Opinion: Care for our wetlands

For the past three years a small army of volunteers have been toiling to restore the productivity of a key piece of natural habitat.

For the past three years a small army of volunteers have been toiling to restore the productivity of a key piece of the region’s natural habitat.

Last week, their work was showcased at the official opening of the Browne Creek Wetlands.

But that introduction comes with a responsibility: To take care of the wetlands for future generations.

On the weekend, the trails that make up the new park were busy with cyclists and hikers.

As Victor Froese, a Chilliwack Rotarian who helped lead his club’s substantial participation in the project, said, “it’s a gem.”

There is evident pride in the work that’s been done by groups like the Fraser Valley Watershed Coalition, the department of Fisheries and Oceans, and the Salmonid Enhancement Program.

Froese, and the others who have donated money and hours of their time, know the park is not there just for our benefit. It’s been done to help restore habitat that was once rich with salmon and wildlife.

Already the young salmon can be seen in the channels that wend through the wetlands. They’re enjoying the increased stream flow, riparian cover and deeper pools that volunteers and biologists have constructed during the past few years. The work has been substantial. Native vegetation has been planted throughout. Channels have been enhanced and made more conducive to salmon rearing. Even old logs have been hauled up from the nearby Vedder River and strategically placed to improve habitat.

The effort is impressive. But it can quickly be undone by simple carelessness, like letting an unleashed dog bound through a creek bed. What looks like innocent fun can mean disaster to the salmon eggs nestled in the gravel. Nesting birds can also be disturbed.

Browne Creek Wetlands are a jewel and something to cherish. And if we don’t treat them like a playground, it will be there for our children.