Revelstoke will be the focus of a number of new “wildlife habitat enhancement projects” sponsored by BC Hydro this summer.
The utility plans to rollout the entire suite of projects during an Open House at the Community Centre on January 24 from 4 pm until 7 pm. The projects will be conducted at different locations in the Arrow Lakes Reservoir Drawdown Zone south of town under the Columbia River Water Use Plan.
A BC Hydro statement said the Revelstoke Reach Wildlife Enhancement Projects are expected to benefit waterfowl, birds, turtles and other wetland wildlife species affected by reservoir operations. Revelstoke Reach is the stretch of the Columbia River between Revelstoke Dam and Shelter Bay. The projects were recommended to BC Hydro by a committee of technical experts, not for profit organizations, regulatory agency staff and interested residents. The Committee met over eight months in 2009 to assess and evaluate potential wildlife enhancement projects identified by the Columbia River Water Use Plan Consultative Committee.
The projects include:
Cartier Bay Wetland Protection and Enhancement
Cartier Bay is an important wetland in the flats south of town that is well used by species including migratory waterfowl, herons, western toads and western painted turtles. The wetland is created by a collapsed box culvert in a gap in the abandoned railbed that runs approximately 300 metres west of the Cartier Bay peninsula and parallel to the old highway. The culvert holds back water, preventing the Cartier Bay wetland from draining during low Arrow Lakes Reservoir levels. But the railbed around the culvert is eroding and if it fails to hold back water the wetland would be lost. BC Hydro plans to protect the Cartier Bay wetland by replacing the box culvert with an engineered dyke to fill in the railbed gap. This dyke will also hold back more water and is expected to roughly double the size of the Cartier Bay wetland to approximately 54 hectares. BC Hydro plans to also create a new eight-hectare wetland adjacent to Cartier Bay by installing a second dyke to fill a another gap in the railbed.
Airport Slough Outflow Protection
Columbia River flows, snowmelt, and reservoir operations continue to enlarge a 115-metre-long Y-shaped erosion channel into the flats adjacent to the old Arrowhead highway runs from the south side of the Illecillewaet River mouth to Machete Island north of the airport. BC Hydro plans to place rip-rap along the bank of one arm of the channel to test whether this treatment can halt further erosion and protect Airport Slough below Nichol Road.
Nest Boxes and Artificial Nesting Island
BC Hydro plans to install 30 to 50 nest boxes in Revelstoke Reach to provide additional nesting habitat for cavity-nesting ducks. These are expected to benefit six species of waterfowl – wood ducks, common and hooded mergansers, bufflehead, and Barrows and common golden eye. BC Hydro will also install an artificial nesting island to see whether the island can withstand reservoir operations and successfully provide additional habitat for painted turtles and other wildlife species.
BC Hydro is hosting an Open House, Thursday Jan 24 from 4 pm to 7 pm at the Revelstoke Community Centre, to provide more information about these planned projects and would like to invite local government, First Nations, businesses, stakeholders, reservoir users, and residents to come share their views.