A group of Byrne Creek Streamkeepers and other community volunteers spent this morning cleaning up areas near the creek as part of the annual Edmonds Clean Sweep in southeast Burnaby.
We picked up enough garbage and pulled enough invasive ivy to fill two dumpsters to overflowing! Thanks to the City of Burnaby and its staff for helping to organize the event and providing the dumpsters. And thanks to the other community groups that cleaned up the streets in the Edmonds neighborhood!
We also planted 50 trees near the creek downstream of Edmonds Skytrain station. It was dirty and fulfilling work :-).
Here's a shot of the ivy team. And yes, those large log-like pieces of plant matter are ivy! They are the bottom ends of ivy that were crawling up firs and cedars. We "girdle" such climbing ivy by cutting it all around the base of the tree it is attacking. Amazing how this invasive species runs rampant and chokes the life out of native plants and trees. This is the same stuff that people use to decorate their yards....
A group of Byrne Creek Streamkeepers out pulling invasive ivy in Byrne Creek Ravine park as part of the Edmonds Clean Sweep this morning found a cute salamander.
I've never seen a salamander in the area before. Here's a photo that my wife Yumi took.
As we walked we discussed issues such as invasive plant species, impervious surfaces in the watershed leading to flooding, urban biodiversity etc. When we got to the footbridge at the bottom of the ravine, we pointed out the salmon fry in the creek.
We then got down to work and pulled a bunch of invasive ivy. Thanks to everyone who came out!
There were loads of fry throughout Byrne Creek again this morning. There were hundreds between Meadow and Byrne bridges.
We spent ten minutes watching a group of coho fry that are hanging just downstream of the footbridge at the bottom end of the ravine near a midsize cedar tree. The have been quite unafraid the last few times we've observed them. You can watch them rising to the surface to snap up stuff floating downstream. Very cute!
They let us squat within a few feet of them while they focused on stuffing themselves.
They blend in with their surroundings, however if you look closely there are three in this photo.
Sorry for the Steve Irwin-ism there, couldn't resist :-).
Yumi and I came across another garter snake near Byrne Creek, this one on the paved path that runs from Edmonds Skytrain station past Griffiths Pond.
There were people coming, so we herded it off into the bush above the pond. I noticed a young boy and his grandmother approaching, so I asked him if he wanted to see a snake.
His eyes opened wide and he nodded, and we pointed it out to him. His grandmother looked scared, and he asked if the snake would bite. I said it was not poisonous, and would only bite if it felt trapped and threatened.
We watched the snake for awhile and talked about its beautiful colours. I think we may have sparked a sense of awe in that little boy -- I hope our approach showed him that animals are to be appreciated in their natural splendour.
Byrne Creek Streamkeepers got permission from the city to remove some invasive plant species in certain areas of Byrne Creek Ravine Park and replant with native plants, so a crew of volunteers spent three hours this morning yanking ivy, clipping blackberry, and planting cedars, firs and alders.
It was wet, dirty, and very satisfying work!
Yumi and I helped grade 1 and 2 students from South Slope Elementary release chum fry into Byrne Creek this afternoon.
The kids and their teacher, Gary Thompson, raised the baby salmon from eggs in the DFO "Salmon in the Classroom" program. It was our second release with Gary, and we had a great time again.
Thanks to all the parents who drove and herded the kids :-).
Here I am giving them a short talk about the salmon lifecycle, and when their tiny fry might come back to Byrne Creek to have their own babies.
Yumi and I managed to net another coho fry in Byrne Creek today about 10m upstream of Tag 517. We got some photos and then released it. It was about 2.5-3cm long.
The cherry trees around our balcony are nearly in full bloom. I took these photos today, because the forecast is for rain for the next few days, and I may not have a chance to get them at their peak.
Yumi and I found fry (salmon babies) from the ravine park all the way down to the confluence of Byrne Creek and John Mathews Creek today.
There was a nice array of sizes from tiny newly hatched ones, to large coho fry that have been growing for nearly a couple of months already.
We saw over 400 in total today, and you could probably multiply that by many times to get what's really out there in that stretch. From our scrutiny with binoculars and monoculars they all appeared to be coho. Couldn't positively ID any chum, so the ones we've seen before have likely left the system already.
Details below, for those who want them.
-- Fry in pools 10-20m upstream of Tag 517. Also knotweed spreading all over the creek on both banks and in-stream, some of it 60-70cm tall already.
-- Coho fry in pools at the slide between Tags 517 and 516 (the footbridge at the bottom end of the ravine). At least 3 dozen, and occasionally a cutthroat trout or coho smolt (juvenile) would zoom through the school and try to pick off one of the smaller ones. Fry were biting at stuff floating on the surface.
-- Tiny newly hatched fry just downstream of the slide.
-- Large coho fry in the pool at the fallen tree upstream of the footbridge (Tag 516).
-- Tiny fry hiding in stones just above the culvert at Tag 515.
-- Knotweed on the slope above the habitat, some it just a few meters from the fence. We'd better keep a sharp eye on this, as it'll be a huge problem if it gets established in the spawning habitat.
-- Large coho fry at Tag 512 in the habitat, at least 4 dozen. A few cuts/smolts in several of the pools in the habitat.
-- At least 2 dozen fry just downstream of the gate in the sediment pond (Tag 514).
-- Oily, soapy accumulation at the lower end of the sediment pond.
-- At least 8 - 10 dozen coho fry along the southwest bank of the overflow pond. The current from the spawning channel circles around the lower end of the overflow pond, and they were hanging all along the bank waiting for food to come drifting by.
-- At least 5 dozen fry just downstream of Meadow Bridge.
-- At least 3 dozen fry just upstream of Byrne Bridge (Tag 507).
-- At least 2 dozen fry just downstream of Byrne Bridge (Tag 507).
-- At least 12 dozen fry spread through pools in the creek between Byrne Bridge (Tag 507) and John Mathews Creek (Tag 506).
-- And, to our amazement, there were even a few fry in that smelly rivulet that empties out of a culvert and enters Byrne Creek just downstream of Byrne Bridge!
The landscaping company at our townhouse complex has advised that we apply Merit to our lawns to head off the chafer infestation. I've been doing a bit of research on chafers and the use of Merit, and what I've found makes me think the stuff should not be applied anywhere in the city, or beyond.
1) The City of Burnaby strongly prefers the use of biological treatment using nematodes, and says "chemical treatments should only be used as a last resort."
2) The BC provincial government's restrictions (45KB PDF file) on the use of Merit include the following:
"Do NOT apply product or plant treated seed pieces within 15 meters of well-head or aquatic systems, including marshes, ponds, ditches, streams, lakes, etc."
"Do NOT apply to terrains where surface run-off may enter aquatic systems."
"Do NOT mix, load, clean equipment within 30 meters of well-heads or aquatic systems."
The info sheet also says, "This product is highly toxic to aquatic invertebrates. This product is toxic to birds."
3) The manufacturer of imidacloprid, (95KB PDF file) the insecticide in Merit, also says "this product is highly toxic to aquatic invertebrates."
All surface run-off eventually enters aquatic systems, be it directly, through the ground, or via storm drains. I think the various levels of government should be taking a stronger position on this issue and ought to increase monitoring and enforcement.
Our townhouse complex sits right above the Byrne Creek ravine, and diligent work by streamkeepers and the city has actually resulted in improving water quality in the last year as measured by aquatic invertebrate surveys (bug counts).
It would be a shame to see that go to waste. The coho and chum salmon fry (babies) that are popping out of the gravel now need those bugs to survive, not to mention cutthroat trout and other water animals.
The theme was "See the World Come to Burnaby," and he gave an inspiring speech on how the city's cultural diversity was drawing talent from all over the world. He said that as of the 2001 census, 47% of Burnaby residents were immigrants, yet of those 84% had already attained Canadian citizenship.
Corrigan drew a picture of Burnaby as a place of incredible richness and diversity that is becoming a model for well planned, fiscally responsible growth.