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Streamkeepers in the zone



Fisheries and habitat groups using window to finish stream work

At this time of year Whistler fish have mated, fattened up, and are relaxed enough to sit back and enjoy the show – rubber boots, machinery, and the sights and sounds of various stream and waterway enhancement projects underway around town.

Aug. 15 to 31 is the annual in-stream work window, a time where people and machinery can work in the water without disturbing the fish or their ecosystems too much. Several environmental and fisheries groups are taking advantage of this period to improve aquatic habitats.

The Whistler Fisheries Stewardship Group (WFSG) is teaming up with Whistler-Blackcomb to continue the work that started last year on Whistler Creek behind the new Beaver Flats housing development. On Aug. 25, the group of volunteers and paid workers is meeting to discuss stream and wetland habitats before driving out to Barnfield to harvest wetland plants. They will then bring those plants back to Whistler Creek to recreate a wetland area that existed prior to all the development in the area. Workers will also be doing some seeding and dismantling the silt fences from last year’s work.

Last week, the WFSG and volunteers worked on Crabapple Creek at the bottom of Lorimer, and build a "beaver deceiver" at the Beaver Pond at Lakeside Creek. The deceiver will silence the creek, while ensuring the same level of flow – since beavers are attracted to the sound of running water, it is hoped that this project will curb the level of beaver interest in the area.

"We’ve tried other approaches in the past, but the beavers are incredibly hard workers and very determined," says Lisa Helmer, a fish technician for the municipality.

Over the next week, the WFSG crews will tackle other projects on Write-Off and Jordan Creeks.

The Whistler-Blackcomb Staff Environment Fund will kick of its first project since its inception in January of 2001 by helping to rehabilitate Jordan Creek in conjunction with the WFSG.

Jordan Creek is part of the Cheakamus River Watershed, flowing south for approximately 500 metres from Nita to Alpha Lake through Alpha Lake Park. According to Environmental Fund chair Allana Hamm, it is excellent rearing and spawning habitat for rainbow trout and kokanee salmon.

The fund will be spent purchasing riparian plants, building an interpretive platform, building a fence and posting signs. The platform will allow people to view the spawning channel without damaging the surround banks.

The Whistler-Blackcomb Environment Fund is supported by staff donations that are matched by the Whistler-Blackcomb Foundation. The funds raised are then allocated to environmental projects in the community, with local groups being invited to submit proposals for work projects.

After reviewing the different proposals, the fund’s board members chose the Jordan Creek project.

"The Whistler-Blackcomb Environmental Fund differs from other funds in that we not only sponsor the project, but lend a hand and see the project through," says Hamm. "Most of our staff came here because of the natural environment. The Whistler-Blackcomb Environmental Fund gives them the opportunity to support environmental projects in their own community and to see the results of their contributions."

Whistler-Blackcomb will be donating their maintenance staff to design and complete the interpretive platform. Total resources for the fund are approximately $5,000.

For more information on the Jordan Creek project, or to volunteer your time, contact Allana Hamm at 604-938-7283.

The WFSG is also looking for volunteers to help with their in-stream projects. Contact Lisa Helmer or Veronica Sommerville at 604-938-8323.