Coyotes now frolic near Golden Ears Bridge

Restoration work bringing wildlife back to the area

Coyote pups cross a log over the Katzie Slough near the Golden Ears Bridge in Pitt Meadows.

Coyote pups cross a log over the Katzie Slough near the Golden Ears Bridge in Pitt Meadows.

While cars speed by, the corridor carved out for the approach roads and ramps to Golden Ears Bridge are greening up the way they should, part of the environmental mitigation for the $808-million project.

And it could be bringing back some critters that have been gone a long time from the area.

Local resident Harold Moody helped out with the restoration and said he never saw wildlife in the area until after the project was completed. But lately he’s seen deer and snapped a few photos of a coyote family enjoying the slough.

Hundreds of native trees and shrubs have been planted along the corridor leading the bridge to balance, as much as possible, the tonnes of concrete and steel that now connect north and south shores of the Fraser River. The toll bridge opened in July 2009.

“Generally, the idea is to plant indigenous species, keep the weeds and invasive species out and try to let the area flourish as naturally as possible,” said Richard Bayliss, project manager with Golden Crossing Constructors Joint Venture.

Reports have to be filed yearly for five years with Fisheries and Oceans Canada on the restoration.

Part of the project involved adding several metres of water channel to serve as fish habitat near the traffic roundabout at 113B Avenue. Streamside areas on both sides of Katzie Slough were also improved by adding shrubs, grasses, plants and biofiltration ponds.

The water in the Katzie Slough, or the nearby ponds, or the surrounding habitat, isn’t the greatest.

Nevertheless, even a few juvenile coho salmon have been found, although it’s mostly stickleback fish – a small spiny species – along with bullfrogs, an invasive species.

Dozens of evergreens have been planted around the exit ramps that will create a parklike atmosphere as motorists exit the bridge.

Bayliss isn’t surprised by reports of coyotes, but is by the deer sighting.

So far, the restoration is going well and there are no surprises, he added.

He said B.C. sets a higher standard for remediation than some places he’s worked, such as in Hong Kong or Africa, “where the environment is second or third consideration on the list. Here, it’s nearly at the top of the list.”

Given the relatively small percentage of the overall cost of the project, restoration has long-term benefits. Ensuring both sides of the Golden Ears Bridge were as green as possible, cost less than a million dollars, Bayliss said.

 

• Related story: Coyotes pushed out by bulldozers in Pitt Meadows