On Friday, July 30, Golden will be focusing its attention south of town, on a well-known, local stream for the third annual Horse Creek Weed Pull.
This event marks the beginning of a ongoing, cooperative restoration initiative of the creek.
Anyone interested in attending this event can meet at 9 a.m. at the mailboxes at Austin Road just off highway 95.
It all starts high on a mountain, where the winter runoff, now a small torrent, cascades into the valley bottom.
It passes by a gravel quarry, by houses, farmers’ fields, under the highway, beside a concrete plant, under the railroad, and into the Columbia River.
This is an important resource only ten minutes south of town.
Over the past few years, Horse Creek has received an increased amount of attention due to the significant human impacts it has been subjected to.
A monthly monitoring program, set up by the Ministry of the Environment and conducted by volunteers, tracks physical conditions and chemical levels to establish a norm and watch for changes.
Though the area is far from pristine, with its established irrigation diversions, resource extraction and other development, measures can still be taken to protect Horse Creek from further damage and to allow for a certain degree of restoration to occur.
Running directly into the Columbia River, the impacts on this typical mountain stream have the potential to affect not only the diverse vegetation and wildlife of the critical riparian zone it creates, but further downstream along the Columbia River as well.
Vegetation along any river bank creates stability and reduces the damage caused by flooding.
Considering that a strategic portion of Horse Creek’s bank has been stripped of its natural vegetation.
Wildsight determined that planting native species would be a logical first step in the restorative process.
Golden Concrete Limited has generously agreed to assist with planting on their property along the southern bank.
After consulting with a native plant specialist, the selected vegetation will be reintroduced with the intention of having it spread and restore some of the native habitat.
In order for this initiative to be successful, the alien invasive weeds that have been introduced from years of human activity must be removed from the area to allow for the native plants to flourish.
The invasive weeds, free from their natural enemies, hold a competitive advantage over native species, allowing them to quickly monopolize an area’s nutrients, light and water.
Considered the second largest threat to biodiversity worldwide, second only to habitat loss, invasive plants pose an undeniable risk to the diversity and overall health of the Columbia wetlands.
Though Wilsight has been fighting against invasive weeds, both terrestrial and aquatic, for several years now, public assistance is necessary.
The Horse Creek Weed Pull, on July 30, is an opportunity for all those concerned about the health of streams like Horse Creek to join in the efforts of preserving something so close to home, that starts high on a mountain, and ends in the mighty Columbia.
For more information about the Weed Pull, please contact 250-344-4961.
This event is sponsored by Columbia Basin Trust, the CSRD, and the Columbia Wetlands Stewardship Partners.