Ducks make themselves at home in a field turned swamp after a recent rainfall

More to the Agassiz drainage story

Likely a number of factors for poorly performing waterway

According to an article published in the Observer last week (Agassiz farmer outlines water woes, Jan 30), ditch maintenance is the District of Kent ?has slowed right down?. Yet, the number of kilometers of ditch clearing permitted by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) and the Provincial agency increased from 4.8 km in 2008 to 20 km in 2012.

The only maintenance request denied in 2013 was at the lower end of the McCallum, where it enters Mountain Slough. This area is the primary spawning area in the entire Mountain Slough watershed for salmon, trout, Salish sucker and other fish, depending on the time of year. At the mouth of the McCallum there is also habitat for Oregon Spotted Frog. Done properly, a project to widen the lower McCallum could benefit drainage, fish and frogs. Discussions with landowners have occurred and I can only hope that an agreement will be reached to allow such a project to occur.

I recognize that McCallum Ditch provides critical drainage to farmland, but that is not its sole purpose or value. In fact, despite its accepted name, McCallum Ditch is, and always has been a salmon stream. Coho salmon along with cutthroat trout, rainbow trout and the endangered Salish sucker are found to its uppermost reaches east of Highway 9. Its channel is clearly shown on a 1905 map as existing prior to any farming in the area (published in the Observer in February 2011).

As for why the lower McCallum system is “not performing well”, there is likely a combination of factors, including:

1. Invasive species, especially reed canary grass, which quickly grow back after removal from ditches, fueled by sunlight nutrient-rich sediment, and over-application of manure.

2. The removal of woody shrubs and trees, and with them the shade that keeps invasive plant species in check.

3. More sediment in the ditches, as former pastures are converted to corn, berries and other crops that expose more soil to erosion.

4. The narrowing of the main channel of McCallum by infilling by a landowner.

5. Infilling of wetlands and seasonal ditches by landowners. This reduces the capacity of the entire system.

6. Gravel mining on the surrounding hillsides, which reduces the “filtering effect” of gravel deposits and allows water for to flow more rapidly down to the flood plain. Hillside logging adds to the problem.

Improved farm practices are far more likely to improve drainage than finger pointing at fish and regulators.

Mike Pearson, PhD, RPBio

Agassiz

 

Just Posted

VIDEO: Agassiz farm spreads awareness for barn owls

Miel Bernstein hopes others will learn how they can help the threatened owl species

Fraser-Cascade school district hosts by-election to fill void left by passing of Tom Hendrickson

Advance voting begins on July 17, with general voting on July 27

Chilliwack cadet takes staff position in Comox

Air cadet one of about 20,000 youth enrolled in programs across Canada this summer

Okan brings Cuban rhythm to Harrison Festival of the Arts

The Cuban band from Toronto will be performing a concert and holding a workshop

Sts’ailes drum making coming to Harrison Festival

The workshop has been happening for years, bringing Indigenous teachings to the festival

VIDEO: Agassiz remembers local officer at grave-marking ceremony

Montague White-Fraser had been buried in the Old Cemetery for 92 years without a headstone

Survivor of near-drowning in B.C. lake viewing life through new eyes

“If I died that day, the baby wouldn’t know his dad,” said 31-year-old Mariano Santander-Melo.

‘Beyond the call’: Teen in police custody gets birthday surprise by B.C. Mountie

Unusual celebration started when Staff Sgt. Paul Vadik went to visit the teen in his Coquitlam cell

Thunderstorms forecast across B.C.

Environment Canada has issued a thunderstorm watch for B.C.’s central Interior

B.C. mom to go to Europe court in hopes of getting alleged abducted daughter back

Tasha Brown alleges her estranged wife abducted their daughter Kaydance Etchells in 2016

Driver who killed B.C. motorcyclist receives absolute discharge

Chase family speechless following decision by BC Review Board

Lower gas prices slow annual inflation rate to Bank of Canada’s 2% bull’s-eye

Prices showed strength in other areas — led by a 17.3 per cent increase in the cost of fresh vegetables

B.C. moves to preserve 54 of its biggest, oldest trees

Fir, cedar, spruce, pine, yew set aside from logging

Report of dead body in B.C. park actually headless sex doll

This discovery, made at Manning Park on July 10, led police to uncovering two other sex mannequins

Most Read