Adopt a stream – neighbours, get involved

A coho salmon fry showed up in T2 creek along 222nd Street, the focus of a pilot adopt-a-stream program. River management society volunteer Peter Dittaro and employee Nicole Driedger confirm that it’s a coho. - Contributed
A coho salmon fry showed up in T2 creek along 222nd Street, the focus of a pilot adopt-a-stream program. River management society volunteer Peter Dittaro and employee Nicole Driedger confirm that it’s a coho.
— image credit: Contributed

After being poked and prodded and tested for acidity levels, clarity, oxygen and temperature, the result was a clean bill of health – and it doesn’t even have a name.

Officially, it’s called T2, but the locals know it as Hillside Creek.

It runs through an older neighbourhood in Maple Ridge, along 222nd Street, starting somewhere north of Dewdney Trunk Road, through backyards and beneath roads and it’s a sparkling example of what an urban stream should be, says the Alouette River Management Society.

Thanks to the adopt-a-stream pilot program, T2 now will have some tender loving care to ensure its survival.

The program matched the society’s expertise with the volunteer efforts of concerned residents, in order to safeguard the watercourse.

“It’s really about connecting people to their streams and show them how important their stream is to wildlife and fish,” said Amanda Crowston, with the river society.

“It’s really to showcase the importance of these urban streams.”

A $12,050 grant from the Fraser Salmon and Watershed Program allowed the water quality to be tested. The results from last fall came back good for all of the above categories.

ARMS staff and local neighbours also installed fish traps in four spots last week and found fish in three of them – cutthroat trout, coho salmon and stickleback, some almost 10 centimetres long. It’s possible that a concrete barrier blocked fish access to the fourth.

“We were really excited. It goes through so many properties,” Crowston said.

Removal of invasive plants was also part of the project.

Crowston doesn’t know the exact origin point of T2, saying that it’s formed basically by runoff from roads, backyards and ditches. When the Alouette River is under storm conditions or facing heavy runoff, such channels offer a refuge for smaller fish.

If more money becomes available, the program could be offered to other neighbourhoods. Crowston says adopt-a-stream forms a connection between residents and the stream and its surrounding environment, which people may not have had before.

Her group wants to show residents how, with small changes to their properties, there can be a healthier stream for fish and wildlife.

“Many people love bird watching, for example, and with a healthy fish population in an urban stream, and plants that support bird habitat, there will be more birds in our backyards.

“If they want to start caring for their streams in their back yards, we want to support them.”

Not tested for, however, was pesticides. Maple Ridge doesn’t allow use of pesticides or herbicides on residential properties.

“The stream is going through a residential area. We hope with the municipal bylaw, that’s something we don’t have to test for.”

Stacy Wakfer, who lives on 222nd Street, is one of the handful of residents who helped ARMS.

“It’s my belief we own the streams and that waterway is ours,” Wakfer said.

The stream will be here long after she’s gone, she added.

However, she wonders why the District of Maple Ridge OK’d last June a new 109-unit condo development at 12256 – 222nd St., that’s located on nearby untouched green space.

The project already has a permit, but Wakfer wants the setback for the stream corridor that runs through the property increased from 15 metres to 30 metres.

Crowston, though, says the project has “sufficient setbacks from the stream and there is a proper plan in place to ensure the setback is restored with native plants.”

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