Helping hands of Chilliwack needed to put up tunnel fencing

A handful of volunteers are needed to help install directional amphibian fencing on Feb. 13 with the Fraser Valley Conservancy

A handful of volunteers are needed by Fraser Valley Conservancy to help install directional fencing on Feb. 13

A handful of volunteers are needed by Fraser Valley Conservancy to help install directional fencing on Feb. 13

There is already a chorus of support from Chilliwack to help ensure the survival of toads and frogs of Ryder Lake.

The toad crossing tunnel on Elk View Road is proof, and the structure has already started reducing mortalities from vehicles strikes.

So it probably won’t take much to call a few volunteers into action.

A handful of volunteers are now being sought by Fraser Valley Conservancy to help install directional amphibian fencing on Feb. 13, as part of the Ryder Lake Amphibian Protection Project.

“The adults are about ready to start moving to the wetlands,” said Kendra Morgan, project coordinator and biologist with Fraser Valley Conservancy, about the imminent adult Western toad migration.

They’ll head to the wetlands from the forested areas for breeding, and they have to cross a road to do it.

All six species of local amphibians will actually be on the move: Western toads, Red legged frogs, Pacific chorus frogs, Northwestern salamanders, and Rough-skinned newts, Long-toed salamanders. Some of the toads and frogs are species of “special concern” federally.

“We usually see them on the roads in March,” she said.

Directional fencing went up for the toadlet migration in July but once completed, the fencing came down again. That’s why they need to install the fencing again, for the winter breeding migration that starts around the end of February or into March.

“The fencing is always temporary,” she said.

The directional fencing is made of silt fencing material attached to wooden stakes using staples or screws that directs the amphibians toward the entrance of the tunnel. It’s the same type of lightweight black fabric used for fencing around some construction projects.

The crossing structure, which opened last July with help from partners like Lafarge Canada, is like a cement tunnel that runs under the road. The tunnel is already working to protect amphibians.

“It is definitely reducing mortalities, but we can’t fence off the entire six kilometre stretch around the wetlands. We are trying to reduce, not eliminate the impacts,” said Morgan.

Volunteers who wish to help on Feb. 13, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. can email projects@fraservalleyconservancy.ca for more details, or call 604-625-0066.

Snacks will be provided.

“The most challenging part of this project will likely be working in wet or muddy conditions on a steep slope. Volunteers must be prepared to work in cold or wet conditions and will need work gloves.”