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Why Metro Vancouver is planting trees near the Meadow (beavers, it's because of beavers)

Beavers cut 'em down, Metro puts 'em back up – how tree planting is part of managing wetlands in Crippen Park
CRI_Meadow Planting (5)
Metro Vancouver Regional Parks recently planted trees in Crippen Park to help mitigate excess water caused by beaver dams.

When Birnam Wood came to Dunsinane, Macduff’s army carried the trees. 

Well, there’s no megalomaniac mad Scotsman making his power play in Crippen Park but the beavers are wreaking some havoc. 

As a result, Metro Vancouver is carrying in some deciduous (such as red alder and big leaf maple) and some coniferous (such western red cedar and Sitka spruce) trees to Bowen to manage the effects of some of the big-toothed rodents’ waterway renovations. 

As beavers chow down trees in Crippen Park, they plug streams, build dams and reshape the area. “It’s part of a natural process and [the resulting] wetlands are really great,” says Robyn Worcester, a natural resource management specialist at Metro Vancouver Regional Parks. The problem comes when an area flooded is just grass, like the Meadow. “There wasn’t anywhere for the riparian edge — the plants and trees along the edge of the stream — to expand.”

Last year, Metro Vancouver started the Crippen Regional Park Wetland Enhancement Project by planting trees on the far side of the dog park. This year, they expanded the tree planting along the edge of Terminal Creek – allowing a forest to grow. The existing alders are dying off and there isn’t a great understory coming in; a lot of it is the invasive English Holly.

The work will increase the ecological integrity of the lands, reads the project’s fact sheet, providing “water purification, erosion and flood control, aquifer recharge, carbon sequestration, and climate regulation.

“It will also strengthen our relationship with the community for the provision of environmental stewardship as well as the promotion of health and wellness for residents.”

The grant-funded project connected with a number of on-island groups as well as off-island groups – IPS, Bowen Island Weed Warriors, the Bowen Island Fish and Wildlife Club, Arc’teryx and BCIT’s Ecological Restoration program. Worcester roughly estimates 65 people attended eco-blitz events in October. 

The project is still ongoing: trees need wrapping for beaver protection. As well, when planting trees, the payoff can be years away.  “We never walk away from a planting,” says Worcester. “It’s something that takes many years to get going. 

“We’re creating a forest and it’s going to take decades before it will be what we hope it will be.”