Nurturing knowledge with nature

The Redmond Flats Restoration project will create a wetland sanctuary for educational purposes.

Wayne Salewski

Wayne Salewski

The Redmond Flats Wetland Restoration project is underway and, once completed, will offer an educational wetland experience for residents and tourists of Vanderhoof, said Wayne Salewski, a retired forest protection officer and  volunteer conservationist on the project.

“We want to create walking paths and platforms to allow kids to engage in the wetland aspect,” said Mr. Salewski.

The Redmond Pit wetlands are located a few kilometres west of Vanderhoof on highway 16 across from Stoney Creek. The property is owned by Ducks Unlimited in partnership with the Vanderhoof Fish and Game Club. The initiative started a few years ago with a vision of reconstructing the area to create an environmental sanctuary that people can walk through.

“Right now the focus is still on ducks and cattle, but only another year or two it will be people ready,” said Mr. Salewski.

Animals and wildlife have started to inhabit the 90-acre property including countless species of birds and plants and various other animals such as fox, deer, and coyote. A group of cattle also reside there full-time during the summer months. Although the cows are confined to one area of land, they play a key role because all ducks don’t nest in or [around] water, said Mr. Salewski.

“Pintails in particular like to nest in pasture land and once the ducks are hatched the mom marches them over to water. The cattle grazing creates nesting opportunities were the un-grazed land won’t. The fence keeps the cows and cow manure out of the water but still helps to create that relationship,” said Mr. Salewski.

The plan is to clear, grade and fence the parking lot at the beginning of the property and have the walkways start from there. As they progress throughout the wetland, they will move up and around large oxbow (u-shaped) ponds.

“Wherever you see cat tails theres a waterhole and thats the part dedicated to ducks, geese or any type of bird that likes wetland living like mallards or American widgets,” said Mr. Salewski.

BC Hydro has even committed to donating a pole that will be used to create a large nest for a bird such as an eagle or osprey. A birds-eye-view post is also being looked at so people can get a full-spectrum view of the land.

“Ospreys being fish hunters would fit right in with Stoney Creek being right there, but we have to see who chooses to nest there,” said Mr. Salewski.

Members of the project are also looking into cameras that can be set into nests so baby birds can be publicized in schools as another type of educational opportunity.

Once the property is finished, Ducks Unlimited plans to donate it to the District of Vanderhoof. Brian Frenkel, city councillor and director of Avison Management Services, feels the wetland is a wonderful project.

“Its a fantastic gift to the community. It’s alway been there but to have the Vanderhoof Fish and Game club work on it and than have Ducks Unlimited gift it to the community, its not only going to be a lasting gift but something we can showcase to visitors,” said Mr. Frenkel.