Elk River Alliance Looking For Restoration Volunteers

Spring is starting to bloom in full colours, and the Elk River Alliance is seeking volunteer help to aid in streambank restoration. Over the last month, volunteers collected over 2000 plant cuttings or “livestakes”, adding to the 600 stored from the previous fall. So far, over 1000 livestakes have already been planted, but more help is needed.

According to ERA, the next two weeks are crucial because an early spring means plants need to be planted earlier than normal. The work entails putting livestakes into holes made by a machine, backfilling them with soil, and adding water to give them a healthy start. To sweeten the deal, ERA is offering a BBQ to all those who join the volunteer days and participants will be entered into a draw for a Patagonia rain jacket every time they volunteer.

“This work would not be possible without volunteers,” says restoration technician Chris Bush, “we’re really dependent on community support to grow these forests, and we’re really grateful to the amazing folks who have helped out so far.”

The restoration site is the Morrissey Meadows Conservation Area owned by the Nature Conservancy Canada. Many who drive south on Highway 3 towards Cranbrook have likely seen the old farmhouses, which are part of the property. Previously used for pasture fields, this land has grasses that have shallow roots and are prone to erosion.

“Cottonwood forests are a critical component of the Elk Valley. They provide shaded habitat for large mammals like grizzly bears and improve aquatic habitat for fish,” says ERA Executive Director Chad Hughes, “additionally, the roots stabilize stream banks preventing erosion and keeping the water clear, and the new vegetation slows floodwaters.”

Current volunteer times are 10 AM-3 PM every day from Monday, April 22nd until Thursday, May2nd. Details, a sign-up form, and the most up to date information is provided at elkriveralliance.ca.

This work is to support ERA’s large-scale cottonwood restoration program, which aims to plant 20,000 trees in streamside areas to improve wildlife habitat, decrease bank erosion rates, and improve Elk Valley flood resiliency. The Morrissey Meadows restoration efforts are funded by the Columbia Basin Trust, Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program, Habitat Conservation Trust, Nature Conservancy Canada, TD Friends of the Environment Foundation, Fortis BC, and RBC.