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Saving endangered species in Coquitlam
The Tri-Cities are home to a number of plants and animals that are at risk of becoming extinct and the South Coast Conservation Program is looking for people who will help protect them.
This year, SCCP is introducing an environmental program for local property owners to help them make their yards more appealing and safe for local wildlife. With a focus on properties next to a forest, wetland or a creek, the group is offering site visits to provide homeowners with expert information about what makes their property ecologically unique. They will also get tips for improving habitat for native plants and wildlife, such as how to remove invasive species or what plants will entice hummingbirds and be beneficial for bees.
“This is an area that has seen a lot of development and change over the years, and it is a hotspot for species at risk,” said Tamsin Baker, SCCP stewardship co-ordinator.
Modelled after similar initiatives on Vancouver Island to protect the rare Garry oak and in the Okanagan to save the grasslands, the environmental stewardship program is being expanded to the Coquitlam area this year after two years in the Fraser Valley, where five properties were enhanced and protected.
“Coquitlam has a lot of streams and creeks, and obviously the Coquitlam River, and there are endangered species in the area,” Baker said.
Among the species of particular concern here are the Pacific water shrew (although rare, it has been sighted in this region), and the northern red legged frog, which used to be plentiful and is now endangered. Development is disturbing habitat for these rare creatures, said Baker, and there are currently more than 260 endangered plant and animal species in the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley.
She hopes that through nature stewardship, and by increasing plant and animal diversity, this region won’t become a dead zone for endangered species. Most critical are larger land holdings that contain a creek or wetland, and Baker hopes people who own these properties will consider a conservation covenant to protect the land into perpetuity.
“Were looking for people who really care about the native plants and animals and have questions. They can get a hold of us, they send me an email or give me a call and we can discuss their unique situation and, if it looks good, we’ll happily come out and have a look.”
The site visits are free, with funds provided by Environment Canada.