$600,000 to protect key bird habitat near Pitt Lake

Ducks Unlimited frees up some bucks to improve wetlands north of Pitt Meadows

Workers install water control structures.

Workers install water control structures.

One of the most important wetlands in the Lower Mainland will be getting some TLC thanks to Ducks Unlimited Canada.

The national wetlands conservation group is spending $600,000 to replace eight water control structures on Pitt Marsh wetlands, located at the south end of Pitt Lake.

The structures allow Ducks Unlimited Canada, which maintains the provincially-owned land, to control the water height in the marsh, and to control the amount of vegetation, and thus the amount of food available for migrating birds.

“This is our largest wetland project in the Lower Mainland and an important habitat for many birds and mammals, especially wintering waterfowl,” said Brad Arner, manager of provincial operations for Ducks Unlimited in British Columbia. “Without the water control structures, the marsh habitat would not exist.”

Dan Buffet, a research biologist with Ducks Unlimited,  says the marsh is an important pit stop for migrating birds.

The Pitt Marsh lies on the Pacific Flyway, one of the main routes for  migratory birds in North America between their summer breeding grounds in the north and winter feeding grounds in the south.

“Hundreds of thousands of waterfowl use this area as a stop over on their way down south,” said Buffet. “What we try to do is provide food for the birds while they are here.”

Among the many species routinely spotted on the marsh are mallard, Canada geese, green-winged teal, gadwall, American wigeon, trumpeter swans, ring-necked ducks, wood ducks, buffleheads and hooded mergansers.

Pitt Marsh is also a breeding ground for wood ducks, mallards and Canada geese.

Given the size and importance of the marsh to migrating birds, Buffet said its protection is a top priority for the group, especially considering the many threats to nearby feeding areas.

While the development of farmland into residential and commercial subdivisions puts a strain on migrating birds, so too does the conversion of traditional farm lands to blueberry and cranberry fields.

“When a waterfowl stops off in, say, a potato field, they’ll eat some insects, maybe pick at some spoiled potatoes on the ground and carry on,” said Buffet. “But they don’t get that in berry fields, they don’t provide the same kind of food regular farmland does.”

The 1,342-hectare Pitt Marsh has been owned by the government of B.C. since 1974 and has been part of the Pitt-Addington Wildlife Management Area since 1987. Ducks Unlimited has been involved in this area since the late 1970s, constructing nesting islands, dikes and water control structures.

The original water controls were built by Ducks Unlimited in the 1980s.

“They’re steel, so they are starting to rust,” said Buffet.

The work is expected to take two to three weeks to complete, and may conflict with duck hunting in some areas of the marsh when the season opens later this month.

“There should be minimal impact [to hunters],” Buffet said.

“The money that people pay for hunting and fishing licenses goes to pay for projects like this,” Buffet noted.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A small memorial to Rich Goulet was started at Pitt Meadows Secondary after his recent death. (Neil Corbett/The News)
LETTER: Rename Pitt Meadows school gym in coach’s honour

Rich Goulet was considered one of the provinces best basketball coaches and died recently

Doug Nolin, a Maple Ridge senior, snapped this picture of his pet pigeons taking flight down by the old Albion ferry dock. “What a beautiful land we live in,” he said. (Special to The News)
SHARE: Chirp, chirp: Ridge senior captures pigeons taking flight

Send us your photo showing how you view Maple Ridge or Pitt Meadows, and it could be featured soon.

Pamela Franklin captured this picture of a raccoon in Maple Ridge, “chilling” in her backyard, on her storage bin. (Special to The News)
SHARE: Lounging in the spring sun

Send us your photo showing how you view Maple Ridge or Pitt Meadows, and it could be featured soon.

Debbie Noseworthy snapped a sunset picture the first day of daylight savings as seen from the dikes off 216th Street in Maple Ridge. (Special to The News)
SHARE: Sky on fire over Maple Ridge dikes

Send us your photo showing how you view Maple Ridge or Pitt Meadows, and it could be featured soon.

Darlene Martin captured this ‘breathtaking’ view of a sunset and the Fraser River as taken from Osprey Village. (Special to The News)
SHARE: View from Osprey Village breathtaking

Send us your photo showing how you view Maple Ridge or Pitt Meadows, and it could be featured soon.

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and Premier John Horgan describe vaccine rollout at the legislature, March 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
1,262 more COVID-19 infections in B.C. Friday, 9,574 active cases

Province’s mass vaccination reaches one million people

People walk past the Olympic rings in Whistler, B.C., Friday, May 15, 2020. Whistler which is a travel destination for tourists around the world is seeing the effects of travel bans due to COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Adults living, working in Whistler, B.C., eligible for COVID-19 vaccine on Monday

The move comes as the province deals with a rush of COVID-19 and variant cases in the community

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
UPDATE: RCMP investigating after child, 6, dies at motel in Duncan, B.C.

The BC Coroners Service is conducting its own investigation into the circumstances around the child’s death

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

RCMP display some of the fish seized from three suspects who pleaded guilty to violating the Fisheries Act in 2019, in this undated handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - RCMP
3 banned from fishing, holding licences after overfishing violations near Vancouver Island

Mounties seized the group’s 30-foot fishing vessel and all equipment on board at the time

B.C. Premier John Horgan responds to questions during a postelection news conference in Vancouver, on Sunday, October 25, 2020. British Columbia’s opposition Liberals and Greens acknowledge the COVID-19 pandemic has presented huge challenges for Horgan’s government, but they say Monday’s throne speech must outline a coherent plan for the province’s economic, health, social and environmental future. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Horgan’s NDP to bring in throne speech in B.C., Opposition wants coherent plan

Farnworth said the budget will include details of government investment in communities and infrastructure

FILE - An arena worker removes the net from the ice after the Vancouver Canucks and Calgary Flames NHL hockey game was postponed due to a positive COVID-19 test result, in Vancouver, British Columbia, in this Wednesday, March 31, 2021, file photo. As vaccinations ramp up past a pace of 3 million a day in the U.S, the NHL is in a tougher spot than the other three major North American professional sports leagues because seven of 31 teams are based on Canada. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP, File)
Vancouver Canucks scheduled to practice Sunday, resume games April 16 after COVID outbreak

Canucks outbreak delayed the team’s season by eight games

Most Read