The first phase of an elaborate two year effort to restore more than nine hectares of wetlands between Cranbrook and Ta Ta Creek is done.
The Nature Conservancy of Canada is transforming former hay fields east of the airport that were once part of a network of productive wetlands.
Richard Klafki with the NCC says the work will create habitats for duck and geese as well as rare and at risk animals such as bears, owls, toads and turtles.
This first phase saw the creation of over three hectares of wetlands and over 9-hectares of wetlands will be restored by 2019.
Klafki says they’ve received approximately $170,000 in funding for the project.
The land is located on the Cherry Meadows Conservation Area, a 70 hectare property donated to the NCC in 2014 by Carol and Walter Latter.
It was used as hay fields but the area was traditionally dominated by wetlands.
The historical wetlands were drained by installing deep and long ditches, which were often dug with the help of explosives.
However, due to the course of nature, the old fields have been too wet to farm for over 26 years and are dominated by reed canary grass which is a non-native, invasive species, and dense thickets of willow.
Klafki says the new wetlands will help to counter the spread of invasive plants by providing conditions for native plants to out-compete the intruding grasses and willows.
According to Klafki, the exciting aspect about habitat restoration projects like Cherry Meadows is that it is an example of reversing some of the wetland habitat loss that has happened throughout the the Rocky Mountain Trench over the past several decades.
In addition, it’s hoped that someday that the critically endangered northern leopard frog will be reintroduced and expand their range into the wetlands
(Photo courtesy of Tom Biebighauser)
– Nature Conservancy of Canada Rockies Program Director Richard Klafki