Along the Fraser: Efforts to improve the slough

The event was the second of two garbage clean-ups this year inspired by Scott Magri, of the Katzie Slough Restoration Project.

Ten-year-old Janna smiled triumphantly as she reached over the bow of her canoe to snap a trash grabber onto a plastic bottle.

Seconds later, her brother, Joseph, 8, excitedly paddled up in a separate canoe, hoping to add the same prize to his open garbage bag.

“They’re trying to see who could collect the most trash,” explained their mom, Dora Steiner.

Oct. 24 was a chilly fall afternoon. Rain clouds threatened to soak Janna and 16 other canoeists paddling Katzie Slough from Harris Road bridge westward to the Lougheed Highway overpass and beyond.

The event, sponsored by Lina Azeez of Watershed Watch, was the second of two garbage clean-ups this year inspired by Scott Magri, of the Katzie Slough Restoration Project.

Again, volunteers would fill a dozen bags with household and industrial trash.

“It included,” said Azeez, “a rake, styrofoam, bottles, buckets, chairs, and empty fertilizer bags.”

Janna could have been watching Saturday TV. She elected to collect a mess left by adults, instead.

“Why?” I asked.

“I wanted to help the earth.”

That sentiment was echoed by a long-time Alouette Field Naturalist Fran Pattison and local scout leader Simon Matthews.

“I’ve heard of Scott’s work with the slough, and I’d love to see him succeed,” said Matthews. “Our group is sponsored by ARMS and does a number of restoration projects. If we can get Pitt Meadows to supply the plants, we can provide a decent amount of labor. I’m sure we can come down and do clearing and plantings a couple of times a year.”

Pattison had never canoed. She was nervous about getting into one without knowing how to paddle, but decided to join the slough clean-up anyway.

“The idea of a nature-appreciation opportunity that contributes to a healthier environment made me want to do the trip,” said Pattison, adding she “wasn’t surprised” to see the abundance and variety of local waterfowl – ducks, coots, kingfishers, hawks, eagles.

“We’re so blessed to live in this incredibly natural place. It’s time to start doing something that nourishes this gift of nature in our city.”

This time and last, Azeez set fish traps that we later checked to gauge numbers and species. We found an abundance of pumpkinseed fish, a catfish, and protected three-spined sticklebacks, and multi-colored sculpins, pretty fish that can exist in oxygen deficient water.

A city-funded inventory in 2013 listed nine species, including perch, brown bullhead, northern pike minnow, largemouth bass, carp, black crappies, coho, and cutthroat trout. Most never head out to the Pitt River. Those that do – coho and trout – are ground up by the antiquated Kennedy pump station, which isn’t fish friendly and should be replaced.

“Katzie Slough is able to provide suitable habitat,” concluded the Scott report. “Maintenance work to improve fish habitat and protect the city’s infrastructure could be performed during the late summer months.”

Katzie Slough could be a proud recreational badge for Pitt Meadows, an ecological wonderland for kids like Janna and Joseph. It’s an irrigation ditch and dump site. Millfoil weed reduces dissolved oxygen while constricting the channel. Water temperatures – above 21 degrees this summer – kill trout and coho that should thrive. In the summer – with the next drought – farmers will again fight to pull clean water for crops from Katzie sludge that gets deeper each year.

One remedy is to run more water through here from the Kennedy pump, but so far the city has failed to do this, citing flood concerns that can be avoided with new thinking and investment.

– Jack Emberly is a retired teacher, local author and environmentalist.

 

Just Posted

UPDATE: Crash on Haney Bypass has lanes closed

Vehicle plunges down embankment in Maple Ridge

New rail underpass and overpass comes with costs

Pitt Meadows residents will see 0.75 per cent tax increase for rail crossings

Dewdney Trunk Road closed, vehicle crashes

Happened in early evening, injuries unknown

Court supports Maple Ridge role in tent city

Rejects Pivot application to allow people to return

City video updates Maple Ridge Leisure Centre re-do

Rusty support columns delaying project by a few months

Feds lowered poverty line, reducing the number of seniors in need: documents

Liberals introduced a poverty line that was below the prior low-income cutoff

$900M settlement reached in class action on sexual misconduct in Canadian military

After facing criticism, the government moved to begin settlement proceedings in early 2018

Tax take stays ahead of increased B.C. government spending

Tax revenue $2.1 billion higher than budget in 2018-19

Two toddler sibblings found drowned on First Nation in Alberta

The Siblings were found drowned on their family’s property, according to RCMP

Chiefs honour Indigenous leader wrongfully hanged in B.C. 154 years ago today

Chief Joe Alphonse says they want his remains returned to his homeland in B.C.’s Cariboo region

Rare white ravens spotted again on Vancouver Island

Nature photographer Mike Yip said mysterious birds back in Coombs area

B.C. government seeks advice on reviving Interior forest industry

Public website opens as meetings start with community leaders

RCMP use helicopter and police dog to search for suspect on Sts’ailes First Nation

Small reserve near Agassiz surrounded by police vehicles, helicopter, ERT

Missing Vancouver Island woman believed to be on mainland

Rhonda Stevenson, 43, last seen July 13 in central Nanaimo

Most Read