. We had one of our usual great days of tree planting and blackberry bashing while Ian Bruce worked with an excavator and a small crew topping off the stop log dam and deepening the ditch from the creek into the top of the end of the pond and then building another riffle just downstream from it. This may have seemed mysterious at the time because the ditch didn’t go down to the level of the stream and thus wouldn’t add any water to the pond during normal flow periods in the creek. (See photo below.)

The mystery is explained by the fact that the pond is designed to have two distinct functions. The first was to create a new habitat for waterfowl, fish and invertebrates. As you can see from the picture above, as we had hoped, the artesian springs under the pond have filled it to exactly the level we need for this. However, it is also intended to function as a stormwater retention facility during the extreme high flow periods in the winter. Diversion of the water from the creek will reduce some of its pounding force and thus lessen erosion downstream as it flows down through the farmlands of the Mount Newton Valley and discharges into the ?ENNES estuary. But, of course, we don’t want the water to overflow the pond and flood the adjacent field or to start slopping over the stream bank and eroding it. And this is where your Curtain Call, or actually a series of them, come in!

1) The construction crew:
Ian Bruce will have an excavator there during the morning to install a 6-inch pipe with a control valve at the bottom end of the pond. It will be at a sufficient depth so that when the pond is completely filled during the high flow period, the control valve can be opened and as much as half of the water drained out, both preventing overflow of the pond’s banks and allowing even more water to be diverted from the creek through the ditch at the upper end. When the stream flow lessens, the valve will be closed and the artesian springs will return the pond to its normal level. Neat, eh?
2) Planting parties:
One crew will work on the pond, planting cattail roots and pounding willow stakes into the banks to vary the habitat and provide some shade for the water. A second crew will continue our tree planting on the south side of the creek with a variety of Douglas firs, Blue spruce and Red cedars. And Deep Cove School students will be bringing the alders they raised at home over the summer for planting.
3) Blackberry-bashing and thistle-thrashing:
We are winning the war against the blackberries. The reach from Malcolm Road down to the first bridge is over 95% cleared and, with a bit of effort digging up the last of the root crowns, we should be able to declare it a blackberry-free zone. The next reach between the two bridges is perhaps 75% cleared so we still have some serious work to do there. And for the last reach down to the western end of the property, although we have made some serious incursions into the heaviest thickets, most of the area is still overrun with blackberries. I think we will be able to call the day a success if we can at least cut them all down. Then we will have something to look forward to next year, going back and digging up all of the crown roots.
One side effect of clearing out the blackberries has been to allow thistles to thrive in the newly sunlit areas and they will probably continue to do so until our riparian tree plantings of recent years really take off. It’s not worth digging them up but we can at least slow their regrowth by chopping them down. For those of you who still recall what a scythe or a sickle is, these would be the ideal tools and, if you happen to have some stored away, please sharpen them up and bring them with you.

We’ll start at 9:30 am and work through until noon. Then we will stop for a great lunch, catered as usual by the Red Barn. That’s also the time for socializing. And then it’s back to work until 2:30 pm or so. We’d be delighted to see you for either the morning or the afternoon shift or both or even only an hour if that’s all you can fit in. Please respond to this e-mail as soon as possible by contacting Francesca as indicated below. We need to know how many tools to bring, how many trees to dig up and, just as importantly, how many sandwiches to order. I know we usually get a great response but I still worry right up until the last minute. I hope to see all of you again very soon!

Equipment: You should wear work gloves and either rubber or work boots. We will have some tools with us but if you have favourite clippers, loppers, shovels, picks or mattocks or anything else suitable for tree-planting and battling blackberries, please bring them along.

RSVP: To assist with planning, please email us so we can inform you of any changes and communicate location details, etc.