'Hands off' ecosystem nurtured at Silverdale Creek

A wetlands sanctuary cherished by locals is one step closer to being a self-sustaining ecosystem.

The Silverdale Creek Wetlands in west Mission recently received a grant of $40,000 for improvements that will limit invasive species.

"Most of our actions have been to bring it back to a more natural ecosystem, and we're trying to do that so that it doesn't require constant human attention. Good biology would have us have the system take care of itself," said Jim Taylor, a director of Stave Valley Salmonid Enhancement Society, one of the organizations that looks after the area.

Jim TaylorThe 112-acre wetlands were restored from farmland a few years ago. The south end of the area is open to visitors as an interpretive trail and boardwalk. The wetlands are also a frequent study ground for various school groups, universities and government ministries. And in the spring, hundreds of thousands of salmon fry huddle in the tributaries.

Taylor has been working with other community volunteers to block invasive species so that the wetlands can take care of themselves.

One such species is canary grass, which thrives in water and becomes so dense that it blocks the stream and prevents salmon from getting into the ecosystem. Right now, Taylor goes in with a weed cutter to clear out the grass.

The new grant will go towards raising the elevation along one creek to prevent canary grass from growing. New willow whips, cottonwood, and hawthorn will be planted on the elevated soil above freshet levels.

"We're raising the elevation so we can plant taller shade trees. What you will see three, four years from now, is that entire little stream will be a shaded tunnel through the vegetation…and that will block the canary grass from growing," said Taylor.

"In operating the ecosystem, we're getting pretty close to hands off now," he added.

The $40,000 is a matching grant, with $20,000 from Pacific Salmon Foundation and the other half from Stave Valley.

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