Trip report by Anne Leathem
If we were salmon returning to Lynn Creek to spawn … what would we hope for? Wouldn’t it be nice to have sheltered pools behind large stumps and trees where we can rest as we fight our way against the current, and some climbable ladders to get around new obstacles up stream to our own spawning areas, some gravel beds in quiet water where we can clear a redd in which to lay our eggs, and for our young to thrive.
On a cool but bright morning, seventeen members and one guest participated in the walk along Lynn Creek, on 6th March 2019. Streamkeepers, Glenn Parker and ZoAnn Morten, who led the walk, talked about all these important things.
The Streamkeepers have done a lot of work along the lower stretch of this creek. They have created back channels with slower water and made quiet pools by placing large woody debris on the sides for fry to feed in and hide while maturing These backwaters also provide refuge from winter floods and spring freshets when the main current rampages to the sea. We learned that Coho spends a whole year in Lynn Creek whereas pinks and chum leave earlier. Large areas of stream banks have also been cleared of invasive plants and been replaced with our nurturing native riparian ferns, shrubs and trees. Most of these replanted areas are fenced off with rustic snake fences to restrict dog and human traffic but some access is left open along the way to permit all visitors to enjoy the creek waters. Just by chance some of us had attended a talk on Invasive Plants, the night before the walk and were aware of how much work it is to rip out all the Himalayan blackberry and knotweed and many other invaders from the riparian area.
So now we have our welcoming stream, what about the water quality? We take this so for granted in our rainy climate, but much besides rain water ends up in the runoff. As Glenn informed us everytime we step on our brakes a substance toxic to fish lands on the roads, not to mention what wears off our car tires as we drive the roads, all of this is washed into the drains and creeks. We must slow down the rate of runoff into our waterways. The Streamkeepers have built an impressive bioswale just south of new lanes of Keith Rd beside Bridgman Park to catch the runoff from this busy road. This allows the water to slowly percolate into the soil (which they have populated with a variety of native plants that will enjoy this drink) before it enters the lower ground water and eventually enters the creek. A new approach in handling runoff (rather than building more costly drainage infrastructure) would be to tax properties according to the area of impervious surface on the lot; gone would be the paved front yards and all the gray concrete–back would come greenery and perhaps a gravel driveway. Who doesn’t want to lower their taxes? Let your mayors know!
As we walked towards Vancouver Harbour we passed from fresh water to the brackish water of the estuary. Beware, under the train bridge you must switch from your fresh water fishing license to your saltwater fishing license! The Streamkeepers again, with the help of the BCIT Ecological Restoration students have built a large central island to help slow the current and produce more surface for saltwater plant species and organisms to thrive. Did you know that salmon require brackish estuary water to transition from their fresh water life to their next years in the ocean?
The next project for this estuary is the placing of boulders just where the creek enters the harbour. This will help enlarge the local kelp bed and again produce hiding spots for small fish to linger. We ended our pleasant walk on to the Harbourside Park viewing tower with its panoramic view of harbour and mountains.
Thanks so much to Glenn Parker and ZoAnn Morten for leading and educating us, and to Abby Schwarz who kindly organized the walk and kept track of all of us.
Streamkeepers is currently working to raise funding to build another streamside channel along the west side of the estuary island. Any ideas and help you can offer would be most welcome.