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Location: Greater Vancouver, Alouette Watershed, Dogwood Creek, McKenney Creek and Morse Creek
The Alouette watershed adopt-a-stream pilot program will encourage and assist neighborhoods, families, individuals, local schools, and clubs to engage with their local waterways. The Alouette River Management Society (ARMS) will facilitate groups to take active leadership roles in the protection, information gathering, and restoration of their local waterways. Groups may undertake a variety of activities such as invasive plant removals, storm drain markings, picking up litter and debris, or stream monitoring.
As the communities of Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows rapidly expand, so too do our concerns for our local waterways. There are three major areas of concern, first, ongoing development increases the urgency for our local rivers to be monitored, protected, and advocated for to ensure they don’t become lost rivers. Second, with over 35 % of the watershed classified as residential and another 38 % as agricultural land, it is often difficult for stewardship groups to access parts of the watershed for monitoring and third, the population growth and influx has increased the potential that community members are disconnected from their local waterways and less likely to be able to identify the name, biology, history and seasonality of their local stream. Unengaged community members are unlikely to prevent degradation due to lack of observation and reporting. All the above issues combined with limited resources of stewardship groups create a sound rationale for piloting different mechanisms to protect, restore and maintain watershed health.
The project methodology will consist of four parts:
1. Building Alouette watershed student stewards. For each stream involved in the pilot project, ARMS will partner with a class from one of the schools in the vicinity. The program for their ‘adoption’ will be developed with the teacher and bearing in mind class curricular goals and Fisheries and Oceans Community Advisors and Pacific Streamkeepers procedures and guidelines. The goal is to complete a monitoring, clean-up, and assessment project with a particular class and teacher with the hopes that the teacher will carry on the program in the following year. Once the program is designed the class, teacher, and ARMS staff will complete a monthly activity by the stream. The class will also be encouraged to complete further analysis and other projects such as art projects related to the stream within their regular course work.
4. Protection and Rehabilitation. Data and information gained from adopt-a-stream groups will be analyzed and reported on by ARMS staff. This data will then be used in annual review and planning sessions for larger projects to be completed in the watershed. Adopt-a-stream groups will be invited to provide further input and suggest ideas for remediation.
The adopt-a-stream project contributes to healthy watershed and the capacity of the community through the promotion and training of good stewardship practices and by establishing commitment of identified community members to protect their local ecosystems. Teachers will also be trained in designing and implementing activities that utilize their local waterways and riparian areas, while promoting stewardship. Improving the overall connection of neighborhoods to their local waterway will encourage citizen action to ensure that these systems remain healthy. Establishing the connection between these groups and ARMS as well as to other like-minded community organization means that these groups will have support and resources to improve the overall capacity of the community. More ‘active eyes’ monitoring the salmon populations along the tributaries of the Alouette River will result in a better understanding of the state of the system as well as to identify changes that might result from development.