Fish and fowl in the Lower Mainland can flip, flop and flap for joy because of habitat enhancements being done at the Colony Farm Regional Park, one of many projects being undertaken as part of the Port Mann Highway 1 Project (PMH1). Although our focus is highway safety, the PMH1 project has given us some special opportunities to ‘branch out’ beyond the highway.
The Colony Farm Restoration and Enhancement Project aims to restore tidal flows in the Wilson Farm area of Colony Farm, for the first since it was diked in the early 1900’s.
Colony Farm Regional Park is located alongside the Coquitlam River and subject to poor drainage, making water management a key focus in the restoration. Planning for improvements began in 2008 and included discussions with Metro Vancouver, Fisheries and Ocean Canada, and Kwikwetlem First Nation. Input from the Colony Farm Park Association also helped to develop and refine designs for the work.
- One of the main priorities of work in the park is the restoration of tidal flow in the area. Automatic tide gates will allow fish to use the field drainage channels while preventing flooding in the fields. Devices such as sluice gates and fish friendly pumps will also be used to help move water (and fish) out of the southern part of Wilson Farm into the Coquitlam River.
- In addition to the gates and pumps that help control the water in the area, new ponds and channels in the park provide valuable new habitat for fish, birds, amphibians and other wildlife. A set of seasonal ponds (which dry up in the summer) have also been created especially for native amphibian habitat.
- The habitat enhancements also include streamside (riparian) plantings. This fall native shrub like Nootka rose and salmonberry were planted were increase available food sources and habitat for birds and small mammals. In addition, the fields were hydro-seeded by helicopter with a special mix of native grasses developed especially for the park. Benches and viewing platforms have also been installed to help visitors enjoy the natural beauty of this unique environment.
Working to protect wetlands and wildlife may not spring to mind when you think of highway improvements but they are some of the many benefits of the Port Mann Highway 1 Project. Other environmental projects recently completed as part of the PMH1 project include: the enhancement of the tidal slough habitat at Brae Slough, habitat improvement at Hjorth Creek, Mundy Creek and the Brunette River. If you live in the Greater Vancouver area, come out and visit these sites to see the enhancements as they come to life. If you can’t make it, visit the PMH1 website for more information.