Farms and green-spaces bring beauty and food production to a bustling community with access to nature a few minutes from downtown – but a local environmental group has said this merge of styles sometimes comes at a cost to the environment.
Two species of fish, the Salish Sucker and the Nooksack Dace, are on the endangered list due to limited and declining habitat.
Bertrand Creek, which runs through Langley and Aldergrove, is one of their homes and local farmers are coming together to help these fish survive.
Environmental Farm Plan (EPF) is a way to help the region better appreciate the creek’s value.
EFPs are offered through the BC Agricultural Research & Development Corporation (ARDCorp), an organization that provides resources to BC farmers and ranchers.
Mark Enns of Alder View Dairy notes his farm is dissected by Bertrand Creek and he has seen first-hand how humans can have a detrimental impact on creek health.
“Sometimes you do find after the winter, garbage floating down,” he says. “Grass clippings, bottles or garbage.”
Enns explained that waste causes blockages, attracts wildlife into the creek and leads to contamination. Water that flows through Bertrand Creek travels into the United States and impacts the environment of the two fish species both north and south of the border.
Dave Melnychuk, a Fraser Valley planning advisor with ARDCorp, says the biggest benefit of the group EFP is that it has the ability to deliver beneficial information to every property along the creek and in the watershed area while improving the survival of the fish.
“Soil tests are a great way to see what’s happening in your soil and how it can be improved,” says Melnychuk. “Not only does this give property owners direction in how to improve their soil, but the group EFP will help them see what steps can be taken to help the creek, the fish and the environment.”
Enns ensures his cows are not permitted anywhere near the creek so that manure doesn’t contaminate the water.
He says erosion seen on properties like his needs to be addressed in order to protect fish habitat.
Looking at creek banks is one aspect of the group environmental plan. He’s seen changes to the creek over the 15 years he has farmed alongside it and the shifts concern him.
“In the last couple of years I’d say it’s higher than it was,” he says of creek water levels. “I think it’s got a pretty steady base flow in the summer, but it can rise significantly in the winter.”
Property owners along the creek are invited to join the fight in keeping local waterways clean.
While normally reserved for farms and ranches, this group EFP will also benefit those with hobby farms, large gardens or beautiful meadows by including free soil testing for participating in the overall plan.
Farms and residents interested in learning more about the new group Environmental Farm Plan can contact Dave Melnychuk by February 26 at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Visit bcefp.ca for general information on the Environmental Farm Plan program.
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