Recently, a long-awaited project along the Slocan River was finally completed. Over 30 years ago, a local landowner was working on some bank stabilization for his property. Back in those days there were fewer regulations and used tires (and other recycled materials) were often used to stabilize the banks along the river. Today the tires are not welcome along the riverbank, and bank stabilization projects will use either rocks, logs or living trees, or sometimes a combination of all of the above, instead.
The landowner eventually passed away before completing the project, and a large pile of used tires were left near the river in the floodplain. At high water the tires would be under water for many weeks, and when the river went down in mid or late summer the tall reed-canary grass would cover the tires, and they were then left ignored.
After many years and many conversations with local people and government agencies, it seems that nobody wanted to take responsibility to dispose of the tires properly.
Slocan River Streamkeepers (SRS) eventually took on the initiative to solving that issue. After securing a small amount of money from RDCK to cover the fees and the cost of bringing the tires to the transfer station, SRS also received some financial support from Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program to replace the tires by planting native trees & shrubs.
Synchronicity brought out a small group of energetic young people to help out with the effort. Youth Climate Corps, a project managed by Wildsight, supplied a group of seven motivated youth to the Slocan Valley for five days to help local organizations with environmental and educational projects, and to look at implementing solutions in regards to climate mitigation and adaptation. They were very keen to help out with the tire cleanup project.
We found out that the transfer station would not accept the tires if they were covered with soil or grasses. So early in the day, the tires were lifted off the ground with pry bars and other tools and then brought out along the road to be washed. After a good clean-up, a small group of local volunteers showed up with their pickup trucks to load up the tires and haul them away to the transfer station in Ootischenia. (Slocan transfer station only accepts smaller tires and there were a mix of large and small tires at the site). Except for one truckload, the tires were all removed and sent away that day. In the end, a total of 104 tires were removed from the site.
The next day, our group of young enthusiasts were ready to start planting trees. Holes were dug and a total of 50 native trees and shrubs including willows, cottonwood, red osier dogwood and mountain alders were planted as well as some red cedars and spruce for higher ground. Tree protectors were also installed on the trees, as this area is also regularly visited by local beavers. Trees were mulched with wood chips and watered at the end of the day.
Another part of the project was to install some bird nesting boxes. Five tall cedar posts were planted and bird boxes installed. The main purposes of the bird boxes is to attract cavity nesting swallows (tree swallow and violet-green swallow) to help reduce the local mosquito population in summer.
In the last three years, Slocan River Streamkeepers have installed over 100 bird nesting boxes and 12 bat boxes along the Slocan River to help minimize mosquito population. They are already seeing over 50% occupancy in the birdhouses and some sites have 100% occupancy. So the birdhouses are for short-term housing needs and the trees and shrubs are planted for longterm habitat for birds and other wildlife. Trees planted along the riverbanks also help reduce bank erosion and eventually provide shade and help cool down the river (cooler water offers better condition for fish population). As the trees get bigger and older they will eventually fall down in or along the river and provide habitat for fish and other wildlife.
In the last 15 years, Slocan River Streamkeepers have implemented over 50 riparian restoration projects including three with fish habitat recruitment structures and two wetland restoration projects. SRS are often looking for properties along the river to implement more riparian restoration projects when neded.
SRS also invite people to volunteer or become members ($10/yr) and make a small or large donation to help with restoration work as well as water monitoring, scientific research and public outreach.
Slocan River Streamkeepers would like to thank all our volunteers and everyone who helped make this project happen!
Thanks to Youth Climate Corps (a youth program managed by Wildsight) Thanks to YRB (Winlaw)
Thanks to our funders and sponsors for this project:
& Thanks to all the generous donors!
Membership and donation can be sent to Slocan River Streamkeepers Box 47, Winlaw, BC V0G 2J0.