Mission Creek restoration flows along
Oct 23, 2013 / 3:30 pm
Seventy years ago Mission Creek was 80-metres-wide and 30-km-long winding through what is now the City of Kelowna.
Since that time much of the creek and its beauty has been lost, currently only 31-metres across and 11-km-long.
“It used to be a major grizzly bear habitat and millions of kokanee would spawn,” shared Todd Cashin, Manager of Subdivision, Agriculture & Environment for the City of Kelowna.
Cashin says that Kokanee numbers which were 1.2 million fish in 1950 are down significantly to 30,000 in 1996 and below 10,000 in 2012.
Since the 1950’s the creek has been channeled and diked to prevent flooding which has adversely affected fish and wildlife and thus a group was formed to ‘re-naturalize’ the lower portion of Mission Creek.
In 2002, the Mission Creek Restoration Initiative was formed:
‘A multi-disciplinary, multi-stakeholder undertaking with a goal of restoring the lower section of Mission Creek - from East Kelowna Road Bridge, downstream to Okanagan Lake - to a more natural condition.’
“Things are changing in our watershed so its protection is more and more an issue, there are a lot of riparian values here and we can create a lot of anticipated benefits.
Not only flood reduction and increased capacity but also a lot of species at risk use this area that this restoration could assist, not to mention getting Kokanee numbers back up,” explained Cashin.
The MCRI has approximately $800,000 in secure funds which they hope to use to acquire the land necessary to re-establish the floodplain, restore creek banks, move dikes back, widen selected sections, build fish pools and realign the channel to create a more natural meandering route.
The MCRI proposes a variety of cost-shared initiatives that would, once completed, enhance the community’s social, cultural, economic and environmental well-being while ensuring a number of concurrent regional and provincial benefits as follows:
- Flood Risk Reduction Project
- Replacement of substandard dykes
- Increase stream channel capacity
- Species at Risk Protection and Recovery Project
- Critical habitat protection
- Species recovery and reintroduction
- Fish and Aquatic Species Enhancement Project
- Increase fish habitat
- Increase suitable spawning areas
- Cultural Enhancement Project
- First Nation cultural heritage
- Restore First Nation cultural connection to salmon (possibly reopen fishery)
- Greenhouse Gas Sequestration Project
- Increase urban forest and the sequestration of greenhouse gases (i.e. CO2)
- Biodiversity Enhancement Project
- Increase biodiversity in the City and region
- Create east-west connectivity for wildlife
- Tourism Enhancement Project
- Enhance the already successful greenway
- Increase recreational fishing tourism (i.e. catch and release)
- Education Project
- Educate children and adults about aquatic and riparian ecosystems (e.g. Kokanee Festival)
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